World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Havlík's law

Article Id: WHEBN0003047608
Reproduction Date:

Title: Havlík's law  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Proto-Slavic, Ivšić's law, Serbo-Croatian phonology, Czech language, Dialects of Serbo-Croatian
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Havlík's law

Havlík's law is a Slavic rhythmic law dealing with the reduced vowels (known as jers or yers) in Proto-Slavic. It is named for the Czech scholar Antonín Havlík (1855–1925), who determined the pattern in 1889. While Havlík's law was a precursor to the loss of the jers, that process is part of the individual history of the various Slavic languages. Havlík's law was already in effect at the end of the Common Slavic period, and ended the era of the "law of open syllables", a major phonological innovation of Common Slavic period.

Strong and weak yers

The front and back yer come from the Early Proto-Slavic and Proto-Balto-Slavic short high vowels */i/ and */u/, respectively. As vowels, they played a role in the law of open syllables, which states that every syllable must end in a vowel. Old Church Slavonic, for example, had no closed syllables at all.

Word-final yers, which were abundant—including in declensional patterns—were reduced in length to ultrashort, or "weak", variants (/ĭ/ and /ŭ/). These weak yers were then often elided. In words with multiple yers, the weak variants were not limited to word-final position.

Havlík's law describes the pattern in which weak and strong yers occur. Counting from the last yer in a word, the final yer is weak, the previous yer is strong, the previous yer is weak, etc., until a full vowel is reached, and then the pattern is started again with alternating weak then strong yers.


  • Schenker, Alexander M. (1995). The Dawn of Slavic: An Introduction to Slavic Philology. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05846-2.
  • Townsend, Charles and Laura Janda (1996). Common and Comparative Slavic Phonology and Inflection: Phonology and Inflection : With Special Attention to Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian. Bloomington, USA: Slavica. ISBN 0-89357-264-0.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.