Where did Ukrainian language come from? (1/3)

26 января 2013, 17:53
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Дещо про походження української мови англійською.

Nowadays many “fiction novels” are written on the origin of the Ukrainian language. Lack of popular philological literature led down enthusiasts, who are often not specialists in matters of language, to spring into action. Honestly speaking, they show surprising activity.

Some “specialists” derive Ukrainian perhaps directly from Sanskrit; others spread myths about the alleged Polish or Hungarian influence, although most of them speak neither Polish or Ukrainian nor even the Hungarian language.

Why Ukrainian includes many words from Sanskrit?

Comparing different languages, researchers came to the conclusion that some of them are very close to each other, others are more distant relatives. At once, there are languages that have nothing in common. For example, it’s a fact that Ukrainian, Latin, Norwegian, Tajik, Hindi, English, etc. are cognate. At the same time, Japanese, Hungarian, Finnish, Turkish, Etruscan, Arabic, Basque, etc. are not connected with Ukrainian or, say Spanish.

It is proved that a few thousand years BC there was a community of people (tribes), who spoke at the close dialects. We do not know where and when it was exactly. Maybe 3-5 thousand years BC. Scientists assume these tribes lived somewhere in the northern Mediterranean, perhaps even in the Dnieper region. The Indo-European proto-language has not survived to our times. The earliest sources that have survived to the present day were written a thousand years BC in the language of ancient inhabitants of India called “Sanskrit”. Being the most ancient, this language is considered to be the closest one to Indo-European.

Scientists reconstruct proto-language according to the laws of sounds and grammatical forms transformation. They are moving in the opposite direction – from the modern languages to a common one. Reconstructed words are presented in etymological dictionaries and the ancient grammatical forms – in the literature on grammar history.

Modern Indo-European languages have inherited most of the bases (radicals) since the former unity. Related words sometimes sound very different in each language, but these differences are subject to certain patterns of sound.

Compare Ukrainian and English words that have a common origin: день [den’] – day, ніч [nich] – night, сонце [sonce] – sun, матір [matir] – mother, син [syn] – son, око [oko] – eye, дерево [derevo] – tree, вода [voda] – water, два [dva] – two, могти [mohty] – might, сварити [svaryty] – swear, веліти [velity] – will. Thus, Ukrainian as all the other Indo-European languages​​ has many common words with Sanskrit and other kindred languages ​​– Greek, Icelandic, Old Persian, Armenian, etc., needless to say about the close Slavic languages – Russian, Slovak, Polish...

As a result of migrations, wars, conquest of some nations by others, linguistic dialects drifted apart, new languages emerged and old ones disappeared. Indo-Europeans settled throughout Europe and spread to Asia (and therefore they got their name).

The proto-Indo-European language family gave rise to the following language groups: the Romance (dead Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Moldavian, etc.), German (dead Gothic, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic Danish, Dutch, Afrikaans, etc.), Celtic (Welsh, Scottish, Irish, etc.), Indo-Iranian (dead Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Tajik, Ossetian, Romani and maybe dead Scythian, etc.) , Baltic (dead Prussian, Lithuanian, Latvian, etc.), Slavic (dead Old Slavic or “Old Bulgarian”, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, Great Russian, Belarusian, etc.) Some Indo-European branches give birth to the Greek, Armenian, Albanian languages that have no close relatives. Quite a number of Indo-European languages ​​have not lived up to historical time.

Why Indo-European languages ​​are so different from each other?

As a rule, the formation of the language is associated with the geographic isolation of its speakers, migration and conquest of some nations by others. Differences of Indo-European languages are explained by interaction with other languages (often not Indo-European ones). One language, displacing another, gets some characteristics of a defeated language, and these characteristics differ such language from its neighbour (repressed language that has left its remains is called the substrate); in addition, such language incurs grammatical and lexical changes. There may be some internal laws of language development, which eventually “alienate” it from related dialects. However, apparently the cause of any internal laws is the influence of other (substrate) languages.

Thus, in ancient Europe there were numerous languages, whose influence led to the current motley language picture. In particular, Greek was under the impact of Illyrian (Albanian) and Etruscan; English – Norman and various Celtic dialects; French – Gaelic; Russian – Finno-Ugric languages, as well as “Old Bulgarian”. Finno-Ugric influence on the Russian language resulted in weakening of unstressed vowels (especially akanje (failure to differentiate unstressed back vowel-sounds): молоко [moloko] – млаако [mlaako]); pronunciation of “g” instead of “г” [h], devocalization of consonants at the end of a syllable.

It is widely thought that at some stage in the language evolution, until a separate Slavic and Baltic languages genesis, there has been Balto-Slavic unity, as these languages ​​have a lot of common words, morphemes and even grammatical forms. Some scientists assume that the common ancestors of the Balts and Slavs inhabited the area from North Dnieper to the Baltic Sea. However, the unity disintegrated as a result of migration.

It reflected in a remarkable manner at the language level: Proto-Slavic emerges as a separate language (not the Balto-Slavic dialect) with the onset of the so-called law of open syllables. Ancient Slavs got that language law, interacting with some not Indo-European people; there were no combinations of several consonants in their language. The essence of mentioned rule was that all syllables ended in a vowel. Old words were rebuilt: short vowels were inserted between the consonants or vowels or they were swapped with consonants, final consonants were lost or short vowels appeared after them. Thus, “ал-ктис” [al-ktis] turned into “ло-ко-ти” [lo-ko-ti] (elbow), “кор-вас” [kor-vas] into “ко-ро-ва [ko-ro-va] (cow), “медус” [me-dus] into “ме-до” [me-do] (honey ), “ор-би-ти” [or-by-ty] into “ро-би-ти” [ro-by-ty] (to work), “драу-гас[drau-gas] into “дру-ги” [dru-gi] (other, different), etc. Roughly, the idea of the Proto-Slavic language period may be illustrated by the Baltic languages not affected by the law of open syllables.

How do we know about this law? First of all, from the most ancient monuments of Slavic literature (X-XII century). Short vowel sounds are reflected in writing by the letters “ъ” (something between the short “о” and “ы”) and “ь” (the short “і”). The tradition of writing “ъ” at the end of words after consonants, which had passed to Great Russian language through the Kyivan tradition of the Church Slavonic language interpretation, survived until the early twentieth century, though, of course, such vowels were never read in Great Russian...

Volodymyr Ilchenko (translated by Volodymyr Dzoban)
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ТЕГИ: українська мова,украинский язык
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