Is Ruki sound law a Satem variant of "Rhotacism"

English PIE Russian
ear h₂ṓws ухо /úxo/
sear *sh₂ews- сухо /súxo/
deer *dʰéws дух /dux/
alder h₂élis- ольха /olʹxá/
their ??? тех /tex/


No. Some instances of Proto-Indo-European *s were rhotacized in Germanic; some instances of PIE *s went to /x/ in Slavic by the Ruki rule. There is some overlap between the two sets, but the environments of the changes are different and they do not share any phonetic motivation, so it's meaningless to call one change a "variant" of the other. In Greek, most PIE *s went to /h/, but that doesn't make debuccalization a variant of the Ruki rule.

  • *Some instances of Proto-Indo-European *s were rhotacized in centum (Germanic, Latin) languages; some instances of PIE *s went to /x/ in satem (Russian, Iranian) languages by the Ruki rule.
    – nastenka
    Jul 31 '20 at 18:26
  • 1
    @nastenka Rhotacism is a common sound change; the Germanic and Latin instances of it are independent of each other.
    – TKR
    Jul 31 '20 at 18:29
  • 1
    @nastenka Rhotacism didn't happen in all centum families. Latin and Germanic rhotacism were separate changes at different times.
    – Draconis
    Jul 31 '20 at 18:30
  • …what TKR said.
    – Draconis
    Jul 31 '20 at 18:30
  • @TKR Note: "In Slavic languages the process is regular before a vowel, but it does not take place before consonants." PIE; Russian not before consonant; Russian before consonant; *pers-; прах prah; персть perstʹ; compare: PIE; English not before consonant; English before consonant ???; more; most
    – nastenka
    Aug 2 '20 at 19:46

No. The Russian 'х' /x/ does not count as a rhotic sound despite the fact that some French r's are pronounced now in a very similar way. The Russian /x/ is the end product of a longer chain of sound shifts /s/ -> /ʂ/ -> /x/ in the RUKI environment.

High German shows a similar sound shift, the group /rs/ became /rʃ/ (written rsch) as exemplified by words like Kirsche "cherry", Arsch "arse", or Bursche "bloke, guy". However, this sound shift occurred much later and independently from the action of the RUKI law and affected only German proper, even Dutch is not affected by this (except for a small part of Limburgish, when you subsume it under the Dutch dachsprache).

  • compare /s/ -> /ʂ/ -> /x/ and /s/ -> /z/ -> /r/
    – nastenka
    Aug 2 '20 at 19:53
  • Still /x/ does not count as a rhotic. Aug 2 '20 at 22:54

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