Journal of Danubian Studies and Research, Vol 5, No 2 (2015)

The Typology of the Ukrainian Dialects Spread

between the Danube and the Dniester Rivers

Andrij Kolesnykov1

Abstract: The article deals with the classification of the Ukrainian dialects of above-mentioned region, the peculiarities of the language systems’ behavior of a lateral area are defined in it. The morphological analysis and mapping affirmed the expediency of microsystems division according to the time of generation on primary (nearly 200 years and more in area) and newer formation (nearly 60 years in area), according to the origin character on mixed (background which is a territory of monogeneous microsystems mosaic) and monogeneous (and with the monogeneous features), and also the separation among the latter North-Bessarabia, Zakarpatskiy, West-Polissya, East-Polissya, Middle-Dnieper, Slobozhanskiy dialectal types.

Keywords: the area between the Danube and the Dniester rivers; dialects; morphology; classification

The typology of the Ukrainian dialects spread between the Danube and the Dniester rivers

The article represents the investigation of the Ukrainian dialects’ morphology on the basis of lateral multi-lingual and multi-dialectal area between the Danube and the Dniester rivers (BDD); the research is done descriptively and linguageographically. The genetic and dynamic characteristics, the classification of the Ukrainian dialects of above-mentioned region, the peculiarities of the language systems’ behavior of a lateral area are defined in this article.

The Ukrainian emigrant dialects of multi-lingual and multi-dialectal area between the Danube and the Dniester rivers were studied by A. Mukan (Mukan, 1960, 1961), V. Drozdovskij (Drozdovskij, 1961, 1962, 19621), V. Logvin (Logvin, 1965), T. Zavorotna (Zavorotna, 1967), O. Miroshnychenko (Miroshnychenko, 2005), P. Hrytsenko (Hrytsenko, 2006) etc. As a result their generalized descriptions of all levels or only of the lexical one had appeared. The modern stage of dialectal investigations needs the advanced researches of different level units and the extension of the present dialect classification.

Developing in the interferential sphere, having a considerable reduction, the Ukrainian dialects of this region, on the one hand save the language features of different genetic mothersʼ dialects, particularly archaic phenomena, which are native to dialectal archetype (for example, noun dual forms дв’і ма|шин’і; дв’і коу|ров’і; dative and locative case of second declension nouns жени|хови, по с|н’ігови,; pronoun forms of the third person н’у, йі, йго, йму, |него; cardinal and ordinal numeral forms ш|тири, д|в’іста; |первий; the past tense forms of the verb хо|дилам, хо|дилисте, хо|дилисме; the conjunctive mood of the verb в|чив би са; adverb forms ниг|де, ниґ|де etc.), on the other hand, they are characterized by the innovations, having been stimulated by specific being in the BDD (the archaic declension verb forms of the second person, singular да|сеш, йі|сеш; particles мей, бре, |ґата). In spite of the presence of special studies about the Ukrainian dialects of new formation and those systems, which are existing in the interfering areas (Herman 1998, Pavlyuk 2003), till the present day they are a difficult object of investigation and their description remains an actual problem of the Slavic Philology. Analysing processes in the Ukrainian dialects in the BDD is also necessary for the history of the Ukrainian language and for establishing the principles of its development and dynamics.

The investigation promotes to decide the problem of dialectal division of the Ukrainian language area; determinated genetic markers will add and specify the corresponding national index. “Atlas of the Ukrainian Language” (AUL, 1984-2001) defined the basic borders of dialectal phenomena of the national language and their areal parameters, chiefly it gave the materials for the old formation dialects classification. Emigrant dialects need other approaches in mapping, description and classification. Deciding the task of the dialectal division of new formation dialects it is important to set up the correlation between the dialect and its bearers – ethnic (subethnic) groups of Ukrainians.

The study is differed by the application to contradictory data of dialectal texts and program as a source of linguistic information about dynamics, status of dialectal phenomenon and character of its standardization.

The existence among the investigating objects the dialects of different period formation, especially of a new, gave the opportunity to examine stages and the scripts of dialectal creating processes. We tried to ascertain the factors of dialects vitality on the conditions of interlingua and interdialect contacts: what had an influence on the stability, the resistance of language system (dialect) or its readiness for changing.

From the point of region multi-linguality the attention focuses on the sociolinguistic problems, especially on functioning and interference of the Ukrainian language with other extraterritorial ones within the bounds of Ukraine, the correlation of the Ukrainian dialectal language and surzhyk. The area of microsystems was purposefully studied in the context of sociolanguage situation. Its modern state and history of developing, the axiology of linguistic inhabitants’ behavior, situational and sphere variation of state and others national language selection had been taken into account. The last gives the material for thoughts and remarks about the language politics in Ukrainian multi-ethnic regions, for the solutions of language education, didactics.

94 typical representative dialects of different origin, 75 of them were characterized on 80 atomic and 5 classification linguistic maps, have been described in our article.

The model elements and techniques of the morphological level description made during the investigation process can be used in the Ukrainian and other Slavic dialects (especially emigrants) with the possibility to extrapolate to a literary language form (the observations under the Ukrainian dialect language in BDD explore the segments, where the model of the national language description needs some corrections). The principles of characterization and classification of the Ukrainian dialects spread in BDD can be used in researches of other language dialects in this region, which will be more effective on condition of their learning as parts of the whole multi-lingual continuum, with common programs, investigation aspects and approaches. So, the paper gives the reasons for the methodological ground of systematic principle examination of all languages dialects in the BDD and for preparation “Multi-lingual Atlas of dialects spread between the Danube and the Dniester rivers”.

Due to a new methodology which takes into consideration the combining dialectal textography and special developed program, we had succeed in illustrating the status of dialectal feature and stages of dialectal genesis; in making every dialect with repeated information control for the purpose to fix the dialectal facts more clearly; in taking into account and comprehension of different time slices material; in dialect description as a real communicative system, which develops in time and in territory under impact of peculiar local and changeable ethnic language situation; in orientation to the system approach and consistent description, which causes attraction of many linguistic philosophies and theories (structural, functional, communicative, cognitive, sociolinguistic) more completely. It detailed description of the morphology of the Ukrainian dialects of BDD and their first classification is presented in this work. Trying to describe every concrete emigrant dialect and their groups in the area and compare with over dialectal model (literary ideal/real model and the Ukrainian dialectal model) gave the opportunity to expose the specificity of dialectal language in interfering area and of the new formation dialects, to conclude the principal pattern unity of different national language idioms with the possibility of mutual projection of dynamicsʼ vectors and tendencies observations for the purpose to forecast.

The Ukrainian BDD dialects typology creation actualized the problem of not only the languages but also dialectal types (govors, groups of govors), especially those which are not intensively interacted on a mother territory, the problem of their dynamics (how every dialectal type changes and in what way it influences on the other types and dialects).

Maintaining the genesis markers the Ukrainian dialects of this region demonstrate the dynamics of all grammatical classes. The morphological analysis and mapping affirmed the expediency of microsystems division according to the time of generation on primary (nearly 200 years and more in area) and newer formation (nearly 60 years in area), according to the origin character on mixed (background which is a territory of monogeneous microsystems mosaic) and monogeneous (and with the monogeneous features), and also the separation among the latter North-Bessarabia (its features are: the first declension noun forms of dative case |М’ішов’і, of instrumental case с|таростом, з |Д’імком; of genitive case че|кайу |Ван’а; the adjective forms of hard consonant group до|машний, до|машного, до|машному; the numeral forms йі|ден, йден; the present tense plural forms of the verb |варʼа, |робл᾽а, на|купл᾽а, го|тоўл᾽а etc.), Zakarpatskiy (its features are: the first declension noun singular forms of instrumental case зем|л᾽оў, |вулиц᾽оў, ду|шоў, and plural forms of nominative case ж’ін|кы; the fourth declension noun forms of instrumental case жи|тʼ:ем, |зʼілʼ:ем; particle май as a source of the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives май |файний; reduplicative forms of demonstrative pronouns то|та, се|с᾽а, то|то, се|се etc.), West-Polissya (its features are: the nominative case of adjectives of feminine gender with inflexion -айа |добрайа, |син᾽айа, of neuter gender with inflexions -ейе/-ойе |добройе, |добрейе; the accusative case of adjectives of feminine gender with inflexion -уйу моло|дуйу, |син᾽уйу; the genitive case form of the pronoun вона |нейін etc.), East-Polissya (its features are: the second declension noun forms of dative case х|лопчику, жен’і|ху; the nominative case of plural adjective forms with inflexion дерев|йани, вов|н’ани, го|лодни; the first declension verbs forms of the third person, singular with inflexion вит’а|гайе, па|хайе, зачи|найе, нал’і|тайе etc.), Middle-Dnieper (its features are: the first declension verb forms of the third person, singular вит’а|га, гу|л’а, пи|та; the synthetic future tense forms ка|затиму, ро|битиму etc.), Slobozhanskiy (its features are: the first declension noun singular forms of instrumental case with inflexion -ейу in hard and soft groups |Тол᾽ейу, |вулицейу, |хатейу; the genitive case of adjectives of feminine gender with inflexion -ейі до ста|рейі |баби; н᾽і од|нейі ду|ш᾽і |р᾽іднейі; particle шче as a source of the superlative forms of adjectives шче сил᾽|н᾽іший, шче доб|р᾽іший etc.) dialectal types. Besides, they made the classification of heterogeneous dialects, establish the degree of their relation and describe microareas.

Active transformation processes in BDD cause a weak differentiation of language features of real monogeneousness (origin from one dialect) and multigeneousness (origin from different dialects) with dominant origin. It is brought to unite them with term “dialects with attributes of monogeneousness”. Though there is no full archetypesʼ identity in these dialects as all microsystems (monogeneous and multigeneous from the same dialectal zone) have been changed, their genetic makers are saved. These results helped to define archetypes of these new formation dialects and other language elements overlapped on them that was the base of microsystemsʼ classification. Such dialects are the centers of irradiation of dialectal typesʼ features; they are relatively steady or constitute steady microareas.

The classification was complicated by the fact that denoted dialectal types represent extensively transitional zones of mother dialects or zones of dialects which have the features of other ones.

Admitting the main role in formation of BDDʼs language landscape especially inhomogeneous transitional microsystems situated near Podillya and steppe dialects, we also pay our attention to the potential influence of the North-Bessarabia dialectal type.

However the area is also essentially determined by specific mixed dialects, which are not neatly correlating with mother archetypes now. Most of their features have appeared as a result of dialectal creating process, characterizing by the competition of the South-East, the South-West and the Northern features. Not only the list of demonstrated differentiative features of such dialects, but regularity of their realization in speech, totality of dynamic markers enabled the distinguishing of four microareas in BDD: 1) Higher Danube dialects (a steppe type dominates, the South-West elements grade); 2) Central dialects (the rest of Belgorod-Dnistrovsky region, Tatarbunary and Sarata regions) (comparatively equal mixture of different proportion and mild activity of morphological dialectal genetic markers of Podillya, steppe, middle-Dnieper and other components); 3) Seaside dialects of Belgorod-Dnistrovsky region (the North and the South-Western features show on steppe background more regularly); 4) North-Western dialects (the development of many microsystems of Tarutino region is caused by huge influence of dialects with some traits of monogeneousness of South-Western Bukovina-Podillya origin, considerably larger than in Belgorod-Dnistrovsky, Tatarbunary and Sarata regions).

These types of heterogeneous dialects are separated by mosaic of monogeneous microsystems of primary formation and mono- and multigeneous dialects of newer one. Almost all dialectal massive of the latter type (it may be qualified as the fifth microarea, which development is defined by the West-Polissya and, locally, Zakarpatskiy dialectal types) covers Artsyz and partially Tarutino regions.

The general tendency of the development of all dialectal types is adjusting to the West-Steppe South-Bessarabia type. The important factor of dynamics is a literary standard which keeps and stimulates some changes in dialects. Besides the towns, the centers of literary wavesʼ irradiation are the dialects of a newer formation as literary language is a standard which is oriented on a native speaker, which is especially very different from literary language dialectal types or other dialectsʼ surroundings.

According to the degree of reduction the stable microsystems with low reduction, minimal level of dynamics and unstable ones with higher degree of reduction, considerable level of dynamics are selected. The latter is very sensitive to the ethnic language situation, language and educational politics in a region. Dialects of this type are widely represented among newer formation. On the contrary there are a lot of relatively stable microsystems among dialects of primary formation – first of all with the features of monogeneousness and some mixed, less, in comparison with a newer formation, reductive and dying out. Such distribution also explains some discrepancy between our data and predecessorsʼ studies particularly AUL (1984-2001).

Lines of theoretical material comprehension, firstly, inner dialectology problems (existence, structure, functioning, area variation of units in whole Ukrainian continuum segment); secondly, inner grammar problems (the peculiarities of grammar elements being in their oral dialectal realization in comparison with literary standard) are actualized the value of the work results.

Inner dialectology problems reveal the significance of the analyzed territory description (dialectsʼ and dialectal features characteristics and classification), of lateral and a new formation area conception (the possibility of extrapolation of analyzing and classification principles, taking into account their sensitivity to a difficult and dynamic ethnic language situation on lateral and new formation dialects). Inner grammar problems discover the importance of the general theoretical grammar questions (the investigation allows to specify the notions of “paradigm incompleteness”, “lacuna forms”, “morphology deficiency, redundancy” on dialectal speech material; numeral, pronoun and other morphological classes and categories of parts of speech system, tendencies of their development; the importance of compensation relations between different language level units and enrich the information about functional coordination in parts of speech system, for example particles and interjections, the theory of variability – variants and transforms distinguishing).


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1 PhD, Izmail State Liberal Arts University, Ukraine, Address: 12, Repin St., Izmail, Odesa oblast, Ukraine, 68600, Tel.: +38(04841)5-13-65, 5-13-88, Corresponding author:

JDSR, Vol. 5, no. 2/2015, pp. 109-115


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