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Old Church Slavonic phonemes. The problem of /j/ and /ě, a/ after palatals

Joseph J. Winslow

Pages 296 - 323


In Glagolitic Old Church Slavonic (OCS) there is no unambiguous device to represent ja or ńa, ĺa, ŕa. Where Cyrillic OCS can use the 〈ꙗ〉 le_er, Glagolitic OCS must use its 〈ѣ〉 letter, the primary function of which is to denote ě, and this, I argue, is because in the language on which original OCS was based, and for which the Glagolitic alphabet was invented, Early Common Slavonic *ē and *ā after palatal consonants did not become a, but ě. Such a development allowed also for the removal of phonemic /j/, and this is why the Glagolitic Alphabet has no device to represent /j/. Most attested Glagolitic OCS, however, is based on dialects which do have a after palatals, and which therefore kept /j/. An exception are the Kiev Folia, which are based on a dialect with ě after palatals and no /j/, and the Kiev Folia are thus the closest we have to original OCS. To illustrate these conclusions, I offer phonemic transcriptions from Zographensis and the Kiev Folia, and translations of both into reconstructed original OCS.

The article is written in English.


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