Slovak: “l” pronounced as “u” at the end of verbs in past form eg. ležau

Tisztul_A_Visztula

Senior Member
Hungarian
It just happened today that I found that some Slovak may pronounce the past singular form of verbs changing the “l” to “u” to create a diphtong. It is a bit similar to pronounce -ov like -ou, it seems that the Slovak like the diphtongs. ;-)

Originally I found only ležal and behal converted to ležau and behau in pronounciatio. I made more search and I could find some text saying that in Hungary, in Szarvas, there is sarvašská slovenčina as a dialect. In that text I also saw robiu instead of robil, so I started to feel that “u” is possible not just after “a”, but after any other vowel. Later I met videu in Slovak used by Slovak living in Slovakia.

Can somebody please elaborate precisely what the situation is?

1. Is it possible with verbs in past tense or with any word ending with -al, -el, -il etc?

2. If only verbs in past then only with some very common, “old” verbs or any of them?

3. Is it an approved (thought to be nice) or a disagreed (thought to be eliminated from the language) form?

4. Western/central/eastern dialect or can I meet this pronounciation anywhere in Slovakia?

+1 Is any place where this form is used even in writing as an approved dialect form?
 
  • numerator

    Senior Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    Now we urgently need a dialectologist :) My two cents, without having studied this is particular:

    In central Slovakian dialects where this phenomenon exists (e.g. the Liptov dialect) it is, I believe, limited to the past tense masculine ending (mať->mau, mala, malo, maľi) but then to all verbs, not just some specific verbs.

    In the Western Slovakian dialect of Záhorie, the "w" sound is much more widespread, including word-internally, comparable to Polish ł (mau, maua, mauo, mali; the name of the town Malacky pronounced "mauacki").

    This pronunciation is certainly considered "folksy", so that it does not belong to educated speech, but it can evoke warm and fuzzy feelings of simple country folk, shepherds etc. (think of the children's cartoon Pásli ovce valasi – Wikipédia ).

    It is not used in writing unless to specifically quote someone speaking such a dialect.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    This reminds me of Polish ł and Slovene l. It seems to be common in a lot of Slavic languages.
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    past tense masculine ending (mať->mau, mala, malo, maľi)
    “maľi” is just a typo error, isn’t it?
    In the Western Slovakian dialect of Záhorie, the "w" sound is much more widespread
    OK, but I met “robiu” and “videu”, where iu and eu are not considered as “w” sound.

    Are these phenomena of Eastern and Central S. dialects applied to eu, iu, and maybe also ou???
    (mau, maua, mauo, mali; the name of the town Malacky pronounced "mauacki").
    Doesn’t “mali” change to “maui”? So maybe another typo?
    think of the children's cartoon Pásli ovce valasi – Wikipédia ).
    Ó, Cirbolya és Borbolya! :)
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I meant to indicate that the ľ is audibly palatalized...
    I see.

    Btw it seems that it is not important which vowel precedes “l”, but it is important which vowel succedes it or whether it is the last sound/letter of s word. So “mauacki”, or “robiu”, but at the same time “maľi”/“mali” are the correct non-official, dialectic prounouncition. So “l” or “ľ” are not transformed in this case.

    I have heard about the latter distinction, I mean I dont remember exactly, but in my misty memory there is a piecw of information that in some cases only Eastern Slovak insists on the “soft” n, l, d, while Western and maybe Central Slovak also simply say a “hard(er)” l, n, d

    Phoneticians and phonogists may disagree on this (with me and also with each other :))

    Let me not focus on the small differences between “u” and “w”, it would be too much even for me….

    —————————————-
    Finally I can just hope that soft and hard(er) “l” is a correct interpretation of palatalized and velarized “l” sounds. Is it?
     
    Last edited:

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I don’t expect it to. i is a ‘soft’ sound so it doesn’t cause velarisation.

    I dont fully understand the way how you replied.

    Why did not you answer simply that “l” does not change to “u”?

    Does the phenomenon of the whole l=>u/w transformation mean that only the hard/velarized “l” sound is (or can be) transformed to “u” or “w” sounds?

    Maybe it is so simple, but I have not realized it until now.

    EDIT: but if it is true than “mali” can be transformed to “maui” in speech in a case when the speaker would normally pronounce “l” in “mali” as a “l” (velarised) and it cannot be “maui”, in a case when as a “ľ”.

    I guess I got confused…
     
    Last edited:

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    I dont fully understand the way how you replied.

    Why did not you answer simply that “l” does not change to “u”?

    Does the phenomenon of the whole l=>u/w transformation mean that only the hard/velarized “l” sound is (or can be) transformed to “u” or “w” sounds?

    Maybe it is so simple, but I have not realized it until now.

    EDIT: but if it is true than “mali” can be transformed to “maui” in speech in a case when the speaker would normally pronounce “l” in “mali” as a “l” (velarised) and it cannot be “maui”, in a case when as a “ľ”.

    I guess I got confused…

    This change (l > w > u) is only triggered by a following ‘hard’ vowel (a, o, u, y) or a final position. The vowel i is not one of them, so l will be unaffected in front of it.

    Compare Polish, where this is fully grammaticalised (w is written as ł): miał (m.sg.), miała (f.sg.), miało (n.sg.), miały (pl.) but mieli (m.pl.); and Slovenian (to a lesser degree, coda position only, and we don’t write it) where imel is pronounced imew, but all the other forms (imela, imelo, imele, imeli) conserve the l. Serbo-Croatian also undergoes a similar complete vocalisation to o, so they have imao (but imala, imalo, imale, imali).

    I am not very well versed on the intricacies of Slovak phonology, but it is my feeling that l in mali can’t be described as velarised even if not pronounced ľ. The ‘softness’ of i simply prevents the velarisation.
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I am not very well versed on the intricacies of Slovak phonology, but it is my feeling that l in mali can’t be described as velarised even if not pronounced ľ. The ‘softness’ of i simply prevents the velarisation.


    • /ʎ/ is palatalized laminal denti-alveolar [l̪ʲ],[34] palatalized laminal alveolar [l̻ʲ][19][34][35] or palatal [ʎ].[19][34][35] The palatal realization is the least common one.[19][35]
      • Pavlík (2004) describes an additional realization, namely a weakly palatalized apical alveolar approximant [l̺ʲ]. According to this scholar, the palatal realization [ʎ] is actually alveolo-palatal [ʎ̟].[18]
    • The /ʎ–l/ contrast is neutralized before front vowels, where only /l/ occurs. This neutralization is taken further in western dialects, in which /ʎ/ merges with /l/ in all environments.[19]
    • /l, r/ are apical alveolar [, ].[36]
      • /l/ is either neutral [l] or velarized [ɫ].[37]
    from Slovak phonology - Wikipedia

    So far so good so what! ;-)
     
    Top