West Slavic languages

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West Slavic
Central Europe
Linguistic classification: Indo-European
ISO 639-5: zlw
Glottolog: west2792[1]
  Countries where a West Slavic language is the national language
Balto-Slavic languages.

The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group that includes Czech, Polish, Slovak, Kashubian, Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian.

Groups and dialects

Classification according to the traditional model:[2]

Distinctive features

Some distinctive features of the West Slavic languages, as from when they split from the East Slavic and South Slavic branches around the 3rd to 6th centuries AD, are as follows:[3]

  • development of proto-Slavic tj, dj into palatalized ts, (d)z, as in modern Polish/Czech noc ("night"; compare Russian ночь);
  • retention of the groups kv, gv as in Polish gwiazda ("star"; compare Russian звезда; but note also Russian цвет vs. Ukrainian квіт, "flower");
  • retention of tl, dl, as in Polish/Czech radlo/rádlo ("ard"; compare Russian рало);
  • palatized h (ich-Laut) developed into š, as in Polish musze (locative case of mucha, "fly");
  • the groups pj, bj, mj, vj developed into (soft) consonant forms without the epenthesis of l, as in Polish kupię ("I shall buy"; compare Russian куплю);
  • a tendency towards fixed stress (on the first or penultimate syllable);
  • use of the endings -ego, -emu for the genitive and dative singular of the adjectival declension;
  • use of the pronoun form tъnъ rather than , leading to Polish/Czech ten ("this" (masc.); compare Russian тот);
  • extension of the genitive form čьso to nominative and accusative in place of čь(to), leading to Polish/Czech co ("what", compare Russian что).

The West Slavic languages are all written using Latin script, in contrast to the Cyrillic-using East Slavic branch, and the South Slavic which uses both.


  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "West Slavic". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. chapter 12
  3. Zenon Klemensiewicz, Historia języka polskiego, 7th edition, Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN, Warsaw 1999. ISBN 83-01-12760-0