As far as the dialectal differentiation of the Eastern-Slavic speakers (see Slavs) is not very pronounced, yet three literary languages are found today on Russian territory: Russian, in the narrow sense of the term, or Great Russian; Ukrainian (also called, but increasingly rarely, Petty-Russian, and also Ruthenian); the white-Russian. But it should be noted immediately that among these three literary languages there is no absolute parity and that both in front of Ukrainian and, and even more, in front of White-Russian, Great Russian has a predominant position. In fact, the tendency towards linguistic-literary autonomy, more or less common to all Slavic peoples, could only partially undermine the supremacy of the great Russian, based on political and literary conditions. This does not mean that the opinion of those who, based above all on the past,
To clarify the relationship, which is actually complex and ill-definable, between the three linguistic subgroups of Eastern Slavic (or Russian in the broad sense of the word), a comparison with analogous, but not identical relations, in which, especially in the latter years, they came to find the Slovak facing the Czech, or the Catalan facing the Spanish.
Several features distinguish East Slavic from West Slavic and South Slavic quite clearly. The main ones are the following: the “full sound” (polnoglasie) gold, ere, ol for the protoslavian or, er, ol, el (eg, moloko “milk” in front of Bulgarian, Serbian, Polish and cèco mleko ; Russian bereg “shore”, ucr. bereh, berih, against bulg. breg, Serbian breg, cèco b ř eh, pol. brzeg ; Russian golos “voice”, ucr. holos, v bulg., serbian, slovenian glas, cèco hlas, pol. glos ; Russian gorod “city”, ucr. horod, opposite bulg., serbian, slov. grad, cèco hrad, pol. gród); the Proto-Slavic e – in front of i and and passes to o -: russian odin, ucr. odyn, against: Serbian jedan, Czech and pol. jeden ; the reflexes of the two semivowels ĭ, ŭ, as they are not subject to the disappearance, are clearly distinct (ĭ > e, ŭ > o); the constant and general use of the plural genitive for the plural accusative in animated genres.
The differentiation of the great Russian from the White Russian and the Ukrainian is less clear-cut. Note: in phonetics, the conservation of final – v (pronunciation – f) and – l (pronunciation – l velar) which in ucr., And b.-Russian take on the value of – u̯ (second element of a new diphthong): e.g., Russian krov, ucr. krov (pr. kro u̯), b.-Russian kro u̯ ; po š el (pr. pa š or ł) “went”, ucr. pi š ov (pr. pi šo u̯), b.-Russian pa š or u̯ ; in the morphology, the absence, in the great-Russian, of the ending – ov in the plural genitives of the feminine stems in – a.
Even the boundaries between the great Russian on the one hand, and the White Russian and Ukrainian on the other, cannot be drawn with precision; especially numerous are the mixed speakers in the neighboring areas between Great Russian and White-Russian. With some approximation, this border can be traced as follows: from Leningrad along the sea to the west to the border of Estonia, from here to the south along the lake of Pejpus up to Pskov where you enter a mixed area that bends eastwards abandons near Vyazma. Here the border turns almost sharply to the south, leaving Bryansk (facing White-Russian areas) and Kursk (facing Ukrainian areas) in the Great-Russian territory. In the north of Kharkov the border runs north-east without reaching Voronezh, however. near which the dividing line between Great Russian and Ukrainian folds to the south passing in the immediate vicinity of Novočerkesk and Stavropol ′. All the territory east and north of this border, as Slavic, is Great-Russian.
The territory of the Great Russian dialects is quite homogeneous. The differences which, given the very large area that it occupies, even though they are noticed, are neither strong nor numerous: the resident of Astrakhan can easily understand that of Archangelsk, and the peasant from the surroundings of Leningrad can make himself understood well by the colonist of the easternmost strip of Siberia. However, two dialect subgroups are used to distinguish: the northern parlors and the southern parlors. The boundary between these two groups can be roughly traced by a line which, starting about fifty kilometers east of Pskov (where the great-Russian passes imperceptibly into the white-Russian) folds to the southeast (leaving Tver ′ and Moscow in the group south) to the vicinity of Čeboksary and from there it goes directly south to Stalingrad (formerly Caricyn). For within the territory of the northern parlors, and precisely to the north-east of Kostroma and around Samara, there are strong nuclei of populations speaking the southern dialect. Some scholars separate the northern and southern groups by a large strip of transitory speakers (called the medium-large-Russian group). In this strip there are, not to mention the most important centers, Tver ′, Moscow and Penza. The main difference, or at least more sensitive, between the northern and southern groups is constituted by the different pronunciation of theo unstressed: in the north this o remains intact (okan ′ e), in the south it has the approximate value of an a (akan ′ e): the word voda “water” is pronounced vadá in the south, vodá in the north. This modification of the o is, moreover, only one of the aspects of a more general tendency in which, in the southern group, all the unstressed vowels are pronounced less clearly and often strongly reduced.
The Russian literary language is largely based on the directing language of Moscow, and therefore has within itself, alongside southern elements (akan ′ e) also, and not a few, northern elements. In general, even in Russia, as elsewhere, the influence exerted by political events on linguistic fate is sensitive. The territory of the great-Russian-southern dialects largely corresponds to that of the Muscovite state; the great-Russian-northern zone corresponds, in its original nucleus, to the territory of the republic of Novgorod, and reflects in the enormous extent of its extension, the successive colonizations and annexations of the Russian empire.
An official and literary language not only in the Great-Russian territory, but until recently exclusively, and now partially, also in the White-Russian and Ukrainian territory, Russian reflects, above all in its lexical structure, a double inheritance: that of the popular dialects on which it rests, and that of the ancient ecclesiastical-literary tradition which, going back to the Christianization and ecclesiastical organization of ancient Russia, brings us back to the Paleoslavian, more and more full of indigenous elements, but never completely eliminated. On the contrary, it can be said that until the second half of the century. XVIII there is no truly national literary language and that only after this period (the work of Karamzin was very important, among other things), Russian writers consciously emancipate themselves from the cumbersome tradition of the Russified Paleoslav. But today there are still not a few words that bear evident traces of Paleoslav (ancient Bulgarian) in the phonetic structure. Especially instructive are the numerous duplicates:grad (in: Leningrad, etc.), glava “chapter”, strange “region, countries”, bremja “burden”, etc., have a distinctly paleoslavic phonetic imprint – and derive from paleoslavian; gorod (eg, in Novgorod), golova “head”, storona “part, side”; beremennaja ” gravida ” are popular Russian forms.