Old Church Slavonic, Basis and local influences

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Summary

Old Church Slavonic, also known as Old Church Slavic (often abbreviated to OCS; self-name , slověnĭskŭ językŭ) was the first Slavic literary language. The 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius are credited with standardizing the language and using it in translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek ecclesiastical texts as part of the Christianisation of the Slavic peoples. 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 Greek Macedonia). It played an important role in the history of the Slavi

Details

Written evidence of Old 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 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 (1185-1396) have, on the other hand, few Western Slavic features.

Old Church Slavonic is valuable to historical linguists since it preserves archaic features believed to have once been common to all Slavic languages. Such features include:

  • Proto-Slavic declension system based on stem endings, including those that later disappeared in attested languages (e.g. u-stems)
  • Dual as a distinct grammatical number from singular and plural

Old Church Slavonic is also likely to have preserved an extremely archaic type of accentuation (probably 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:

  • Phonetic:
    • 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: (rǫka ti, "your hand"), (otŭpuštenĭje grěxomŭ, "remission of sins"); periphrastic future tense using the verb (xotěti, "to want"); use of the comparative form (mĭniji, "smaller") to denote "younger".
    • morphosyntactic use of suffixed demonstrative pronouns (tŭ, ta, to). In Bulgarian and Macedonian these developed into suffixed definite articles.

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

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

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External Links

  • WikipediaOld Church Slavonic OnlineMedieval Slavic FontsOld Slavic data entry applicationCorpus Cyrillo-Methodianum Helsingiense: An Electronic Corpus of Old Church Slavonic Texts

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