Slavic languages

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The Slavic languages (also called Slavonic languages), a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.


[edit] Branches

Scholars divide the Slavic languages into three main branches, some of which feature sub-branches:

Some linguists postulate that a North Slavic branch has existed as well; the Old Novgorod dialect would be a remnant of it.[citation needed] On the other hand, the term "North Slavic" is also used sometimes to combine the West and East Slavic languages into one group, in opposition to the South Slavic languages.

The oldest Slavic literary language was Old Church Slavonic, of which Church Slavonic is a later redaction.

The tripartite division of the Slavic languages does not take into account the spoken dialects of each language. Of these, certain so-called transitional dialects and hybrid dialects often bridge the gaps between different languages, showing similarities that do not stand out when comparing Slavic literary (i.e., standard) languages.

Enough differences exist between the various Slavic dialects and languages to make communication between speakers of different Slavic languages difficult. Within the individual Slavic languages, dialects may vary to a lesser degree, as those of Russian, or to a much greater degree, as those of Slovenian.

An alternative division between the Slavic languages may be made between "G-Slavic" and "H-Slavic", based upon whether or not the g in words such as gora ("mountain") is changed to h (hora) or not in the language's standard form. The G-Slavic languages would include Polish, Russian, and the South Slavic languages, whereas Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, and Belarusian are H-Slavic. (At the dialect level, there are crossovers; for example, Slovenian speakers in the Western region of Nova Gorica near the Italian border are H-Slavic speakers.) [citation needed]

[edit] History

[edit] Common roots and ancestry

All Slavic languages are descendants of Proto-Slavic, their parent language.

According to some historical linguistics theories, Proto-Slavic in turn developed from the Proto-Balto-Slavic language, a common ancestor of Proto-Baltic, the parent of the Baltic languages. According to this theory, the "Urheimat" of Proto-Balto-Slavic lay in the territories surrounding today's Lithuania at some time after the Indo-European language community had separated into different dialect regions (c. 3000 BC). Slavic and Baltic speakers share at least 289 words which could have come from that hypothetical language. According to some linguists the process of separation of Proto-Slavic speakers from Proto-Baltic speakers presumably occurred around 1000 BC.

Some linguists maintain however, that the Slavic group of languages differs more radically from the neighboring Baltic group (Lithuanian, Latvian, and the now-extinct Old Prussian).

A minority of linguists working in the area of geolinguistics, as well as some prehistorians view the southern branch of the Slavic languages as possibly autochthonous to the Balkans (see Paleolithic Continuity Theory). It is interesting to note that Renfrew's Demic Diffusion Model also reads Starchevo-Karanovo Neolithic cultures as Slavic.

[edit] Differentiation of Slavic languages

The Proto-Slavic language existed approximately to the middle of the first millennium AD. By the 7th century, it had broken apart into large dialectal zones.

There are no reliable hypotheses about the nature of the subsequent breakup of West and South Slavic. East Slavic is generally thought to converge to one Old Russian language, which existed until at least the twelfth century. It is now believed that South Slavs came to the Balkans in two streams, and that between them was a large non-Slavic population of Vlachs.

Linguistic differentiation received impetus from the dispersion of the Slavic peoples over large territory - which in Central Europe exceeded the current extent of Slavic-speaking majorities. Written documents of the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries already have some local linguistic features. For example the Freising monuments show a language which contains some phonetic and lexical elements peculiar to Slovenian dialects (e.g. rhotacism, the word krilatec).

[edit] Evolution of Slavic languages

The 11th-century Novgorodian children were literate enough to send each other letters written on birch bark

The imposition of Church Slavonic on Orthodox Slavs was often at the expense of the vernacular. Says W.B. Lockwood, a prominent Indo-European linguist: "It [O.C.S] remained in use to modern times, but was more and more influenced by the living, evolving languages, so that one distinguishes Bulgarian, Serbian, and Russian varieties. The use of such media hampered the development of the local languages for literary purposes and when they do appear the first attempts are usually in an artificially mixed style." (148) Lockwood also notes that these languages have "enriched" themselves by drawing on Church Slavonic for the vocabulary of abstract concepts. The situation in the Catholic countries, where Latin was more important, was different. The Polish Renaissance poet Jan Kochanowski and the Croatian Baroque writers of sixteenth century all wrote in their respective vernaculars (though Polish itself had drawn amply on Latin in the same way Russian would eventually draw on Church Slavonic).

Although the Church Slavonic language hampered vernacular literatures, it nonetheless fostered Slavonic literary activity and abetted linguistic independence from external influences. The languages of the Catholic Slavs tottered precariously near extinction on many occasions. The earliest Polish is attested in the fourteenth century; before then, the language of administration was Latin. Czech was always in danger of giving way to German, and Czech's relatives Upper and Lower Sorbian, spoken only in Germany, have nearly succumbed just recently. Under German and Italian influence for many centuries, the Slovene language was a regional language spoken by peasants, and was brought to written standards only by the followers of the Reformation in the 16th century. Only the Croatian vernacular literary tradition matches Church Slavonic in age. It began with the Vinodol Codex and continued through the Renaissance until the codifications of Serbo-Croatian in 1850, though much of the literature between 1300 and 1500 was written in much the same mixture of the vernacular and Church Slavonic as prevailed in Russia and elsewhere. The independence of Ragusa facilitated the continuity of the tradition.

More recent foreign influences follow the same general pattern in Slavic languages as elsewhere, and are governed by the political relationships of the Slavs. In the seventeenth century, bourgeois Russian (delovoi iazyk) absorbed German words through Polish. In the Petrovian era, close contacts with France invited countless loans and calques from French, a significant fraction of which not only survived, but replaced older Slavonic loans. Russian, in turn, influenced most literary Slavic languages by one means or another in the nineteenth century. Croatian writers borrowed Czech words liberally, whereas Czech writers, scrambling to revive their dying language, had in turn borrowed many words (cf. vzduch, air) from Russian. A more direct role for Russian came vis-a-vis Bulgarian, where Russian words were imported en-masse to replace Turkish and Greek loans, so that many Bulgarian words now carry a Russian phonetic footnote (i.e., have a phonetic structure unusual for the Bulgarian language or, indeed, the South Slavic languages in general).

[edit] Separation of South and West Slavs

The movement of Slavic-speakers into the Balkans in the declining centuries of the Byzantine empire expanded the area of Slavic speech, but pre-existing languages (notably Greek) survived in this area. The arrival of the Hungarians in Pannonia in the 9th century interposed non-Slavic speakers between South and West Slavs. Frankish conquests completed the geographical separation between these two groups, severing the connection between Slavs in Lower Austria (Moravians) from those in present-day Styria, Carinthia and East Tyrol, ancestors of present-day Slovenians.

[edit] Slavic-speaking populations under foreign rule

Political situations have also affected the use and scope of the Slavic languages. In the course of their history, many Slavic-speaking communities came under foreign rule for longer or shorter periods. Poland underwent partition, German-speaking empires appeared to absorb the Czechs for many centuries, and the Ottomans in their hey-day dominated the Balkan Slavs. Even the Eastern Slavs had to submit to the Tatar yoke after the Mongol invasion of Rus.

The largest geographical extent of Slavic population, which in the Middle Ages included the majority of the present-day German lands of Brandenburg and Pomerania, diminished in the course of the German Drang nach Osten.

Turkish incursions suppressed the regional hegemonies of Bulgarian and Serbian speakers; Poland suffered decline, partition and extinction as a separate national state in the 18th century. Until the 20th century, certain speech-groups (such as speakers of Slovenian) lacked the resources to establish their own distinctive independent nation-states. Other communities (speakers of Sorbian or of Kashubian, for example) remain as minorities in the current system of nation-states.

Some speech-communities have long stood under the influence of others -- even other Slavs: speakers of Ukrainian and Belarusian came under Polish and/or Russian rule; German-speaking overlords have long dominated the Sorbian-speakers. In the case of West Slavic speakers, originally kindred languages diverged when the Poles, Czechs and Slovaks became parts of different countries (Poland, Bohemia, Kingdom of Hungary, respectively), Slovak becoming considerably influenced by Czech after 1400/1500. A political division (Austria, Kingdom of Hungary) also marks the now well-established border between the Slovenian and Croatian language areas, even if some bordering dialects of the two languages indicate an almost smooth transition.

Despite their frequent lack of political power, speakers of Slavic languages demonstrated resilience, sometimes culturally taking over foreign political rulers, as in Bulgaria, where Bulgar overlords became Slavicized. Similarly, in the Republic of Dubrovnik, Croatian became an official language in parallel to Ragusan Dalmatian and Latin. Even under the Ottoman Empire, south-eastern Europe, except for Greece proper and Albanian, Romanian and Hungarian areas, remained Slavic speaking.

[edit] Slavic influence on neighboring languages

The Romanian and Hungarian languages witness the influence of the neighboring Slavic nations, especially in the vocabulary pertaining to crafts and trade; the major cultural innovations at times when few long-range cultural contacts took place.

Despite a comparable extent of historical proximity, the Germanic languages show no significant Slavic influence[citation needed]. The most known Slavic word in almost all European languages is propably vodka, a borrowing from Polish wódka (pronounced voodka) or Russian vodka. Another word is vampire. The English word vampire was borrowed (perhaps via French vampire) from German Vampir, in turn borrowed in early 18th century<ref name=Grimm>Template:Cite web (German) </ref> from Serbian вампир/vampir,<ref name=Grimm>Template:Cite web </ref><ref name=Tresor>Template:Cite web (French)</ref><ref>Dauzat, Albert, 1938. Dictionnaire étymologique. Librairie Larousse. (French) </ref>

An example of borrowed word is the word for "border", modern German Grenze, Dutch "grens" from the Common Slavic *granĭca. English has quark (see Quark (cheese)) - the name comes from the German Quark, which in turn is derived from the Slavic tvarog, (Polish twaróg, Russian tvorog, and Czech and Slovak tvaroh, which means "curd"). Swedish also has torg (market place) from Old Russian torgŭ [1], tolk (interpreter) from Common Slavonic tlŭkŭ[2] and pråm (barge) from Common Slavonic pramu[3]. The only Germanic language that shows significant Slavic influence is Yiddish. Most languages of the former Soviet Union, Russia and neighbouring countries (for example, Mongolian) are significantly influenced by Russian, especially in vocabulary.

See also: Russianism.

[edit] Detailed list with ISO 639 and SIL codes

The following tree for the Slavic languages derives from the Ethnologue report for Slavic languages[4]. It includes the ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2 codes where available as well as the SIL. ISO 639-2 uses the code sla in a general way for Slavic languages not included in one of the other codes.

East Slavic languages:

  • Belarusian (alternatively Belarusan, Belarussian, Belorussian) - (ISO 639-1 code: be; ISO 639-2 code: bel;SIL code: bel)
  • Ukrainian - (ISO 639-1 code: uk; ISO 639-2 code: ukr; SIL code: ukr)
  • Russian - (ISO 639-1 code: ru; ISO 639-2 code, rus; SIL code: rus)
  • Rusyn - (ISO 639-2 code: sla; SIL code: rue)

West Slavic languages:

  • Sorbian section (also known as Wendish) - ISO 639-2 code: wen
    • Lower Sorbian (also known as Lusatian) - (ISO 639-2 code: dsb; SIL code: dsb)
    • Upper Sorbian - (ISO 639-2 code: hsb; SIL code: hsb)
  • Lechitic section
  • Czech-Slovak section
    • Czech - (ISO 639-1 code: cs; ISO 639-2(B) code, cze; ISO 639-2(T) code: ces; SIL code: ces)
    • Knaanic or Judeo Slavic - extinct - (ISO 639-2 code: sla; SIL code: czk)
    • Slovak - (ISO 639-1 code: sk; ISO 639-2(B) code: slo; ISO 639-2(T) code: slk; SIL code: slk)

South Slavic languages:

  • Western Section
    • Serbian (ISO 639-1 code: sr; ISO 639-2/3 code: srp; SIL code: srp)
    • Slovenian - (ISO 639-1 code: sl; ISO 639-2 code: slv; SIL code: slv)
    • Croatian (ISO 639-1 code: hr; ISO 639-2/3 code: hrv; SIL code: hrv)
    • Bosnian (ISO 639-1 code: bs; ISO 639-2 code: bos; ISO/FDIS 639-3 code: bos)
  • Eastern Section
    • Macedonian - (ISO 639-1 code: mk; ISO 639-2(B) code: mac; ISO 639-2(T) code: mkd; SIL code: mkd)
    • Bulgarian - (ISO 639-1 code: bg; ISO 639-2 code: bul; SIL code: bul)
    • Old Church Slavonic - extinct (ISO 639-1 code: cu; ISO 639-2 code: chu; SIL code: chu)

Para- and supranational languages

A planned language called Slovio also exists: constructed on the basis of Slavic languages, and intended to facilitate intercommunication between people each of whom already speak at least one Slavic language. Another conlang, Slovianski, is being developed with the aid of speakers of multiple slavic languages.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

^ Lockwood, W.B. A Panorama of Indo-European Languages. Hutchinson University Library, 1972. ISBN 0-09-111020-3 cased, ISBN 0-09-111020-1 paper.

[edit] External links

Slavic languages
East Slavic Belarusian | Old East Slavic † | Old Novgorod dialect † | Russian | Rusyn (Carpathians) | Ruthenian † | Ukrainian
West Slavic Czech | Kashubian | Knaanic † | Lower Sorbian | Pannonian Rusyn | Polabian † | Polish | Pomeranian † | Slovak | Slovincian † | Upper Sorbian
South Slavic Banat Bulgarian | Bulgarian | Church Slavic | Macedonian | Old Church Slavonic † | Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Bunjevac, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian) | Slavic (Greece) | Slovenian
Other Proto-Slavic † | Russenorsk † | Slavoserbian † | Slovio
af:Slawiese tale

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Slavic languages

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