East Carpathian

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East Carpathian language
Pronunciation /ˈkaːr.paː.ɦi.ˈreː.tɑ/
Created by Raistas
Setting parallel Earth
Ethnicity Carpathian people
Native speakers 45 000  (2012 census)
Language family
Early forms:
Writing system Latin
ISO 639-3

East Carpathian (native name - kārpāhirēta, karparheita, kārpāhrõuta depending on the dialect, also ettekārpāhrõuta) is one of the three recognized Carpathian languages spoken by the Carpathian people (natively - kārpāhiak or kārpājoak) in Ukraine and in the Bieszczady County in Southern Poland. It has approximately 30 000 native speakers left according to 2001 Ukrainian census, which is less than a 0.1% of the total population in Ukraine. According to the 2011 Polish census 785 Carpathians live in the Bieszczady County.

West Carpathian was influenced by Western dialects of Ukrainian and Polish, but in general the East Carpathian dialects preserved more native vocabulary than other Carpathian dialects. Typologically it is between fusional and agglutinative languages and is different from surrounding Slavic languages. It has a complex inflection system for nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs, depending on their roles in the sentence.


East Carpathian belongs to the Carpathian branch of the Alpatho-Hirtic languages along with West and South Carpathian. Like other languages of this group, East Carpathian is a predominantly agglutinative language. The East Carpathian language is further divided into three main dialectal groups: Jīri, Halician and Puohō These groups are distinct from one another mostly in phonology, but Jīri and Puohō also show a lot of differences in grammar.

West and East Carpathian form a dialect continuum with each other. Nowadays they are generally treated as separate languages, though it is due to political reasons rather than linguistic ones, since there are no differences between border dialects of Prešov West Carpathian and Jīri East Carpathian, so instead they are divided by a political border between Slovakia and Ukraine. The linguistic border is instead put between the Ettejīri and the Aupuohō dialects, which makes the Jīri group a part of the West Carpathian language, since Jīri dialects share a larger degree of mutual intelligibility with Prešov dialects than with Puohō ones.


Proto-Carpathian is believed to have formed near Polish-Slovak border near 2500 BCE, after its split from a hypothetical Proto-Alpathian or directly from Proto-Oronaic itself with an intermediate stage as a proto-dialect. According to most linguists, the Carpathian people came from Polish lowlands in the basin of Vistula river. Current models assume two or more hypothetical Pre-Proto-Carpathian dialects evolving over the first millennium BCE, which is supported by a native vocabulary, which has many words pairs consisting of similar words that underwent different sound changes as well as an abundance of synonyms.

Proto-Carpathian began splitting into the East and the West branches around the XVIth-XVIIth centuries or even later, the time period is not accurate due to the lack of data on the Carpathian dialects at those times, since first comprehensive in these languages texts appeared only in the XIXth century.

Geographic distibution

East Carpathian is spoken by about 30,000 people, mainly in the Halyczyna region in Western Ukraine, mainly in Carpathian-speaking communities in Prykarpattia. It was estimated that there were 785 speakers in Poland (not including the Orava region), all belonging to the older generations, most of whom turned back home after 1980s. Due to the post-World War II forced resettlement, many Carpathians were expelled from their native lands in Poland to Slovakia and Ukraine and now it is no longer spoken as a local community language of Podkarpackie Voivodeship.

Official status

In the Prykarpattia region of Ukraine, east Carpathian has official status as a minority language and thus has a cultural autonomy in four cultural regions: Jīrivēt, Ārševāt (parts of the Dolyna and the Rożniatiw districts), Kūvāt (part of the Bohorodczany district) and the Ealohka village, where the East Carpathian language is taught at schools and can be used in the mass media, like newspapers and magasines.


The East Carpathian language has three main varieties: Jīri, Halician (or Autavō) and Puohō. These varieties constitute a continuum of dialects, the ends of which are no longer mutually intelligible. Varieties can be further divided into individual dialects:

  • Halicia Carpathian
    • Autavō
    • Kyvavō
  • Jīri Carpathian
    • Border East Carpathian dialects1
    • Aujīri
    • Hullujīri
    • Ettejīri
  • Puohō Carpathian (Standard, ~30 000 speakers)
    • Ettepuohō
  • †Transitional East-South Carpathian dialects, extinct.



The consonant inventory shows some differences among the East Carpathian dialects, but the system is generally the same. East Carpathian lacks voiced/voiceless contrast like other languages of this branch. Instead of this, it has an opposition of plain vs geminate consonants, which take part in a consonant gradation similar to some Uralic languages, for instance: kuotto - kuotok ("branch"-"branches"). Almost all consonants (except for ť (which itself can only be a geminate), h, v, j, r and f) have phonemic geminated forms. These are independent phonemes, but can occur only word-medially.

Labial Dental Alveolar Palatalized[note 1] Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ń [ɲ~nʲ]
Plosive p t [t̪] ť [c~tʲ] k
Affricate c [t͡s] č [t͡ʃ~t͡ʂ] ć [t͡ɕ~t͡sʲ]
Fricative f[note 2] s š [ʃ~ʂ] ś [ɕ~sʲ] h [h~ɦ] [note 3]
Approximant v [w] j
Trill r[note 4]
Lateral Approximant l ĺ [ʎ~lʲ]
  1. ^ Palatal in the Jīri dialect.
  2. ^ Can be found only in loanwords and proper names.
  3. ^ Voiceless [h] appears before plosives, affricates and fricatives, while voiced [ɦ] appears elsewhere.
  4. ^ Can be tapped [ɾ] in a fast speech, but trilled [r] is prefered.

Puohō dialects lack a palatalized stop, since ť is pronounced the same as ć [t͡sʲ] there. Jīri Carpathian has true palatal consonant, while in other dialects these consonants are only slightly palatalized. Unlike English /s/ and /t/, East Carpathian /s/, /t͡s/ and /t/ are produced with the blade of the tongue against lower teeth and thus make them similar to English "th" sound, while /ʃ/ and /t͡ʃ/ are produced with the tip of the tongue against the superior alveolar ridge, making them sound similar to retroflex consonants. Some Jīri and all Halician dialects actually have retroflex consonants like in Polish and neighbouring Western Ukrainian dialects.


The vowel systems across East Carpathian show variety among dialectal groups. Up to 12 vowel contrasts may be found in the Western and Eastern dialects:

Jīri dialect
Front Back
Short Long Short Long
Close i /i/ ī /iː/ u /u/ ū /uː/
Mid e /e/ ē /eː/ o /o/ ō /oː/
Open a /ɑ/ ā /ɑː/
Halicia dialect
Front Central Back
Short Long Short Short Long
Close i /ɪ/ ī /iː/ y /ɘ̟/ u /ʊ/ ū /uː/
Mid e /ɛ/ ē /ɪ̯e/ o /ɔ/ ō /ʊ̯o/
Open a /ɑ/
Puoho dialect
Front Back unronded Back ronded
Short Long Short Long Short Long
Close i /i/ ī /iː/ u /u/ ū /uː/
Mid e /e/ ē /eː/ õ /ɤ/ ȭ /ɤː/ o /o/ ō /oː/
Open a /ɑ/ ā /ɑː/

A residual harmony is present in East Carpathian, meaning some vowels have a contrasting counterpart, but these contrasts became irregular. Like other Carpathian languages, East Carpathian has a rich system of diphthongs: up to six phonemic and ten non-phonemic diphthongs (sixteen in total) depending on a dialect. They are treated like long vowels and can contrast with them.