Belarusian: не-ня без-бяз

Frostpunk

New Member
Dutch, French
Hello

I’m not super familiar with Belarusian but as a global language enthusiast and lover of learning songs by heart in foreign languages I came across this in Belarusian and fail to easily find much information about it and particularly its pronounciation.

As the title gives away what’s the deal with не and ня in Belarusian? Are they distinct spelling forms or are they used in different contexts? But even more, what about their pronounciation? I’m well aware in е is ye and я is ya but for example in this song “pahonia” they’re both used and both pronounced the same. Is this a mistake in the lyrics or not? I know for instance the Russian я is pronounced something inbetween ye and ya in some occasions.
 
  • agcnec

    New Member
    English
    This phenomenon is known as yakanye. Underlying /e/ and /o/ become /a/ in an initial pretonic syllable after a palatalised consonant; e.g. ве́цер 'wind' and вятры́ 'winds', сёлы 'villages' vs. сяло́ 'village'.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Following the orthography reform of 1933, the words не and без are aways written like this even though they are sometimes pronounced ня and бяз.

    The old orthography (pre-1933) which writes ня and бяз is still used informally and also by Belarusian diaspora.
     

    zvyczaj

    New Member
    Belarusian
    Vowels in the Belarusian language by Stress automatically change their sound. There is a standard language, and there will always be if before Stress e - я. In practice, the Belarusians wider open mouth when they pronounce е. and e - я. But the Belarusian language is not usually standard, there are dialects. There is absolutely no e - я dialects - in the south. There are e - я transitions depend on the Stress sound. Stress "а" and е -> і. When you listen to folk songs, you can quite easily tell where it came from.
    Галосныя гукі ў беларускай мове у залежнасці ад націску аўтаматычна змяняюць сваё гучанне. Ёсць стандартная мова, і там будзе заўсёды калі перад націскам е - я. На практыцы беларусы шырэй раскрываюць рот калі яны вымаўляюць е . Вось і атрымліваецца гук я. Але беларуская мова звычайна не стандартная, а дыялектная. Ёсць дыялекты зусім без яканья - на поўдні. Ёсць дзе е - я пераходы залежаць ад націскнога гуку. Там калі націскны а тады е - і - на поўначы. Калі слухаеш фальклорную песню, то досыць лёгка можна сказаць адкуль яна.
     
    The traditional orthography restored and used in free Belarus in 1941–1944 apparently left this issue unresolved (or, alternatively, ня was written in pre-tonic syllables, I guess):
    IMG_5554.jpeg

    Contrast не пакінем and ня будзе.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    (or, alternatively, ня was written in pre-tonic syllables, I guess)
    And what's the issue? After the 1933 "не" particle (but not "не-" prefix) has got its current morphological spelling (always "не" regardless of its pronunciation). Tarashkevitsa basically spells "не" phonetically, basing on the dialects with dissimilative yakanye. Obviously "ня" cannot appear in syllables other than the closest pre-tonic ones either way.
     
    And what's the issue? After the 1933 "не" particle (but not "не-" prefix) has got its current morphological spelling (always "не" regardless of its pronunciation). Tarashkevitsa basically spells "не" phonetically, basing on the dialects with dissimilative yakanye. Obviously "ня" cannot appear in syllables other than the closest pre-tonic ones either way.
    Ah, thanks. For me the dissimilative yakan'ye was a purely dialectal phenomenon: I didn't know Taraszkiewicz applied it in its orthography. I wonder if any single modern proponent of this writing system does actually speak this way in the real life.
     
    Is there any evidence of how old is this dissimilative yakan'ye? In the above poster it affects the former ě as well: Нямеччына<*Нѣмьчьщина vs. Беларусь<*Бѣлорѹсь — that is, it must in principle postdate the merger of e and ě in unstressed position. It's like with akan'ye, which also affects o<ъ.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Is there any evidence of how old is this dissimilative yakan'ye?
    In Belarus it must have first appeared between the 14th and the 15th centuries, together with akanye per se. Its spreading must have taken some time.
    In the above poster it affects the former ě as well
    And why shouldn't it, considering that it's basically a live phonetic law (otherwise it hardly could affect particles and prepositions of modern Belarusian in general)? The merger of /e < *e, *ь/ and /*ě/ in Belarusian, on the other hand, must be pretty old as well.
     
    And does it affect the original ʲa the same way dialectally? In the standard language it does not: сябро́ўскі, сябро́ўства vs. сябрава́ць. How does it work practically? Is it just because of the small number of such words, so speakers memorize this closed set and don't confuse both ʲa's (the etymological one and the positional one) in alternations?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    And does it affect the original ʲa the same way dialectally? In the standard language it does not: сябро́ўскі, сябро́ўства vs. сябрава́ць.
    Even Tarashkevitsa isn't always phonetic, so orthographical data must be used with caution. I cannot comment on the standard orthoepy, but the dialects with dissimilative yakanye apparently must affect the pre-tonic /a/ in the dissimilative fashion too.
     

    Eirwyn

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Umm, how can you make such far-reaching conclusions from just two words? The orthography of the picture seems to follow the same reduction pattern as modern Standard Belorussian: it merges "я" and "е" into "я" in pre-syllabic position, and keeps them distinct elsewhere. There's no real need to bring in dissimilative yakanie.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    There's no real need to bring in dissimilative yakanie.
    True, in this particular picture nothing points at it (the yakanye there could be strong or dissimilative equally well).
    It was me who brought up dissimilative yakanye in the first place, but actually I'm not really sure it ever was an element of standard orthoepy (again, I am neither a native speaker nor an expert in Belarusian). Sorry if my posts could have been misleading.
     
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    There must be some arbitrary element in all that (just in the orthography or in the underlying dialects as well) since we find ѣ>я in беларускія (<*бҍлорѹсьскыѣ) vs. ѣ>е in the locative singular (Нямеччыне, Эўропе, Бацькаўшчыне). Likewise e>a in становішча (<*становище) vs. e>e in пэўнае (<*пъвьноѥ). In particular, why is -jě>-ja vs. -je>-je in the adjectival declension?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    since we find ѣ>я in беларускія (<*бҍлорѹсьскыѣ) vs. ѣ>е in the locative singular (Нямеччыне, Эўропе, Бацькаўшчыне)
    I have to remind that yakanye is, by definition, limited to the closest pre-tonic syllable. In other unstressed syllables non-close vowels normally get other realizations than [a] after soft consonants anyway.
    Unstressed inflections must be a different issue.
     
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