Magocsi (1979: 82) listed fifteen English loanwords in American Rusyn that he regarded as "incorrect" (несправні <nespravni>). They contain a number of surprises from an English speaker's perspective:

1. 'Displaced' stress

Verbs are borrowed with the stressed suffix -ва́ти <váty>. The English roots are unstressed: e.g.,

bother > бадерова́ти <baderováty> (not *báderovaty)

Is the stress in this word by analogy with other -ня <-nja> words?

grocer > ґросе́рня <grosérnja> (not *grósernja)

The stress in 'watch out!' is by analogy with its native equivalent:

watch > вачу́йте <vačújte> (not *váčujte) : мирку́йте <myrkújte>

Also see 'cookies' and 'cousin' below.

2. Assignment of monosyllabic consonant-final nouns to the feminine -a declension

yard > я́рда <járda> (not *jard)

car > ка́ра <kára> (not *kar)

mine > ма́йна <májna> (not *majn)


store > штор <štor> (not *štóra; the initial consonant is irregular)

Polysyllabic consonant-final nouns were assigned to the masculine consonant-final declension:

carpet > ка́рпет <kárpet>

closet > кла́зет <klázet>

3. Double plural

cookies > куке́сы <kukésȳ>

I suppose the Rusyn plural ending was added to kukés- because *kuki would end in an un-Rusyn -i- and could not be declined.

Is there a singular kukés?

I'm surprised the stem isn't *kúkiz-.

4. Spelling-based borrowings?

Rusyn y is [ɪ].

cousin > кузи́н <kuzýn> (not *kázyn)

picture > пі́кчер <píkčer> (not *pýkčer)

run (?) > рунова́ти <runováty> 'to drive' (not *ranováty)

The -e- in kukésy 'cookies' may also be influenced by spelling.

5. Vowel not matching spelling or pronunciation

drive > дрейвова́ти <drejvováty> (not *drájvovaty)

Oddities like this make me wonder about the dialect(s) and nonnative, non-Rusyn English that Rusyn speakers heard. _DENT_F_KAC_JA

If someone asked me how to distinguish between modern written Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian without actually knowing the languages, I'd tell them to look for letters specific to each orthography:

ъ <''> is only in Russian

є <je> and ї <ji> are only in Ukrainian

ў <ŭ> is only in Belarusian

The problem with that approach is the low frequency of those letters:

ъ <''> is the rarest letter in Russian

є <je> and ї <ji> are eight-point letters in Ukrainian Scrabble

ў <ŭ> is the 12th least frequent letter* in the Narkamaŭka Belarusian orthography and the 11th least frequent letter in the Taraškievica orthography

Here is a different approach using higher-frequency letters:

- if a text contains і, it is either Ukrainian or Belarusian

- if a text contains і and и, it is Ukrainian

- if a text contains і and ы, it is Belarusian

- if a text contains и and ы, it is Russian

This table shows the distribution of the three letters:

Letter Russian Belarusian Ukrainian
і (not used) /i/
и /i/ (not used) /ɪ/
ы /ɨ/ (not used)

Note that и has different phonemic values in Russian and Ukrainian.

і is the third most frequent letter in Belarusian and a one-point letter in Ukrainian Scrabble.

ы is the 5th most frequent letter in the Narkamaŭka Belarusian orthography and the 4th most frequent letter in the Taraškievica orthography, but is the 19th most frequent letter in Russian.

The Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian words for 'identification' exemplify the different distributions of those letters:

R идентификация <identifikacija>

B ідэнтыфікацыя <identyfikacyja>

U ідентифікація <identyfikacija>

The Russian word would be an even better example if it contained ы as well as и.

Belarusian has one difference absent from the table above: э where the others have е.

So far, so good. But then I finally got around to looking at the Rusyn alphabet this week. I've known about Rusyn for years without knowing that its alphabet was like a combination of the Russian and Ukrainian alphabets. It has

- ё, ы, ъ like Russian

- є, і, ї like Ukrainian

I don't know anything about Rusyn, much less its historical phonology. My guess is that Rusyn did not merge *y and *i unlike Ukrainian:

Proto-Slavic Russian Belarusian Ukrainian Rusyn?
*y ы и ы
*i и і, ы и
е е, я і і

Did Pannonian Rusyn merge all three vowels into и? If so, then it is like Ikavian Serbo-Croatian in that respect.

On Tuesday I discovered a Transcarpathian variant of the Rusyn alphabet with two more letters in Magocsi (1979): ӱ <ü> and ю̈ <jü>.

ӱ <ü> is from *o before a short high vowel:

*nočĭ 'night' >

Russian ночь <noč'>

Belarusian ноч <noč>

Transcarpathian Rusyn нӱч <nüč> (fronting) (p. 14)

Ukrainian ніч <nič> (fronting and loss of rounding)

I can't explain this correspondence:

*děvica 'girl' >

Russian девочка <dеvočkа>

Belarusian дзяўчына <dzjaŭčyna>

Transcarpathian Rusyn дӱвочку <düvočku> 'girl' (acc. sg., p. 23) (I would expect *divočku)

(9.27.0:05: I'm pretty sure the nom. sg. is düvočka. is  Did round before *o?)

Ukrainian дівчина <divčyna>

ю̈ <jü> is much rarer than ӱ <ü>. Here are two examples from *e before a short high vowel:

*medŭ 'honey' >

Russian and Belarusian мёд <mjod> [mʲot]

Transcarpathian Rusyn мню̈ д <mnd> [mɲyd] (p. 37)

(9.27.0:30: Transcarpathian Rusyn [mɲ] is reminiscent of Czech [mɲ] from *mj-, though the two languages are not contiguous. Transcarpathian Rusyn's neighbor Slovak has [m] corresponding to Czech [mɲ].)

Ukrainian мед <med> [mɛd]

*anŭgelŭ 'angel' >

Russian ангел <angel>

Belarusian анёл <anjol>

(9.27.0:32: Coincidentally reminiscent of Slovak anjel. Did Belarusian simplify *ng to n?)

Transcarpathian Rusyn агню̈ ль <ahnl'>, ангел <anhel> (p. 52)

(The former has an irregular palatalized -l' and the latter looks like a later loan.)

Ukrainian ангел <anhel>

Another example is from *ju before a short high vowel:

*ključĭ 'key' >

Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian ключ <ključ>

Transcarpathian Rusyn клю̈ ч <klč>

*The Belarusian frequency lists include Russian letters absent from Belarusian at the bottom: и, ъ, щ. I presume those letters appeared in Russian names and words in Belarusian texts. I have excluded those letters from my ranking. MIENSK I MINSK

(The title is from Менск і Мінск 'Miensk and Minsk', the first song I ever heard in Belarusian.)

I was puzzled by this section of the English Wikipedia entry on Minsk:

The Old East Slavic name of the town was Мѣньскъ (i.e. Měnsk < Early Proto-Slavic or Late Indo-European Mēnĭskŭ), derived from a river name Měn (< Mēnŭ). The direct continuation of this name in Belarusian is Miensk (pronounced [mʲɛnsk]). The resulting form of the name, Minsk (spelled either Минскъ or Мѣнскъ), was taken over both in Russian (modern spelling: Минск) and Polish (Mińsk), and under the influence especially of Russian it also became official in Belarusian. However, some Belarusian-speakers continue to use Miensk (spelled Менск) as their preferred name for the city.

It does not explain where Minsk came from. The standard Belarusian reflex of Proto-Slavic ('jat') is e (with palatalization of the preceding consonant indicated by -i- in Łacinka). Russian has the same reflex of jat. Among the East Slavic standard languages, only Ukrainian has i from jat. The Slavic root for 'white' in Беларусь Belarus' 'White Rus' ' has jat:

Proto-Slavic *běl-

Belarusian бел- bieł- [bʲɛl]

Russian бел- bel- [bʲɛl] (Łacinka disguises the fact that the Belarusian and Russian roots are homophonous)

Ukrainian біл- bil-

Polish biał- [bʲaw]

(More descendants here.)

One might think that Minsk is a borrowing from Ukrainian (in which the word is Мінськ Mins'k with the shift ĭs > s'), and in fact Vasmer credits Ukrainian influence rather than outright borrowing. The Belarusian Wikipedia in the current official orthography states that according to Aničenka (1987), the spelling Minsk adopted in 1939 incorporates the Ukrainian reflex of jat.

The Taraškievica Belarusian and Russian Wikipedias mention another explanation by Abremska-Jabłońska in Kramko and Štychaŭ 2001: the influence of the Polish name Mińsk (Mazowiecki) '(Masovian) Minsk'.

The Russian Wikipedia says the i-spelling in Latin dates from 1502 when Minsk was under Lithuanian rule. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was still 67 years in the future.

At first I thought it was likely that the Poles renamed Minsk after their own Mińsk, but why would non-Poles* alter the name to match a name in a foreign country? And centuries later, why would the BSSR adopt a Ukrainianized name for Minsk?

Here is an uninformed guess: Did the originators of the spelling Minsk perceive the local Belarusian reflex of jat to be i-like: i.e., an [e] or [ɪ] higher than Belarusian e [ɛ]? Such a high reflex could have later lowered and merged with [ɛ]. Or this hypothetical high-jat dialect could have been replaced by an [ɛ]-jat dialect.

*9.26.0:52: I don't know who wrote the Latin documents containing Minsk. They could have been Lithuanians or Belarusians. In any case, they did not have the option of writing a higher e with the dotted letter ė which was absent from the earliest Lithuanian alphabet of 1547. (In modern Lithuanian orthography, plain e is [ɛ] and dotted ė is [eː]. The Lithuanian Wikipedia article on the Lithuanian alphabet gives me the impression that dotted ė is only a little over a century old.) BROTHER-IN-LAWS IGOR AND OLEG

I am barely a dilettante at Slavic, so I constantly fear that I am raising Comparaitve Slavic 101-level questions whenever I bring up the subject. Yesterday I asked why *e in *děverĭ 'brother-in-law' didn't raise in Ukranian. Today I learned that the late George Shevelov himself (1979: 309) wasn't sure:

The reason for the appearance of e in [standard Ukrainian] díver 'husband's brother' is unclear. Could it be an influence of NU [northern Ukrainian] dialects where e is restored in unstressed syllables?

So maybe that wasn't such a bad queston after all. I don't know about these next questions, though.

Another word from my last post, Russian Igor' / Ukrainian Ihor / Belarusian Ihar, is from Old East Slavic In(ŭ)gvarŭ which in turn is a loan from Old Norse Ingvarr. Let's go through this word from left to right:

According to Shevelov, nasal + consonant sequences did not exist at the time. Hence there were four options to deal with Old Norse Ing-:

1. Borrow as is in spite of native phonotactics: Ingvarŭ

2. Insert ŭ to break up the ng-cluster: Inŭgvarŭ

3. Drop the n to avoid the ng-cluster: the ancestor of Igor'

4. Replace In- with native nasalized Ę- to break up the ng-cluster.

All but the last options were exercised. A nasal vowel would have become *Ja- in modern forms like Russian *Jagor', etc.

G weakened to h in  Ukrainian and Belarusian.

I have not seen the change *va > o anywhere in Slavic. Are there other examples? Was Old Norse va something like [wɒ] or [wɔ] which would have been close to Old East Slavic *o? Belarusian a in Ihar is from o and is not a direct retention of the Old Norse vowel.

Why does Russian have -r' < *-rĭ if the Old East Slavic word ended in *-ŭ?

Ukrainian final -r in theory could be from either *-rŭ or *-rĭ, but the -r of Ihor must be from *-rĭ since palatalized r appears before endings: Ihorja instead of *Ihora, etc.

Belarusian r is always unpalatalized, so the endings of Ihar do not reveal whether its -r was from *-rŭ or *-rĭ: e.g, Ihora, etc.

Another Norse name in East Slavic is Russian Oleg / Ukrainian Oleh / Belarusian Aleh from Old Norse Helgi via Old East Slavic Olĭgŭ.

Old East Slavic had no H-. (As already stated, the later h of Ukrainian and Belarusian is from g.) Old Norse -e- was borrowed as Old East Slavic Je- with a prothetic J-. This Je- then became Jo- and ultimately O-; cf. Proto-Slavic *ezero >  Russian/Ukrainian ozero / Belarusian vozera 'lake'. Belarusian lowered unstressed O- to A-.

'Strong' ĭ before a 'weak' ŭ lowered to e in East Slavic. (See Wikipedia on the 'strong'/'weak' distinction.)

Why does the -i of Old Norse Helgi correspond to Old East Slavic instead of -ĭ? I am reminded of how Russian third person verb endings end in -t from -tŭ instead of the expected -t' from -tĭ corresponding to Ukrainian -t', Belarusian -c', and - far outside Slavic - Sanskrit -ti. BROTHER-IN-LAW IGOR THE EEL

One feature that distinguishes standard Ukrainian (hereafter simply 'Ukrainian') from the other major Slavic languages is i from *o before a consonant followed by or *ŭ: e.g.,

ніч nich < *nochĭ 'night' (cf. Russian ночь noch')

кіт kit < *kotŭ 'cat' (cf. Russian кот kot)

Last Friday, it occurred to me that if Russian noch' corresponds to Ukrainian nich, then Russian Игорь Igor' should correspond to Ukrainian *Ігір *Ihir. (Russian -ь -' is a trace of *ĭ, *g weakened to h in Ukrainian, and Ukrainian palatalized r' lost its palatalization except before vowels.) But the actual Ukrainian name is Ігор Ihor with o.

Similarly, the Ukrainian cognate of Russian угорь ugor' < *ǫgorĭ 'eel' is вугор vuhor, not *вугір *vuhir. (Prothetic v- is common before stressed *u in Ukrainian. I don't know why the stress moved to o after prothesis. Russian retains the original initial stress.)

Ukrainian i is also partly from *e before a consonant followed by or *ŭ: e.g.,

сім sim < *sedmĭ 'seven' (cf. Russian семь sem')

обмін obmin < *obmenŭ 'exchange' (cf. Russian обмен obmen)

( According to Shevelov 1979: 322 and 1993: 950, *e did not raise before unless it received retracted stress:

*médŭ > мед med (not *мід *mid) 'honey' (cf. disyllabic forms with initial stress: médu, etc.)

*neslŭ́ > ніс nis 'carried' (cf. disyllabic forms with final stress: neslá, etc.; my assumption is that all disyllabic forms including the source of nis originally had final stress)

Could this be restated as *e raising before a stressed *ŭ? If so, why did *e raise in *obmenŭ? Russian obmén, obména, etc. has root stress whereas Ukrainian óbmin, óbminu etc. has prefixal stress. Is either stress original, or did *obmenŭ once have final stress?

However, the Ukrainian cognate of Russian деверь dever' < *děverĭ 'brother-in-law' is дівер diver, not *дівір *divir. (I is the regular Ukrainian reflex of *ě.)

Did *o and *e regularly fail to raise in Ukrainian before word-final *r and a short high vowel? *o did raise before word-medial *rĭ in гіркий hirkyj < *gorĭkij 'bitter' (cf. Russian горький gor'kij; y is the regular Ukrainian reflex of noninitial *i). A DIP INTO WHITE WATERS (PART 10): XIANGNAN TUHUA PROTO-TONES

I am normally skeptical of attempts to reconstruct proto-tone contours (as opposed to proto-tone categories), but against my better judgment, I wanted to see what I could do with the two 湘南土話 Xiangnan Tuhua 'local speech of southern Hunan' tone systems available at the 小學堂 Xiaoxuetang database: one from 白水村 Baishuicun (BSC) 'White Water Village' and another from 道 Dao County.

The overall picture of tone category evolution is clear:

Old Chinese had no tones.

Middle Chinese could be defined as the first stage of tonal Chinese. It might be more accurate to describe very early Middle Chinese as having phonations (clear / creaky / breathy) than tones. These phonations became phonemic after the consonants that conditioned them were lost. They probably developed into tones at different rates in different dialects.

Middle Chinese had four tonal categories:

平 'level' vs. 上 'rising'

去 'departing' vs. 入 'entering'

The Middle Chinese names of the tones exemplfify them: e.g., *bɨeŋ 'level' has a 'level' tone, etc.

The first two tones may have had level and rising contours in the dialect spoken by whoever coined those names which are first attested in the fifth century AD. That does not mean those categories were level and rising in other dialects of that period or later periods.

The names 'departing' and 'entering' may imply that those tones were perceived as opposites in some way but do not hint at contours. It is tempting to regard 'departing' as falling since the modern standard Mandarin reflexes of the first three tones after *voiceless initials are high level*, low rising**, and high falling, but there is no guarantee that the currently dominant Chinese language just so happens to preserve contours that are over 1,500 years old.

Later the four tones developed yin and yang allophones after different initial classes that became phonemic when initial distinctions were lost.

Modern reflexes of the four tones vary considerably: e.g., words that once had the 'departing' tone can have level tones (as in Cantonese) or rising tones (as in Shanghai). I use single quotation marks to distinguish between tone names and contours; the latter are written without quotation marks.

I have listed the tones of BSC and Dao in part 9. I reconstruct a seven-tone system for their common ancestor Proto-Xiangnan Tuhua (PXT):

Initial \ coda 'level': *-sonorant 'rising': *-ʔ 'departing': *-s 'entering': *-p/t/k/kʷ
'yin': *voiceless ('clear') *high falling (54) *high level (55) *mid level (33) ?*high rising (45) + no stop
'yang': *voiced ('muddy') *low falling (31) *low level (22) ?*mid falling (43~42) (+ no stop < *yang entering)

The merger of yang 'departing' and yang 'entering' may be an innovation distinguishing PXT from the rest of Chinese. If other PXT dialects retain a distinct yang 'entering' tone, an eighth tone will have to be reconstructed in the future.

As I wrote last night,

Yin/yang is correlated with height for the 'level' and 'rising' tones (yin : higher, yang : lower) but not for the 'departing' tones which have the opposite pattern (yin : lower, yang : higher).

So I did not hesitant to reconstruct higher yin and lower yang 'level' and 'rising' tones. The contours are more questionable. Dao has two falling 'level' tones and BSC has only one falling 'level' tone. It is simpler to assume that one tone became falling in BSC than to assume that two tones became falling in Dao.

If PXT 'level' tones were falling, then PXT 'rising' tones could not be falling (unless they were falling with a creaky phonation absent from 'level' tones). I project the level 'rising' tones of Dao back into PXT and regard the contours of the BSC tones as innovations.

BSC has merged the yang 'rising' and yin 'departing' tones into a single tone:

PXT *mid level + *low level > pre-BSC *nonhigh level > BSC low falling

Dao still has a distinct mid level yin 'departing' tone which I regard as a retention of PXT.

Up to this point, the PXT system is identical to the Dao system. Is Dao really that conservative?

I am most reluctant to construct the last two tones. The BSC and Dao contours are so different:

Tone BSC Dao
Yin 'entering' 55 35
Yang 'departing/entering' 33 52

If I average the contours, I get *high rising (45) for yin 'entering' and *mid falling (43~42) for yang 'departing/entering'. This almost fits the general yin-higher/yang-lower pattern. (Yang 'departing/entering' starts slightly higher than the other two yang tones.) Averaging is an act of desperation, not a serious methodology. Hence I have placed question marks before those two tones in my first table.

Final stops in entering tones could have been lost in pre-PXT, paving the way for the yang 'departing/entering' merger.

*High rising after *voiced initials.

**High falling after *voiced obstruent initials. A DIP INTO WHITE WATERS (PART 9): DEPARTING A MUDDY ENTRANCE

I wanted to wrap up my series on 白水村 Baishuicun (BSC) 'White Water Village' last night, but I have one more thing to say before I move on.

I have written almost nothing about BSC tones. I have omitted them from all forms in this series. However, they are interesting. Here is the general pattern which has many exceptions:

Initial \ coda 'level': *-sonorant 'rising': *-ʔ 'departing': *-s 'entering': *-p/t/k/kʷ
'yin': *voiceless ('clear') 44 35 21 55 + no stop
'yang': *voiced ('muddy') 41 21 33 (+ no stop < *yang entering)

For comparison, here  are the tones of another dialect of 湘南土話 Xiangnan Tuhua 'local speech of southern Hunan' from 道 Dao County:

Initial \ coda 'level': *-sonorant 'rising': *-ʔ 'departing': *-s 'entering': *-p/t/k/kʷ
'yin': *voiceless ('clear') 54 55 33 35 + no stop
'yang': *voiced ('muddy') 31 22 52 (+ no stop < *yang entering)

BSC and Dao are the only dialects of Xiangnan Tuhua in the 小學堂 Xiaoxuetang database. I don't know how much variation is in Xiangnan Tuhua.

What stands out in those two tables is how the yin entering tone has no yang counterpart. I don't remember ever seeing that elsewhere before. The three usual patterns are:

- no entering tone: e.g., standard Mandarin

- a single entering tone without a yin/yang distinction: e.g., Jin

- yin and yang entering tones: e.g., Cantonese and Taiwanese

Yin/yang is correlated with height for the 'level' and 'rising' tones (yin : higher, yang : lower) but not for the 'departing' tones which have the opposite pattern (yin : lower, yang : higher). This is unlike Cantonese which has consistently higher yin tones. The BSC yin entering tone is high and patterns with the 'level' and 'rising' tones, but the Dao yin entering tone starts lower than the yang departing tone that merged with the *yang entering tone.

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