5

Let's compare three verbs and their first person singular forms:

  • нести - несу
  • везти - везу
  • вести - веду

Is there a particular reason why, in вести, the с turned into д ? Is there any intuitive reason (for ex. spelling rules) why this would happen, or would it be considered an irregular verb?

Thanks.

  • 1
    I think that in this case д somehow turned into "с" since every conjugation form of вести except infinitive has д. – Abakan Jan 30 at 19:34
  • In a grad school class I asked the professor why, given these changes, we say идти instead of *исти. He shrugged and said it was basically the exception that proves the rule... that sometimes the most common words are the most conservative & resistant to change. – Curt Feb 12 at 14:44
9

It's not irregular but all you can do is just to memoize such cases.

While the ст -> т happens in some verbs like "плести"/ "плету", "цвести"/"цвету", "мести"/"мету" for instance, a change to д is not that rare as well, check out for instance:

  • блюсти / блюду
  • брести / бреду
  • красть / краду
  • прясть / пряду

So it's not something exotic. Here's a small explanation I borrowed from this book: enter image description here

"Der Infinitiv läßt das nicht erkennen, da nach slavischen Lautgesetzen д, т vor "т" zu c wurden"

Or, in my free translation - the infinitive doesn't indicate this because, due to Slavic sound law д and т before т became c, so "вести" was initially "ведти" and what you've found are the traces of that old spelling.

This is, by the way, the case in all examples mentioned above. If you take a closer look you'll see that 'красть' was derived from "*kro-d-" stem, "блюсти" can be traced to Proto-Indo-European *bʰewdʰ-, "брести" is from " *bʰredʰ-." and "прясть" we got from "*prędti".

The scientific term for this changes is "the assibilation of dental stops". The last thing I want to add that this happens very likely in Pre-Slavic since Slavic languages share such similarities with Baltic languages.

  • An excellent answer! Thank you! – Matti P. Jan 31 at 6:01
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    No, the insertion of -s- between d and t is much more ancient, coming from mid-PIE. – Anixx Jan 31 at 9:14
  • @Anixx this is exactly what I meant by Pre-Slavic but you term is more precise, also - nice answer! See no contradiction between our answers whatsoever. – shabunc Jan 31 at 10:03
3

This is because of the rule already in Proto-Indo-European: if a word had a root ending in -d- or -dh- and a suffix starting with -t-, then an -s- sound would be inserted in between.

For instance, the PIE had roots e̯es- "to be" and "e̯ed-" "to eat", they had forms e̯edsti "eats" and e̯esti "is", which both gave the coinciding Russian form есть.

Similarly, везти comes from u̯eĝh- "convey", with -ĝh- after Slavic sound changes becoming -з- and appearing in all forms with this root while вести comes from PIE u̯edh- which when combined with suffix starting with -t- would have -s- inserted, but not in other cases.

In other words, if there was no fusion, it would be ведсти, not вести.

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