Chapter 11. Phonology: Pre-Slavic and Common Slavic Consonants

Tore Nesset



While studying Modern Russian grammar, you have no doubt struggled with the consonant alternations in verbal stems. Why does the stem have different shapes in могу ‘I can’ and можешь ‘you can’? Why are there consonant alternations in verbs like писать ‘write’ (пишу, пишешь, пишут) and любить ‘love’ (люблю, любишь, любят)? And why are alternations characteristic of verbs, but not of nouns? In order to find answers, we have to go back in time. This chapter compares the consonant system of Contemporary Standard Russian with those of Late Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Slavic, and Old Rusian (section 11.1), and then takes you through consonant changes in Pre-Slavic (sections 11.2–11.3) and Common Slavic (sections 11.4–11.9).


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11.3 Ruki rule


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