Which Slavic language is the closest to proto-Slavic?

Rosett

Senior Member
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.
It doesn't have to be striking in all possible aspects and respects, and I only mentioned its Slavic core, that is strikingly outdated as compared to the Modern Russian which is, as suggested above, one of the closest picks already.
 
  • Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Could you please illustrate?
    I can refer you to Wikipedia in English:
    "Scholars do not agree whether Ruthenian was a separate language, or a Western dialect or set of dialects of Old East Slavic, but it is agreed that Ruthenian has a close genetic relationship with it. Old East Slavic was the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus' (10th–13th centuries).[4] Ruthenian can be seen as a predecessor of modern Belarusian, Rusyn and Ukrainian. Indeed, all these languages, from Old East Slavic to Rusyn, have been labelled as Ruthenian"
    and to the corresponding articles in other languages and bibliography.

    Among other references, there is one that should be noted as the most elaborated thesis on the topic. The author concludes that Old Ruthenian is the closest, based on the proven lexico-statistical model. I didn't know that.
    However, among the modern Slavic languages, the author picks Macedonian as the closest one, leaving Ruthenian beyond consideration.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Perhaps I don't understand what you call Ruthenian: I decided it is the synonym of Rusyn for you. Do you mean Ruthenian as the extinct language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania? But why then not Old Church Slavonic as the closest to Proto-Slavic among the attested languages?

    Thank you for the pdf: I will read it.
     

    Michalko

    Member
    Slovak - Slovakia
    Might be interesting for many people here. This webpage has a lot of old and middle Czech texts. Amazingly, most of it is quite intelligible to a modern Slovak speaker like me:

    Vokabulář webový
     

    Maxkho

    New Member
    Russian, English - England
    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.


    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.

    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.
    I agree. Russian is the most conservative Slavic language in most departments, including vocabulary, tenses, cases, pronunciation, etc. The only important way in which it's not as conservative as some other languages is that it has a lot of loanwords, but there are many synonyms for almost every loan word, so that's something to consider as well. Overall, though, I think Russian has the fewest innovations and is duly the most conservative Slavic language.

    Macedonian is by far the most innovative Slavic language and is barely even intelligible to most modern Slavs - let alone Common Slavic speakers. So I would agree with your predictions here.

    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
    I think this excerpt should be fully intelligible to Russians. The grammar is slightly strange but doesn't hinder understanding that much. The only word that can pose some problems is "nasǫštĭnyi", although I think that may mean "nourished" (nasysćennyi in Russian), in which case it should be deducible.
     

    Maxkho

    New Member
    Russian, English - England
    It is actually насущный - vital or essential.
    Ah, I see. Thanks for the info. I don't think it would be realistic to expect Russians to know what this word means, then, but the rest is very close to modern Russian (vocabulary-wise).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I agree. Russian is the most conservative Slavic language in most departments, including vocabulary, tenses, cases, pronunciation, etc. The only important way in which it's not as conservative as some other languages is that it has a lot of loanwords, but there are many synonyms for almost every loan word
    1. Russian is comparatively conservative regarding the consonant system, but is probably most innovative regarding the vowel system, at least if we exclude some peripheral northern dialects. The vowel system is the main factor which makes the spoken Russian language particularly poorly intelligible to most other Slavic speakers which weren't subjected to it beforehand (that and swallowing whole syllables in particularly frequent words when the context gets only slightly less formal :)).
    2. Loanwords are a tricky matter. The modern Slavic languages with smaller shares of loanwords simply have those replaced with puristic neologisms, but purism isn't the same thing as conservativeness.
    3. If anything, the most archaic verbal system belongs to Bulgarian and Macedonian. Russian is pretty mainstream in that regard - which means highly innovative. How can one seriously call Russian "most conservative regarding tenses" if it has lost the aorist, the imperfect, the past perfect, and has turned the present perfect into the past tense, much like all other West and East Slavic languages have done?..
    4. Regarding nouns, Russian has preserved the core of the case system, which is, however, also a pretty mainstream thing. It has also lost the dual (unlike Slovene) and the old vocative case (unlike many other languages, East Slavic included). Finally, it has developed some new (mostly marginal) cases, which is an obvious innovation.
    5. The cardinal numeral system contains many archaic elements, but in general that complex and irregular monstrosity comes from Early Modern Russian, with considerable changes in syntax and morphology compared to the earlier state. Hardly can really count as a conservative feature.
    6. Russian preserves the old opposition between nominal and pronominal forms of adjectives, but their meaning has changed completely; the old pronominal forms are now the default ones, while the nominal forms have become predicative (with numerous limitations). If I remember correctly, Bulgarian and Macedonian are the only living languages with similar traces of the former opposition; they have basically preserved the original usage, but morphologically the system is completely reworked. It may count as a tiny bit of conservativity, I suppose.
    All in all, I'd still say that Russian isn't particularly conservative by Slavic standards, and that the very task of finding the most conservative Slavic language has little sense.
    Experiment. The speaker reads the text. Each person of the public writes down the translation into his/her native language.
    I must note that it wouldn't directly indicate conservativeness of the language; it would only indicate how well its speakers understand Old Slavonic, which isn't the same thing at all. For example, Russian would have some advantage here because of its comparatively archaic orthography and pervasive loanwords from Church Slavonic; however, neither can really count as a sign of conservativeness.
    Ah, I see. Thanks for the info. I don't think it would be realistic to expect Russians to know what this word means
    They simply would have a very hard time recognizing the Russian /nasuɕnyi/ in the Old Bulgarian /nasǫštĭnyi/. I doubt it would be easier for any other Slavic speakers anyway.
     
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    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    Ah, I see. Thanks for the info. I don't think it would be realistic to expect Russians to know what this word means, then, but the rest is very close to modern Russian (vocabulary-wise).
    "Насущный" is artificial church's word and is not Russian.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "Насущный" is artificial church's word and is not Russian.
    It doesn't matter how "artificial" it is (is nébo "sky" artificial as well, I wonder?.. After all, its native Russian counterpart is nyóbo "palate"). The fact is it's an integral part of modern Russian and 99% of Russian adults undoubtedly know it.
     
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    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    It doesn't matter how "artificial" it is (is nébo "sky" artificial as well, I wonder?.. After all, its native Russian counterpart is nyóbo "palate"). The fact is it's an integral part of modern Russian and 99% of Russian adults undoubtedly know it.
    "Нёбо (небо)" is Russian, but "небеса" (dual indeed) is artificial church's word not Russian. "Насущный" is also artificial church's word and 99% (or even more) of Russians don't understand its meaning.
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    It doesn't matter how "artificial" it is (is nébo "sky" artificial as well, I wonder?.. After all, its native Russian counterpart is nyóbo "palate"). The fact is it's an integral part of modern Russian and 99% of Russian adults undoubtedly know it.
    be closer to people (more mundane) - none knows anything (after USSR decaying), well, maybe 0.99%.

    ps: i meant the etymology...

    "Насущный" is also artificial church's word and 99% (or even more) of Russians don't understand its meaning.
    NO, DEFINITELY YOU ARE WRONG !!!
    It's understandable with almost 100% of any post USSR citizens (not even russians itself) - i'm absolutely sure!!!
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    but "небеса" (dual indeed) is artificial church's
    "Nebesa" (sky; Heaven) is originally plural. The dual nominative form was "nebesi" ("nebesě" in Church Slavonic) - the word has an s-stem. Such form existed in Old Russian from the start, although, of course, its conservation must be attributed to Church Slavonic as well.
     
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    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    "Nebesa" (sky; Heaven) is originally plural. The dual nominative form was "nebesi" ("nebesě" in Church Slavonic) - the word has an s-stem. Such form existed in Old Russian from the start, although, of course, its conservation must be attributed to Church Slavonic as well.
    Russian has just singular "нёбо" ("sky"). Plural "heaven" ("небеса") is from Semitic plural ("shamaym") through Biblical Greek. Today the plural word "heaven" is false friend.
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    "Nebesa" (sky; Heaven) is originally plural. The dual nominative form was "nebesi" ("nebesě" in Church Slavonic) - the word has an s-stem. Such form existed in Old Russian from the start...
    You wanted to say, most likely, in the language of Kievan Rus. )))
    (Moscow was not existed in that time. ).
    But existed the islands in north sea, (from modern England to north of Germany) where slovenian existed for prolong period, until they've been occupied by jews.... (the English say it themselves. )
    (actually until the time when and where from Ivan Groznyi had been called).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian has just singular "нёбо" ("sky"). Plural "heaven" ("небеса") is from Semitic plural ("shamaym") through Biblical Greek. Today the plural word "heaven" is false friend.
    Нёбо does NOT mean "sky" (it might have - around the XIV century, when the rounding was still automatic; there was no "ё" letter back then, though).
    I cannot help but notice that you make a lot of statements about the Russian language while barely knowing it.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    Нёбо does NOT mean "sky" (it might have - around the XIV century, when the rounding was still automatic; there was no "ё" letter back then, though).
    I cannot help but notice that you make a lot of statements about the Russian language while barely knowing it.
    Russian had and has ё-sound ("берёза", "берёста") but church's language don't have that sound at all (and Ukrainian too). This fact I heard from a scientist Andrey Zaliznyak - Wikipedia
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    I cannot help but notice that you make a lot of statements about the Russian language while barely knowing it.
    This is because You do not want to realize that the Russian language was long before the appearance of Moscow... But this is normal )))
    ps: we created Moscow as a cross-country city between all sides of the world. By the way, that's why everything still happens there...
    although, I would say not created, but revived.

    Russian had and has ё-sound ("берёза", "берёста") but church's language don't have that sound at all (and Ukrainian too). This fact I heard from a scientist Andrey Zaliznyak - Wikipedia
    This sound is exist, but another writings -йо.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian had and has ё-sound ("берёза", "берёста") but church's language don't have that sound at all (and Ukrainian too). This fact I heard from a scientist Andrey Zaliznyak - Wikipedia
    You didn't heard "the fact" from A.Zaliznyak (R.I.P., this loss to the Russian science is difficult to underestimate :( ). You heard something, and made your own interpretations of that.

    The letter "ё" after consonant letters stands for palatalization of the consonant (if possible) + /о/ (phonetically it's normally fronted when it follows palatalized or palatal consonants; especially when it's placed between such consonants). In Proto-Slavic /o/ never occurred after palatalized or palatal consonants; in Church Slavonic it still doesn't. In Russian it results from the historical rounding of /e/ before hard consonants (which must have been labialized back then, although there is no full consensus); give or take some minor nuances.

    The point is, "нёбо" means a palate and only a palate. Generally, Russian is oversaturated with Church Slavonic loanwords; not all of them belong to poetic, elevated, formal or scientific registers. E.g. одежда "clothing", пещера "cavern", небо "sky", крест "cross; crucifix", надежда "hope", общий "common"... The list of basic and everyday words is extensive.
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    In Russian it results from the historical rounding of /e/ before hard consonants (which must have been labialized back then, although there is no full consensus); give or take some minor nuances.
    In the language of Kiev-Rus? - I agree. :)
    А вообще, мне очень трудно нести огромную печаль (я специально так составил предложение), за всех славян, которые не осознали кто они есть на самом деле - англичане, американцы, и вся европа.....
     
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