Slovak-Ukrainian linguistic relations

Slovak-Ukrainian linguistic relations. Historically, the linguistic contacts between Ukrainians and Slovaks took place in the western Transcarpathian Prešov region. There they have affected the (southern) Lemko dialects and the contiguous Ukrainian Carpathian and eastern Slovak dialects and the local variants of the literary languages. Contemporary eastern Slovak dialects reveal several ancient Lechitic traits, and the eastern Zemplín dialects are under the influence of Ukrainian. Their expansion into the Lemko region and the Middle-Carpathian region resulted in the development of the so-called Sotak dialect in the Snina (Snyna) vicinity of the Prešov region and of the mixed Ukrainian-Slovak dialects west of Uzhhorod. Among the oldest traits common to western Ukrainian, southern Polish, and Slovak are the endings -ox in the locative plural of masculine and neuter nouns (eg, Ukrainian Dniester dialect u pal’c’ox ‘in the fingers’, Ukrainian western Transcarpathian dialect u l’isox ‘in forests’, 16th-century Polish w ogrodoch ‘in the gardens’, Slovak o chłapoch ‘about men’) and -me in first-person plural verbs (eg, Ukrainian dame, Slovak dáme ‘we will give’). Remnants of early Ukrainian-Slovak contacts are the Slovak forms čerieslo (cf Ukrainian čereslo) ‘plowshare’ and the reflex o < ь in the eastern Slovak, and perhaps middle Slovak, dialects (eg, moch, voš, piesok [cf Ukrainian mox, voša, pisok] ‘moss, louse, sand’). Greek Catholic eastern Slovaks were also influenced by the Ukrainian variant of Church Slavonic. As a result of 19th- and 20th-century Slovakization pressures, many syntactic and phraseological Slovakisms and Slovak calques entered the local literary language of the Ukrainians of the Prešov region.

The influence of Slovak (as that of Polish) on the Ukrainian language was strongest and most enduring in the Lemko dialects. In those dialects (1) the labialization CelC > ColC > ColoC in the word pelevnykgrain husk’ is absent; (2) sonorous r, l in weak positions of the groups Cr(l)ь(ь)C retained longer their sonant character after the disappearance of the weak jer, and therefore the vowel ы appeared before them instead of, as in other Ukrainian dialects, after them (eg, kыrvavыj [SU) kryvavyj] ‘bloody’, hыrmity [SU hrymity] ‘to thunder’, sыεuza [SU sl’oza] ‘tear’, bыεuxa [SU bloxa] ‘flea’); (3) the palatalization of s, z has a dorsal character, n before g, k becomes ŋ, and l’ after labials in fourth-class verbs is replaced by j (eg, robju [SU roblju] ‘I make’); (4) contracted verbal endings of the type trymam, -aš, -at, -ame, -ate (SU trymaju, -aješ, -aje, -ajemo, -ajete) ‘I/you (sing)/he/we/you(pl) hold’, sporadic forms with ča < če (eg, časaty, čalo, čapiha [SU česaty, čolo, čepiha] ‘to comb, forehead, plow handle’), and syntactic and aspectual peculiarities (eg, the atemporal use of the present tense of perfective verbs [eg, kvočka vыl’ahne kur’jata ‘the hen broods chicks’]) appeared; and (5) numerous Slovakisms entered the southern Lemko (and, to a lesser extent, the northern Lemko, Boiko, and western and middle Transcarpathian) lexicon; eg, words such as bratranec’ ‘cousin’, pec ‘stove’, bradlo ‘haystack’, draha ‘road’, blanar ‘glassmaker’, l’adnyk ‘vetch’, bodak ‘bayonet’, rixlyk ‘fast train’, semantic creations and calques such as pas’ika ‘clearing’, poros’ačka ‘sow’, and lexical parallels such as rebryna ‘ladder’, lyška ‘vixen’. Hungarian, German, and other European loanwords entered the dialects via partly also Slovak.

Slovak-Ukrainian linguistic relations have been studied by scholars such as Olaf Broch, Volodymyr Hnatiuk, Stepan Tomashivsky, S. Czambel, Aleksei L. Petrov, František Pastrnek, Zdzisław Stieber, O. Halaga, Vasyl Latta, Mykhailo Onyshkevych, and Yosyp Dzendzelivsky.

Onyshkevych, M. ‘Slovats'ko-ukraïns'ki movni zv’iazky,’ in Pytannia slov'ianoznavstva (Lviv 1962)
Dzendzelivs'kyi, I. Ukraïns'ko-zakhidnoslov'ians’ki leksychni paraleli (Kyiv 1969)
Horbach, O. Pivdennolemkivs'ka hovirka i diialektnyi slovnyk sela Krasnyi Brid bl. Medzhylaborets' (Priashivshchyna) (Munich 1973)

Oleksa Horbach

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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