History of the Czech language

History Of The Czech Language

History of the Czech language

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The Czech language developed at the close of the 1st millennium from common West Slavic. Until the 19th century, it was known as Bohemian.

Individual periods


The oldest development stage of Czech as a separate language (end of the 10th century – c. mid 12th century). Linguists recognize its reconstructed version only, since there are no written documents from this period. Latin, and to a lesser extent also Old Church Slavonic, were used as literary languages.

The oldest changes in Proto-Slavic were common to all West-Slavic dialects. Above all, it was the palatalization of velar ch > š (vьšь, all), while s (vьsь) developed in the East and South-Slavic dialects.Some other changes took place during the 10th century:
  • the disappearance and vocalization of yers according to the Havlík’s Yer Law (bъzъ > bez, bъza > bza (gen.), later bezu, elder, lilac);
  • the contraction of groups vowel + j + vowel (dobriji > dobr’í, dobroje > dobré, good);
  • the denasalization of nasal ę > ä and ǫ > u.

The disappearance of the odd yers strengthened the phonological contrast of palatalized (softened) and unpalatalized consonants, and resulted in alterations of epenthetic e and 0 (null-phoneme). The contrast of the vowel quantity (length) was also strengthened. The depalatalization of consonants preceding e and ä took place later, thus the frequency of occurrence of palatalized consonants was lowered, but it strengthened the...
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