Wiktionary:About Proto-Slavic

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This page contains guidelines for Proto-Slavic reconstructions – notation, templates, and formatting. Proto-Slavic reconstructions are created in the Reconstruction namespace, as subpages, e.g. Reconstruction:Proto-Slavic/melko for the reconstruction *melko.

The term Proto-Slavic on Wiktionary refers to Common Slavic, the imagined last phase of the language that can be reconstructed on the basis of comparative evidence of recorded Slavic languages. That is the form that is most commonly listed in etymological dictionaries and for which editors can create entries.

Early Proto-Slavic reconstructions (the forms with distinctive length, diphthongs, closed syllables etc.) are not supported, but can be mentioned in the etymology sections (see below).

Notation edit

Proto-Slavic on Wiktionary uses the following symbols for reconstructed segments:

Hard Consonants
Labial Dental Velar Alveolar
Wiktionary p b m v t d l n r k g x s z
IPA p b m ʋ t d l n r k g x s z
Soft (palatal) Consonants
Dental Velar Alveolar Glide
Wiktionary ť ď ľ ň ř č ž š ś c dz j
IPA tʲ dʲ lʲ nʲ rʲ t͡ʃ ʒ ʃ sʲ t͡s d͡z j
Front Back Nasal
Wiktionary e ь ě i ъ o y u a ę ǫ
IPA ɛ ɪ æ i ʊ ɔ ɯ u ɑ ẽ õ

The use of č, š and ž is universal among linguists, but there is more more variety among the other consonants with haček. Wiktionary uses the haček consistently used for all cases originating from iotation, a former following j. There may be other differences in notation between sources as well, as shown in the following table:

Wiktionary dz dž ť ď ň ľ ř x v ьr/ъr ьl/ъl
Others ʒ ǯ tj dj nj lj rj
ņ ļ ŗ
ń ĺ ŕ
n' l' r'

Surface forms are preferred rather than underlying, morphophonological forms:

  • Consonant assimilation (e.g. *melsti < *melzti).
  • ť < (k/g/x)t before front vowels (i.e. *moťi < *mogti, *noťь < *noktь).
  • t < (p/b)t (e.g. *teti < *tepti, *delto < *delbto).
  • Write prothetic v/j in vъ-/vy-/jь-. Otherwise optionally provide them in the |head= parameter of the headword-line template as (j) or (v).
  • Write epenthetic ľ after iotated labials, e.g. pľ/bľ/mľ/vľ rather than pj/bj/mj/vj (i.e. *čapľa < *čapja).

Alternative reconstructions edit

Notational considerations listed above make sure that Proto-Slavic reconstructions on Wiktionary conform to the canonical representation. The differences from reconstructions which occur in the literature are of three types:

  1. Differences in how segments are notated. For example, tj indicates the same thing as Wiktionary's ť, while lj and ļ mean the same thing as ľ.
  2. Chronological differences, i.e. the stage of Proto-Slavic being reconstructed is not the same. For example, *mogti (given by Derksen and some others) is an earlier form of Wiktionary's *moťi.
  3. Real differences in the reconstruction.

Instances of the third case are to be listed under the "Alternative reconstructions" header, which follows the same rules of placement and formatting as the more familiar "Alternative forms". Each form should ideally be accompanied by a <ref> </ref> to specify which source gives each alternative reconstruction.

To handle the first two cases, it is helpful to include the |passage= or |head= arguments on reference templates. These arguments can specify in which form the reconstruction exists in that source. For example, on *moťi, a reference to Derksen's dictionary can be provided as {{R:sla:EDSIL|head=*mogtì|page=321}}, indicating verbatim the form that Derksen writes. There is no requirement that this form be listed in Wiktionary in any way, although a redirect to the standard Wiktionary spelling may be helpful.

Accents edit

Accents should not be marked in page names, but should be present in the headword line with |head= parameter and in links. There are two main schools for Slavic accentuation: the traditional school and the more radical Leiden school. There is no consensus among linguists on some aspects of Slavic accentuation. The two main points of difference with relevance to Wiktionary are:

  • Traditionally, the old acute is reconstructed as long in nonfinal syllables, but it is reconstructed as short everywhere by the Leiden linguists.
  • The Leiden linguists posit a lengthening of short vowels in "monosyllables" (one syllable + final yer), thus allowing for circumflex and long neoacute on originally short vowels. Traditionally, such vowels are considered short in Proto-Slavic, and the long vowels that are found in the later dialects are regarded as Post-Common-Slavic developments.

There are some differences among linguists in the notation of various tonemes as well, without any discernable difference in the indicated pronunciation. The long rising accent (long neoacute) may be indicated with either ´ or ˜, for example.

Wiktionary follows a compromise approach, using the following five symbols, the same as those used in Chakavian. The vowel symbols stand for different vowel classes that the accent can appear on: o stands for any original short mid vowel, ъ stands for any original short high vowel (yer), a for any original long vowel or liquid diphthong. Pages that use diacritics that do not conform to these rules are listed in Category:Proto-Slavic entries with invalid diacritics.

  • Double grave ȍ ъ̏ for the short falling accent, found only on initial syllables in accent paradigm c.
  • Single grave ò ъ̀ for the short rising accent, either inherited or from the neoacute retraction (Ivšić's law). Final yers cannot be accented.
  • Single grave à for the old acute/rising accent in all positions. There is no implication of any particular length.
  • Inverted breve ȃ for the long falling accent (circumflex), found only on initial syllables in accent paradigm c.
  • Tilde ã for the long rising accent (neoacute), found on non-final syllables.
  • Macron ā for long unaccented syllables.

The single and double acute symbols (˝ ´) are thus not used, avoiding confusion with the single and double grave (`  ̏ ). The Leiden school's lengthening in monosyllables is not indicated, meaning that the circumflex ȃ and the long neoacute ã are not allowed on originally-short syllables. Only the grave accent ` can appear on both original short and long vowels; in the former case it indicates original and neoacute accent, in the latter case it indicates old acute accent.

The following table helps map between the notational systems found in various sources:

Comparison of prosodic notation
Olander Derksen
Old short, initial ȍ ъ̏ ȍ ъ̏ (ȏ ъ̑) ȍ ъ̏
Old short, medial ò ò
Old short, final ò or o̍ ò
Short neoacute ò ъ̀ ò ъ̀ (ó ъ́) ò ъ̀
Old acute, initial and medial à à
Old acute, final à
Circumflex ȃ ȃ
Long neoacute ã á ã
Long unaccented ā ā

Etymologies edit

Etymologies are added as a L3 header. If you don't know anything at all about the etymology of Proto-Slavic reconstruction, you should use the following template to request it:


General considerations regarding the formatting and the manual of style for etymologies are described at Wiktionary:Etymology, and first-time editors are encouraged to study that page first.

If an ancestor of the term can be reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European (that is, {{inh|sla-pro|ine-pro}} rather than {{der}}), it can be inferred to have existed in Proto-Balto-Slavic, even if no reconstruction for the latter is given. If you don't have a Proto-Balto-Slavic reconstruction available, the {{inh|sla-pro|ine-bsl-pro}} template should be used with the term left empty. This adds the page to a request category where other editors can provide the form if they know it.

The etymology section should also mention irregular sound changes that have occurred, changes in morphology, possible semantic shifts, possible problems with the reconstruction or the origin thereof. Example entries that contain such prosaic discussions that the editor can use as a reference:

Descendants edit

Descendants are added as a L4 header. The following is a template that can be copy pasted in new entries:

* East Slavic:
** {{desc|orv|}}
*** {{desc|zle-ort|}}
**** {{desc|rue|}}
**** {{desc|be|}}
**** {{desc|uk|}}
*** {{desc|ru|}}
** {{desc|zle-ono|}}
* South Slavic:
** {{desc|cu|-}}
**: {{desc|sclb=1|cu|}}
**: {{desc|sclb=1|cu|}}
*** Church Slavonic: {{desc|cu||nolb=1|qq=<!--Russian/Serbian--> recension}}
*** {{desc|bg|}}
*** {{desc|mk|}}
** {{desc|sh|-}}
**: {{desc|sclb=1|sh|}}
**: {{desc|sclb=1|sh|}}
*** {{desc|svm|}}
** {{desc/sl-tonal|}}
* West Slavic:
** {{desc|zlw-ocs|}}
*** {{desc|cs|}}
*** {{desc|czk||tr=}}
** {{desc|zlw-opl|}}
*** {{desc|pl|}}
*** {{desc|szl|}}
** {{desc|zlw-osk|}}
*** {{desc|rsk|}}
*** {{desc|sk|}}
** {{desc|pox|}}
** Pomeranian:
*** {{desc|csb|}}
*** {{desc|zlw-slv|}}
** Sorbian:
*** {{desc|dsb|}}
*** {{desc|hsb|}}
* Non-Slavic:
** {{desc|sq||bor=1}}
** {{desc|hu||bor=1}}
** {{desc|ro||bor=1}}


  • Column templates:
    • {{hrow}} (numberless, for 2-5 columns)
    • {{hcol|NUMBER}} (numbered, can unite 2nd and 3rd column, if 1st is taller than 2nd+3rd)
    • {{topx}}+{{bl}}+{{bottom}} (numberless, to avoid united columns in {{hcol}})
  • The three branches of Slavic are listed alphabetically, and the languages within each branch are also listed alphabetically.
  • When you can provide a descendant in its native script, for languages that do automatic transliteration (Russian), the |tr= parameter is not needed.
  • When you can provide only a transliteration/romanization (from Cyrillic or Glagolitic), fill in the |tr= parameter of the respective language, and the entry will be put in a hidden category so that editors familiar with the script can provide it later.
  • Church Slavonic refers to any national recension. If possible, you should mention the name of the recension in the parentheses.
  • Older stages of South and West Slavic languages (Old Polish, Old Czech, Middle Bulgarian, Old Serbo-Croatian, Pomeranian) are not listed in the template, but if you have their forms available you should add them indented as ancestral forms of the respective word. At the moment only the codes for Old Polish (zlw-opl), Old Czech (zlw-ocs), and Pomeranian (zlw-pom) are available, and the rest should use their modern language code equivalents.
  • In case a language doesn't have a descendant of the Proto-Slavic reconstruction, the language should be omitted. If there are no descendants in an entire branch (South, West, or East Slavic), omit the entire branch.
  • There shouldn't be any unnecessary remarks in parentheses on whether the word is archaic, obsolete, non-standard, dialectal, or similar. That kind of information belongs to entries.
  • Terms borrowed from Slavic are listed at the end, after the inherited descendants, using the bor=1 argument on {{desc}}, sorted alphabetically. This should be used both for terms known to have been borrowed from Proto-Slavic itself, and for terms of which the exact origin cannot be determined (usually due to the fact that the word has been borrowed in prehistoric times, or when individual Slavic languages as they are understood today didn't exist).
  • When it is known which specific language the word was borrowed from, list it in the Descendants section in the entry of the originating language. Then on the Proto-Slavic page, change desc to desctree for that language. Alternatively, if there is no entry for that language yet, place the borrowed term manually on the Proto-Slavic page, below the originating language, indented one level further.

About borrowing edit

The system of tense yers edit

  • Position 1—before *-jь.
  • Position 2—other.
Position Western Smolenskian Southern Pskovian 1 Southern Pskovian 2 Desninian Novgorodian Eastern
1 -ы- -э- -э- -о- -о- -ы- -о-
2 -ы- -ы- -э- -э- -ы- -о- -о-

Sources edit

If there are sources covering a particular Proto-Slavic term, you can provide references to these sources in two ways.

The less specific method is to place the source (usually a template) under the Further reading section nested under a particular part-of-speech header (at level 4 or 5). It is preceded by the unordered list markup (*). This kind of source can be used when there is a larger section dedicated to the Proto-Slavic form.

The more specific method is to the source in a <ref> </ref> tag, itself in turn placed right after the piece of information that is being sourced, such as the headword. At the end of the page, place the following:


The more specific method using ref tags is preferred, because it allows users to see which particular pieces of information are being sourced. With the "Further reading" method, the user cannot see this, and needs access to the original source to see which information it contains.

Templates to be used as sources are listed in Category:Proto-Slavic reference templates. There are four basic types of sources:

  • Dictionaries of Proto-Slavic
  • Etymological dictionaries of individual Slavic languages
  • Historical/comparative grammars of Slavic languages
  • Linguistic works covering non-Slavic languages, in particular Balto-Slavic

References to such works should not be added directly, but by means of templates. If a template is not available, you can write out the reference as pure text, but it is better to create a new template or request the creation of one. Available reference templates are listed in the following table:

Reference template Work Notes
Dictionaries of Proto-Slavic
{{R:sla:EDSIL|head=|page=}} Rick Derksen, Etymological Dictionary of the Slavic Inherited Lexicon, Brill: Leiden-Boston, 2008 The first positional parameter is page number.
{{R:sla:ESSJa|ENTRY|PAGE|VOLUME}} Олег Трубачёв, ред. (1974–), Этимологический словарь славянских языков (Москва: Наука) |1= is the reconstruction with an asterisk as a headword in the dictionary, |2= page number of side where the entry is located, |3= is a two digit (pad with zeros to the left) volume number, in Hindu-Arabic numerals.
{{R:sla:SP|ENTRY|PAGE|VOLUME}} Franciszek Sławski (ed.). (1974–2001), Słownik prasłowiański (Wrocław : Polskiej Akademii Nauk)
{{R:sla:CSAWL|head=}} Thomas Olander, Common Slavic accentological word list, 2001
{{R:sla:Matasović2014|ENTRY|PAGE}} Matasović, Ranko (2014) Slavic Nominal Word-formation: Proto-Indo-European Origins and Historical Development (Empirie und Theorie der Sprachwissenschaft; 3), Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter
{{Template:R:sla:UW|ENTRY|PAGE}} Klotz, Emanuel (2017) Urslawisches Wörterbuch [Proto-Slavic Dictionary], Wien: Facultas
Etymological dictionaries of individual languages
{{R:ru:Vasmer|}} М. Фасмер (1986), Этимологический словарь русского языка (Москва: Прогресс), 2-е изд. — Перевод с немецкого и дополнения О.Н. Трубачёва The first positional parameter is the Russian word.
{{R:sh:Skok:1971|ENTRY|PAGE|VOLUME}} Petar Skok (1971), Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika, JAZU: Zagreb
{{R:uk:ESUM|page=|vol=}} О. С. Мельничук (гол. ред.) (1982-2006), Етимологічний словник української мови, Наукова думка vol= for volume (Hindu-Arabic numeral), page= for page number
Historical/comparative grammars of Slavic languages
{{R:sh:PPGHJ|}} Ranko Matsović (2008), Poredbenopovijesna gramatika hrvatskog jezika, Matica hrvatska: Zagreb
Linguistic works covering non-Slavic languages
{{R:bat:EDBIL|head=|page=|passage=}} Rick Derksen, Etymological Dictionary of the Baltic Inherited Lexicon, Brill: Leiden-Boston, 2015 Use the passage= parameter to give the Proto-Slavic form quoted, if relevant.
{{R:bsl:PBSA|page=|passage=}} Jay Jasanoff, Prehistory of the Balto-Slavic Accent, Brill: Leiden-Boston, 2017 Use the passage= parameter to give the Proto-Slavic form quoted, if relevant.

Checking spellings edit

When adding Proto-Slavic reconstructions it can be time consuming to check various spellings or look up accents in different languages since many dictionaries that list those employ various non-standard (i.e. scholarly) transcriptions instead of the usual orthography. Here is a list of online resources that can save time:

Language name Web resource
Serbo-Croatian Hrvatski jezični portal (Croatian i.e. Ijekavian only, Latin input)
srpskijezik.com (requires free registration, accepts both Cyrillic and Latin input, extremely comprehensive, both Ijekavian and Ekavian)
Slovene Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika
Czech Slovník spisovného jazyka českého
Příruční slovník jazyka českého
Slovak Krátky slovník slovenského jazyka, 2003; Pravidlá slovenského pravopisu, 2013
Upper Sorbian Upper Sorbian-German
Upper Sorbian-German (can accept wildcards)
Lower Sorbian German-Lower Sorbian
Lower Sorbian-German

Links edit