Which Slavic language is the closest to proto-Slavic?

< Previous | Next >

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have to be striking in all possible aspects and respects, and I only mentioned its Slavic core, that is strikingly outdated as compared to the Modern Russian which is, as suggested above, one of the closest picks already.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.
     
    Last edited:

    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.
     
    Last edited:

    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.
     
    Last edited:

    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!!!
     
    Last edited:

    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.
     
    Last edited:

    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.
     
    Last edited:

    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.....
     
    Last edited:

    Włoskipolak 72

    Member
    Polish
    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.



    And Croatian.



    Doesn't Sorbian do this as well?



    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.



    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)

    In correct spoken polish we use the nasal vowels , ( we should ) use them ! :rolleyes:
    I would say that in many polish dialects nasal vowels are often reduced to vowel !
    You just can't say reka in polish.., you must say ręka , miedzy nami/ między nami , czy oni pójda/pójdą , ja sadze że / ja sądzę że etc.


    1598477489749.png
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    You just can't say reka in polish.., you must say ręka
    ...Which is pronounced just identically to *renka. Polish nasal vowels have specific realizations (nasalized diphthongs) only before fricatives and word-finally. However, even in those /ę/ is actually lost in normal everyday pronunciation, merging with the pure /e/.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    ...Which is pronounced just identically to *renka. Polish nasal vowels have specific realizations (nasalized diphthongs) only before fricatives and word-finally. However, even in those /ę/ is actually lost in normal everyday pronunciation, merging with the pure /e/.
    Indeed, my voice teacher was very strict about pronuncing "się" as [ɕɛ] rather than [ɕɛ̃w̃]. :(

    During a normal speech this pronunciation prevails, even though personally I still perceive it somewhat careless and avoid it in a solemn register.

    I don't have a normative description at hand, but you may look at Fonetyka języka polskiego – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia.
     
    Last edited:

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Indeed, my voice teacher was very strict about pronuncing "się" as [ɕɛ] rather than [ɕɛ̃w̃]. :(

    During a normal speech this pronunciation prevails, even though personally I still perceive it somewhat careless and avoid it in a solemn register.

    I don't have a normative description at hand, but you may look at Fonetyka języka polskiego – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia.
    How does [ɕɛ̃w̃] sound? Can you give a link to a recording?
    I listen often to audio books in Polish, and don't like lectors that don't pronounce nasal vowels in final position, even though language scientists have proclaimed them as obsolete.
     

    Włoskipolak 72

    Member
    Polish
    How does [ɕɛ̃w̃] sound? Can you give a link to a recording?
    I listen often to audio books in Polish, and don't like lectors that don't pronounce nasal vowels in final position, even though language scientists have proclaimed them as obsolete.
    In Polish, there are nasal vowels, preserved from Proto-Slavic, which have disappeared in most of the other Slavic languages (they appear in Kashubian, and the remainder of them could be found in Macedonian and Bulgarian dialects at the beginning of the last century).
    But nasal vowels can turn into non-nasal in some contexts. This mainly applies to ę at the end of a word.

    widzę widze
    myślę myśle
    czuję czuje

    In other cases it is just impossible not to use them..! :D

    krzyknęła, kępa, skręcać, rączka, cięcie, tęgi, wąchać, wąwóz, gałęzie, machnął, gąbka, prędzej, męczyć, kądziel, bąk ,
    mąka, łąka, prąd, kąt, sąsiadka, bąk, bąbelek.
    Mądry zając,
    Przed pogonią uciekając,
    Krążył, krążył pod Dąbrową,
    W głąb jej umknął z całą głową…

    If you want to check the pronunciation ;:oops:

    Nasal vowels - development trends
    https://lekcjaliteratury.pl/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Samogłoski-nosowe-tendencje-rozwoju.jpg
     

    Włoskipolak 72

    Member
    Polish
    ...Which is pronounced just identically to *renka. Polish nasal vowels have specific realizations (nasalized diphthongs) only before fricatives and word-finally. However, even in those /ę/ is actually lost in normal everyday pronunciation, merging with the pure /e/.
    renka and ręka have diffrent pronunciation belive me , and it's all about clear , elegant and ( literary) correct polish language .. :oops:
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    renka and ręka have diffrent pronunciation belive me , and it's all about clear , elegant and ( literary) correct polish language .. :oops:
    It depends on whom you ask about it.
    It seems that we're in a transition period with this regard and pronunciation may vary from speaker to speaker or from region to region - and it's significantly different than on old records.

    On the other hand I wonder how old is the phrase "być ą i ę" ("to be ą and ę") meaning "to be posh" - apparently it's a trace that already at the time there was a clear difference between upper classes' and commoners' pronunciation.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It depends on whom you ask about it.
    It seems that we're in a transition period with this regard and pronunciation may vary from speaker to speaker or from region to region - and it's significantly different than on old records.

    On the other hand I wonder how old is the phrase "być ą i ę" ("to be ą and ę") meaning "to be posh" - apparently it's a trace that already at the time there was a clear difference between upper classes' and commoners' pronunciation.
    In my opinion the situation of "ręka" is quite clear, and most Poles pronounce it the same way. It is neither "rę-ka" nor "ren-ka", but "reŋka" (the correctness of using this IPA symbol may be disputable, but i didn't find a better approximation in my IPA-table). The 'ŋ' sound being pronounced similar to English 'ng' in 'sing'. The sound is pronounced by touching the back part of the tongue to the soft palate.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    As far as I know, in Polish /n/ automatically turns into [ŋ] before velar plosives as well, much like in German or English (but unlike in Russian). Is it wrong?
    I was told by my Polish lecturer ages ago that a distinguishing feature of Warsaw speech (as opposed to Kraków) was the lack of this allophony.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I was told by my Polish lecturer ages ago that a distinguishing feature of Warsaw speech (as opposed to Kraków) was the lack of this allophony.
    Well, in that case Warsaw speech must indeed consistently oppose /en/, /on/ and /ę/, /ą/ before velar plosives, the latter ones having unique phonetic realizations.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Well, in that case Warsaw speech must indeed consistently oppose /en/, /on/ and /ę/, /ą/ before velar plosives, the latter ones having unique phonetic realizations.
    Difficult to say.
    I usually pronounce this sound in the Southern way (despite having been grown in Warsaw) as [ŋ] in -nk-, -ng-, -ąk- and -ęk-. On the other hand, my son claims that he uses regular [n] sound in all cases - and although I did hear it indeed in "kongres", I could not confirm it by ear in "ręka". However when I tried to pronounce various variants of "ręka" pronunciation, a "true" [enk] would sound as separate -e-n- to my ear. However when I raised the center of my tongue towards the hard palate rather than its back to the soft palate, it also sounded quite right. So it seems that touching any part of the tongue to the palate (spare the tip, which produces [n]) should do in this context.
     

    tmwap

    New Member
    English
    I went through the different Slavic languages and looked at various conservative and innovative features. I have each language +1 point for each conservative feature, and -1 point for every innovative feature.
    The conservative features I accounted for are: -ti infinitive, archaic vocabulary, no automatic palatalisation before e/i, extensive noun declensions, extensive verb conjugations, tone system that lines up with old system, nasal vowels, preservation of vowel system, preservation of L, preservation of G, no inserted vowels, and the dual number.
    The innovative features I accounted for were: extensive palatalisation, articles, vowel length, and extensive loan words.
    By these metrics, the most conservative Slavic languages seem to be Sorbian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian, while the most innovative seem to be Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Belorussian. Highest score went to Slovenian, lowest to Belarusian.
     
    Last edited:

    tmwap

    New Member
    English
    The flaw I see though in this methodology is that it tends to skew towards south Slavic languages and Russian thanks to their deep connections to Old Church Slavonic and away from West Slavic since those languages did not experience extensive influence from OCS.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The flaw I see though in this methodology is that it tends to skew towards south Slavic languages and Russian thanks to their deep connections to Old Church Slavonic and away from West Slavic since those languages did not experience extensive influence from OCS.
    Moreover, your approach to phonetics is kind of simplistic. For example, Russian doesn't have automatic palatalization before /e/ and /i/ at the moment, but it most certainly had it once (when /i/ still wasn't phonemically merged with /y/, that is - if you don't interpret /y/ as a phoneme in modern Russian in the first place). All words where /e/ follows a hard consonant either come from fundamental hardening of certain consonants (which eliminated the contrast by hardness for them, so /e/ simply has no choice but to follow these hard consonants - e.g. /še/, /ce/) or are comparatively recent loanwords. So what may seem as a conservative feature is more like a double innovation. Of course, that also ignores the different origins of /i/ and /e/.
    no inserted vowels
    Inserted where? :)
    -ti infinitive
    The -ti infinitive inflection perfectly exists in Russian - but as a marginal one (a stressed infinitive inflection, which is rare - nesti, bresti, plesti, gresti, some more verbs). I wonder how you counted that.
    preservation of vowel system
    But no language has preserved the original system. :confused: Bulgarian has preserved /ъ/ as a separate phoneme (let's forget the loss of length distinction for a moment), but has lost /ь/ anyway. No language aside from some marginal Russian dialects (to my knowledge) has preserved /ě/ as a phoneme. So even the basic list of vowels will be unavoidably different from proto-Slavic in all the languages.
     
    Last edited:

    jasio

    Senior Member
    By these metrics, the most conservative Slavic languages seem to be Sorbian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian, while the most innovative seem to be Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Belorussian. Highest score went to Slovenian, lowest to Belarusian.
    It's a bit strange to me, because I once read that Slovak, due to its central position, has tighter bonds with the other Slavic languages than any other language, so everybody else can catch some similarities. Indeed, we, Poles, can - and a lot of them. Besides Slovak is based on a collection of rural dialects (no offence intended), under foreign rule of non-Slavic and even non indeuropean speakers - Hungarian. So naively, I would expect it to be more conservative than Polish or Russian - or, perhaps, even Czech - which have a much longer tradition of the standard language and much stronger foreign influences. I did not make a systematic study, but Slovak sometimes even sounds to me closer to the old Polish than the modern Polish - perhaps because of the vocabulary and some syntactic elements.
     

    tmwap

    New Member
    English
    It's a bit strange to me, because I once read that Slovak, due to its central position, has tighter bonds with the other Slavic languages than any other language, so everybody else can catch some similarities. Indeed, we, Poles, can - and a lot of them. Besides Slovak is based on a collection of rural dialects (no offence intended), under foreign rule of non-Slavic and even non indeuropean speakers - Hungarian. So naively, I would expect it to be more conservative than Polish or Russian - or, perhaps, even Czech - which have a much longer tradition of the standard language and much stronger foreign influences. I did not make a systematic study, but Slovak sometimes even sounds to me closer to the old Polish than the modern Polish - perhaps because of the vocabulary and some syntactic elements.
    Yes, but Slovak being intelligible to most people doesn’t necessarily make it the most archaic. In many ways, archaisms can actually hinder intelligibility.
     

    tmwap

    New Member
    English
    Moreover, your approach to phonetics is kind of simplistic. For example, Russian doesn't have automatic palatalization before /e/ and /i/ at the moment, but it most certainly had it once (when /i/ still wasn't phonemically merged with /y/, that is - if you don't interpret /y/ as a phoneme in modern Russian in the first place). All words where /e/ follows a hard consonant either come from fundamental hardening of certain consonants (which eliminated the contrast by hardness for them, so /e/ simply has no choice but to follow these hard consonants - e.g. /še/, /ce/) or are comparatively recent loanwords. So what may seem as a conservative feature is more like a double innovation. Of course, that also ignores the different origins of /i/ and /e/.

    Inserted where? :)

    The -ti infinitive inflection perfectly exists in Russian - but as a marginal one (a stressed infinitive inflection, which is rare - nesti, bresti, plesti, gresti, some more verbs). I wonder how you counted that.

    But no language has preserved the original system. :confused: Bulgarian has preserved /ъ/ as a separate phoneme (let's forget the loss of length distinction for a moment), but has lost /ь/ anyway. No language aside from some marginal Russian dialects (to my knowledge) has preserved /ě/ as a phoneme. So even the basic list of vowels will be unavoidably different from proto-Slavic in all the languages.
    I do not count Russian as having preserved the -ti infinitive because it is reduced to -t’. Also, it does palatalise before e and i where in Common Slavic, consonants we’re not automatically palatalised before these vowels (this does not include ы and э).
    Inserted vowels refers to instances like človek vs čelovek or glava vs golova.
    As far as the vowel system, Russian DID score a point there simply because it preserves the ы vowel, but lost it because of the reduction of o and e; but as you said, no Slavic language has preserved the Common Slavic vowel system completely, so for the sake of fairness, I did not count ъ and ь as distinct vowels.
    Even my most metrics, Russian is not the most conservative Slavic language, although it does have some archaisms. Many of those archaisms though, are not native to Russian, but rather borrowed from Old Church Slavonic.
     
    Last edited:

    Eirwyn

    Member
    Russian
    Inserted vowels refers to instances like človek vs čelovek or glava vs golova.
    Except "golova" is not a result of development of "glava". Both of them developed from Proto-Slavic *gɑlvɑ̄. No modern Slavic language can be called archaic in this case.

    Even my most metrics, Russian is not the most conservative Slavic language, although it does have some archaisms. Many of those archaisms though, are not native to Russian, but rather borrowed from Old Church Slavonic.
    Such as?
     

    tmwap

    New Member
    English
    Except "golova" is not a result of development of "glava". Both of them developed from Proto-Slavic *gɑlvɑ̄. No modern Slavic language can be called archaic in this case.

    Such as?
    Well, the written language uses Old Church Slavonic, not Old Russian, as its original base for one lol
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    A sidenote concerning those threads, which appear again and again even on this forum, sometimes with the same posters involved and the same topics repeated. The question of this kind, as I see it, has three aspects:
    1. prestige — the closer is assumed to be the better
    2. esthetic — the closer is assumed to be the prettier
    3. scientific — the closer is assumed to be the more informative.
    The problem with all the three is that the oldest attested stage of Slavic, represented by Old Church Slavonic and Old East Slavic, with open syllables and a full set of grammatical features, has been considerably modified everywhere. All Slavic languages have now abundant closed syllables and consonant clusters, all have experienced numerous losses in morphology, and none has been especially prestigious or loved by foreigners. So, in all three aspects it is really close run: neither is particularly conservative or innovative, neither is prestigious, and esthetics is purely subjective anyway.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top