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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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East Slavs

The obtained circuit of cognate relations of the Slavic languages and placing it in a certain geographical area contradicts to popular view among linguists about the existence of specific East Slavic language community (FILIN F.P. 1962, 1972; RUSINOV N.D. 1977; MALKOVA O.V. 1984; SUPRUN A.E. 1989). Nevertheless there were other points of view:

Since the beginning of the century there is a hypothesis (Smal-Stotsky) of the formation of independent Proto-Ukrainian dialects based on Proto-Slavic, bypassing the stage of Old Russian (common East Slavic) unity (language). In the past, several attempts tried to prove actual justification of this hypothesis, it finds ardent supporters and now, although the rival hypothesis was always dominated in the history of science, which assumes the existence of the Old Russian Proto-language (MALKOVA O.V. 1984: 45-46).

It should nevertheless recognize that the following remark Smal’-Stotskiy about attempts to divide all the Slavs in the group makes sense:

Who said anything about groups, should establish a common proto-language for each group (SMAL'-STOTS'KIY ST., 1927: 44).

Strangely, this simple idea has not received support and for a long time the fancy of the mythical Slavic unity prevailed among not only for Eastern but also for Western and Southern Slavs, but gradually these views have changed (SHIROKOVA F.G., GUDKOV V.P., Ed. 1977). At first this idea was discarded for West Slavic unity, and further for South Slavic was:

In the absence of specific South Slavic new creations it is hardly to legitimately assume a separate stage of existence in the pre-Slavic for the South Slavs. Interconnection and linguistic unity of the South Slavs indicates not so much on the separate development, as on the preservation of many pre-Slavic heritage. South Slavic linguistic unity, apparently, was formed as an alliance of closely related languages / dialects in conditions of life in a new home land (KURKINA L.V., 1985: 63).

The attitude to the conjecture of the existence of the Old Russian language emerged not only by the views of Neogrammarians on the development of language, but also under influence of ideological factors, that was affected a biased criticism of theories of those scholars such as Stepan Smal’-Stotskiy, who speak consistently about the otigin of the Ukrainian language directly from the Proto-Slavic, without intermediates (SMAL'-STOTS'KIY S., GARTNER T. 1913; SMAL'-STOTS'KIY ST. 1927). As far as circumstances permitted, Smal’-Stotskiy was also supported by some other Ukrainian scientists (BUZUK PETRO. 1927; TYMCHENKO Ye. 1930), but the ideological factor, present in many scientific papers of Soviet scientists, forced them to camouflage their own views, so that it sometimes led to a breach of logic laws. An example might be the scientific work of the Ukrainian linguist Bulakhovskiy. Criticizing the Smal-Stotskaya for "nationalism" and confirming the thesis of the existence of a special East Slavic (Old Russian) language, he also pointed out specific features of the Ukrainian language which contradict this thesis (BULAKHOVS'KIY L.A., 1977-2). On the other hand, supporters of the East Slavic language have been put forward in the confirmation of its existence just ridiculous arguments. For example, such as the existence of Kievan Rus', when all Eastern Slavs were inited in one state allegedly led to the formation of a common language. Language processes develop very slowly, and change of a language needs very strong reasons and conditions, which were absolutely absent in Kievan Rus. This state existed quite a short time, was always fragmented, and many lands that were part of its composition (Novgorod, Suzdal, Ryazan, Smolensk, Galich and Vladimir Volinsky, etc.), as noted A. Nasonov, never were called “Rus’” in the annals (NASONOV A.N. 1951: 29). In the absence of developed trade relations between territorial units of the Kievan state, rare occurrence of the tax collectors could not contribute to the unification of the dialects in one language in a short time of the existence of power. However, some historians generally doubt the existence of the Old Russian state even by the standards of that time. For example, this idea is clearly visible in Pokrovsky’s “Russian History”: “talking about an united “Russian state ”in the Kiev era is possible only by obvious misunderstanding"(POKROVSKIY MIKHAIL, 2002: 124). To understand the pace of linguistic processes, we can give an example of Kuban Ukrainians, whose language has changed little over the past 150-100 years under the conditions of developed means of communication and the media. Currently, Slavic linguistics are largely freed from the ideological shackles and scientists can boldly express their sober and rational thinking:

The time elapsed since the establishment of more or less intense inter-tribal contacts needful for the development of language interference (the 11 -13 century) was obviously too short that tribal dialects could drift together to the almost complete unification, creating "Common East Slavic language" that was used in the vast territory and gave outset to the secondary dialects which, as it is usually believed, developed in the modern East Slavic languages and dialects (NIKOLAYEV S.L. 1994: 24).

Many features of the Ukrainian and the Belarus languages, different from the Russian language, were explained by scholars by Polish influences through polonized nobility, and such influences really took place but not they have formed emphatic features of the Ukrainian and the Belarus languages. The language of the Transcarpathian Ukrainians has not got under Polish influences, but nevertheless it has the basic characteristics of the Ukrainian language and it once again proves contra the idea of the common East Slavic language:

The absence of some ancient East Slavic – West Slavic words in the most archaic Transcarpathian dialects (and in past, likely, in general in Transcarpathia), we think, evidence to the certain isolation of the Transcarpathian dialects from others Ukrainian ones, and in the past from the East-Slavic dialects. This isolation could have place under conditions when the ancestors of the speakers of the modern-day Transcarpathian dialects were separated from the East-Slavic world, went Carpathian ridge and were settled on southern slopes of the Carpathian mountains rather for a long time, during the prehistoric period (DZENDZELIVS'KIY Y.O., 1969: 191).

One has to say that the Polish Slavists appeared as more principled scholars, than Ukrainian Soviet ones, they have not fell under ideological pressure of Moscow and stated the appropriate estimation to it:

The Russian language unity was rather the important factor in official ideology for the Russian nationalists, if only the discussions about it could be considered as an allowable thing. As a result, the majority of Russian linguists aspired if not to full denying of the Ukrainian – Russian language difference, then to reduction of its value in comparison with the features united in one integrity all "the Russian" language version (LEHR-SPŁAWIŃSKI T., ZWOLIńSKI P., HRABEC S. 1956: 5).

Denying the thesis of “the Common Russian language”, Lehr-Spławiński accused as well Smal-Stostkyj of "nationalism", seeing it in the unreasonable statement of the Ukrainian scholar that as if the Ukrainian language stands closer to Serbian than to Russian. The quantitatively estimation of all set of language characteristics is practically impossible therefore the ideas "it is "more" and "it is less" are very conditional in this case as against lexical comparisons which, really, contradict Smal-Stotskyj’s opinion. Some pre-revolutionary Russian scientists also tried to remain objective too though the idea of the common East Slavic language was never rejected. The prominent Russian linguist A.A. Shakhmatov, who has passed the certain evolution in his sights about the origin of the Ukrainian language, wrote, for example:

All these and similar to them phenomena cannot prove, certainly, the existence the Common Russian language during historical times, perhaps in XI – XII centuries; the common Russian language has broken up to separate dialects still at a prehistoric epoch at the end of VIII or in the beginning of IX century. The creation of Russian state, the association of all Russian tribes under one authority could not lead to creation of the one common language, it had no time to create even the common Russian book language (SHAKHMATOVЪ A.A. 1916-2).

With decrease of ideological press in last years of the Soviet rule, one could meet more valid relation to linguists who had ideas resisted ideological theories, in particular to Smal-Stotskyj (MALKOVA O.V., 1984). However only last years, after disorder of the Soviet Union and falling of great-power Russian ideology scientists in independent states had an opportunity to criticize safely Russian authorities and to deny the fact of existence of the Common East language:

And nevertheless, the main idea, by which A.A. Shakhmatov motivates the secondary hardness of consonants before i, e in Ukrainian, is that all East-Slavic languages had identical phonetic development before the falling of reduced sounds. The difference of the Ukrainian language (dialects) from the other East-Slavic languages in this relation seems to be improbable by Shakhmatov’s mean. This zigzak-shaped process of the change of Ukrainian t˙i, t˙e → t'i, t'e → ti, te is reconstructed without the sufficient bases as the argument for the Old Russian (the Common Russian) unity. It seems to be more probable, that hardness of consonants before the reflexes *i,*e in the Ukrainian language (dialects) is a feature of ancient difference of the Pre-Ukrainian dialects from the other East-Slavic ones (KALNIŅ LUDMILA. 1994: 125).

Truth to tell, and without ideological press but on the established tradition some Russian scientists till now try to search "for the proof of indivisibility and integrity of the East-Slavic dialect community by revealing such dialect characteristics which prove the especial akin affinity of the all East-Slavic dialects" (POPOVA TATIANA. 1994: 276). However, as rightly said somewhere Gr. Grabovich "real science does not grow out Traditionalism and derictives", so gradually more scientists come to the opinion, that any common East-Slavic (the Old Russian) linguistic community never existed. All modern Slavic languages have started to be formed approximately simultaneously (within the limits of one – two centuries) in territories of the areas localized by us, being separated from the Proto-Slavonic language. The important evidences in favor of this conclusion are given by the research of the Old Novgorod birch bark letters. On the grounds of these researches, O.O.Zaliznjak has come to the conclusion that Old Novgorod language has some differences from the other Old Slavic languages which ascend still from the Proto-Slavonic epoch. Zaliznjak’s conclusions are supported by S.L.Nikolayev who has carried out his own comparative-historical researches of many Slavic dialects:

Specified accent features are the most important evidences of the ancient history of the Krivich tribal dialect as they in any way could not arise during the period after imaginary disintegration of the Common East-Slavic language (NIKOLAYEV S.L. 1994: 35).

It is possible that the first four Ukrainian tribes can be regarded as the speakers of particular Old-Ukrainian dialects. The to-day Ukrainian language according to the classifications of different experts has three or four dialects. But all over again there were two groups of dialects. Such opinion was stated by K.P.Mihalchuk for the first time, and later it has been maintained by others linguists (A.J.Krymsky, V.Gantsov, F.T.Zhilko, etc.). The northern dialect is correlated with the Derevlans and the Severians, and the southern one is correlated with the Dulebs (Volinianns, Buzhans), the White Croats, the Uliches, the Tiverets, and the Polans. There were also other variants of division (e.g. of G.P.Pivtorak), but the tribes of the White Croats, the Uliches, and the Tiverets are present in all variants. It is difficult to assert whether these tribes can be ranked among the primary Ukrainian tribes as there are no any areas for their formation. They could develop on the basis of the first four tribes later. The sight at the dialect partition of the Ukrainian language Vasyl Nimchuk expressed so:

There can be no doubt that the language of the speakers of modern-day Ukrainian dialects is the continuation of the language of their ancestors which belonged to different southern East-Slavic tribes, but it does not mean, that the modern-day Ukrainian dialects as the sets of phonetic, grammatical, lexical, phraseological and accentual systems have developed directly on the basis of tribal dialects which differed by unknown to us sets of lingual phenomena, and that all present determinant differing elements of our dialects go to ancient clan-tribal times. The ancient isoglosses are so superseded or covered by new ones that the specific features of the southern East-Slavic tribal dialects as the expressive systems are not determined till now, though those systems existed (NIMCHUK VASYL. 1994: 43).

According to the accepted by us concept, the latest isoglosses cannot deform the division of languages (dialects) which already has taken place prior, therefore the question of the primary dialect partition of the Ukrainian language can be solved. It is necessary only to allocate the enough number of the characteristics of the modern-day dialects and using them to construct a graphic model. But we may say that all over again the division of Pre-Ukrainian language has obviously taken place to two dialects according to division of the territory of the Ukrainian Urheimat into two subareas by the river Ptich.

By the moment of these resettlements, the East Slavs already are divided not only by language, but also by anthropological characteristics that was noted by many researchers (ALEKSEYEVA T.I. 1973: 13). These characteristics had not to develop very much as the Proto-Salvs, occupying all over again periphery of the Indo-European territory, it is far from the ways of large transmigrations, should keep the same anthropological type, but researches on a prospective ancestral home of the Slavs give the grounds for other conclusions:

The Proto-Slavs did not show up the cleanliness of an anthropological type, their Urheimat was located on a joint of North-European dolichocephal, light-pigmented race and South-European brachycephal, dark-pigmented race (Ibid: 14).

Obviously, these researches were carried out on wide space which has been occupied by the Slavs in the basin of the Middle and Upper Dnepr where they have quickly lost the cleanliness of racial type. Such intensity of anthropological changes cannot be explained only by intermediate position of the Slavic territory as the mixture of racial types by interbreeding contacts goes rather for a long time. Most likely these fast of anthropological changes could be explained by that Slavs had assimilated numerous indigenous population which already belonged to different racial types according to different areas of settlements.

The moving of the East Slavs from the primary areas conducted to the further growth of specific features of their particular tribes. We shall tell, the Derevlanes constituted an independent anthropological complex, together with Volinians they differed sharply expressed European features. The Polanes also had Europoid appearance while the Dregoviches and Radimiches were non-uniform on the structure (Ibid: 52, 55, 56, 59). The Viatiches, the most eastern Slavic tribe, had the Finno-Ugric ground in themselves (Ibid: 199). Thus, both the ancestors of Ukrainians, and the ancestors of the Belorussians, and Russian, did not show up any more especial racial cleanliness, but each of these people had the specific characteristics. Opposing the Ukrainians to the Russians on a complex of anthropological features, Alekseyeva comes to such conclusion:

The Ukrainians have another anthropological complex rather than the Russians and Belorussians… The whole anthropological appearance of the Ukrainian people and its predecessors evidence about southern connections and, obviously, there are no grounds to search for them analogues among groups which are included in a circle of the northern Europoids (Ibid; 241, 242).

Thus, by the moment when the written history of East Slavic peoples begins, they were already essentially differed among themselves both by language and anthropological characteristics and were shared on four ethnic groups, each of which was not already homogeneous and had no own self-name, and has been divided into particular tribes which ethnic development was determined more and more not by geographical conditions, but by political factors which initiated in the greater degree integration processes between particular ethnic groupings.

Talking of the Eastern Slavs, it is impossible to ignore the question of the origin of their common name русь. In order not to go far into its history, we immediately note that the Finnish ruotsi, by which they call the Swedes, is strikingly reminiscent of the Goth. rauþs "red". Surprisingly, F. Brown critically examined the possible origin of the word Rus from the restored Goth. *hrōþ "shine", completely did not pay attention to the indicated similarity (BRAUN F. 1899: 7-18). Fin ruotsi, allegedly originated from Old Sw. rōþs etymologically related to the verb meaning "to row" происходит от др.-шв. rōþs, этимологически связанного с глаголом, означающим "грести" (Häkkinen Kaisa. 2007, 1073). Из этого слова, которое могло иметь значение "гребцы", лингвисты и выводят слово русь. Однако такое название шведов могло возникнуть только в том случае, если сами финны не занимались греблей и даже не имели собственного слова для означения подобного занятия, что весьма сомнительно. Осознавая это, Хяккинен дает объяснение финского названия шведов через название небольшого района в Швеции, что не выглядит убедительным. Скорее всего готы называли рыжебородых шведов красными, а от них это слово попало к финнам в то время, когда готы могли быть одновременно соседями финнов и шведов. И уже у финнов это слово позаимствовали славяне и оно стало их этнонимом. Таким образом мы заходим в область "норманской теории", но это уже другая история.