Illič-Svityč's law

In linguistics, Illič-Svityč's law refers to two Proto-Slavic rules, named after Vladislav Illich-Svitych who first identified and explained them.

Neuter o-stemsEdit

Proto-Slavic neuter o-stems with fixed accent on a non-acute root (accent paradigm b) become masculine, retaining the accent paradigm. Compare:

  • PIE *dʰwórom n > OCS dvorъ m
  • PIE *médʰu n 'mead' > PSl. *medu m (OCS medъ)

This rule is important because it operated after the influx of Proto-Germanic/Gothic thematic neuters, which all became masculines in Proto-Slavic. Late Proto-Germanic (after the operation of Verner's law) had fixed accent on the first syllable. Compare:

  • PSl. *xlaiwu m 'pigsty' (OCS xlěvъ ) < PGm. *hlaiwą n
  • PSl. *xūsu/xūzu m 'house' (OCS xyzъ) < PGm. *hūsą n
  • PSl. *pulku m 'folk, people' (OCS plъkъ) < PGm. *fulką n

Masculine o-stemsEdit

Proto-Slavic masculine o-stems with fixed accent on a non-acute root (accent paradigm b) become mobile-accent (accent paradigm c). This change is also termed "Holzer's metatony", after linguist Georg Holzer who described it.[1]

Older literature suggests that this was not a Common Slavic innovation, and that there are exceptions in some Croatian Čakavian dialects of Susak and Istria, which have retained the original accentuation. This has been recently disputed.[2]


  1. ^ Jay Jasanoff. The Prehistory of the Balto-Slavic Accent. p. 163.
  2. ^ Vermeer 2001


  • Ranko Matasović (2008). Poredbenopovijesna gramatika hrvatskoga jezika (in Croatian). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska. ISBN 978-953-150-840-7.
  • Willem Vermeer (2001). Critical observations on the modus operandi of the Moscow Accentological School, Werner Lehfeldt, Einführung in die morphologische Konzeption der slavischen Akzentologie, 2d edition, München: Sagner, pp. 131–161.