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

Firstly, Illič-Svityč's law refers to the rule according to which Proto-Slavic thematic neuters accented on the first syllable become masculines. 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. *hlaiwan n
  • PSl. *xūsu/xūzu m 'house' (OCS xyzъ) < PGm. *hūsan n
  • PSl. *pulku m 'folk, people' (OCS plъkъ) < PGm. *fulkan n

Secondly, Illič-Svityč's law refers to the rule according to which all masculine o-stems in Proto-Slavic generalized accentual mobility (accent paradigm 'c', as opposed to expected accent paradigm 'b').

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.[1]


  1. ^ 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.