Palatalizations in chronological order

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During the developing of the Polsh language a number of palatalization processes took place. Their general outline is: front vowels (like i, e) change articulation of preceding (sometimes also following) consonants, after some time new front vowels develop, which can affect consonants not palatalized till then. The most susceptible to the changes are velar consonants because of their nature. However on Slavic ground, especially Polish, the palatalization processes became more intense and included all consonants: first strong influence of the j appeared, next the front vowels started influencing.

  1. *ḱ, *ḱh > *s2; *ǵ, *ǵh > *z2 (an assibilation as a matter of fact, through a stage of an affricate like *, *ʒ́, partially preserved in Indo-Iranian) – that palatalization happened in the period of the disintegration of the Indo-European community in the satəm languages (beside Balto-Slavic also in Indo-Iranian, Daco-Mysian+, Phrygo-Thracian+, Armenian, Albanian, maybe Illyrian+), the kentum languages levelled the palatal stops with the velar ones, e.g. Lat. centum, Eng. hundred – Slavic †sъto (*ḱm̥to-), Lat. co-gnō-scō, Eng. know – Slavic †znati (*ǵnō-); if the morpheme contained *s1 (the primitive s, contrary to the new one developed in the palatalization), as well as in some other single words, the process might not take place and the *k, *g might develop, e.g. Sanskrit haṁsa, Greek khēn, Lat. (h)anser, Eng. goose, Lith. žsis – Slavic †gǫsь (*ǵhans-); cf. also Sanskrit ru-, Slavic †slyěti – Lith. klausyti; that palatalization comprised the *tḱ, *dhǵh groups as well (cf. Sanskrit takṣan ‘carpenter’, Greek tekton, Lat. texō ‘I weave, I build’ – Slavic †tesati (*tetḱ-); Sanskrit kṣam ‘earth, soil’, Greek khthōn, Lat. humus – Slavic †zemja (*dhǵhem | *dhǵhom), Greek ikhthỹs ‘fish’, Lith. žuvìs, Slavic zъvono | zъveno ‘slice of fish crosswise cut off’ (*dhǵhuhʷ-));
  2. k, g, x > č, ž, before i1, e, ě1, , ь, ŕ̥, ĺ̥ (so called 1st palatalization); similar phenomenon occurs in Indo-Iranian, but not in Baltic; also kj, gj, xj > č, ž, ; skj, zgj > č, žǯ; in the position of 1st palatalization: kt, gt > tj (there are no examples for gd);
  3. sj, zj > , ž; stj, zdj > č, žǯ (here the result is the same as for skj, zdj);
  4. k, g, x > c, ʒ, before i2, ě2 (so called 2nd palatalization) as well as after i, e, ě, , ь, ŕ̥, ĺ̥ (so called 3rd palatalization – less consequently); it is a much more late process, taking place during the time of the disintegration of the Slavic community; gave in the West Slavic languages, s in the others (e.g. Pol. szary, Russ. s′eryj < †ěrъjь); in South Slavic also groups kv, gv, xv > cv, ʒv, v when before i2, ě2; the Russian examples may be borrowings from Old Church Slavic;
  5. tj, dj > t′, d′; later development is different (Maced. ḱ, ǵ, Bulg. t, žd, Russ. č, ž, Pol. c, ʒ);
  6. rj, lj, nj > ŕ, ĺ, ; in southern dialects slj, znj > ĺ, ž too;
  7. pj, bj, vj, mj > pĺ, bĺ, vĺ, mĺ – the process was realized inconsistently (in Polish only in few words);
  8. p, b, f, v, m > p′, b′, f′, v′, m′; t, d, s, z > , ʒ́, , – the old Polish palatalization – took place before i, ь, e, ě, , ĺ̥, ŕ̥ prior to later changes of these vowels; it did not take place before e < ъ; palatalized r, l, n mix with the ŕ, ĺ, , after that the ĺ depalatalizes (while the old non-palatal l becomes velarized (near to the English dark l), at last it becomes w), whereas ŕ changes into ř (and then mixes with ž);
  9. k, g, x > ḱ, ǵ, x́ – the new Polish palatalization which takes place before new i, e < y, ъ; regular only for the k, g, for the x only in few cases; new borrowings are not submitted to this process.


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