Northern dialects

Northern dialects. A group of dialects in the Ukrainian language. They are distributed north of the southwestern dialects and southeastern dialects, with which they share a broad zone of transitional dialects. With the Belarusian language to their north they share transitional (eastern and mixed) Ukrainian-Belarusian dialects as a result of the ancient, unequal northwestward diffusion of Ukrainian traits and the later southeastern expansion of Belarusian. The northern dialects consist of the Podlachian dialects and the Polisian dialects and have the following characteristics: (1) an archaic vocalism (diphthongs) in the stressed position, or monophthongs in place of the stressed o and e (which were once followed by a weak-jer syllable) ě that differ from o, e and ě; eg, pječ, duom, djed (Standard Ukrainian [su]: pič, dim, did) ‘oven, home, grandfather’; and (2) the change of a (< ę) after a palatalized consonant into e in an unstressed position; eg, déset’, des’áty (su: désjat’, desjátyj) ‘ten, tenth’. Except for some of the Podlachian dialects, in their lexicon and simplified morphology the northern dialects are similar to the southeastern dialects,, in whose formation they, together with the Podilian dialects and the Volhynian dialects, played a decisive role in the 14th to 17th centuries. (See map: Ukrainian dialects.)

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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