Which Slavic language is the closest to proto-Slavic?

UkrainianPolyglot

Member
Ukrainian native, but English better
If proto-Slavs lived today, which language do you think they would have the least amount of trouble understanding and vice versa?

Each Slavic language has peculiarities that make it more archaic than others, and each likewise has some innovation. For example Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovenian preserved the archaic Infinitive form, while most others have contracted it, with Bulgarian and Macedonian losing Infinitive all together (like Greek). Ironically enough, despite not having the Infinitive, Bulgarian and Macedonian have the most archaic and profound conjugation of verbs among all Slavic languages, while all other Slavic tongues have greatly simplified their conjugation. Interestingly Ukrainian acquired a unique way (but this is uncommon) of expressing Future for Imperfect Verbs, using conjugational fusion instead of a clause, probably influenced by Romanian. Although Bulgarian and Macedonian have preserved conjugation the most faithfully, they completely lost their case system. The only case they preserve is the Vocative, which has been (mostly) lost in Russian, Belarusian, Slovak, and Slovenian. Slovenian is the only one to have preserved the dual number, both in conjugation and declension. Some Slavic languages have a very large amount of loanwords from Latin/Romance, Germanic, and Turkic, while some others have been more conservative. Apparently Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian are the most conservative in vocabulary, but I could be wrong. Russian, Serbian, and Polish seem to have a very large amount of Latin and Germanic words, with Russian and Serbian having an additional Turkic influence. Bulgarian was likely influenced by Turkic more than any other Slavic language, because of Bulgars and then the Ottomans. Phonologically speaking... Czech and Slovak are the only ones to have preserved long vowels, Polish is the only one to have preserved nasal vowels, Serbo-Croatian and Slovene are the only ones to have preserved pitch accent. Polish, Czech, and Slovak developed a fixed word stress, while all others have random stress, but in many cases different from proto-Slavic and each other. Russian and Belarusian "o" changes into "a" when not stressed, which is an innovation. Polish, Ukrainian, and Serbo-Croatian have a tendency to often change proto-Slavic "l" into "w", "v", and "o" respectively. Ukrainian, Belarusian, southern Russian dialects, Czech, and Slovak changed Slavic "g" into "h" (like Greek gamma). Czech is the only one to have preserved a difference between "r"s when palatalization occurs, Polish had this too but in modern times in palatalization "r" literally changes into "sh", which would be quite incomprehensible for other Slavic speakers. Czech and Serbo-Croatian (and possibly some others?) developed a feature where "l" and "r" can function as vowels and hence developed many consonant-only words. East Slavic past tense lost the auxiliary verb, while in Polish the auxiliary merged with the word (although it can be separated, but this is rare). Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian developed "o" between some consonants, like "golova" instead of "glova". Also in these three languages the common Slavic "je" changed to "o", hence "odin" instead of "jedin" (one.) Bulgarian and Macedonian have developed suffixed definite articles (like Romanian), and also use demonstratives for personal pronouns (like Latin and Romanian). Bulgarian had a significant vowel reduction and heavily uses the schwa (or a similar vowel), unlike any other Slavic language. Polish palatalization evolved into somewhat post-alveolar sounds (sh, zh, ch, j instead of s', z', t', d' while r' becomes sh as already mentioned), which is quite unique and makes Polish sound very distinctive, along with its penultimate-syllable word stress and nasal vowels. Interestingly Belarusian palatalized t (t') evolved into affricate "ts", probably due to Polish influence (maybe Old Polish was pronounced that way, as indicated by Polish orthography?). Russian plural is unique because the plural number 2-4 uses the Genitive case of the singular (some say it's a remnant of the dual?), while everything after uses the Genitive Plural. I'm not aware of any other Slavic language doing this. East Slavic collective numeral's declension has been normalized, while in Polish and Serbo-Croatian it's more archaic. Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian have a unique way of saying forty, probably a Greek borrowing, while Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian have a unique way of saying thousand, also borrowed from Greek. Ukrainian "o" has a tendency to change to "i", especially in the Nominative case and prepositions, in Polish and Czech a similar thing happens with "o" but it changes to "u" and not "i". Russian and Slovak "k", "g", "h" aren't softened in Dative and Locative, unlike all other Slavic languages. Czech, Slovene, and Serbo-Croatian Plurals are more conservative. Polish developed a new gender in the Plural, Animate Masculine, and has consonantal softening in this declension.

Of course I haven't mentioned everything, but what do you think is the most archaic Slavic language? Personally I think it's Slovenian or Macedonian. Both of these languages are archaic phonologically and in vocabulary, but Slovenian has the most conservative declension (minus Vocative), while Macedonian (and Bulgarian) has the most conservative conjugation and no declension (except Vocative ;)). However because Slovenian has the dual number in conjugation, the archaic Infinitive, less foreign vocabulary, and the pitch accent, I'd probably say Slovene is the most conservative and archaic of them all. But I could be very wrong, because I am far from being an expert and haven't even studied proto-Slavic. So I really would like an expert's opinion.
 
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  • ahvalj

    Senior Member
    It depends on your definition of "proto-Slavic". A proto-Slav of, say, the 6th century wouldn't be able to understand a single sentence in any modern Slavic language, nor any modern Slavic speaker would be able to understand a sentence in Common Slavic of the 6th century. We can take, of course, Cyril and Methodius times, the 9th century, but this will be the language split into distinct dialects. The Common Slavic found in dictionaries and manuals is just the Old Church Slavonic with several sound shifts rolled one step back (e. g. non-metathesized o/e + sonants, non-modified t/d + j etc.), but it doesn't take into account the sound changes that occurred parallel in various dialects after the split of the Slavic unity (e. g. *a>o, *i>ь, *u>ъ etc.). The pitch accent in modern Slovene and Serbo-Croatian is very advanced in comparison with the reconstructed late Common Slavic, both in the position of the stress and the phonetical aspects of the tone movement. The same with many other details of the phonetics and grammar. We can discuss separate aspects of Slovene or Macedonian or any other language if you desire, but I would say that no Slavic language as a whole is particularly conservative and that any of them shows some features that are closer to the Common Slavic than in the sister languages.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    As an illustration of many difficulties that accompany the linear comparisons, let's take the most striking archaic feature, the pitch accent.

    In Slovene, the following changes in the position and quality of the stress are assumed to have occurred since the late Common Slavic:

    "1 long rising vowels became short (rising);
    2 short falling vowels became long (falling);
    3 stress shifted from long falling non-final syllables one syllable to the right, producing new long falling vowels;
    4 stress shifted from short final syllables one syllable to the left onto preceding long vowels, producing new long rising vowels;
    5 old neoacute and all short rising vowels in non-final syllables were lengthened;
    6 short rising vowels in final syllables became short falling;

    All the above changes occurred over the whole Slovene-speaking territory. The following accent shifts were localized:

    7 stress shifted from short final syllables one syllable to the left onto preceding short /ɛ ɔ/, producing new long rising low-mid vowels;
    8 stress shifted from short final syllables one syllable to the left onto preceding short /ə/, producing new stressed shwa.

    Of these two developments, item 7 occurred in the dialects which formed the base of standard Slovene. Although item 8 did not generally occur in those dialects, it is now reflected in optional variants in the standard language, for example məglà ~ m`əgla 'mist'."

    (from T. M. S. Priestly "Slovene" in B. Comrie and G. G. Corbett (eds.), 1993, "The Slavonic languages": 392–393 — https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7IkEzr9hyJWWV3OWtRZzl6cFU&authuser=0)

    As a result of all this, a huge percent of Slovene word forms exhibit the stress of a different quality and on a different syllable than 1000–1200 years ago.

    In Serbo-Croatian, the Čakavian dialects preserve the old place of the accent and to some extent the old quality, but in the Štokavian dialects, as well as in the standard language, the pitch accent has no relation to the Common Slavic one: the falling accents occur on first syllables where they continue every late Common Slavic accentual variety (e. g., acute — vrȁna, long neo-acute — strȃža, short neo-acute — kȍža, long circumflex — vrȃn, short circumflex — pȍlje and neo-circumflex — ȉstina — Дыбо ВА · 2000 · Морфологизированные парадигматические акцентные системы. Типология и генезис. Том I: 19–20 & 32 — https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7IkEzr9hyJVUhZYi1pbFR3ODA&authuser=0), whereas the rising accents represent results of a shift of the old accent to the preceding syllable and as such correspond to the late Common Slavic lack of stress (e. g. veličìna<veličiná; govòriti<govoríti).
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Very interesting.
    What language in your opinion is the closest to the way it was spoken during the Common Slavic period?
    If you were hypothetically forced to choose one, which one would it be?
    Well, there is that question again, what do we count as "the Common Slavic period"? I had mentioned the 6th century — first, because it was 1500 years ago, second because it was the last time when the Slavs inhabited a more or less compact territory so that the innovations that originated in any part of it had the chance to eventually spread to the entire Slavic area: after that all the changes were local, even if only in details.

    Let's imagine some distinctive moments of the Slavic speech reconstructed for that period.

    (1) The Slavic "Great vowel shift" still hasn't occurred, so a, i u, ū still haven't changed to o, ь, ъ, у (the earliest Slavic borrowings into Finnic languages look e. g. like palttina for the later polotьno, talkkuna for the later tolokъno and *vapaDa [>vapaa & vabad] for the later svoboda; the earliest Slavic borrowings into Greek look like καρούτα for the later koryto and χούμελι for the later xъmelь) — Shevelov GY · 1964 · A prehistory of Slavic- the historical phonology of Common Slavic: 379–381, 384–385 & 436–439 — https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7IkEzr9hyJYUZ1ck5vdWE2Q1U&authuser=0 ; Тохтасьев СР · 1998 · Древнейшие свидетельства славянского языка на Балканах: 45 — https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7IkEzr9hyJOHEzeks1NnBKX1E&authuser=0 . In this respect the late Common Slavic vocalism sounded rather in the Lithuanian manner and distinctly different from any modern Slavic language (Russian and Belarusian have restored the unstressed a, but the stressed o has remained, and reflexes of i, u and ū sound very different from their ancient sources).

    (2) Common Slavic continued the Balto-Slavic distinction of four basic tones (dominant acute, dominant non-acute, recessive acute, recessive non-acute), which existed on both stressed and unstressed long vowels and diphthongs (see the book by Dybo cited in #3), so this sounded rather Latvian (which preserves three of those four tones on the first, stressed syllable, and two of four on unstressed ones) and very unlike any modern Slavic language. The acute accent (at least the dominant acute in the later period) involved a glottal stop, which again sounded rather Latvian. On the other hand, Slavic had free and mobile stress and no vowel reduction, which produced a very different sounding than the Latvian initial stress and extreme staccato rhythm.

    (3) Common Slavic distinguished etymological short and long vowels, in both stressed and unstressed syllables (the vowel lengths in modern West and South Slavic are partly related to the old ones but in a very non-linear way). The acute and non-acute lengths sounded differently: the acute vowels were shorter (they always shortened word-finally in later Slavic). Acoustically this should have sounded as something between Czech (very emphatic vowel lengths) and Lithuanian (vowel lengths perceivable by the speakers but not quite so by the foreign listeners).

    (4) Common Slavic had longer words than any of its modern descendants after the fall of the yers: I would say, an average Common Slavic sentence had 1,5 times more syllables. Again, no comparison with the modern Slavic. Lithuanian can be taken as an example, but late Common Slavic had much lesser share of closed syllables (basically, only sonorants were able to close the syllable), and already had no final -s that abounds in Lithuanian.

    (5) It is hard to tell wether late Common Slavic preserved the old consonant+j or had already merged them into palatal consonants, at least in some cases (i. e. nj or ņ, lj or ļ, sj or ś etc.). In the former case this must have sounded in the Slovak manner (though Slovak diphthongs are all new), in the latter as in Lithuanian, Russian or Belarusian (though most Russian/Belarusian palatalizations are of later origin).

    (6) I am not quite convinced that Slovene and Serbo-Croatian never possessed any palatalization of consonants before front vowels, but if so, the late Common Slavic in the 6th century sounded much less palatalized than most its descendants (except these two) in the 11th.

    As we can see, no modern Slavic language approaches the sounding of the late Common Slavic of the 6th century. Very-very approximately, for purely introductory purposes, I would say it sounded as something between Slovak, Lithuanian and Latvian.
     

    jadeite_85

    Senior Member
    italian, slovene
    Your post is very interesting and you certainly know a lot of things about Slavic languages. I think every slavic language is more conservative in some areas than others.
    Who has the most conservative morphology? vocabulary? phonology?

    I would like to talk about vocabulary.

    Some Slavic languages have a very large amount of loanwords from Latin/Romance, Germanic, and Turkic, while some others have been more conservative. Apparently Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian are the most conservative in vocabulary, but I could be wrong. Russian, Serbian, and Polish seem to have a very large amount of Latin and Germanic words, with Russian and Serbian having an additional Turkic influence. Bulgarian was likely influenced by Turkic more than any other Slavic language, because of Bulgars and then the Ottomans.
    However because Slovenian has the dual number in conjugation, the archaic Infinitive, less foreign vocabulary, and the pitch accent, I'd probably say Slovene is the most conservative and archaic of them all.
    For vocabulary I think we should consider:
    a) the amount of loanwords
    b) the switch from the original meaning of a slavic word

    I think Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian cannot be considered the most conservative. They borrowed heavily from Turkish, Italian and German. Then from Greek and Hungarian and we can even find some Romanian and Albanian influence. Even if Croatian is more pure, the amount of loans in the most basic vocabulary is consistent. In my opinion the amount of slavic words that changed from the original meaning is also big.

    There is a general perception that Slovene preserved the most the ancient meanings of the words. However I don't know if we can claim it has less borrowings, since it was influenced by German, Italian and Hungarian.

    I've read in this forum that Macedonian has more Turkish loans in use nowadays than Bulgarian.

    Could Literary Czech be considered the most conservative lexically speaking?
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    All such comparisons, if they pretend to be scientific, have to be based around some reproducible methodology. For example, one cannot take an arbitrary grammatical formant (like the Infinitive -ti: dělati) and ascribe more value to it than to any other (e. g. uncontracted -j- in the adjective endings: novaja, novoje) without firm etymological reasons (which, by the way, are absent in this case). The same with the vocabulary: which part of it is excluded from the analysis (e. g. is sъvěstь, that is a calque from cōnscientia, a Slavic word?), do we count words preserved in the language but ousted from the everyday usage or retained with some specialized meaning? What about the cultural lexis: we have little idea about the pre-Christian Slavic cultural lexicon, whereas the words and expressions created in Church Slavonic may have never reached e. g. Polish, so if a certain word exists in Church Slavonic but not in Polish, does this necessarily mean that the Polish word is younger? Etc.

    In evolutionary biology, a complicated set of tools has been developed for such comparisons, but organisms don't borrow characters, whereas in languages the overwhelming majority of things come from the outside (speakers around, speakers from a different province, speakers of a different language, literature translations) rather than arise as mutations in each speaker's mind, all of which makes reliable analyses almost groundless. Of course, we can compare, say, Italian with French and conclude that the latter is much more derived, but these are extreme cases and anyway some aspects of French may still turn out more archaic (e. g. the preservation of -s and -t in liaison), whereas for average languages (e. g. Spanish vs. Portuguese) there is no way to come to a satisfactory answer.
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Which Slavic language is the closest to proto-Slavic?
    I think all modern Slavic languages are equally distant from proto-Slavic.
    Old Common Slavic should be considered instead of proto-Slavic.

    Proto-Slavic is the ancestor of (Old Common) Slavic before opening sylables and before the 2-nd palatalization.

    Old Common Slavic was the language spoken in the 9-th/10th centuries. As any other language, Old Common Slavic was represented by its dialects on different territories. If the time is specified, the 8-th/9-th/10th centuries, Old Common Slavic could be simply called Slavic or Slavonic. The literary Old Slavonic is based on one of the dialects of Old Common Slavic.

    .. but what do you think is the most archaic Slavic language? Personally I think it's Slovenian or Macedonian.
    Macedonian is the most innovative among all the modern Slavic languages.

    I vote for Russian. Russian is the most archaic.
     

    rur1920

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Hello,
    … in languages the overwhelming majority of things come from the outside (speakers around, speakers from a different province, speakers of a different language, literature translations) rather than arise as mutations in each speaker's mind …
    How does one see that?
    By the way, do you imply that a language does not change if put in isolation from any other languages? This creates a paradox in the case all languages descend from a single one (which is not necessarily the case, of course).
    Thank you.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Hello,

    How does one see that?
    By the way, do you imply that a language does not change if put in isolation from any other languages? This creates a paradox in the case all languages descend from a single one (which is not necessarily the case, of course).
    Thank you.
    By "outside" I meant everything originating not within the speaker's mind.

    When a mutation happens in the genetic material, the only way (well, except for the retroviral activity) for an organism to spread it is to leave more descendants: the phylogenetic trees in biology, therefore, are topologically similar to real trees in that they have only shoots of various levels, and every taxon represents a separate shoot or system of shoots with its own independent set of characters. When a character in biology turns out to be shared between several taxa, this means either that it was present in the common ancestor (overtly or in the form of genetic precursors) or that it originated independently. This is the context in which the scientific estimation of the evolutionary relationships and the calculation of ancestral vs. derived characters (called plesiomorphies and apomorphies in the evolutionary biology) is only possible.

    Nothing of it is true in languages. The speaker doesn't inherit his language from his parents to develop it independently: everything he thinks, says or writes during his entire life is a result of the interaction between his language habits and those of people around him (including books and other records), so that the vast majority of changes in the language are results of an extremely complex interplay of countless acts of expressing. The evolution of a language is thus nothing like a tree, but rather a kind of web, with influences coming at every moment from various sources, including prestigious unrelated languages.

    What does it mean for the investigation of the linguistic evolution? When a character (coded by one or several DNA sequences) is lost in a lineage of organisms, there is no way for the descendants of this lineage to reacquire it in the previous form (unless, casually and unusually, the exact same sequence is reintroduced as a mutation), and thus an archaic character can be safely called archaic, and a derived character turns out derived indeed, so anybody can enumerate these characters and compare them in presumably related evolutionary lineages to decide which branches are closer and which of them are generally more archaic or more derived. In languages, any element (sound, word, construction), originally absent, lost or modified at some moment in the speaker's mind can be learnt, recalled or reintroduced from the outside (compare e. g. the Church Slavonic cultural vocabulary once almost forgotten in Bulgarian [where it had largely originated], but reintroduced to this language in the 19th century, or the elimination of dialects with the spread of the compulsory education and the mass media).

    A typical example of difficulties so widespread in languages and absolutely unimaginable in biological evolution is the situation with the second palatalization in Russian mentioned by the topic starter. In Russian (in all modern dialects, as far as I imagine) the velars (к/г/х) don't alternate with sibilants (ц/з/с) before certain е and и (реке, беги). We know that in the future Russian part of Old East Slavic there were some dialects that had passed through the second palatalization (and thus acquired рѣцѣ and бѣзи) and others that had avoided this change (and retained рѣкѣ and бѣги, as in Novgorod and Pskov). It is obvious that both the inner processes of leveling of the paradigms and the influence of the Novgorod settlers (descendants of which occupy the largest part of the present Russian-speaking territory) have lead to the situation when this alternation has been eliminated from the language, but is there any way to decide whether the modern Common Russian реке/беги continue unchanged northern forms or represent levelled southern ones?
     
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    rur1920

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you. Very elucidating. I should have been more attentive.
    It is obvious that both the inner processes of leveling of the paradigms and the influence of the Novgorod settlers (descendants of which occupy the largest part of the present Russian-speaking territory) have lead to the situation when this alternation has been eliminated from the language, but is there any way to decide whether the modern Common Russian руке/беги continue unchanged northern forms or represent levelled southern ones?
    This has to do with the question what is a language, with all its features, and what represents its identity... It looks that history of changes of its features does not. And, of course, the notion of "archaic" is under-defined: does that mean "similar to the past state"? or "not having experienced evolution from the past state"?.. In evolutionary biology, you say, these indications mean the same thing – while in history of languages they do not.
     

    UkrainianPolyglot

    Member
    Ukrainian native, but English better
    Macedonian is the most innovative among all the modern Slavic languages.

    I vote for Russian. Russian is the most archaic.
    I thought it is more conservative. Yes it has some innovations like an additional set of articles, but at the same time it shares some features with Serbo-Croatian and its vowels seem to be much more conservative than Bulgarian. But I could be wrong.
     

    jadeite_85

    Senior Member
    italian, slovene
    I thought it is more conservative. Yes it has some innovations like an additional set of articles, but at the same time it shares some features with Serbo-Croatian and its vowels seem to be much more conservative than Bulgarian. But I could be wrong.
    But BCS certainly is not conservative in many aspects (nominal declension, vocabulary, lost differences in verbs of motion). For exemple, in BCS the difference between prepositional/locative and dative is just theoretical.

    We should consider Sorbian (all tenses, dual, 7 cases)
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Firstly, you need to know that reading a gigantic paragraph is a very daunting task. Next time, break it up into many smaller paragraphs.

    Bulgarian was likely influenced by Turkic more than any other Slavic language, because of Bulgars and then the Ottomans.
    Bulgars are of uncertain origin and it is definitely not established that they were Turkic. Regardless, their language has had a very weak influence on modern Bulgarian.
    Also, there seem to be many more Turkish words in Macedonian and, especially, Serbian these days. Bulgarian underwent a process of replacing many of those Turkish words with others. Of course, dialects and everyday language allow for more freedom, but Standard Bulgarian in general has less of that than the aforementioned.
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I thought it is more conservative. Yes it has some innovations like an additional set of articles, but at the same time it shares some features with Serbo-Croatian and its vowels seem to be much more conservative than Bulgarian. But I could be wrong.
    I am afraid you are wrong. Standard Bulgarian is much more conservative than Standard Macedonian.

    Considering the vowels, Standard Macedonian is the least conservative than every other Slavic language. Standard Macedonian has just 5, exactly as Greek. All western dialects of Balkano-Slavic (incl. Macedonian) and the eastern dialects of Serbian has the old Jat vowel merged into E while it is partially preserved in Eastern and Standard Bulgarian. Moreover, Standard Bulgarian (the only among Slavic) preserves the old big ER, Ъ.

    I cannot remember any conservative features shared by Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian, actually.

    In my opinion, Standard Macedonian was based on a dialect of former hellenophones converted later to Slavic. All other Balkano-Slavic dialects have such a component but it is the most recent for Macedonian.

    Bulgarian was likely influenced by Turkic more than any other Slavic language, because of Bulgars and then the Ottomans.
    Only because of Ottoman Turkish.

    Any Slavic language has very old loanwords from some Turkic language(s). However, this is actually of null importance even for Bulgarian.

    Czech and Slovak are the only ones to have preserved long vowels
    This is innovative. In old Slavic, e.g., there could not be long O. Czech had long O which later changed to long U.

    There could be an experiment to demonstrate which of the modern Slavic languages is the most conservative.

    Text. The oldest texts in Slavic are Gospels, presumably of the end of the 9th century. Select an excerpt of a Gospel in Old Slavonic (preserving original vocalization, the older one than Church Slavonic). Avoid commonly known texts (such as Matthew 6:9).

    Speaker. Assign a person who can read the selected text. Should not be native Slav. Make an agreemant about the exact pronunciation keeping it as conservative as possible. Also, make an agreemant about the speed of reading.

    Public. Native speakers of all modern Slavic languages which are considered. Exclude those related to the religion (they could know the text by heart). Exclude those related to lingustics. Exclude those fluent in more than one Slavic languages.

    Experiment. The speaker reads the text. Each person of the public writes down the translation into his/her native language.

    Appraisal. Exact translation will be appreciated and scored.

    My expectations. The Russian team wins. Russian is the most conservative. The Macedonian team qualifies last. Macedonian is the most innovative.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Russian is conservative in the sense that it has largely preserved the Church Slavonic vocabulary, so indeed, a Russian speaker will win in your experiment, but other aspects of the Russian language will be averagely advanced, some more, some less, plus the Church Slavonic vocabulary is not Common Slavic, and a great deal of these words never existed outside the Orthodox tradition.
     

    DenisCh

    New Member
    Russia - Russian & Chuvash
    Bulgars are of uncertain origin and it is definitely not established that they were Turkic.
    Great Bulgaria, then Volga Bulgaria are well known from arabic (Ibn Fadlan) and rus sources. There are also sources that tell about the split of Great Bulgaria population into two branches, with one settled on Volga and another on the Black Sea.
    It is also known about Volga Bulgaria their language was turkic. Most probably the predeccessor of modern chuvash, although there are versions it was from kipchak family, still turkic you see.
    Too many coincedences.
    Sure, there's a point that old bulgar language had no influence on slavs who lived there.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    There are several texts written in a reconstruction of Protoindoeuropean language (The sheep and the horses for example).
    Are there any good reconstructions of Protoslavic, or Common Slavic?
    Such a text could be aligned with translations to various Slavic languages and compared.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    There are several texts written in a reconstruction of Protoindoeuropean language (The sheep and the horses for example).
    Are there any good reconstructions of Protoslavic, or Common Slavic?
    Such a text could be aligned with translations to various Slavic languages and compared.
    These texts are made just for fun: there is no way to reliably reconstruct sentences in a long extinct language. The maximum that can be done is stable expressions found e. g. in poetry or proverbs.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    These texts are made just for fun: there is no way to reliably reconstruct sentences in a long extinct language. The maximum that can be done is stable expressions found e. g. in poetry or proverbs.
    I understand that we know little about for example syntax or idiomacy of PIE, so it is not possible to reconstruct realistic sentences in such a remote language. Vocabulary, and grammar seem to have been reconstructed with a much better accuracy.
    The Commone Slavic reconstruction could be much more relialable, taking into consideration that the time span between existing written remnants of OCS and Common Slavic was not more than 300 years, compared to at least 3000 years between oldest written texts in an IE language and PIE. One could at least make Swadesh lists of reconstructed CS words and words in modern Slavic languages.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The Commone Slavic reconstruction could be much more relialable, taking into consideration that the time span between existing written remnants of OCS and Common Slavic was not more than 300 years, compared to at least 3000 years between oldest written texts in an IE language and PIE. One could at least make Swadesh lists of reconstructed CS words and words in modern Slavic languages.
    Unfortunately, we are unable to reconstruct the exact phonetic shape of the Late Common Slavic words: the borrowings from and to Slavic of the 5–8th centuries suggest that this was the period of rapid and considerable phonetic changes and while we can imagine how did the words look before these changes, it is so far almost impossible to date them within that period (plus, these changes surely occurred with different speed in different dialects). What pretend to be "Common Slavic" forms in the literature, are just Old Church Slavonic or Old East Slavic (depending on which one is more archaic in each particular case) words with one or two phonetic changes rolled back to their common denominator. For example, the word for the "city" is usually reconstructed as *gordъ, which is simply the OCS gradъ + OES gorodъ taken one step back. The problem, however, is that all ancient borrowings suggest that the future Slavic o was still a around the 6–7th centuries (and probably somewhat later, at least locally), and moreover, the dialect of Old Novgorod attested since the 11th century has -e in the Nom. Sg. (gorode) vs. -ъ in the Acc. Sg. (gorodъ), suggesting that other dialects had merged the two reflexes that had been still distinct in Late Common Slavic. So, instead of the conventional *gordъ we have to postulate *gardV, where V is some short-lived vowel of unknown quality (probably a schwa, since it may explain the evolution to both ъ and e). And this is just the beginning. For example, we don't know when did the clusters stop+sonorant simplify and thus we can't be sure whether the later sъnъ "sleep" was already *sunV or still *supnV in that real Late Common Slavic (cp. gynǫti and gybnǫti attested in the early texts for "to perish", and by the way both preserved up to modern times in Russian гинуть and гибнуть). We don't know when and how did the vowel lengths shorten (there are wildly conflicting opinions on this matter). Etc etc…

    The same about the lexis. Yes, we can find words that are identical in the later dialects and dress them in this reconstructed phonetic shape, trying to avoid problematic sounds, but we can't reliably use virtually anything from the abstract vocabulary because all the early Slavic texts were either Christian ones or at least strongly influenced by the standard languages based on the Christian texts, and we either don't know if each particular word was invented by the Christian translators and then spread across the Slavdom, or its semantics was changed by the new religion and the Mediterranean culture.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    I think, the most realistic thing we can expect in this sense would be a finding of some texts written by early Slavic Christian communities in the Balkans in the 6–7th centuries, e. g. by children of Slavic invaders and local Christian women.
     

    klemen

    Member
    Slovene
    Proto slavs would understand some of our vocabulary (excluding new words for new things) as we would understand some of their vocabulary regarding that we can understand to a degree all of slavic languages.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    As we can't procure any text in Common Slavic, the only way is to use an OCS text, and compare it with different modern Slavic languages. Here is the text of Lord's Prayer, transcribed to extended Roman alphabet.

    Otĭče našĭ iže jesi na nebesěxŭ, da svętitŭ sę imę Tvoje da pridetŭ cěsar'ĭstvije Tvoje da bǫdetŭ volja Tvoja jako na nebesi i na zeml'i. xlěbŭ našĭ nasǫštĭnyi daždĭ namŭ dĭnĭsĭ i otŭpusti namŭ dlŭgy našę jako i my otŭpuštajemŭ dlŭžĭnikomŭ našimŭ, i ne vŭvedi nasŭ vŭ iskušenije, nŭ izbavi ny otŭ neprijazni. jako tvoje jestŭ cěsar'ĭstvije i sila i slava vŭ věky věkomŭ. Aminĭ.

    I can begin with Polish here.
    There are following words that I would not understand if they were not in the context:
    nasǫštĭnyi
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    That won't work for Russian since this prayer has survived in the Russian church usage with mostly phonetic changes plus a few word replacements that probably go back to a different early Slavic translation. That's simply the result of the uninterrupted literary tradition: the language itself has changed much more than the cultural vocabulary alone would suggest.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    That won't work for Russian since this prayer has survived in the Russian church usage with mostly phonetic changes plus a few word replacements that probably go back to a different early Slavic translation. That's simply the result of the uninterrupted literary tradition: the language itself has changed much more than the cultural vocabulary alone would suggest.
    But which words would not be understandable if they were not known from the prayer (or which are understood only because they are known from the prayer)?
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    But which words would not be understandable if they were not known from the prayer (or which are understood only because they are known from the prayer)?
    All words exist in the modern language or at least are deducible for the modern layman. Насущный means now "vital, urgent" (насущные вопросы "vital questions"). Цесарствие can be deduced from цесарь and царствие. Днесь and яко aren't used anymore but should be familiar (to some, at least) from the older literature. Неприязнь means rather "dislike" (and I guess it is its original meaning). The grammar will cause troubles, however.
     

    Saimdusan

    Member
    English (AU)
    For example Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovenian preserved the archaic Infinitive form
    Only to a certain extent in Serbo-Croatian and Slovene.

    In the Slovene and Serbo-Croatian varieties of Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro (including those spoken by the Serbs of these countries) the final vowel of the infinitive is cut off in spontaneous speech, like pisat' instead of pisati.

    In Serbo-Croatian as spoken in Serbia, the final i is preserved but there is a tendency towards infinitive avoidance known in Serbian as dakanje. This is even more pronounced in the colloquial language but exists to a certain extent in formal texts as well.

    "he will go"
    formal Serbian on će ići
    informal Serbian in Serbia on će ići or on će da ide

    "I would love to go"
    formal Serbian voleo bih ići or possibly voleo bih da idem
    informal Serbian in Serbia voleo bi' da idem or less likely voleo bi(h) ići

    This tendency goes a few steps further in Bulgarian and Macedonian as you've already mentioned, as they've lost the infinitive altogether.

    The only case they preserve is the Vocative, which has been (mostly) lost in Russian, Belarusian, Slovak, and Slovenian.
    And Croatian.

    Slovenian is the only one to have preserved the dual number, both in conjugation and declension.
    Doesn't Sorbian do this as well?

    Apparently Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian are the most conservative in vocabulary, but I could be wrong.
    Slovene and Standard Croatian have many neologisms based on Slavic roots but I don't know why that would be understandable for proto-Slavs. Macedonian and vernacular Croatian are just as full of loanwords as Serbian is.

    Polish is the only one to have preserved nasal vowels,
    Again, not really. In spontaneous speech nasal vowels are almost always reduced to vowel + nasal consonant or just vowel.

    uczę is pronounced ucze
    będę is pronounced bende
    mądry is pronounced mondry
    są is often pronounced so or som (but this is more stigmatised than the above changes, especially so)

    Serbo-Croatian and Slovene are the only ones to have preserved pitch accent.
    Kajkavian varieties in Croatia and Torlakian varieties in Serbia don't have it, and Slovene has two accentual norms one of which does not have pitch accent.

    while in Polish the auxiliary merged with the word (although it can be separated, but this is rare).
    It's not really that rare, but I remember reading a study that showed that the younger generations separate it less than the older ones. This also has implications for Polish fixed stress (stress always on the second-to-last syllable):

    historically:
    powiedzaliśmy (because it comes from powiedzali - śmy)

    more and more common:
    powiedzaliśmy (because it's now analysed as one word)

    Russian plural is unique because the plural number 2-4 uses the Genitive case of the singular (some say it's a remnant of the dual?), while everything after uses the Genitive Plural. I'm not aware of any other Slavic language doing this.
    Serbo-Croatian does this as well.

    muškárci (men) N pl.
    dva-četiri muškárca (two-four men) G sl.
    pet mùškārācā (five men) G pl.
    zbog muškárca (because of the man) G sl.
    mnogo mùškārācā (many men) G pl.

    žène (woman) N pl.
    dva-četiri žène (two-four women) G sl.
    pet žéna (five women) G pl.
    zbog žène (because of the woman) G sl.
    mnogo žéna (many women) G pl.

    while Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian have a unique way of saying thousand, also borrowed from Greek.
    'iljada also exists in vernacular Croatian alongside tisuća. It is often proscribed as a Serbianism, though, and tisuća is preferred in the standard.

    Czech, Slovene, and Serbo-Croatian Plurals are more conservative.
    You sure about that?

    Cz.
    m. hrad, hrady
    muž, muži

    f. žena, ženy
    kost, kosti

    Sl.
    m. mož, možje

    f. žena, žene

    Sh.
    m. muškarac, muškarci

    f. žena, žene

    I don't see what Czech plurals have in common with Slovene and Serbo-Croatian plurals. They don't seem to preserve the difference between masculine and feminine.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    As we can't procure any text in Common Slavic, the only way is to use an OCS text, and compare it with different modern Slavic languages. Here is the text of Lord's Prayer, transcribed to extended Roman alphabet.

    Otĭče našĭ iže jesi na nebesěxŭ, da svętitŭ sę imę Tvoje da pridetŭ cěsar'ĭstvije Tvoje da bǫdetŭ volja Tvoja jako na nebesi i na zeml'i. xlěbŭ našĭ nasǫštĭnyi daždĭ namŭ dĭnĭsĭ i otŭpusti namŭ dlŭgy našę jako i my otŭpuštajemŭ dlŭžĭnikomŭ našimŭ, i ne vŭvedi nasŭ vŭ iskušenije, nŭ izbavi ny otŭ neprijazni. jako tvoje jestŭ cěsar'ĭstvije i sila i slava vŭ věky věkomŭ. Aminĭ.
    I'd transcribe your text in a more accurate way (in particular, it is unlikely that in the 10th century the East Balkanic ь and ъ were still retaining their original qualities):

    Otьʧe naʃь, jьʒe jesi na nebesьxъ:
    da svętitъ sę jimę tvoje,
    da pridetъ ʦěsaŗьstvьje tvoje,
    da bǫdetъ voļa tvoja jako na nebese i na zemļi.

    Xlěbъ naʃь nasǫʃtьnъjь daʒdь namъ dьnьsь
    i otъpusti namъ dl̥gy naʃę,
    jako i my otъpuʃtajemъ dl̥ʒьnikomъ naʃimъ,
    i ne vъvedi ny vъ jьskuʃenьje,
    nъ jьzbavi ny otъ neprьjazni.

    Jako tvoje jestъ cěsaŗьstvьje,
    i sila, i slava vъ věky věkomъ.
    Aminь.
    Now, assuming for a moment that the grammar and vocabulary hadn't changed for 500 years, let's imagine how the same text may have looked in the 5th century (the doubtful sounds are marked as …):

    *Atiʨe nā……, ı̯…ʥe es… nā nebesixu:
    dā su̯ent…t… sēn …mēn tu̯aı̯…,
    dā pr… idet… k…sā…istu̯iı̯… tu̯aı̯…,
    dā bundet… u̯a…ā tu̯aı̯ā ı̯āka nā nebese … nā zemı̯….

    Xl…b…n nā……n nāsantı̯in…n dā…… nām… dinin sin
    … at…p…st… nām… dulg… nā……,
    ı̯āka … m… at…p…stı̯āı̯…m… dulʥin…kam… nā……m…,
    … ne unu̯ed… n… u isk……eniı̯…,
    nu izbāu̯… n… at… nepriı̯āzn….

    Jāka tu̯aı̯… esti k…sā…istu̯iı̯…,
    … s…lā, … slāu̯ā un u…k… u…kam….
    Āmīni.
    I retain the final n's since traces of them can still be seen in Slavic five centuries later (vъnuʃiti, sъněsti, kъ ņimъ).

    It is unknown whether the future ņ, ļ, ŗ etc. were already palatal sounds or still combinations nı̯, lı̯, rı̯ etc. (i. e. *u̯aļā or *u̯alı̯ā).

    It is unknown whether the change *a>*æ>e after palatals had already occurred (i. e. *tu̯aı̯a, *tu̯aı̯æ or *tu̯aı̯e).

    It is unknown whether the old diphthongs had already simplified, and how far they had evolved (e. g. still *pau̯steı̯ti or already *pōstī₂ti for the later pustitь/pustitъ, still *zemı̯āı̯ or already *zemı̯ī₂ for the later zemļi).

    It is absolutely unknown how did the final vowels in former (or then partly current) closed syllables look like (possibilities range from the still Balto-Slavic *dulgans to the much more advanced *dulgū for the later dl̥gy).

    As you can see, we simply have not enough data to reconstruct the latest Common Slavic stage. Add to this the great uncertainty about prosody: e. g. the reconstructions by Dybo and Kortlandt are not reducible to a common denominator — one of them, or both, should be wrong (I'm currently inclined to think that wrong is Kortlandt).
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I'd transcribe your text in a more accurate way (in particular, it is unlikely that in the 10th century the East Balkanic ь and ъ were still retaining their original qualities):



    Now, assuming for a moment that the grammar and vocabulary hadn't changed for 500 years, let's imagine how the same text may have looked in the 5th century (the doubtful sounds are marked as …):



    I retain the final n's since traces of them can still be seen in Slavic five centuries later (vъnuʃiti, sъněsti, kъ ņimъ).

    It is unknown whether the future ņ, ļ, ŗ etc. were already palatal sounds or still combinations nı̯, lı̯, rı̯ etc. (i. e. *u̯aļā or *u̯alı̯ā).

    It is unknown whether the change *a>*æ>e after palatals had already occurred (i. e. *tu̯aı̯a, *tu̯aı̯æ or *tu̯aı̯e).

    It is unknown whether the old diphthongs had already simplified, and how far they had evolved (e. g. still *pau̯steı̯ti or already *pōstī₂ti for the later pustitь/pustitъ, still *zemı̯āı̯ or already *zemı̯ī₂ for the later zemļi).

    It is absolutely unknown how did the final vowels in former (or then partly current) closed syllables look like (possibilities range from the still Balto-Slavic *dulgans to the much more advanced *dulgū for the later dl̥gy).

    As you can see, we simply have not enough data to reconstruct the latest Common Slavic stage. Add to this the great uncertainty about prosody: e. g. the reconstructions by Dybo and Kortlandt are not reducible to a common denominator — one of them, or both, should be wrong (I'm currently inclined to think that wrong is Kortlandt).
    I understood your point of "... we simply have not enough data to reconstruct the latest Common Slavic stage", and gave up the matter already in my previous post, proposing in exchange a try with an OCS text.
    I assumed that only a few foreros are familiar enough with the old Cyrillic, so I had to choose between a transliteration and some different trancriptions of the text in the web, and chose a transcription that I deemed simple enough for a wider circle of interested in the matter.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "while in Polish the auxiliary merged with the word (although it can be separated, but this is rare)"

    It's not really that rare, but I remember reading a study that showed that the younger generations separate it less than the older ones. This also has implications for Polish fixed stress (stress always on the second-to-last syllable):

    historically:
    powiedzaliśmy (because it comes from powiedzali - śmy)

    more and more common:
    powiedzaliśmy (because it's now analysed as one word)
    I think there is some misunderstanding here.
    The verb endings (reduced auxiliary verb "to be") of the Polish Past Tense (-em, -ś, -i, -śmy,-ście, -ø), which are fixed to the verb are actually fixed in the "basic conjugation form", and they are not perceived as separate/loose components by an average speaker (contrary to Czech).

    However, the endings can be attached to a personal pronoun (almost only in plural: "my",and "wy") and some words, like "by", "aby" "że", and skipped at the end of the actual verb, and this is not rare. It occurs abundantly in substandard speech, slang and dialects. For example you can say: "Ja to zrobiłem" or "Ja żem to zrobił" and "myśmy to zrobili". In archaic Polish there was also "Jam to zrobił". "Tyś to to zrobił" occurs today, but is rare. What is strange, that despite those forms still highly alive in the language, almost nobody reflects about the endings being "mobile".

    Concerning "powiedzaliśmy": such a form does not exist in contemporary Polish, but "powiadaliśmy" (imeprfective) exists.
    I suspect that "powiedzaliśmy" did not exist in Old Polsh either.
    The perfective verb is "powiedzieliśmy"
     

    ivan-e-s

    New Member
    Bulgarian - USA
    I would say the Eastern Slavic language group is the closest to Proto-Slavic. They are the closest, and in fact in the area, where Proto-Slavic people started migrating to the Southern and Western Slavic group areas. I am not familiar with Belarussian or Ukrainian so I cannot say which of the Eastern Slavic languages is closest to Proto-Slavic. Since I have studied Russian for years I am most familiar with that language. I have seen some archaic Bulgarian texts and our language at that time was closer to the Eastern Slavic language group than it is today. The pronunciation of some words was closer to Russian (again I don't know Bel. or Ukrainian so cannot compare), for example the contemporary word for language in Bulgarian език used to be pronounced something like язык /not sure about the spelling, just making a point that it was a я sound and the ы was not an и like today/. Also, the word for I аз in Bulgarian is pronounced я even nowadays in some villages in Bulgaria according to their dialect, which is the word for I in Russian. I am not a linguist but this is my common person feeling/understanding.
     

    Eirwyn

    New Member
    Russian
    I would say the Eastern Slavic language group is the closest to Proto-Slavic.
    I don't think so. They may not be as innovative as Bulgarian and Macedonian, but definitely not the most archaic.
    the contemporary word for language in Bulgarian език used to be pronounced something like язык /not sure about the spelling, just making a point that it was a я sound
    Actually, it was pronounced like ѩзыкъ with ѩ being nasalized «je».
    the ы was not an и like today
    This phoneme has also been preserved in Polish and Belorussian.
    Also, the word for I аз in Bulgarian is pronounced я even nowadays in some villages in Bulgaria according to their dialect, which is the word for I in Russian.
    «Аз» is a more archaic form than «Я».
     

    ivan-e-s

    New Member
    Bulgarian - USA
    Привет Еируин,
    You are making interesting points.
    My point regarding език was that it used to be pronounced in Bulgarian softer, the ѩ is closed to я, than the e, the e in Bulgarian is very profound and pronounced hard. To Bulgarians Russian sounds very soft and you don't pronounce the letters like you see them /from our perspective/, for example for o often thimes you pronounce a, the e you pronounce like ye and so on. When I looked over some archaic Bulgarian texts our language looked on paper much softer closer to Russian than what it looks and sounds like nowadays hence my thinking.
    Regarding the ы, true, but when I listen to Polish overall it doesn't sound to me as pure a Slavic language as Russian. I think Belorussian is closer to Polish than Russian, so again I think Russian is closer to Proto-Slavic from the three.
    Wow, if you are saying Bulgarian is closer to Proto-Slavic than Russian, I am pleasantly surprised. I was just giving random examples above. The reason for my thinking was we have a large number of words from Latin and Greek or a foreign language in the sciences and formal studies of different fields and even some verbs and nouns. I personally don't like that but that's the reality. In some cases we actually have an alternative Slavic or at least a word that sounds more like our word for them but some people use the foreign word or we use both. In some cases these alternative my have slightly different meanings or it might not sound correct when you use them depending on the situation. A few examples, перфектно/съвършено, игнорирам/пренебрегвам /contemporary loan word from English/, гара, гараж, монтаж, арбитраж /from French/, кьоше/ъгъл /кьоше is a Turkish archaism, it is not used frequently, my grandma uses this word, there is a road intersection in Sofia that uses this name/, a lot of words from Greek in religion and so on. I realize some of these might not be very good examples as they might be applicable in Russian and some other Slavic languages but when you take into consideration all the loan words and the Slavic language base my opinion is Russian sounds and looks more Slavic than Bulgarian. But back to your point maybe the Slavic words that we do use in Bulgarian are more archaic than the Russian counterparts, it's hard for me to tell.
     
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    Eirwyn

    New Member
    Russian
    When I looked over some archaic Bulgarian texts our language looked on paper much softer closer to Russian than what it looks and sounds like nowadays hence my thinking.
    I don't understand how you could get that from paper, but it's kind of true. As far as I know, the Old Bulgarian consonant system really is closer to the Russian one, than it is to the modern Bulgarian one.

    The problem is that Proto-Slavic didn't have all those automatic palatalizations before e/и/ѧ/ь/ѣ that appeared later in East Slavic, Lechitic and Bulgarian dialects. It's not really an archaic feature if you look at the Slavic languages in general.

    Regarding the ы, true, but when I listen to Polish overall it doesn't sound to me as pure a Slavic language as Russian.
    Why?

    I think Belorussian is closer to Polish than Russian
    In terms of vocabulary? Maybe. Its phonetic system (especially the accentuation system) and grammar is still pretty much East Slavic though.

    Wow, if you are saying Bulgarian is closer to Proto-Slavic than Russian, I am pleasantly surprised.
    But back to your point maybe the Slavic words that we do use in Bulgarian are more archaic than the Russian counterparts, it's hard for me to tell.
    I don't want to disappoint you but I was only talking about that exact Bulgarian word «аз» which have gone through a less amount of sound changes than it did in most other Slavic languages. I didn't make any statements about the languages in general (and I probably won't because it's very hard to determine which language innovations are more significant and which are less).
     

    ivan-e-s

    New Member
    Bulgarian - USA
    I don't understand how you could get that from paper, but it's kind of true.
    It is very simple. Bulgarian is pronounced the way it is written. At least the contemporary one. If that holds true in the past then if they wrote ѩзыкъ it must have been pronounced йезык, not език.

    Why? (for the Polish language)
    Part of it is comprehension I must admit. However, part of it is also history, culture and religion. I am not an expert on Catholicism but I think the Catholic church must have influenced Polish, influenced it by Latin/German. Whereas, Old Church Slavonic was our own language.

    From one of your earlier posts
    I don't think so.
    and
    I don't want to disappoint you but I was only talking about that exact Bulgarian word «аз» ...
    (regarding "I would say the Eastern Slavic language group is the closest to Proto-Slavic.")
    I am confused. Can you share your opinion then which language is the closest to Proto-Slavic?
     
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    Eirwyn

    New Member
    Russian
    Whereas, Old Church Slavonic was our own language.
    It still borrowed words from Greek though.

    I am confused. Can you share your opinion then which language is the closest to Proto-Slavic?
    None of them. They are archaic in varying degrees in different parts of the system.
    How can we say something for sure if none of us is even able to speak Proto-Slavic fluently? ;)
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The problem is that Proto-Slavic didn't have all those automatic palatalizations before e/и/ѧ/ь/ѣ that appeared later in East Slavic, Lechitic and Bulgarian dialects. It's not really an archaic feature if you look at the Slavic languages in general.
    Czech has ř in every case when r stood before a front vowel a millennium ago (e: řemen; ě: řeka; i: vařiti; ę: řád, kuře; ь: tvař), which suggests that a positional palatalization developed for some time and then disappeared except in case of * that had already assibilated into ř to the time of the dispalatalization. Likewise, in Ukrainian the consonants remain palatalized when the former front vowels disappeared or changed to the time of the dispalatalization, e. g. in the Imperative Sg. 2: неси/nesı but сядь/sʲa and Pl. 2 сядьте/sʲadʲte but несіть/nesʲi. Actually, only in Slovene and Serbo-Croatian are there no traces of the past positional palatalization, which can be interpreted as either that it never took place or that it hasn't left detectable outcomes.

    The lack of positional palatalization in East Slavic before *el>olo (*melka>молоко/moloko) and *il>ъl (*pilnV>пълнъ/pъlnъ) in contrast to its presence in the outcomes of the later change e>o (льнъ/lьnъ > лен/lʲen > Belarusian and Russian лён/lʲon, Ukrainian льон/lʲon) suggests that at the time of the former change East Slavic consonants were still not positionally palatalized, and that palatalization developed during the last centuries of the 1st millennium — either having reached Slovene and Serbo-Croatian or not.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I vote for Russian. Russian is the most archaic.
    In some aspects it is, in other it isn't. No language preserved the early Slavic verbal grammar better than Bulgarian and Macedonian, I suppose, - but they, in turn, have totally lost the noun cases. Russian, compared to many others, has lost the Slavic vocative (and kind of developed a new one). But the worst thing about Russian is, of course, phonetics (even taking into account that all Slavic languages have drifted very far away in this aspect). The reduction of vowels!.. The stress system may be not as simplified as in the West Slavic languages, but it's completely rebuilt anyway and cannot be compared even to the BCS or Slovene systems discussed above.
    «Аз» is a more archaic form than «Я».
    The both forms existed already in proto-Slavic, though, if I remember correctly.
    and in fact in the area, where Proto-Slavic people started migrating to the Southern and Western Slavic group areas
    The proto-Slavic area surely covered not only parts of the modern day Ukraine but also parts of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. And the point of the ultimate origin remains disputed (the Carpathians, Polesia or the Vistula basin, if I remember correctly again).
    And again, everywhere the phonetics has evolved a lot.
     

    ivan-e-s

    New Member
    Bulgarian - USA
    The proto-Slavic area surely covered not only parts of the modern day Ukraine but also parts of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.
    I would only agree about Poland. Both the Czech Rep. and Slovenia are way too west. There was a huge movement of people including the Slavs from the East to the West. Everything I have read and understand point to the facts that those two groups moved from the East to the West. For Russians probably these areas might seem too close and the differences insignificant, but these are completely different geographic areas. Slovenia for example is bordering the Adriatic sea (no way on Earth it could be the Proto-land). From what I've read, people are saying the Slovenes were pushed down south by the Huns/Hungarians, they were originally bordering what is now the Czech Rep./Slovakia.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The stress system may be not as simplified as in the West Slavic languages, but it's completely rebuilt anyway and cannot be compared even to the BCS or Slovene systems discussed above.
    Standard Serbo-Croatian, and the neo-shtokavian dialects that lie at its base, have lost the old tonal distinctions: the tones that we see today don't continue the old ones. When the old stress was on the initial syllable, it has become universally falling (written as when long, as when short), cp.:

    former acute: li̋pa > lȉpa
    former neoacute: vòļa > vȍlja
    former circumflex: mę̑so > mȇso
    former neocircumflex: bǫ̍deši > bȕdēš

    When the old stress was on any non-initial syllable, it has been retracted one syllable to the beginning giving the newly stressed syllable a universally rising tone (written as when long, as when short; as Wikipedia notes: "its melody still "gravitated" towards the original syllable" — Serbo-Croatian - Wikipedia):

    kosa̋ > kòsa
    luna̋ > lúna.


    The original tone is thus irrelevant for the tonal quality of the stressed syllable in standard Serbo-Croatian.


    Slovene has preserved the old tones in one of its standards (the other one is atonic), but it has experienced so numerous changes (see here: Which Slavic language is the closest to proto-Slavic? ) that it is rather difficult for a non-specialist to predict the proto-Slovene stress position and tone quality from the modern outcome.


    In contrast, East Slavic has lost the tones, but the stress position didn't experience any phonetic changes after the fall of the yers: the stress did move but on lexical grounds (rearrangement of words between paradigms and the evolution of the accentual paradigms themselves, e. g. the Russian monosyllabic short adjectives in the 16–18th centuries tended to acquire the end-stress in the feminine forms [чиста́, стара́], and since the 19th century they began moving towards the end-stress in the Plural as well [чисты́, стары́]; the end-stressed neuter apparently will follow [чисто́ still doesn't exist, while старо́ sounds much more natural to me than ста́ро]). Many East Slavic words in their citation form, however, have preserved the stress they had a millennium ago — by far more than in any other modern Slavic language with mobile stress.

    The both forms existed already in proto-Slavic, though, if I remember correctly
    Зализняк АА · 2004 · Древненовгородский диалект: 130–131:
    Словоформы я и язъ на всем протяжении др.-новг. эпохи сосуществуют… До середины XIII в. в берестяных грамотах отчетливо преобладает я (40× против 10× язъ…). В грамотах 2 пол. XIII – XV вв. соотношение совсем иное — 11 : 26… С чем связан этот несколько неожиданный статистический эффект, пока не совсем ясно.
    The coexistence of both and ꙗзъ is attested also in southern Old East Slavic in the 12–13th centuries (Иванов ВВ, Иорданиди СИ, Вялкина ЛВ… · 1995 · Древнерусская грамматика XII–XIII вв: 328–332).

    What is more archaic, however, is the lack of iotation before a in азъ.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I would only agree about Poland. Both the Czech Rep. and Slovenia are way too west.
    Do you think the word "Prague" in the Prague-Korchak culture was added just for a joke? :) And while the attribution of the synchronous neighboring cultures is not clear enough, this one is definitely Slavic and, linguistically, should be still proto-Slavic.
     

    ivan-e-s

    New Member
    Bulgarian - USA
    Do you think the word "Prague" in the Prague-Korchak culture was added just for a joke? :) And while the attribution of the synchronous neighboring cultures is not clear enough, this one is definitely Slavic and, linguistically, should be still proto-Slavic.
    My approach is history and geography. I sense a lot of people on here are better at linguistics and archaeology. Having said that, I don't follow your logic. Simply because some people speak an older language doesn't mean that that's where all the people originated from. In the Czech example, let's make an assumption that the proto-Slavic land was somewhere in Poland/Ukraine. So, the Czech tribes moved away from Poland/Ukraine area and retained an older word while the Polish/Ukrainian languages evolved. So what? That doesn't change the assumption that the Czech originated from let's say Ukraine area. By the way, we also have this word in Bulgarian, праг. I didn't even know the etymology of Prague, but in Bulgarian we use it in the exact meaning behind the meaning of the Czech capital.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    This is not the first time I find the answer "Russian" given by Bulgarian speakers. I think this has a rather transparent explanation. The Russian written tradition had no interruption during the entire millennium of literacy, the social base of the written language was always the same: rulers, administrators, clergy, merchants etc., so that the (largely Old Bulgarian) lexicon that constituted the original literary language has preserved without perturbations, naturally but rather slowly changing with time. In contrast, all other Slavic languages of the orthodox tradition knew a sharp decline of the old literacy caused by foreign domination and the influence of other prestigious languages (especially Polish in western East Slavic), so that the old stock of learned vocabulary was either abandoned (Ukrainian and Belarusian) or reintroduced and then abandoned (Serbo-Croatian) or reintroduced (Bulgarian), but in either case it acquired a flavor of something old and solemn, and Russian, preserving this layer, started looking accordingly more conservative than other aspects of this language might suggest.
     

    ivan-e-s

    New Member
    Bulgarian - USA
    This is not the first time I find the answer "Russian" given by Bulgarian speakers. I think this has a rather transparent explanation. The Russian written tradition had no interruption during the entire millennium of literacy, the social base of the written language was always the same: rulers, administrators, clergy, merchants etc., so that the (largely Old Bulgarian) lexicon that constituted the original literary language has preserved without perturbations, naturally but rather slowly changing with time. In contrast, all other Slavic languages of the orthodox tradition knew a sharp decline of the old literacy caused by foreign domination and the influence of other prestigious languages (especially Polish in western East Slavic), so that the old stock of learned vocabulary was either abandoned (Ukrainian and Belarusian) or reintroduced and then abandoned (Serbo-Croatian) or reintroduced (Bulgarian), but in either case it acquired a flavor of something old and solemn, and Russian, preserving this layer, started looking accordingly more conservative than other aspects of this language might suggest.
    I understand what you are saying. I was referring more to the spoken language when I made the statement that Russian might be closest to Proto-Slavic. However, to Bulgarian ears and eyes Russian is equally Slavic and closely Proto-Slavic both in the written and spoken forms, they are the same, except of course slang, which we don't understand for the most part, and cannot tell if it is based on Slavic or foreign influence. I read a couple of more old Bulgarian texts from the 10th-14th centuries I think they were... they are 80% closer to Russian than what is the Bulgarian language today. It is amazing. That's the reason I say Russian seems to be closest to Proto-Slavic.
    P.S. Another reason Russian and the East Slavic Group might be closest to Proto-Slavic is that you didn't have such a foreign influence on your languages as the South and West Slavic Groups. I'm aware of the influence from French but they weren't your neighbors. In the West they were influenced heavily by German, in the South we were influenced heavily by Greek and Turkish. Whereas, you dominated your lands for centuries around Moscow area and anywhere east of there. And the majority of both Ukraine's and Belarussia's neighbors are Slavic, whereas in Bulgaria we have 3 non-Slavic neighbors on 2 different sides of our country.
     
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    Rarašek

    New Member
    Bulgarian
    I understand what you are saying. I was referring more to the spoken language when I made the statement that Russian might be closest to Proto-Slavic. However, to Bulgarian ears and eyes Russian is equally Slavic and closely Proto-Slavic both in the written and spoken forms, they are the same, except of course slang, which we don't understand for the most part, and cannot tell if it is based on Slavic or foreign influence.
    You are projecting your own impressions of the Russian language a lot. The average Bulgarian citizen doesn't know what Proto-Slavic is, thinks all Slavic languages are derived from Old Church Slavonic (and calls it "Old Bulgarian", with all the ideological implications the term carries), and is largely ignorant as to all that Slavic business outside of some vague notions of common heritage with Serbs and Russians. This is an unfortunate state of affairs, but it's a fact. The only reason many Bulgarians consider Russian somewhat archaic and "high-style" in its vocabulary is, as ahvalj explained above, the uninterrupted Slavonic literary tradition that has influenced its development. Somewhat ironically, I have stumbled upon an analogical reaction towards Bulgarian language among average Russians, when they encounter words like oko, usta, neželi, az etc. In both situations it's a faux impression of "archaic-ness", predisposed by one's own expectations and stereotypes, formed by the high status of Church Slavonic in Orthodox Slavic lands. As far as spoken Russian is concerned, I don't think there's any stereotype about it in Bulgaria aside of it being "very soft".
     

    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    the end-stressed neuter apparently will follow [чисто́ still doesn't exist, while старо́ sounds much more natural to me than ста́ро])
    You can say "чистó" as a predicative short adverb, as if in "окнó - чистó", it's fine.

    Thinking of the entire thread, I can surmise that the closest surviving language would be a common Slavic core of the totality of Ruthenian dialects spoken in a variety of historic Slavic lands in the east, the west and in the south.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Thinking of the entire thread, I can surmise that the closest surviving language would be a common Slavic core of the totality of Ruthenian dialects spoken in a variety of historic Slavic lands in the east, the west and in the south.
    The assumption that the geographically central dialects should be the most archaic is not confirmed by the examples in the groups whose development is more or less attested. For example, the dialect of Rome is less conservative than that of Florence (spoken by descendants of non-Indo-European Etruscans), the most archaic Finno-Ugric language is Finnish, located at the western extreme of this family, the most archaic Germanic languages are Icelandic and Faroese on the one hand (vs. two other emigrant languages, English and Afrikaans, which are, in contrast, the most derived) and the Walser dialect of Swiss German on the other etc.
     

    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The assumption that the geographically central dialects should be the most archaic is not confirmed by the examples in the groups whose development is more or less attested. For example, the dialect of Rome is less conservative than that of Florence (spoken by descendants of non-Indo-European Etruscans), the most archaic Finno-Ugric language is Finnish, located at the western extreme of this family, the most archaic Germanic languages are Icelandic and Faroese on the one hand (vs. two other emigrant languages, English and Afrikaans, which are, in contrast, the most derived) and the Walser dialect of Swiss German on the other etc.
    The only point of geographical position of Ruthetnian language is that the Old Russian dialect has remained isolated from the Russian mainland for more than 700 years.
    The main point is factual: its Slavic core can be the most ancient both lexically and grammatically, predominantly Old Russian.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The main point is factual: its Slavic core can be the most ancient both lexically and grammatically, predominantly Old Russian.
    Could you illustrate this with e. g. the Swadesh list and the evaluation, which exactly grammatical characters are conservative and which are innovative in Ruthenian? I am asking because my impression is that Ruthenian in most respects is an average Slavic language, without striking archaisms or innovations.
     
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