When did Slavic [w] > [v]

Germaphrodite

New Member
English
A bit of a technical question:

1. When did the various [w] > [v] shifts occur after Proto-Slavic evolved into distinct Slavic languages?
2. Followup: was German "w" or Greek beta/veta influential in the case of W.Slavic and S.Slavic (via OCS), rsp.?
3. Was the Baltic [w]>[v] involved in any way?

note: I know this change was not universal nor uniform, so don't get triggered.
 
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    1. When did the various [w] > [v] shifts occur after Proto-Slavic evolved into distinct Slavic languages?
    In many languages and dialects it didn't occur at all, most notably in the East Slavic area. The precise realization may vary through the dialects, though, and also often depends on position of the phoneme in the word ([ʋ], [w], [u̯]). Ukrainian and Belarusian still don't have proper [v]. In the Russian area [v] is believed to have originated in the Rostov-Suzdal dialects of the late Old Russian language (i.e. on the eastern borders) at least around the XIII century, and later became a characteristic feature of most North and Central Russian dialects once those were formed. Still, most South Russian dialects have preserved the non-fricative realizations.
     
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    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    A bit of a technical question:

    1. When did the various [w] > [v] shifts occur after Proto-Slavic evolved into distinct Slavic languages?
    2. Followup: was German "w" or Greek beta/veta influential in the case of W.Slavic and S.Slavic (via OCS), rsp.?
    3. Was the Baltic [w]>[v] involved in any way?

    note: I know this change was not universal nor uniform, so don't get triggered.
    Late Greek lost b-sound and replaced it with v-sound instead (see word "alphabet"). When Greeks brought Christianity in Slavic lands, then v-sound replaced original Slavic w-sound because of writing culture of church texts from Greeks. Today even Russian v-sound is replacing with f-sound, for example, Russians are saying [zaftra] < [zavtra] < [zautro] < [za-utro]
    f<v<u<w
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    *sigh*
    When Greeks brought Christianity in Slavic lands, then v-sound replaced original Slavic w-sound because of writing culture of church texts from Greeks.
    Letters are not sounds. For Greek having any influence on Slavic pronunciation, people must have known how the respective letters are pronounced in Greek in the first place (which was usually the case on Byzantine territories only, but there one would rather expect an influence from spoken Greek - since most Slavic speakers were illiterate anyway, but a large part must have been biligual in the same time).
    Today even Russian v-sound is replacing with f-sound
    What do you mean "today"? [v] is an obstruent. As an obstruent, it participates in all relevant processes in Russian, including de-voicing before unvoiced consonants (which is very much expected from the general phonetic perspective) and in the coda. All these processes are active since the respective positions have originated in Old Russian, i.e. since the fall of the yers. We know that scribes from Vladimir replaced ~[ʋ] with [v] in their speech exactly by the fact that they started to write "f" sometimes in those positions where [v] would have got de-voiced.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    *sigh*Letters are not sounds. For Greek having any influence on Slavic pronunciation, people must have known how the respective letters are pronounced in Greek in the first place (which was usually the case on Byzantine territories only, but there one would rather expect an influence from spoken Greek - since most Slavic speakers were illiterate anyway, but a large part must have been biligual in the same time).
    What do you mean "today"? [v] is an obstruent. As an obstruent, it participates in all relevant processes in Russian, including de-voicing before unvoiced consonants (which is very much expected from the general phonetic perspective) and in the coda. All these processes are active since the respective positions have originated in Old Russian, i.e. since the fall of the yers. We know that scribes from Vladimir replaced ~[ʋ] with [v] in their speech exactly by the fact that they started to write "f" sometimes in those positions where [v] would have got de-voiced.
    [utro] we write with u-letter but [zavtra] we write with v-letter. Here, v-sound is sound of pronunciation as a letter, though today we are pronouncing it with f-sound [zaftra], or like a surname [smirnoff]<[smirnov]<[smirnow], or [fchera] from [vecher], or [moskva]<"Moscow", or [varshava]<"Warsaw". I think it is not because of Greek but because of writing culture from Greeks. Writing (and its rules) is the killer of dialects.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I think it is not because of Greek but because of writing culture from Greeks. Writing (and its rules) is the killer of dialects.
    How in the world is Russian writing related to Greek, aside of the origin of its letters? Don't we by any chance speak with Phoenican accent because we all use alphabets ultimately derived from the Phoenican one? Speaking about Russian scribes, those learned from Bulgarian ones, not from Greeks. They learned quickly, and then for about a century they tried to mimic OCS scriptures (having no idea how to correctly pronounce those, obviously). Then they simply gave up and started writing phonetically (with some rough conventions but no strict rules, since there was nobody who could enforce the uniformity), each according to his own dialectal phonetics (that is why we actually know something about the dialects of the era). At best 1% of them knew Greek, and the number of all the scribes altogether was a tiny fraction of the whole population (which mostly consisted of illiterate peasants). Postulating that Greek was able to somehow influence pronunciation of Old Russian phonemes under such circumstances is an absurdity, plain and simple.
    Writing (and its rules) is the killer of dialects.
    Except there was no "rules" in the modern sense of the word, and the very writing was a privilege of the few. A millennium-long history of Russian writing didn't hamper development of the Old and Modern Russian dialects at the slightest. What pretty much killed them was mass education and mass-media of the XX century, combined with industrialization and conscription.
     
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    Germaphrodite

    New Member
    English
    Thanks for the erudite info from your Russian insider perspective!

    I learned Attic Greek with Erasmus pronunciation, Byzantine Greek with Modern Greek and now looking at starting Homeric with reconstructed; so Beta, Delta Theta, etc are quite familiar.

    I already knew that Russian kept [w] in many dialects (as in other E. Slavic languages) even to this day. However, I am especially interested in scholarship which dates any change from [w]>[v] in western and southern Slavic. I Know OCS and CS have a [v], and am wondering if this (among others) is a product of the [w]>[v] shift, for one. Secondly, if German (east) or Greek (south) played any role, even if limited. Thanks again!
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The precise realization may vary through the dialects, though, and also often depends on position of the phoneme in the word ([ʋ], [w], [u̯]). [...]

    As a side question, could you please explain or give any reference to the difference between [u̯] (non-syllabic ) and [w] (voiced labio-velar approximant)?
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    I think,
    How in the world is Russian writing related to Greek, aside of the origin of its letters? Don't we by any chance speak with Phoenican accent because we all use alphabets ultimately derived from the Phoenican one? Speaking about Russian scribes, those learned from Bulgarian ones, not from Greeks. They learned quickly, and then for about a century they tried to mimic OCS scriptures (having no idea how to correctly pronounce those, obviously). Then they simply gave up and started writing phonetically (with some rough conventions but no strict rules, since there was nobody who could enforce the uniformity), each according to his own dialectal phonetics (that is why we actually know something about the dialects of the era). At best 1% of them knew Greek, and the number of all the scribes altogether was a tiny fraction of the whole population (which mostly consisted of illiterate peasants). Postulating that Greek was able to somehow influence pronunciation of Old Russian phonemes under such circumstances is an absurdity, plain and simple.
    Except there was no "rules" in the modern sense of the word, and the very writing was a privilege of the few. A millennium-long history of Russian writing didn't hamper development of the Old and Modern Russian dialects at the slightest. What pretty much killed them was mass education and mass-media of the XX century, combined with industrialization and conscription.
    Apparently, you don't know that Greek liturgy was taken in Russia and when monks translated Greek prayers into Bulgarian (Church-Slavic) even syllables' quantity were taken imitating Greek prayers.
    As far as XIX century you can see that a group of writers made modern Russian of half Bulgarian (Church-Slavic) half coloquial Russian. So, modern Russian was corrupted with hostile church dialect.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I think,

    Apparently, you don't know that Greek liturgy was taken in Russia and when monks translated Greek prayers into Bulgarian (Church-Slavic) even syllables' quantity were taken imitating Greek prayers.
    As far as XIX century you can see that a group of writers made modern Russian of half Bulgarian (Church-Slavic) half coloquial Russian.
    Church Slavonic is not "Bulgarian". Old Church Slavonic is roughly the same as Old Bulgarian (considering that the first was a codified written language and the second rather included the whole dialectal group). But Russian Church Slavonic isn't - and never was - the same thing as Old Church Slavonic. The latter was fairly understandable for the X century East Slavs, but none of them actually spoke it as the mother tongue. The very first Russian reproductions of OCS texts already contain numerous mistakes indicating that the scribes had totally different pronunciation of the same Slavic words compared to their Old Bulgarian colleagues. Russian Church Slavonic is, essentially, an Old Church Slavonic vocabulary (with minor Russian influence) applied to contemporary Russian phonetics (since it was a written language, it didn't accumulate any historical phonetic changes of Russian, but at any given moment it was under the Russian phonetic limitations) with the grammar roughly based on that of Old Church Slavonic (with many simplifications and artificial inventions) and, taking the phonetic differences into account, it had developed its own orthography (since the original letter alterations, which reflected the original Old Bulgarian pronunciation, often were meaningless and unpredictable for Old Russian speakers). It is perfectly safe to call it an artificial language which never had any native speakers, nor had it any single sound which didn't exist in the Russian phonetics of the time.

    Mind you, around the XVII century Russian Church Slavonic developed its own artificial orthoepy (partly based on Ukrainian dialects, since most educated clerics were coming from Ukraine). And what is the ultimate result? The distinction between /e/ and /ѣ/ was lost by the end of the XVIII century (since it had no supplement from the most widespread Russian dialects); the fricative pronunciation of /g/ was lost in the beginning of the XX century (even despite being not quite unfamiliar to an average Russian), leaving only [x] in the world "Бог" as a trace, since the standard Russian phonetics does contain [х]; and now only okanye remains as a non-standard phonetic feature (however, unstressed [o] isn't strictly forbidden by the Russian phonology; cf. loanwords like "радио", where it remains after a vowel). Which is a perfect illustration to one thing: it always was the spoken Russian which ultimately defined phonetics of Russian Church Slavonic, and not vice versa. And to speak about some Old Bulgarian phonetic influence when no Russian cleric had ever heard a word from a Bulgarian (within the margin of error) is, again, just that: absurdity. You cannot learn some unusual pronunciation from the letters. You need a native speaker (or other audio material), determination, a bit of talent and a long practice.

    Sometimes languages do influence phonetics of each other. But the basic mechanism is always the same: a prestigeous accent of bilingual speakers. Since the amount of such biligual people in case of Old Russian vs. Old Bulgarian or Old Russian vs. Greek even in the XI century was close to non-existent, that question can be safely closed here.
     
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    jasio

    Senior Member
    As a side question, could you please explain or give any reference to the difference between [u̯] (non-syllabic ) and [w] (voiced labio-velar approximant)?

    Just intensity of articulation, generally. The border is purely conventional.
    It may actually depend on the language and speaker. In my case (u) is more rounded, while [w] is less rounded, with lips going somewhat towards the voiced bilabial aproximant [β]. But some of my fellow speakers tend to skip narrowing the lips especially between vowels, effectively making the word "pojechała" sound like "*pojechaa".
     
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    jasio

    Senior Member
    Actually, you can hear the difference in the Polish words like pług, kłus, ułuda, ułus - where the consonant is audiable, although it should not be if there were no difference between u and w. I think that a minimal pair would be kuć -- kłuć.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Actually, you can hear the difference in the Polish words like pług, kłus, ułuda, ułus - where the consonant is auditable, although it should not be if there were no difference between u and w.
    The distinction between /u/ and /w/ is quite possible. Trouble is, it is not qualitative.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    Semitic languages got the same trouble of turning w > v. Originally, Semitic had only and always w-sound, but modern Hebrew is always pronouncing v-sound. Funny thing was in Amsterdam Hebrew, where v-sound became w-sound: Awraham < Avraham < Abraham. I think, modern Hebrew got v-sound from modern Greek β (v-sound).
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    About the Approximation of Fricatives in Slavic Loanwords

    In summary, during the centuries 500AD-700AD, the [v] fricative already existed in both Greek and Romance and was still missing in Slavic. By that reason, in the loanwords from Greak and Latin-Romance into Slavic, the original [v] fricative was approximated by the corresponding plosive Б[b] in a regular base, in the same way as happened with other fricatives missing in Slavic (Gamma, Delta, Phi, Theta).
     
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