Iotation

Last updated

In Slavic languages, iotation ( /jˈt.ʃən/ , /ˌ.ˈt.ʃən/ ) is a form of palatalization that occurs when a consonant comes into contact with a palatal approximant /j/ from the succeeding phoneme. The /j/ is represented by iota (ι) in the Cyrillic alphabet and the Greek alphabet on which it is based. For example, ni in English onion has the sound of iotated n. Iotation is a phenomenon distinct from Slavic first palatalization in which only the front vowels are involved, but the final result is similar.

Contents

Sound change

Iotation occurs when a labial (/m/, /b/), dental (/n/, /s/, /l/) or velar (/k/, /ɡ/, /x/) consonant comes into contact with an iotified vowel, i.e. one preceded by a palatal glide /j/. As a result, the consonant becomes partially or completely palatalized. [1] In many Slavic languages, iotated consonants are called "soft" and the process of iotation is called "softening".

Iotation can result in a partial palatalization so the centre of the tongue is raised during and after the articulation of the consonant. There can also be a complete sound change to a palatal or alveolo-palatal consonant. This table summarizes the typical outcomes in the modern Slavic languages:

Labial Dental/alveolar Velar/Glottal
originpartialcompleteoriginpartialcompleteoriginpartialcomplete
p pj, pʎ t c , , k c , ,
b bj, bʎ d ɟ , , ɡ ɡʲ ɟ , ,
f fj, fʎ s ɕ , ʃ x ç , ɕ , ʃ
v vj, vʎ z ʑ , ʒ ɣ ɣʲ ʝ , ʑ , ʒ
m mj, mʎ, mɲ n ɲ h ç , ɕ
l ʎ ɦ ɦʲ ʝ , ʑ

According to most scholars, the period of iotation started approximately in the 5th century, in the era of Proto-Slavic, and it lasted for several centuries, probably into the late Common Slavic dialect differentiation. Here are examples from the early stage: [1]

Orthography

Iotified vowels

In Slavic languages, iotified vowels are preceded by a palatal approximant /j/ before a vowel, at the beginning of a word, or between two vowels in the middle of a word, creating a diphthongoid, a partial diphthong. [2] In the Greek alphabet, the consonant is represented by iota (ι). For example, the English apple is cognate to Russian яблоко (jabloko): both come from Proto-Indo-European stem *ābol-. As a result of the phenomenon, no native Slavic root starts with an [e] or an [a] but only with a [je] and [ja]; although other vowels are possible.

As it was invented for the writing of Slavic languages, the original Cyrillic alphabet has relatively complex ways for representing iotation by devoting an entire class of letters to deal with the issue. There are letters which represent iotified vowels; the same letters also palatalize preceding consonants (with or without self-iotation), which is why iotation and palatalization are often mixed up. There are also two special letters (soft sign Ь and hard sign Ъ) that also induce iotation; in addition, Ь palatalizes preceding consonant, allowing combinations of both palatalized (soft) and plain (hard) consonants with [j]. Originally, these letters produced short vowels [i] and [u]. The exact use depends on the language.

The adjective for a phone which undergoes iotation is iotated. The adjective for a letter formed as a ligature of the Early Cyrillic I (І) and another letter, used to represent iotation, is iotified.[ citation needed ]. The use of an iotified letter does not necessarily denote iotation. Even an iotified letter following a consonant letter is not iotated in most orthographies, but iotified letters imply iotated pronunciation after vowels, soft and hard signs as well as in isolation.

In the Cyrillic alphabet, some letter forms are iotified, formed as a ligature of Early Cyrillic I (І) and a vowel.

NormalIotifiedComment
NameShapeSoundNameShapeSound
A А/a/ Iotified A /ja/Now supplanted by Ja (Я)
E Е/e/ Iotified E Ѥ/je/No longer used
Uk ОУ/u/ Iotified Uk Ю/ju/Uk is an archaic form of U (У)
Little Jus Ѧ/ẽ/ Iotified Little Jus Ѩ/jẽ/No longer used
Big Jus Ѫ/õ/ Iotified Big Jus Ѭ/jõ/No longer used

In old inscriptions, other iotified letters, even consonants, could be found, but they are not in the regular alphabet.

There are more letters that serve the same function, but their glyphs are not made in the same way.

NormalIotifiedComment
NameShapeSoundNameShapeSound
A Аа/a/ Ja Яя/ja/Common for East Slavic alphabets
E Ээ/e/ Je Ее/je/Used in Belarusian and Russian
E Ее Je ЄєUsed in Ukrainian
I Іi/i/ Ji Її/ji/Used in Ukrainian
O Оо/o/ Jo Ёё/jo/The letter is used in Belarusian and Russian, in Ukrainian the digraph "Йо" is used instead
U Уу/u/ Ju Юю/ju/Common for East Slavic alphabets

Iotated consonants

Iotated consonants occur as result of iotation. They are represented in IPA with superscript j after it and in X-SAMPA with apostrophe after it so the pronunciation of iotated n could be represented as [nʲ] or [n'].

When Vuk Karadžić reformed the Serbian language, he created new letters to represent iotated consonants. Macedonian uses two of them, but has its own versions for iotated t and d (resembling the letters Г and К instead of Т and Д):

NameShapeSound
Lje Љ љ*/lʲ//ʎ/
Nje Њ њ*/nʲ//ɲ/
Tje Ћ ћ*/tʲ//tɕ/
Dje Ђ ђ*/dʲ//dʑ/
Kje Ќ ќ*/tʲ//c/
Gje Ѓ ѓ*/dʲ//ɟ/

See also

Related Research Articles

Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh. Letters that arose from this letter include the Latin I and J, the Cyrillic І, Yi, and Je, and iotated letters. In the system of Greek numerals, iota has a value of 10.

In phonetics, palatalization or palatization is a way of pronouncing a consonant in which part of the tongue is moved close to the hard palate. Consonants pronounced this way are said to be palatalized and are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by affixing the letter ⟨ʲ⟩ to the base consonant. Palatalization cannot minimally distinguish words in most dialects of English, but it may do so in languages such as Russian, Mandarin, and Irish.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russian alphabet</span> Alphabet that uses letters from the Cyrillic script

The Russian alphabet is used to write Russian words. It comes from the Cyrillic script, which was devised in the 9th century for the first Slavic literary language, Old Slavonic. Initially an old variant of the Bulgarian alphabet, it became used in the Kievan Rus' since the 10th century to write what would become the Russian language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Digraph (orthography)</span> Pair of characters used to write one phoneme

A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme, or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">I (Cyrillic)</span> Letter of the Cyrillic script

И и is a letter used in almost all Cyrillic alphabets with the exception of Belarusian.

A yer is either of two letters in Cyrillic alphabets, ъ and ь. The Glagolitic alphabet used, as respective counterparts, the letters (Ⱏ) and (Ⱐ). They originally represented phonemically the "ultra-short" vowels in Slavic languages, including Old Church Slavonic, and are collectively known as the yers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soft sign</span> Letter of the Cyrillic script

The soft sign also known as the front yer, front jer, or er malak is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In Old Church Slavonic, it represented a short front vowel. As with its companion, the back yer ⟨ъ⟩, the vowel phoneme that it designated was later partly dropped and partly merged with other vowels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yu (Cyrillic)</span> Cyrillic letter

Yu or Ju is a letter of the Cyrillic script used in East Slavic and Bulgarian alphabets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yery</span> Cyrillic letter ⟨ы⟩

Yeru or Eru, usually called Y[ɨ] in modern Russian or Yery or Ery historically and in modern Church Slavonic, is a letter in the Cyrillic script. It represents the close central unrounded vowel after non-palatalised (hard) consonants in the Belarusian and Russian alphabets, and after any consonant in most of Rusyn standards, where it represents the unrounded close-mid back unrounded vowel sound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ukrainian alphabet</span> Alphabet that uses letters from the Cyrillic script

The Ukrainian alphabet is the set of letters used to write Ukrainian, which is the official language of Ukraine. It is one of several national variations of the Cyrillic script. It comes from the Cyrillic script, which was devised in the 9th century for the first Slavic literary language, called Old Slavonic. Since the 10th century, it became used in the Kyivan Rus' for Old East Slavic, from which the Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn, and Ukrainian alphabets later evolved. The modern Ukrainian alphabet has 33 letters in total: 20 consonants, 2 semivowels, 10 vowels and 1 palatalization sign. Sometimes the apostrophe (') is also included, which has a phonetic meaning and is a mandatory sign in writing, but is not considered as a letter and is not included in the alphabet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dotted I (Cyrillic)</span> Cyrillic letter

The dotted i, also called decimal і, is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It commonly represents the close front unrounded vowel, like the pronunciation of ⟨i⟩ in English "machine". It is used in the orthographies of Belarusian, Kazakh, Khakas, Komi, Carpathian Rusyn and Ukrainian and quite often, but not always, is the equivalent of the Cyrillic letter i (И и) as used in Russian and other languages. The letter was also used in Russian before 1918.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yi (Cyrillic)</span> Cyrillic letter

Yi is a letter of the Cyrillic script. Yi is derived from the Greek letter iota with diaeresis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hard sign</span> Letter of the Cyrillic script

The letter Ъ of the Cyrillic script is known as er golyam in the Bulgarian alphabet, as the hard sign in the modern Russian and Rusyn alphabets, as the debelo jer in pre-reform Serbian orthography, and as ayirish belgisi in the Uzbek Cyrillic alphabet. The letter is called back yer or back jer and yor or jor in the pre-reform Russian orthography, in Old East Slavic, and in Old Church Slavonic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belarusian alphabet</span> Alphabet that uses letters from the Cyrillic script

The Belarusian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script and is derived from the alphabet of Old Church Slavonic. It has existed in its modern form since 1918 and has 32 letters. See also Belarusian Latin alphabet and Belarusian Arabic alphabet.

The grammar of Ukrainian describes its phonological, morphological, and syntactic rules. Ukrainian has seven cases and two numbers for its nominal declension and two aspects, three tenses, three moods, and two voices for its verbal conjugation. Adjectives agree in number, gender, and case with their nouns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serbian Cyrillic alphabet</span> Official script of the Serbian language

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is a variation of the Cyrillic script used to write the Serbian language, updated in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić. It is one of the two alphabets used to write standard modern Serbian, the other being Gaj's Latin alphabet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyrillic alphabets</span> Related alphabets based on Cyrillic scripts

Numerous Cyrillic alphabets are based on the Cyrillic script. The early Cyrillic alphabet was developed in the 9th century AD and replaced the earlier Glagolitic script developed by the Byzantine theologians Cyril and Methodius. It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, past and present, Slavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian. As of 2011, around 252 million people in Eurasia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages. About half of them are in Russia. Cyrillic is one of the most-used writing systems in the world.

The Komi language, a Uralic language spoken in the north-eastern part of European Russia, has been written in several different alphabets. Currently, Komi writing uses letters from the Cyrillic script. There have been five distinct stages in the history of Komi writing:

Since its inception in the 18th century and up to the present, it is based on the Cyrillic alphabet to write the Udmurt language. Attempts were also made to use the Latin alphabet to write the Udmurt language. In its modern form, the Udmurt alphabet was approved in 1937.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orthography of Smal-Stotskyi and Gartner</span> Ukrainian orthography

Orthography of Smal-Stotskyi and Gartner, also Orthography of Smal-Stotskyi and ScientificOrthography is a Ukrainian orthography created on the basis of Zhelekhivka by Stepan Smal-Stotskyi in collaboration with Theodor Gartner. One of the main innovations of spelling was that the authors also adapted Zhelekhivka for foreign words. In 1891, under the pseudonym Stepan Nahnybida, Smal-Stotskyi published a description of his spelling principles in a 16-page pamphlet On Ruthenian Orthography. In 1893, Smal-Stotskyi and Gartner published the Ruthenian Grammar, which listed all the phonetic rules of this spelling in practice.

References

  1. 1 2 Bethin 1998, p. 36.
  2. "Йотация // Словарь литературных терминов. Т. 1. — 1925 (текст)". Feb-web.ru. Retrieved 2011-09-17.

Bibliography