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

Proto-Czech

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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