I don't speak any Slavonic languages and am merely seeking a fuller understanding of what R.G.A. De Bray has to say in his book ' Guide to the Slavonic Languages ' . For one thing , on page 369 , he mentions ' The palatal consonants of Czech and Slovak : ť , ď , ň , ř ( Czech only ) ... but on page 442 he tells us about ' the palatalized ď , ť , ň , ř , and j ... ' My question , please , is simply : why does he call the SAME individual four consonants ď , ť , ň , ř ' palatal ' on the first of those two pages but ' palatalized ' on the second page ? Assuming these two terms are not synonymous , it puzzles me that he applies two somewhat similar but nonetheless DIFFERENT terms to the very SAME individual consonants . There ought to be a rational explanation .

I suppose "palatal" is a misnomer. In Slavic languages themselves, they are termed, literally, "soft consonants" (Czech: měkké souhlásky, Slovak: mäkké spoluhlásky). While palatalisation is sometimes called "softening", one doesn't customarily speak of "softened" consonants, but of soft/hard "pairs" or "counterparts". This Slavic choice of adjective referring, as it were, to being and not becoming, may have influenced the author's not-quite-correct choice of "palatal" instead of "palatalised".

Also, I don't think it's correct to call j palatalised, when it obviously has no non-palatalised counterpart. Also, if those quotes are complete, they fail to mention the Slovak-only ľ. So I'd put this down to simple carelessness.

  • Thank you . It looks like I shall just have to accept that where De Bray says ' palatal ' he ought to have said ' palatalized ' instead . For the record I should point out that where he cites j in my quote he does so after the word ' and ' , and so it's conceivable that he didn't mean to apply the term ' palatalized ' to j : he may perhaps simply have tagged j on to the list because his topic is actually the changing of certain vowels after the palatalized consonants and such changes occur also after j . – Martin Fiedler Mar 11 at 16:56
  • Czech and Slovak put aside, since you spoke about the Slavic languages in general I should note, that Ukrainian has both palatal (Ukr. м'які, Ru. мягкие) and palatalized (Ukr. пом'якшені, Ru. смягчённые) consonants. It means in Ukrainian some consonant phonemes (like /n/, /t/, /l/, /s/, etc.) have palatal counterparts (/nʲ/, /tʲ/, /lʲ/, /sʲ/, etc.), while other consonant phonemes (like /m/, /p/, /b/, /f/, etc.) don't, still they have palatalized allophones before the front vowel /i/: [mʲ], [pʲ], [bʲ], [fʲ]. – Yellow Sky Mar 11 at 22:18
  • So in Ukrainian the description ' palatalized consonant ' may be correctly applied to the consonant phonemes that have palatal counterparts while the description ' palatal consonant ' may equally correctly be applied to those consonant phonemes that do NOT have palatal counterparts . I take it that you're saying that the description ' palatal consonant ' ought not be applied to ANY consonant in ANY of the other ten Slavonic languages recognized in De Bray's chapter headings : Russian , Byelorussian , Bulgarian , Macedonian , Serbocroatian , Slovenian , Czech , Slovak , Polish , and Lusatian . – Martin Fiedler Mar 11 at 23:34
  • @YellowSky They can be called změkčené/zmäkčené too, but the thing is, in at least three of the four languages mentioned so far (can't speak for Ukrainian), it's not a common way to talk about them. One does not immediately think of them as "-ized" as opposed to just "being this way". And that might explain De Bray's choice of terminology. – Nikolay Ershov Mar 12 at 0:18
  • As a native Czech speaker (but non-linguist), I can say I see terms soft/hard (literal translation of měkké/tvrdé) almost exclusively. I've probably once heard of palatization in this meaning, before reading this question. When speaking about soft consonants, there are more than those listed as palatized: ž [ʒ], š [ʃ], č [t͡ʃ], ř [r̝]/[r̝̊], ď [ɟ], ť [c], ň [ɲ]. They correspond to letters with caron (háček), except ě. – v6ak Mar 13 at 17:41

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