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An Introduction to Ukrainian Dialectology


Salvatore Del Gaudio

The book intends to render available to a wide range of students of Slavic languages, and particularly of Ukrainian, an outline of Ukrainian dialectology. The author presents the fascinating world of geographical variation of contemporary Ukrainian to all students of Slavic languages. A basic knowledge of Ukrainian dialects is likewise important to complete the theoretical and practical background of a Slavist, especially if focusing on Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian. It is also a valuable aid to a better understanding of diachronic and synchronic language processes, e.g. the Ukrainian-Russian mixed speech «suržyk».

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2. A classification of Ukrainian dialects

2.1. A historic outline

It is widely agreed that the Ukrainian dialectal territory distinguishes three major territorial-dialectal macro-areas (see Section 2.2.)

Historically Ukrainian dialects have not always been characterized by this tripartite division. At the time of ancient Rus’, the population who lived on the territories which are now part of contemporary Ukraine formed two ethnolinguistic groups, one to the south-east, one to the south-west. The differentiation between these two dialect areas probably reflected the tribal division of the south-eastern Slavic tribes.

The union of different tribal groups was characterized by specific language features, and each tribe spoke its own dialect.

There are historical linguistic reasons for assuming that the ancient east Slavic vernaculars were related to those of the tribes of Poljans, D(e)revljans, Sěverjans and northern Volhynians; whereas the south-western dialects were related to the dialects spoken by the southern Volhynians, Uliči, Tiverci and White Croatians.55

Mychal’čuk associated the ancient north-eastern dialects with the vernacular spoken by the Poljans and ← 53 | 54 → D(e)revljans. While Sěverjans and Dregovičians belonged to a transitional type between south Rusian and north Rusian tribes. Within the south-western group Dulěbs were placed in Volhyn', Croatians in Galicia; Uliči and Tiverci occupied Podillia and functioned as a transitional tribe between north-eastern and north-western groups.

The relationship existing between Ukrainian dialects and the language...

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