Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Russian e and jat' (was: Amanda's sentences as translation exercise)

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpjonsson@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 9:32
H. S. Teoh skrev:
> On Tue, Oct 24, 2006 at 09:38:38PM +0200, Philip > Newton wrote: >> On 10/24/06, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote: > [...] >> e and o/yo appear to alternate in several places. >> >> Note that what makes things more complicated is that >> modern /e/ used to be separate phonemes (as I understand >> it) -- yat and e -- which merged later on. IIRC, *e >> turned to o in some cases but *yat never >> did. > > So is it correct that е consistently turns into ё when > stressed, but yat never did, so after the 1918 reform, the > words that used to have stressed yat are now written with > stressed е, but the original е/ё distinction was purely > a result of stress? (Since ё is always stressed, and verb > endings have the stressed е -> ё rule, this seems to > indicate that pre-1918 stressed е consistently turned > into ё.)
It is correct that in inherited vocabulary original stressed _*e_ turned into _(j)o_ (ë) while original _*&_ (jat' -- I'm using the CXS for its probable Common Slavic pronunciation) became _(j)e_ in all positions, but in addition there is a layer of Church Slavic loan words which have _(j)e_ for stressed _*e_ -- i.e. every Russian stressed _(j)o_ comes from _*e_, but not every stressed _(j)e_ comes from _*&_. There are even minimal pairs with one inherited Russian form and one ChS loan, with slightly different meanings. It is a bit like French having both _raison_ as inherited from Proto-Romance and _ration_ as a loan from Latin (both of course in turn borrowed into English, with _raison_ getting the Anglicized spelling _reason_).
> The question remains, though, where the *phonological* > distinction between е and ё come from. If we discount > yat from consideration, it seems that [je] vs. [jo] > existed much farther back in antiquity. My question is > whether this distinction already existed at the time proto- > Slavic split from PIE, or did it come into existence > afterwards?
Later, although it's IIANM shared with the other East Slavic languages and Lekhitic (the North West group of Slavic to which Polish belongs, so it's not that new. South and South West Slavic lack it altogether, and thus also Church Slavic. PIE short _*a_ (aka _*H2e_) and _*o_ (aka partly _*o_ and partly _*H3e_) merged as _*o_ in Common Slavic, while _*a: (aka _*eH2_) and _*o:_ (aka partly _*o:_, partly _*eH3_) merged as Common Slavic _*a_ -- probably [Q] and [Q:] in Balto- Slavic and Proto-Slavic. PIE _*e_ remained CSl. _*e_ while PIE _*e:, *ai, *oi_ (with the usual hedges WRT the intra-PIE origins of _*a_ and _*o_ :-) merged as CSl. _*&_ (again probably earlier [&] and [&:]). For some not fully clarified reasons -- it may be a morphological merger/analogy -- some PIE _*o/*o:_ merged with _*u/*u:_ in final syllables, and thus CSl. _y_ and _U_, the latter of which usually becomes zero in Russian. A good introduction to these matters is "Introduction to the phonological history of the Slavic languages" by Terence R. Carlton Columbus, Ohio : Slavica Publishers, 1991 ISBN 0893572233. He is far more accessible than his sources, like Shevelov, and far more concise (in the good sense) than the German stuff on the subject I first got my paws on. As for the spelling of /jo/ it appears IO -- i.e. the old Roman-looking i + o was in some use before ë was invented. Of course it was liable to confusion with _ju_. IMNSHO the smart thing would have been to use jat' for all instances of /je/ and E for all instances of /jo/, and then of course to consistently mark stress with accents -- if the Greeks, Czechs, Irish and Icelanders can be consistent with their accents, why not the Cyrillic-users? --, except in jat' where it'd be superfluous. That way the current sloppiness WRT e <> ë would not have arisen BTW Germanic also had *a/*o merger with subsequent phonetic split between the long and short, but with the opposite values, the longs becoming _*o:_ and the shorts _a_. Alas there happened so many funky things (fronting, monophthongization and umlaut splits)to Germanic _*a_ and _*ai_ in Old English that the Anglo-Russian correspondences are hard to unravel -- i.e. possible but I don't have the time: I have a Russkij mid-term exam tomorrow! As usual I got the grammar pat down but the vocabulary hanging in limbo -- quite the opposite of everybody else. BTW does anyone know any good overview of Russian motion verbs? And yes, I refuse to transcribe Slavic /j/ with _y_, not so much because _staryy_ looks dead ugly -- or rather like a long [i\:] --, and _stary_ just plain wrong, but because e.g. /i\je/ actually occurs, and _ye_ thus is ambiguous. /BP 8^)> -- Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot (Max Weinreich) -- /BP 8^)> -- Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot (Max Weinreich)


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>