Slavic Second Palatalization - Formulation


Inherited velars *k (< PIE *k, *kʷ) and *g (< PIE *g, *gʰ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ) change before the Proto-Slavic diphthong *aj/āj (< PIE *oy, *h₂ey/ay), which itself must have become *ē by the time the second palatalization started to occur:

*k > *t' > c
*g > *d' > dz > z

Proto-Slavic velar fricative *x that was absent in PIE, and which arose primarily from PIE *s by means of RUKI law, from word-initial PIE #sk- as well as from Germanic and Iranian borrowings, changed in the same environment as:

*x > *ś > s/š

Ultimate output of the third palatalization is thus the same as that of the preceding second palatalization. The difference of the palatalization of *x is dependent upon chronology and the Slavic dialect in question: In East and South Slavic it's /s/, and in West Slavic languages it's /š/. Slovak tends to go with South Slavic in such instances, e.g. Čech "Czech", plural Česi "Czechs".


  • PIE *koylo- > PSl. *kajlu 'whole, healthy' > OCS cělъ, Russ. célyj, Pol. cały

The intermediary /dz/ has been preserved only in the oldest Old Church Slavonic canon monuments, Lechitic languages, Slovak and the Ohrid dialects of Macedonian. Other Slavic languages have younger /z/.

Second palatalization alternates s consonant clusters specifically

Consonant alternations resulting from Proto-Slavic palatalizations
Velar /sk/ /zg/ /sx/
Dental /sc/, /st/ /zd/ /sc/

In South Slavic languages the second palatalization operates even if medial *w (> OCS v) is present between the velar and the diphthong (or its reflex), whereas in West Slavic languages the original *kvě/gvě clusters are preserved. Although words with groups cv, zv resulting from the second palatalization are found in East Slavic languages, they are likely to be a consequence of the Church Slavonic influence, since there is evidence of preservation of original groups in Ukrainian and Belarusian languages and in Russian dialects. Compare:

  • PSl. *gwajzdā 'star' > OCS zvězda, but Pol. gwiazda, Cz. hvězda
  • PSl. *kwajtu 'flower' > OCS cvětъ, but Pol. kwiat, Cz. květ, Ukr. kvitka, Belarus. kvetka, Russ. dial. kvet

In natively coined and inherited Slavic words the second palatalization occurs only before the new *ě < *aj, because the first palatalization already operated before all the other front vowels, but in the loanwords it also operates before all front vowels. Compare:

  • Latin acētum 'vinegar' > Goth. akit- > PSl. *akitu > OCS ocьtъ
  • Germanic *kirkō 'church' > PSl. *kirkū > OCS crьky

Read more about this topic:  Slavic Second Palatalization

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