The Info List - Old Church Slavonic

Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
(/sləˈvɒnɪk/, /slæˈ-/),[2] also known as Old Church Slavic (/ˈslɑːvɪk, ˈslæv-/;[2][3] or Ancient/Old Slavonic often abbreviated to OCS; (autonym словѣ́ньскъ ѩꙁꙑ́къ, slověnĭskŭ językŭ), not to be confused with the Proto-Slavic, was the first Slavic literary language. The 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
are credited with standardizing the language and using it in translating the Bible
and other Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
ecclesiastical texts as part of the Christianization of the Slavs.[4][5] It is thought to have been based primarily on the dialect of the 9th century Byzantine Slavs
living in the Province of Thessalonica (now in Greece). It played an important role in the history of the Slavic languages
Slavic languages
and served as a basis and model for later Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
traditions, and some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches use this later Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
as a liturgical language to this day. As the oldest attested Slavic language, OCS provides important evidence for the features of Proto-Slavic, the reconstructed common ancestor of all Slavic languages.


1 History 2 Script 3 Phonology

3.1 Consonants 3.2 Vowels 3.3 Phonotactics 3.4 Morphophonemic alternations

4 Grammar 5 Basis and local influences

5.1 Great Moravia

5.1.1 Moravian recension

5.2 First Bulgarian Empire

5.2.1 Bulgarian recension 5.2.2 Macedonian recension

5.3 Later recensions

5.3.1 Serbian recension 5.3.2 Russian recension 5.3.3 Middle Bulgarian 5.3.4 Bosnian recension 5.3.5 Croatian recension

6 Canon 7 Sample text 8 Authors 9 Nomenclature

9.1 Modern Slavic nomenclature

10 See also 11 References 12 Bibliography 13 External links


A page from the Flowery Triod (Triod' cvetnaja) from about 1491, one of the oldest printed Byzantine-Slavonic books, National Library of Poland.

The language was standardized for the mission of the two apostles to Great Moravia
Great Moravia
(the territory of today's western Slovakia and Czech Republic; see Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
for details). For that purpose, Cyril and his brother Methodius started to translate religious literature to Old Church Slavonic, allegedly based on the Slavic dialects spoken in the hinterland of their hometown, Thessaloniki,[6] in today's Greece. As part of the preparation for the mission, in 862/863, the Glagolitic alphabet was created and the most important prayers and liturgical books, including the Aprakos Evangeliar (a Gospel Book
Gospel Book
lectionary containing only feast-day and Sunday readings), the Psalter, and Acts of the Apostles, were translated. (The Gospels were also translated early, but it is unclear whether Sts. Cyril or Methodius had a hand in this). The language and the alphabet were taught at the Great Moravian Academy (Slovak: Veľkomoravské učilište) and were used for government and religious documents and books between 863 and 885. The texts written during this phase contain characteristics of the Slavic vernaculars in Great Moravia. In 885, the use of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
in Great Moravia
Great Moravia
was prohibited by Pope Stephen V in favour of Latin.[7] Students of the two apostles, who were expelled from Great Moravia
Great Moravia
in 886, brought the Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
to the First Bulgarian Empire. There it was taught at two literary schools: the Preslav
Literary School and the Ohrid
Literary School.[8][9][10] The Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
was originally used at both schools, though the Cyrillic script
Cyrillic script
was developed early on at the Preslav
Literary School where it superseded Glagolitic. The texts written during this era exhibit certain linguistic features of the vernaculars of the First Bulgarian Empire. Old Church Slavonic spread to other South-Eastern, Central, and Eastern European Slavic territories, most notably Croatia, Serbia, Bohemia, Lesser Poland, and principalities of the Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
while retaining characteristically South Slavic linguistic features. Later texts written in each of those territories then began to take on characteristics of the local Slavic vernaculars and, by the mid-11th century, Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
had diversified into a number of regional varieties (known as recensions). These local varieties are collectively known as the Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
language.[11] Apart from the Slavic countries, Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
has been used as a liturgical language by the Romanian Orthodox Church, as well as a literary and official language of the princedoms of Wallachia
and Moldavia
(see Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
in Romania), before gradually being replaced by Romanian during the 16th to 17th centuries. Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
maintained a prestigious status, particularly in Russia, for many centuries – among Slavs
in the East it had a status analogous to that of Latin
in Western Europe, but had the advantage of being substantially less divergent from the vernacular tongues of average parishioners. Some Orthodox churches, such as the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid
Archbishopric, as well as several Eastern Catholic Churches, still use Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
in their services and chants today. Script[edit] Initially Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
was written with the Glagolitic alphabet, but later Glagolitic was replaced by Cyrillic,[12] which was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
by a decree of Boris I of Bulgaria
in the 9th century. The local Bosnian Cyrillic
Bosnian Cyrillic
alphabet, known as Bosančica, was preserved in Bosnia
and parts of Croatia, while a variant of the angular Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
was preserved in Croatia. See Early Cyrillic alphabet for a detailed description of the script and information about the sounds it originally expressed. Phonology[edit] For Old Church Slavonic, the following segments are reconstructible.[13] A few sounds are given in Slavic transliterated form rather than in IPA, as the exact realisation is uncertain and often differs depending on the area that a text originated from. Consonants[edit]

Labial Dental Palatal Velar

Plosive p b t d

k ɡ


t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ


s z ʃ ʒ x

Nasal m n nʲ


l lʲ


r rʲ

Approximant v


The letter щ denoted different sounds in different dialects and is not shown in the table. In Bulgaria, it represented the sequence /ʃt/, and it is normally transliterated as št for that reason. Farther west and north, it was probably /c(ː)/ or /tɕ/ like in modern Macedonian, Torlakian and Serbian/Croatian[citation needed]. /dz/ appears mostly in early texts, becoming /z/ later on. The distinction between l, n and r, on one hand, and palatal l', n' and r', on the other, is not always indicated in writing. When it is, it is shown by a palatization diacritic over the letter: л҄ н҄ р҄.


Oral vowels

Front unrounded Back unrounded Back Rounded

i ɯ u

ь/ɪ ъ/ɨ



ɛ a

Nasal vowels

Front Back

ẽ õ

Accent is not indicated in writing and must be inferred from later languages and from reconstructions of Proto-Slavic. The pronunciation of yat (ѣ/ě) differed by area. In Bulgaria
it was a relatively open vowel, commonly reconstructed as /æ/, but further north its pronunciation was more closed and it eventually became a diphthong /je/ (e.g. in modern standard Croatian) or even /i/ in many areas (e.g. in Chakavian
Croatian, Shtokavian
Croatian dialects or Ukrainian) or /e/ (modern standard Serbian). The yer (ъ) and (ь) vowels ĭ and ŭ are often called "ultrashort" and were lower, more centralised and shorter than their counterparts i and y/u. They disappeared in most positions in the word, already sporadically in the earliest texts but more frequently later on. They also tended to merge with other vowels, particularly ĭ with e and ŭ with o, but differently in different areas. The exact articulation of the nasal vowels is unclear because different areas tend to merge them with different vowels. ę /ɛ̃/ is occasionally seen to merge with e or ě in South Slavic, but becomes ja early on in East Slavic. ǫ /ɔ̃/ generally merges with u or o, but in Bulgaria, ǫ was apparently unrounded and eventually merged with ŭ.

Phonotactics[edit] Several notable constraints on the distribution of the phonemes can be identified, mostly resulting from the tendencies occurring within the Common Slavic period, such as intrasyllabic synharmony and the law of open syllables. For consonant and vowel clusters and sequences of a consonant and a vowel, the following constraints can be ascertained:[14]

Two adjacent consonants tend not to share identical features of manner of articulation No syllable ends in a consonant Every obstruent agrees in voicing with the following obstruent Velars do not occur before front vowels Phonetically palatalized consonants do not occur before certain back vowels The back vowels /y/ and /ъ/ as well as front vowels other than /i/ do not occur word-initially: the two back vowels take prothetic /v/ and the front vowels prothetic /j/. Initial /a/ may take either prothetic consonant or none at all. Vowel sequences are attested in only one lexeme (paǫčina 'spider's web') and in the suffixes /aa/ and /ěa/ of the imperfect At morpheme boundaries, the following vowel sequences occur: /ai/, /au/, /ao/, /oi/, /ou/, /oo/, /ěi/, /ěo/

Morphophonemic alternations[edit] As a result of the first and the second Slavic palatalizations, velars alternate with dentals and palatals. In addition, as a result of a process usually termed iotation (or iodization), velars and dentals alternate with palatals in various inflected forms and in word formation.

Alternations in velar consonants

original /k/ /g/ /x/ /sk/ /zg/ /sx/

first palatalization and iotation /č/ /ž/ /š/ /št/ /žd/ /š/

second palatalization /c/ /dz/ /s/ /sc/, /st/ /zd/ /sc/

Alternations in other consonants

original /b/ /p/ /sp/ /d/ /zd/ /t/ /st/ /z/ /s/ /l/ /sl/ /m/ /n/ /sn/ /zn/ /r/ /tr/ /dr/

iotation /bl'/ /pl'/

/žd/ /žd/ /št/ /št/ /ž/ /š/ /l'/ /šl'/ /ml'/ /n'/ /šn'/ /žn'/ /r'/ /štr'/ /ždr'/

In some forms the alternations of /c/ with /č/ and of /dz/ with /ž/ occur, in which the corresponding velar is missing. The dental alternants of velars occur regularly before /ě/ and /i/ in the declension and in the imperative, and somewhat less regularly in various forms after /i/, /ę/, /ь/ and /rь/.[15] The palatal alternants of velars occur before front vowels in all other environments, where dental alternants do not occur, as well as in various places in inflection and word formation described below.[16] As a result of earlier alternations between short and long vowels in roots in Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Balto-Slavic and Proto-Slavic times, and of the fronting of vowels after palatalized consonants, the following vowel alternations are attested in OCS: /ь/ : /i/;   /ъ/ : /y/ : /u/;   /e/ : /ě/ : /i/;   /o/ : /a/;   /o/ : /e/;   /ě/ : /a/;   /ъ/ : /ь/;   /y/ : /i/;   /ě/ : /i/;   /y/ : /ę/.[16] Vowel:∅ alternations sometimes occurred as a result of sporadic loss of weak yer, which later occurred in almost all Slavic dialects. The phonetic value of the corresponding vocalized strong jer is dialect-specific. Grammar[edit] Main article: Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
grammar As an ancient Indo-European language, OCS has a highly inflective morphology. Inflected forms are divided in two groups, nominals and verbs. Nominals are further divided into nouns, adjectives and pronouns. Numerals inflect either as nouns or pronouns, with 1-4 showing gender agreement as well. Nominals can be declined in three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), three numbers (singular, plural, dual) and seven cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, genitive, and locative. There are five basic inflectional classes for nouns: o/jo-stems, a/ja-stems, i-stems, u-stems and consonant stems. Forms throughout the inflectional paradigm usually exhibit morphophonemic alternations. Fronting of vowels after palatals and j yielded dual inflectional class o : jo and a : ja, whereas palatalizations affected stem as a synchronic process (N sg. vlьkъ, V sg. vlьče; L sg. vlьcě). Productive classes are o/jo-, a/ja- and i-stems. Sample paradigms are given in the table below:

Sample declensional classes for nouns

Singular Dual Plural

Gloss Stem type Nom Voc Acc Gen Loc Dat Instr Nom/Voc/Acc Gen/Loc Dat/Instr Nom/Voc Acc Gen Loc Dat Instr

"city" o m. gradъ grade gradъ grada gradě gradu gradomь grada gradu gradoma gradi grady gradъ graděxъ gradomъ grady

"knife" jo m. nožь nožu nožь noža noži nožu nožemь noža nožu nožema noži nožę nožь nožixъ nožemъ noži

"wolf" o m vlьkъ vlьče vlьkъ vlьka vlьcě vlьku vlьkomь vlьka vlьku vlьkoma vlьci vlьky vlьkъ vlьcěxъ vlьkomъ vlьky

"wine" o n. vino vino vino vina vině vinu vinomь vině vinu vinoma vina vina vinъ viněxъ vinomъ viny

"field" jo n. polje polje polje polja polji polju poljemь polji polju poljema polja polja poljь poljixъ poljemъ polji

"woman" a f. žena ženo ženǫ ženy ženě ženě ženojǫ ženě ženu ženama ženy ženy ženъ ženaxъ ženamъ ženami

"soul" ja f. duša duše dušǫ dušę duši duši dušejǫ duši dušu dušama dušę dušę dušь dušaxъ dušamъ dušami

"hand" a f. rǫka rǫko rǫkǫ rǫky rǫcě rǫcě rǫkojǫ rǫcě rǫku rǫkama rǫky rǫky rǫkъ rǫkaxъ rǫkamъ rǫkami

"bone" i f. kostь kosti kostь kosti kosti kosti kostьjǫ kosti kostьju kostьma kosti kosti kostьjь kostьxъ kostъmъ kostъmi

"home" u m. domъ domu domъ/-a domu domu domovi domъmь domy domovu domъma domove domy domovъ domъxъ domъmъ domъmi

Adjectives are inflected as o/jo-stems (masculine and neuter) and a/ja-stems (feminine), in three genders. They could have short (indefinite) or long (definite) variants, the latter being formed by suffixing to the indefinite form the anaphoric third-person pronoun jь. Synthetic verbal conjugation is expressed in present, aorist and imperfect tenses while perfect, pluperfect, future and conditional tenses/moods are made by combining auxiliary verbs with participles or synthetic tense forms. Sample conjugation for the verb vesti "to lead" (underlyingly ved-ti) is given in the table below.

Sample conjugation of the verb vesti "to lead"

person/number Present Asigmatic (simple, root) aorist Sigmatic (s-) aorist New (ox) aorist Imperfect Imperative

1 sg. vedǫ vedъ věsъ vedoxъ veděaxъ

2 sg. vedeši vede vede vede veděaše vedi

3 sg. vedetъ vede vede vede veděaše vedi

1 dual vedevě vedově věsově vedoxově veděaxově veděvě

2 dual vedeta vedeta věsta vedosta veděašeta veděta

3 dual vedete vedete věste vedoste veděašete

1 plural vedemъ vedomъ věsomъ vedoxomъ veděaxomъ veděmъ

2 plural vedete vedete věste vedoste veděašete veděte

3 plural vedǫtъ vedǫ věsę vedošę veděaxǫ

Basis and local influences[edit]

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v t e

Written evidence of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
survives in a relatively small body of manuscripts, most of them written in First Bulgarian Empire during the late 10th and the early 11th centuries. The language has a Southern Slavic basis with an admixture of Western Slavic features inherited during the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
to Great Moravia
(863–885). The only well-preserved manuscript of the Moravian recension, the Kiev Folia, is characterised by the replacement of some Southern Slavic phonetic and lexical features with Western Slavic ones. Manuscripts written in the Second Bulgarian Empire
Second Bulgarian Empire
(1185-1396) have, on the other hand, few Western Slavic features. Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
is valuable to historical linguists since it preserves archaic features believed to have once been common to all Slavic languages
Slavic languages
such as these:

Most significantly, the yer (extra-short) vowels: /ĭ/ and /ŭ/ Nasal vowels: /ɛ̃/ and /ɔ̃/ Near-open articulation of the yat vowel (/æ/) Palatal consonants /ɲ/ and /ʎ/ from Proto-Slavic *ň and *ľ Proto-Slavic declension system based on stem endings, including those that later disappeared in attested languages (such as u-stems) Dual as a distinct grammatical number from singular and plural Aorist, imperfect, Proto-Slavic paradigms for participles

Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
is also likely to have preserved an extremely archaic type of accentuation (probably[citation needed] close to the Chakavian
dialect of modern Serbo-Croatian), but unfortunately, no accent marks appear in the written manuscripts. The Southern Slavic nature of the language is evident from the following variations:


ra > /la/ by means of liquid metathesis of Proto-Slavic *or, *ol clusters sě from Proto-Slavic *xě < *xai cv, (d)zv from Proto-Slavic *kvě, *gvě < *kvai, *gvai

morphosyntactic use of the dative possessive case in personal pronouns and nouns: 'рѫка ти' (rǫka ti, "your hand"), 'отъпоущенье грѣхомъ' (otŭpuštenĭje grěxomŭ, "remission of sins"); periphrastic future tense using the verb 'хотѣти' (xotěti, "to want"); use of the comparative form 'мьнии' (mĭniji, "smaller") to denote "younger".

morphosyntactic use of suffixed demonstrative pronouns 'тъ, та, то' (tŭ, ta, to). In Bulgarian and Macedonian these developed into suffixed definite articles.

Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
has some extra features in common with Bulgarian:

Near-open articulation [æ] of the Yat
vowel (ě); still preserved in the Bulgarian dialects
Bulgarian dialects
of the Rhodope mountains; The existence of /ʃt/ and /ʒd/ as reflexes of Proto-Slavic *ť (< *tj and *gt, *kt) and *ď (< *dj). Use of possessive dative for personal pronouns and nouns, as in 'братъ ми' (bratŭ mi, "my brother"), 'рѫка ти' (rǫka ti, "your hand"), 'отъпоущенье грѣхомъ' (otŭpuštenĭje grěxomŭ, "remission of sins"), 'храмъ молитвѣ' (xramŭ molitvě, 'house of prayer'), etc. Periphrastic compound future tense formed with the auxiliary verb 'хотѣти' (xotěti, "to want"), for example 'хоштѫ писати' (xoštǫ pisati, "I will write").

Proto-Slavic OCS Bulg. Czech Maced. Pol. Rus. Slovak Sloven. Cro./Serb.

*dʲ ʒd ʒd z ɟ dz ʑ dz j dʑ

*ɡt/kt, *tʲ ʃt ʃt ts c ts tɕ ts tʃ tɕ

Great Moravia[edit] The language was standardized for the first time by the mission of the two apostles to Great Moravia
Great Moravia
from 863. The manuscripts of the Moravian recension are therefore the earliest dated of the OCS recensions.[clarification needed] The recension takes its name from the Slavic state of Great Moravia
Great Moravia
which existed in Central Europe during the 9th century on the territory of today's western Slovakia and Czech Republic. Moravian recension[edit] In the Prague fragments the only Moravian influence is replacing /ʃt/ with /ts/ and /ʒd/ with /z/. This recension is exemplified by the Kiev Folia. Certain other linguistic characteristics include:

Confusion between the letters Big yus (Ѫ) and Uk (оу) - this occurs once in the Kiev Folia, when the expected form въсоудъ vъsudъ is spelled въсѫдъ vъsǫdъ /ts/ from Proto-Slavic *tj, use of /dz/ from *dj, /ʃtʃ/ *skj Use of the words mьša, cirky, papežь, prěfacija, klepati, piskati etc. Preservation of the consonant cluster /dl/ (e.g. modlitvami) Use of the ending –ъmь instead of –omь in the masculine singular instrumental, use of the pronoun čьso

First Bulgarian Empire[edit] Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
language is developed in the First Bulgarian Empire and was taught in Preslav
(Bulgarian capital between 893 and 972), and in Ohrid
(Bulgarian capital between 991/997 and 1015).[17][18][19] It did not represent one regional dialect but a generalized form of early eastern South Slavic, which cannot be localized.[20] The existence of two major literary centres in the Empire led in the period from the 9th to the 11th centuries to the emergence of two recensions (otherwise called "redactions"), termed "Bulgarian" and "Macedonian" respectively.[21][22] Some researchers do not differentiate between manuscripts of the two recensions, preferring to group them together in a "Macedo-Bulgarian"[23] or simply "Bulgarian" recension.[24][25] Others, as Horace Lunt, have changed their opinion with time. In the mid-1970s, Lunt held that the differences in the initial OCS were neither great enough nor consistent enough to grant a distinction between a 'Macedonian' recension and a 'Bulgarian' one. A decade later, however, Lunt argued in favour of such a distinction, illustrating his point with paleographic, phonological and other differences.[26] The development of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
literacy had the effect of preventing the assimilation of the South Slavs
South Slavs
into neighboring cultures, which promoted the formation of a distinct Bulgarian identity.[27] Bulgarian recension[edit] The manuscripts of the Bulgarian recension[28][29][30] or "Eastern" variant[31] are among the oldest[clarification needed] of the Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
language. This recension was centred around the Preslav
Literary School. Since the earliest datable Cyrillic inscriptions were found in the area of Preslav, it is this school which is credited with the development of the Cyrillic alphabet which gradually replaced the Glagolic one.[32][33] A number of prominent Bulgarian writers and scholars worked at the Preslav
Literary School, including Naum of Preslav
(until 893), Constantine of Preslav, John Exarch, Chernorizets Hrabar, etc. The main linguistic features of this recension are the following:

The Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets were used concurrently. In some documents the original supershort vowels ъ and ь merged with one letter taking the place of the other. The original ascending reflex (rь, lь) of syllabic /r/ and /l/ was sometimes metathesized to ьr, ьl; or a combination of the ordering was used. The central vowel ы y merged with ъи ъi. Sometimes the use of letter ⟨Ѕ⟩ (/dz/) was merged with that of ⟨З⟩ (/z/). The verb forms нарицаѭ, нарицаѥши (naricajǫ, naricaješi) were substituted or alternated with наричꙗѭ, наричꙗеши (naričjajǫ, naričjaješi).

Macedonian recension[edit] The manuscripts of the Macedonian recension or "Western" variant[34] are among the oldest[clarification needed] of the Old Church Slavonic language. The recension is sometimes named Macedonian because its literary centre, Ohrid, lies in the historical region of Macedonia. At that period, administratively Ohrid
formed part of the province of Kutmichevitsa
in the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
until the Byzantine conquest.[35] The main literary centre of this dialect was the Ohrid Literary School, whose most prominent member and most likely founder, was Saint Clement of Ohrid
who was commissioned by Boris I of Bulgaria to teach and instruct the future clergy of the state in the Slavonic language. The language variety that was used in the area started shaping the modern Macedonian dialects.[36][page needed][37][page needed] This recension is represented by the Codex Zographensis
Codex Zographensis
and Marianus, among others. The main linguistic features of this recension include:

Continuous usage of the Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
instead of Cyrillic A feature called "mixing (confusion) of the nasals" in which /ɔ̃/ became [ɛ̃] after /rʲ lʲ nʲ/, and in a cluster of a labial consonant and /lʲ/. /ɛ̃/ became [ɔ̃] after sibilant consonants and /j/ Wide use of the soft consonant clusters /ʃt/ and /ʒd/; in the later stages, these developed into the modern Macedonian phonemes /c/ /ɟ/ Strict distinction in the articulation of the yers and their vocalisation in strong position (ъ > /o/ and ь > /e/) or deletion in weak position Confusion of /ɛ̃/ with yat and yat with /e/ Denasalization in the latter stages: /ɛ̃/ > /e/ and /ɔ̃/ > /a/, оу, ъ Wider usage and retention of the phoneme /dz/ (which in most other Slavic languages
Slavic languages
has dеaffricated to /z/);

Later recensions[edit] Main article: Church Slavonic Later use of the language in a number of medieval Slavic polities resulted in the adjustment of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
to the local vernacular, though a number of Southern Slavic, Moravian or Bulgarian features also survived. Significant later recensions of Old Church Slavonic (referred to as Church Slavonic) in the present time include: Slovene, Croatian, Serbian and Russian. In all cases, denasalization of the yuses occurred; so that only Old Church Slavonic, modern Polish and some isolated Bulgarian dialects
Bulgarian dialects
retained the old Slavonic nasal vowels. Serbian recension[edit] The Serbian recension[38] was written mostly in Cyrillic, but also in the Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
(depending on region); by the 12th century the Serbs used exclusively the Cyrillic alphabet (and Latin
script in coastal areas). The 1186 Miroslav Gospels
Miroslav Gospels
belong to the Serbian recension. They feature the following linguistic characteristics:

Nasal vowels were denasalised and in one case closed: *ę > e, *ǫ > u, e.g. OCS rǫka > Sr. ruka ("hand"), OCS językъ > Sr. jezik ("tongue, language") Extensive use of diacritical signs by the Resava dialect Use of letters i, y for the sound /i/ in other manuscripts of the Serbian recension

Due to the Ottoman conquest of Bulgaria
in 1396, Serbia
saw an influx of educated scribes and clergy who re-introduced a more classical form, closer resembling the Bulgarian recension. Russian recension[edit] The Russian recension emerged after the 10th century on the basis of the earlier Bulgarian recension, from which it differed slightly. Its main features are:

Substitution of [u] for the nasal sound /õ/ Merging of letters ę and ja[39]

Middle Bulgarian[edit] The line between OCS and post-OCS manuscripts is arbitrary, and terminology varies. The common term "Middle Bulgarian" is usually contrasted to "Old Bulgarian" (an alternative name for Old Church Slavonic), and loosely used for manuscripts whose language demonstrates a broad spectrum of regional and temporal dialect features after the 11th century.[40] Bosnian recension[edit] The Bosnian recension used the Bosnian Cyrillic
Bosnian Cyrillic
alphabet (better known as Bosančica) and the Glagolitic alphabet.[41][42]

Use of letters i, y, ě for the sound /i/ in Bosnian manuscripts

Croatian recension[edit] The Croatian recension of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
used only the Glagolitic alphabet of angular Croatian type. It shows the development of the following characteristics:

Denasalisation of PSl. *ę > e, PSl. *ǫ > u, e.g. Cr. ruka : OCS rǫka ("hand"), Cr. jezik : OCS językъ ("tongue, language") PSl. *y > i, e.g. Cr. biti : OCS byti ("to be") PSl. weak-positioned yers *ъ and *ь in merged, probably representing some schwa-like sound, and only one of the letters was used (usually 'ъ'). Evident in earliest documents like Baška tablet. PSl. strong-positioned yers *ъ and *ь were vocalized into a in most Štokavian and Čakavian speeches, e.g. Cr. pas : OCS pьsъ ("dog") PSl. hard and soft syllabic liquids *r and r′ retained syllabicity and were written as simply r, as opposed to OCS sequences of mostly rь and rъ, e.g. krstъ and trgъ as opposed to OCS krьstъ and trъgъ ("cross", "market") PSl. #vьC and #vъC > #uC, e.g. Cr. udova : OCS. vъdova ("widow")

Canon[edit] The core corpus of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
manuscripts is usually referred to as canon. Manuscripts
must satisfy certain linguistic, chronological and cultural criteria to be incorporated into the canon: they must not significantly depart from the language and tradition of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, usually known as the Cyrillo-Methodian tradition. For example, the Freising Fragments, dating from the 10th century, show some linguistic and cultural traits of Old Church Slavonic, but they are usually not included in the canon, as some of the phonological features of the writings appear to belong to certain Pannonian Slavic dialect of the period. Similarly, the Ostromir Gospels exhibits dialectal features that classify it as East Slavic, rather than South Slavic so it is not included in the canon either. On the other hand, the Kiev Missal
Kiev Missal
is included in the canon even though it manifests some West Slavic features and contains Western liturgy because of the Bulgarian linguistic layer and connection to the Moravian mission. Manuscripts
are usually classified in two groups, depending on the alphabet used, Cyrillic or Glagolitic. With the exception of the Kiev Missal and Glagolita Clozianus, which exhibit West Slavic and Croatian features respectively, all Glagolitic texts are assumed to be of the Macedonian recension:

Kiev Missal
Kiev Missal
(Ki, KM), seven folios, late 10th century Codex Zographensis, (Zo), 288 folios, 10th or 11th century Codex Marianus
Codex Marianus
(Mar), 173 folios, early 11th century Codex Assemanius
Codex Assemanius
(Ass), 158 folios, early 11th century Psalterium Sinaiticum
Psalterium Sinaiticum
(Pas, Ps. sin.), 177 folios, 11th century Euchologium Sinaiticum
Euchologium Sinaiticum
(Eu, Euch), 109 folios, 11th century Glagolita Clozianus
Glagolita Clozianus
(Clo, Cloz), 14 folios, 11th century Ohrid
Folios (Ohr), 2 folios, 11th century Rila Folios (Ri, Ril), 2 folios and 5 fragments, 11th century

All Cyrillic manuscripts are of the Bulgarian recension and date from the 11th century except for the Zographos, which is of the Macedonian recension:

Sava's book
Sava's book
(Sa, Sav), 126 folios Codex Suprasliensis, (Supr), 284 folios Enina Apostle
Enina Apostle
(En, Enin), 39 folios Hilandar Folios (Hds, Hil), 2 folios Undol'skij's Fragments (Und), 2 folios Macedonian Folio (Mac), 1 folio Zographos Fragments (Zogr. Fr.), 2 folios Sluck Psalter
(Ps. Sl., Sl), 5 folios

Sample text[edit] Here is the Lord's Prayer
Lord's Prayer
in Old Church Slavonic:

Cyrillic Transliteration Translation

отьчє нашь· ижє ѥси на нєбєсѣхъ: да свѧтитъ сѧ имѧ твоѥ· да придєтъ цѣсар҄ьствиѥ твоѥ· да бѫдєтъ волꙗ твоꙗ ꙗко на нєбєси и на ꙁємл҄и: хлѣбъ нашь насѫщьнꙑи даждь намъ дьньсь· и отъпоусти намъ длъгꙑ нашѧ ꙗко и мꙑ отъпоущаѥмъ длъжьникомъ нашимъ· и нє въвєди насъ въ искоушєниѥ· нъ иꙁбави нꙑ отъ нєприꙗꙁни: ꙗко твоѥ ѥстъ цѣсар҄ьствиѥ и сила и слава въ вѣкꙑ вѣкомъ аминь჻

otĭče našĭ Iže jesi na nebesěxŭ. Da svętitŭ sę imę tvoje da pridetŭ cěsar'ĭstvije tvoje da bǫdetŭ volja tvoja jako na nebesi i na zeml'i. hlěbŭ našĭ nasǫštĭnyi daždĭ namŭ dĭnĭsĭ i otŭpusti namŭ dlŭgy našę jako i my otŭpuštajemŭ dlŭžĭnikomŭ našimŭ i ne vŭvedi nasŭ vŭ iskušenije nŭ izbavi ny otŭ neprijazni. jako tvoje jestŭ cěsar'ĭstvije i sila i slava vŭ věky věkomŭ. aminĭ.

Our father Thou Who art in heaven. May hallowed be Thy Name may come Thy empire may become Thy will as in heaven, also on Earth. Our supersubstantial bread give us this day and release us of our debts as we also release our debtors, and do not lead us to temptation but free us from the evil. As Thine is the empire and the power and the glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Authors[edit] The history of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
writing includes a northern tradition begun by the mission to Great Moravia, including a short mission in the Balaton principality, and a Bulgarian tradition begun by some of the missionaries who relocated to Bulgaria
after the expulsion from Great Moravia. Old Church Slavonic's first writings, translations of Christian liturgical and Biblical texts, were produced by Byzantine missionaries Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, mostly during their mission to Great Moravia. The most important authors in Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
after the death of Methodius and the dissolution of the Great Moravian academy were Clement of Ohrid
(active also in Great Moravia), Constantine of Preslav, Chernorizetz Hrabar
Chernorizetz Hrabar
and John Exarch, all of whom worked in medieval Bulgaria
at the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century. The Second Book of Enoch was only preserved in Old Church Slavonic, although the original most certainly had been Greek or even Hebrew
or Aramaic. Nomenclature[edit] The name of the language in Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
texts was simply Slavic (словѣ́ньскъ ѩꙁꙑ́къ, slověnĭskŭ językŭ),[43] derived from the word for Slavs
(словѣ́нє, slověne), the self-designation of the compilers of the texts. This name is preserved in the modern names of the Slovak and Slovene languages. The language is sometimes called Old Slavic, which may be confused with the distinct Proto-Slavic language. Different strains of nationalists have tried to 'claim' Old Church Slavonic; thus OCS has also been variously called "Old Bulgarian", "Old Croatian", "Old Macedonian", or "Old Serbian", or even "Old Slovak", "Old Slovenian".[44] The commonly accepted terms in modern English-language Slavic studies are Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
and Old Church Slavic. The term Old Bulgarian[45] (German: Altbulgarisch) is the only designation used by Bulgarian-language writers. It was used in numerous 19th-century sources, e.g. by August Schleicher, Martin Hattala, Leopold Geitler and August Leskien,[46][47] who noted similarities between the first literary Slavic works and the modern Bulgarian language. For similar reasons, Russian linguist Aleksandr Vostokov used the term Slav-Bulgarian. The term is still used by some writers but nowadays normally avoided in favor of Old Church Slavonic. The term Old Macedonian[48][49][50][51] is occasionally used by Western scholars in a regional context. The obsolete[52] term Old Slovenian[52][53][54][55] was used by early 19th-century scholars who conjectured that the language was based on the dialect of Pannonia. Modern Slavic nomenclature[edit] Here are some of the names used by speakers of modern Slavic languages:

Belarusian: стараславянская мова (starasłavianskaja mova), ‘Old Slavic language’ Bulgarian: старобългарски (starobălgarski), ‘Old Bulgarian’ and старославянски,[56] (staroslavjanski), ‘Old Slavic’ Bosnian: staroslavenski / старослaвенски, ‘Old Slavic’ Croatian: staroslavenski, ‘Old Slavic’ Czech: staroslověnština, ‘Old Slavic’ Macedonian: старословенски (staroslovenski), ‘Old Slavic’ Polish: staro-cerkiewno-słowiański, ‘Old Church Slavic’ Russian: старославянский язык (staroslavjánskij jazýk), ‘Old Slavic language’ Serbian: старословенски / staroslovenski, ‘Old Slavic’ Slovak: staroslovienčina, ‘Old Slavic’ Slovene: stara cerkvena slovanščina, ‘Old Church Slavic’ Ukrainian: старослов’янська мова (staroslovjans'ka mova), ‘Old Slavic language’

See also[edit]

Church Slavic edition of, the free encyclopedia

Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
language List of Glagolitic manuscripts Old Macedonian Proto-Slavic language Slavonic-Serbian


^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Church Slavic". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ a b Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180  ^ Jones, Daniel (2003) [1917], Peter Roach, James Hartmann and Jane Setter, eds., English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 3-12-539683-2 CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) ^ Waldman & Mason 2006, p. 752: "There is disagreement as to whether Cyril and his brother Methodius were Greek or Slavic, but they knew the Slavic dialect spoken in Macedonia, adjacent to Thessalonika." ^ Cizevskij 2000, p. 27. ^ After the Slavs
invaded it. Curta 2006, p. 214: "At the emperor's request, Constantine and his brother started the translation of religious texts into Old Church Slavonic, a literary language most likely based on the Macedonian dialect allegedly used in the hinterland of their home-town, Thessalonica." ^ Alexander 2005, p. 310. ^ Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe.  ^ The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity.  ^ Interaction and Isolation in Late Byzantine Culture.  ^ Speech, Memory, and Meaning.  ^ Lunt 2001, p. 15–6. ^ Huntley 1993, pp. 126–7. ^ Huntley 1993, pp. 127–8. ^ Syllabic sonorant, written with jer in superscript, as opposed to the regular sequence of /r/ followed by a /ь/. ^ a b Huntley 1993, p. 133. ^ Toward an Understanding of Europe.  ^ Contested Ethnic Identity.  ^ The Poetics of Slavdom: Part III: Njego.  ^ Lunt 2001, p. ??. ^ Vlasto 1970, p. 174. ^ Indo-European Language and Culture.  ^ Ancient Indo-European Dialects.  ^ Sussex & Cubberley 2006, p. 43. ^ "Razmyshlenija o makedonskom "sreze"... - I. Kaliganov". kroraina.com.  ^ See: "American contributions to the Tenth International Congress of Slavists", Sofia, September 1988, Alexander M. Schenker, Slavica, 1988, ISBN 0-89357-190-3, p. 47. ^ Crampton 2005, p. 15. ^ The Early Versions of the New Testament.  ^ Sussex & Cubberley 2006, p. 64. ^ Kamusella 2008, p. ??. ^ Birnbaum 1991, p. 535. ^ Curta 2006, p. ??. ^ The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire.  ^ Stolz, Titunik & Doležel 1984, p. 111: "Specific phonological and lexical differences led Jagić (and many others after him, notably Vaillant) to distinguish carefully between the Western (or Macedonian) OCS of the glagolithic manuscripts and the Eastern (or Bulgarian) OCS of the Suprasliensis…" ^ Vlasto 1970, p. 169. ^ Lunt 2001, p. ??. ^ Macedonian, Victor Friedman, Facts about world's languages, 2001 ^ Lunt 2001, p. 4. ^ Cubberley 2002, p. 44. ^ The definite article in contemporary standard Bulgarian, Gerald L. Mayer, Freie Universität Berlin. Osteuropa-Institut, Otto Harrassowitz, 1988, p. 108. ^ Marti 2012, p. 275: "[T]he first printed book in Cyrillic (or, to be more precise, in Bosančica)…" ^ Cleminson, Ralph (2000). Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections: a union catalogue. British Library.  ^ Nandris 1959, p. 2. ^ Kamusella 2008, p. 34. ^ Ziffer, Giorgio – On the Historicity of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
UDK 811.163.1(091) Archived 2008-06-27 at the Wayback Machine. ^ A. Leskien, Handbuch der altbulgarischen (altkirchenslavischen) Sprache, 6. Aufl., Heidelberg 1922. ^ A. Leskien, Grammatik der altbulgarischen (altkirchenslavischen) Sprache, 2.-3. Aufl., Heidelberg 1919. ^ J P Mallory, D Q Adams. Encyclopaedia of Indo-European Culture. Pg 301 ^ R. E. Asher, J. M. Y. Simpson. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, pg. 429 ^ Cizevskij 2000, p. 26. ^ Benjamin W. Fortson. Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, pg. 374 ^ a b On Medieval and Renaissance Slavic Writing.  ^ Lunt 2001, p. 4. ^ The Universal Cyclopaedia.  ^ Kamusella 2008, p. ??. ^ Иванова-Мирчева 1969: Д. Иванова-Мнрчева. Старобългарски, старославянски и средно-българска редакция на старославянски. Константин Кирил Философ. В Юбилеен сборник по случай 1100 годишнината от смъртта му, стр. 45-62.


Alexander, June Granatir (2005). "Slovakia". In Richard C. Frucht, ed., Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture, Volume 2: Central Europe, pp. 283–328. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-576-07800-6.  Birnbaum, Henrik (1991). Aspects of the Slavic Middle Ages and Slavic Renaissance Culture. New York, NY: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-820-41057-9.  Cizevskij, Dmitrij (2000) [1971]. Comparative History of Slavic Literatures. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. ISBN 978-0-826-51371-7.  Crampton, R. J. (2005). A Concise History of Bulgaria
(2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-61637-9.  Cubberley, Paul (2002). Russian: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-79191-5.  Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe
Southeastern Europe
in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-81539-0.  Huntley, David (1993). "Old Church Slavonic". In Bernard Comrie and Greville G. Corbett, eds., The Slavonic Languages, pp. 125–187. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-04755-5.  Kamusella, Tomasz (2008). The Politics of Language and Nationalism
in Modern Central Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-29473-8.  Lunt, Horace G. (2001). Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
Grammar (7th ed.). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-110-16284-4.  Marti, Roland (2012). "On the creation of Croatian: The development of Croatian Latin
orthography in the 16th century". In Susan Baddeley and Anja Voeste, eds., Orthographies in Early Modern Europe, pp.269–320. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. ISBN 978-3-110-28817-9.  Nandris, Grigore (1959). Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
Grammar. London: Athlone Press.  Stolz, Benjamin A.; Titunik, I. R.; Doležel, Lubomír, eds. (1984). Language and Literary Theory: In Honor of Ladislav Matejka. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-930-04259-2.  Sussex, Roland; Cubberley, Paul (2006). The Slavic Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-45728-6.  Vlasto, A. P. (1970). The Entry of the Slavs
into Christendom: An Introduction to the Medieval History of the Slavs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-07459-9.  Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples, Volume 2: M–Z. Facts On File
Library of World History. New York, NY: Facts On File. ISBN 978-1-438-12918-1. 

External links[edit]

Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Old Church Slavonic

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Old Church Slavonic.

Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
repository of Wikisource, the free library

Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
Online, a comprehensive tutorial at the A. Richard Diebold Center for Indo-European Language and Culture, Linguistics Research Center, University of Texas at Austin Medieval Slavic Fonts on AATSEEL Old Slavic data entry application Corpus Cyrillo-Methodianum Helsingiense: An Electronic Corpus of Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
Texts Research Guide to Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic
Church Slavonic
and the Macedonian recension of the Church Slavonic language, Elka Ulchar (in Macedonian) Vittore Pisani, Old Bulgarian Language, Sofia, Bukvitza, 2012. English, Bulgarian, Italian. Philipp Ammon: Tractatus slavonicus. in: Sjani (Thoughts) Georgian Scientific Journal of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature, N 17, 2016, pp. 248–56 Agafia (Ага́фия). Hermit Surviving in Russian Wilderness for 70 years on YouTube

v t e

Slavic languages


Proto-Balto-Slavic Up to Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic (Accent) Old Church Slavonic Modern languages Cyril and Methodius Cyrillic script Glagolitic alphabet

West Slavic languages

Czech Kashubian Polabian Middle Polish Old Polish Polish Pomeranian Slovak Slovincian Lower Sorbian Upper Sorbian

East Slavic languages

Belarusian Iazychie Old East Slavic Old Novgorodian Russian Ruthenian Ukrainian

South Slavic languages

Bulgarian Macedonian Serbo-Croatian

Bosnian Croatian Montenegrin Serbian


Constructed languages

Church Slavonic Pan-Slavic language

Interslavic Slovio


Separate Slavic dialects and microlanguages

Balachka Banat Bulgarian Burgenland Croatian Carpathian Rusyn Canadian Ukrainian Chakavian Cieszyn Silesian Czechoslovak Eastern Slovak Kajkavian Knaanic Lach Lesser Polish Masovian Masurian Moravian Molise Croatian Pannonian Rusyn Podhale Prekmurje Slovene Resian Shtokavian Silesian Slavic dialects of Greece Surzhyk Torlakian Trasianka West Polesian

Historical phonology

Slavic first palatalization Slavic second palatalization Slavic liquid metathesis and pleophony Dybo's law Havlík's law Hirt's law Illič-Svityč's law Ivšić's law Meillet's law Pedersen's law Ruki sound law Winter's law

Italics indicate extinct languages.

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