Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavic
словѣ́ньскъ ѩзꙑ́къ
slověnĭskŭ językŭ
Native toFormerly in Slavic areas under the influence of Byzantium (both Catholic and Orthodox)
Era9th–11th centuries; then evolved into several variants of Church Slavonic including Middle Bulgarian
Glagolitic, Cyrillic
Language codes
ISO 639-1cu
ISO 639-2chu
ISO 639-3chu (includes Church Slavonic)
Glottologchur1257  Church Slavic
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Old Church Slavonic[1] or Old Slavonic (/sləˈvɒnɪk, slæˈ-/)[a] was the first Slavic literary language.

Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius with standardizing the language and undertaking the task of translating the Gospels and necessary liturgical books into it[9] as part of the Christianization of the Slavs.[10][11] It is thought to have been based primarily on the dialect of the 9th-century Byzantine Slavs living in the Province of Thessalonica (in present-day Greece).

Old Church Slavonic played an important role in the history of the Slavic languages and served as a basis and model for later Church Slavonic traditions, and some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches use this later 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.


The name of the language in Old Church Slavonic texts was simply Slavic (словѣ́ньскъ ѩꙁꙑ́къ, slověnĭskŭ językŭ),[12] derived from the word for Slavs (словѣ́нє, slověne), the self-designation of the compilers of the texts. This name is preserved in the modern native 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.[13] The commonly accepted terms in modern English-language Slavic studies are Old Church Slavonic and Old Church Slavic.

The term Old Bulgarian[14] (Bulgarian: старобългарски, 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,[15][16] 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[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] is occasionally used by Western scholars in a regional context.

The obsolete[24] term Old Slovenian[24][25][26][27] was used by early 19th-century scholars who conjectured that the language was based on the dialect of Pannonia.


Byzantine missionaries standardized the language for the expedition of the two apostles, Cyril and his brother Methodius, to Great Moravia (the territory of today's eastern Czechia and western Slovakia; see Glagolitic alphabet for details). For that purpose, Cyril and Methodius started to translate religious literature into Old Church Slavonic, allegedly basing the language on the Slavic dialects spoken in the hinterland of their hometown, Thessaloniki,[b] in present-day Greece.

As part of preparations for the mission, in 862/863, the Glagolitic alphabet was developed and the most important prayers and liturgical books, including the Aprakos Evangeliar (a Gospel Book lectionary containing only feast-day and Sunday readings), the Psalter, and the Acts of the Apostles, were translated. (The Gospels were also translated early, but it is unclear whether Cyril or Methodius had a hand in this.)

The language and the Glagolitic alphabet, as taught at the Great Moravian Academy (Slovak: Veľkomoravské učilište), were used for government and religious documents and books between 863 and 885. The texts written during this phase contain characteristics of the West Slavic vernaculars in Great Moravia.

In 885 Pope Stephen V prohibited the use of Old Church Slavonic in Great Moravia in favour of Latin.[29] King Svatopluk I of Great Moravia expelled the Byzantine missionary contingent in 886.

Exiled students of the two apostles then brought the Glagolitic alphabet to the Bulgarian Empire. Boris I of Bulgaria (r. 852–889) received and officially accepted them; he established the Preslav Literary School and the Ohrid Literary School.[30][31][32] Both schools originally used the Glagolitic alphabet, though the Cyrillic script developed early on at the Preslav Literary School, where it superseded Glagolitic as official in Bulgaria in 893.[33][34][35][36]

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' – while retaining characteristically Eastern South Slavic linguistic features.

Later texts written in each of those territories began to take on characteristics of the local Slavic vernaculars, and by the mid-11th century Old Church Slavonic had diversified into a number of regional varieties (known as recensions). These local varieties are collectively known as the Church Slavonic language.[37]

Apart from use in the Slavic countries, Old Church Slavonic served as a liturgical language in the Romanian Orthodox Church, and also as a literary and official language of the princedoms of Wallachia and Moldavia (see Old Church Slavonic in Romania), before gradually being replaced by Romanian during the 16th to 17th centuries.

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.

Example of the Cyrillic alphabet: excerpt from the manuscript "Bdinski Zbornik" written in Old Slavonic, 1360[38]

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[which?], still use Church Slavonic in their services and chants as of 2021.[39]


A page from the Flowery Triodion (Triod' cvetnaja) polish manuscript of the Swietopelk Printery in Cracow from about 1491, one of the oldest printed Byzantine-Slavonic books, National Library of Poland.

Initially Old Church Slavonic was written with the Glagolitic alphabet, but later Glagolitic was replaced by Cyrillic,[40] which was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire by a decree of Boris I of Bulgaria in the 9th century. Of the Old Church Slavonic canon, about two-thirds is written in Glagolitic.

The local Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet, known as Bosančica, was preserved in Bosnia and parts of Croatia, while a variant of the angular 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.


For Old Church Slavonic, the following segments are reconstructible.[41] 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.


For English equivalents and narrow transcriptions of sounds, see Old Church Slavonic Pronunciation on Wiktionary.

Labial Dental Palatal Velar
Nasal m n c
Plosive voiceless p t t'a k
voiced b d d'a ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ
voiced d͡zb
Fricative voiceless s ʃ x
voiced z ʒ
Lateral l c
Trill r c
Approximant v j
A page from the Gospel of Miroslav, Serbian medieval manuscript, a 12th-century Byzantine-Slavonic book, National Library of Serbia.


For English equivalents and narrow transcriptions of sounds, see Old Church Slavonic Pronunciation on Wiktionary.

Oral vowels
Front Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close Tense i /i/,
ь/ĭ /i/c
y /ɯ/d u /u/
Lax ь/ĭ /ɪ/e ъ/ŭ /ʊ/e
Open Lax e /ɛ/,
o /ɔ/
Tense ě /æ/f,
a /ɑ/g,
Nasal vowels
Front Back
ę /ɛ̃/h ǫ /ɔ̃/h


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:[42]

Morphophonemic alternations

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/.[43] 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.[44]

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/.[44]

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.


Main article: Old 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 kostьmъ kostьmi
"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 .

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

Written evidence of Old Church Slavonic survives in a relatively small body of manuscripts, most of them written in the First Bulgarian Empire during the late 10th and the early 11th centuries. The language has a Eastern South 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 South 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 as these:

Old 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 South Slavic nature of the language is evident from the following variations:

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

Reflexes of Proto-Slavic *tj/*gt/*kt and *dj in OCS and other Slavic languages
Proto-Slavic Old Church Slavonic Bulgarian Czech Macedonian Polish Russian Slovak Slovenian Croatian/Serbian
/*dʲ/ /ʒd/ (жд) /ʒd/ /z/ /ɟ/ /dz/ /ʑ/ /dz/ /j/ /
/*ɡt~kt/, /*tʲ/ /ʃt/ (щ) /ʃt/ /ts/ /c/ /ts/ // /ts/ // //

Great Moravia

The Introduction of the Slavonic Liturgy in Great Moravia (1912), by Alphonse Mucha, The Slav Epic

The language was standardized for the first time by the mission of the two apostles to 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 which existed in Central Europe during the 9th century on the territory of today's Czechia, Slovakia, northern Austria and southeastern Poland.

Moravian recension

This recension is exemplified by the Kiev Folia. Certain other linguistic characteristics include:

First Bulgarian Empire

"Simeon I of Bulgaria, the Morning Star of Slavonic Literature". (1923), by Alphonse Mucha, The Slav Epic

Old 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).[45][46][47] It did not represent one regional dialect but a generalized form of early eastern South Slavic, which cannot be localized.[48] 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 "Eastern" and "Western" respectively.[49][50] Some researchers do not differentiate between manuscripts of the two recensions, preferring to group them together in a "Macedo-Bulgarian"[51] or simply "Bulgarian" recension.[52][53] 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.[54] The development of Old Church Slavonic literacy had the effect of preventing the assimilation of the South Slavs into neighboring cultures, which promoted the formation of a distinct Bulgarian identity.[55]

Preslav recension

The manuscripts of the Preslav recension[56][57][27] or "Eastern" variant[58] are among the oldest[clarification needed] of the Old 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 Glagolitic one.[59][page needed][60] 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:

Ohrid recension

The manuscripts of the Ohrid recension or "Western" variant[61] 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, Ohrid administratively formed part of the province of Kutmichevitsa in the First Bulgarian Empire until the Byzantine conquest.[62] 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.[48][page needed][63][page needed] This recension is represented by the Codex Zographensis and Marianus, among others. The main linguistic features of this recension include:

Czech recension

Czech (Bohemian) recension is derived from Moravian recension and had been used in the Czech lands until 1097. It's preserved in religious texts (e.g. Prague Fragments), legends and glosses. Its main features are:[64]

Later recensions

Main article: Church Slavonic

Later use of the language in a number of medieval Slavic polities resulted in the adjustment of Old Church Slavonic to the local vernacular, though a number of South 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 retained the old Slavonic nasal vowels.

Serbian recension

The Serbian recension[65] was written mostly in Cyrillic, but also in the 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 belong to the Serbian recension. They feature the following linguistic characteristics:

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. The letter Ꙉ was also created, in place of the sounds *d͡ʑ, *tɕ, *dʑ and d͡ʒ,also used during the Bosnian recession.

Russian recension

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:

Middle Bulgarian

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.[67]

Bosnian recension

The Bosnian recension used the Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet (better known as Bosančica) and the Glagolitic alphabet.[68][69]

Croatian recension

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


The core corpus of Old 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 Saints 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 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:

About two-thirds of the Old Church Slavonic canon is written in the Glagolitic alphabet

All Cyrillic manuscripts are of the Preslav recension (Preslav Literary School) and date from the 11th century except for the Zographos, which is of the Ohrid recension (Ohrid Literary School):

Sample text

Here is the Lord's Prayer in Old Church Slavonic:

Cyrillic IPA 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჻
otɪtʃe naʃɪ
jɪʒe jesi na nebesæxɯ
da svẽtitɯ sẽ jɪmẽ tvoje
da pridetɯ tsæsarʲɪstvije tvoje
da bɔ̃detɯ volʲa tvoja
jako na nebesi i na zemlʲi.
xlʲæbɯ naʃɪ nasɔ̃ʃtɪnɨjɪ
daʒdɪ namɯ dɪnɪsɪ
i otɯpusti namɯ dlɯgɨ naʃẽ
jako i mɨ otɯpuʃtajemɯ
dlɯʒɪnikomɯ naʃimɯ.
i ne vɯvedi nasɯ vɯ jɪskuʃenije
nɯ izbavi nɨ otɯ neprijazni.
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.
Our father
Thou who art in the heavens.
May hallowed be thy name
may come thy empire
may become thy will
as in heaven, also on Earth.
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 one.


The history of Old Church Slavonic writing includes a northern tradition begun by the mission to Great Moravia, including a short mission in the Lower Pannonia, 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 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 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.

Modern Slavic nomenclature

Here are some of the names used by speakers of modern Slavic languages:

See also


  1. ^ Also known as Old Church Slavic,[1][2] Old Slavic (/ˈslɑːvɪk, ˈslæv-/), Paleo-Slavic, Paleoslavic, Palaeo-Slavic, Palaeoslavic[3] (not to be confused with Proto-Slavic), or sometimes as Old Bulgarian, Old Macedonian or Old Slovenian.[4][5][6][7][8]
  2. ^ Slavs had invaded the region from about 550 CE.[28]


  1. ^ a b Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 978-1-40588118-0
  2. ^ Jones, Daniel (2003) [1917], Roach, Peter; Hartmann, James; Setter, Jane (eds.), English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-3-12-539683-8
  3. ^ Malkiel 1993, p. 10.
  4. ^ Lunt, Horace G. (1974). Old Church Slavonic grammar – With an epilogue: Toward a generative phonology of Old Church Slavonic. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 3, 4. ISBN 978-3-11-119191-1. Since the majority of the early manuscripts which have survived were copied in the Bulgaro-Macedonian area and since there are certain specifically Eastern Balkan Slavic features, many scholars have preferred to call the language Old Bulgarian, although Old Macedonian could also be justified. In the nineteenth century there was a theory that this language was based on the dialect of Pannonia, and accordingly the term Old Slovenian was adopted for a time. … The older term "Middle Bulgarian", invented to distinguish younger texts from "Old Bulgarian" (=OCS), covers both the fairly numerous mss from Macedonia and the few from Bulgaria proper. There are some texts which are hard to classify because they show mixed traits: Macedonian, Bulgarian and Serbian.
  5. ^ Gamanovich, Alypy (2001). Grammar of the Church Slavonic Language. Printshop of St Job of Pochaev: Holy Trinity Monastery. p. 9. ISBN 0-88465064-2. The Old Church Slavonic language is based on Old Bulgarian, as spoken by the Slavs of the Macedonian district. In those days the linguistic differences between the various Slavic peoples were far less than they are today…
  6. ^ Flier, Michael S (1974). Aspects of Nominal Determination in Old Church Slavic. De Gruyter Mouton. p. 31. ISBN 978-90-279-3242-6. 'Old Church Slavic' is only one of many terms referring alternately to the language of a number of translations made by Cyril and Methodius in the middle of the ninth century to be used for liturgical purposes in the Great Moravian State,… (For example, Old Church Slavonic, Old Bulgarian, Old Slovenian.)
  7. ^ Adams, Charles Kendall (1876). Universal Cyclopædia and Atlas. Vol. 10. D. Appleton. pp. 561–2. ISBN 978-1-23010206-1. Constantine (later called Monk Cyril) founded a literary language for all the Slavs – the so-called Church Slavonic or Old Bulgarian (or Old Slovenian), which served for many centuries as the organ of the Church and of Christian civilization for more than half of the Slavic race. … At the outset Dobrowsky recognized in it a southern dialect, which he called at first Old Servian, later Bulgaro-Servian or Macedonian. Kopitar advanced the hypothesis of a Pannonian-Carantanian origin, which Miklosich followed with slight modifications. From these two scholars comes the name Old Slovenian. Safarik defended the Old Bulgarian hypothesis, more on historical than on linguistic grounds. The name Old Slovenian is still used because in native sources the language was so-called, slovenisku (slovenica lingua), but it is now known to have been a South Slavic dialect spoken somewhere in Macedonia in the ninth century, having the most points of contact not with modern Slovenian, but with Bulgarian.
  8. ^ Arthur De Bray, Reginald George (1969). Guide to the Slavonic Languages. J. M. Dent & Sons. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-46003913-0. This book starts with a brief summary of the phonetics and grammar of Old Slavonic (also called Old Bulgarian).
  9. ^ Abraham, Ladislas (1908). "Sts. Cyril and Methodius". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2023-08-02.
  10. ^ 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."
  11. ^ Čiževskij, Dmitrij (1971). "The Beginnings of Slavic Literature". Comparative History of Slavic Literatures. Translated by Porter, Richard Noel; Rice, Martin P. Vanderbilt University Press (published 2000). p. 27. ISBN 978-0-82651371-7. Retrieved 9 June 2019. The language of the translations was based on Old Bulgarian and was certainly close to the Old Bulgarian dialect spoken in the native region of the missionaries. At the same time, the brothers [Cyril and Methodius] probably used elements, particularly lexical, from the regions where they were working. […] The Slavic language used in the translations was at the time intelligible to all Slavs.
  12. ^ Nandris 1959, p. 2.
  13. ^ Kamusella 2008, p. 34.
  14. ^ Ziffer, Giorgio – On the Historicity of Old Church Slavonic UDK 811.163.1(091) Archived 2008-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ A. Leskien, Handbuch der altbulgarischen (altkirchenslavischen) Sprache, 6. Aufl., Heidelberg 1922.
  16. ^ A. Leskien, Grammatik der altbulgarischen (altkirchenslavischen) Sprache, 2.-3. Aufl., Heidelberg 1919.
  17. ^ J P Mallory, D Q Adams. Encyclopaedia of Indo-European Culture. Pg 301 "Old Church Slavonic, the liturgical language of the Eastern Orthodox Church, is based on the Thessalonican dialect of Old Macedonian, one of the South Slavic languages."
  18. ^ R. E. Asher, J. M. Y. Simpson. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Introduction "Macedonian is descended from the dialects of Slavic speakers who settled in the Balkan peninsula during the 6th and 7th centuries CE. The oldest attested Slavic language, Old Church Slavonic, was based on dialects spoken around Salonica, in what is today Greek Macedonia. As it came to be defined in the 19th century, geographic Macedonia is the region bounded by Mount Olympus, the Pindus range, Mount Shar and Osogovo, the western Rhodopes, the lower course of the river Mesta (Greek Nestos), and the Aegean Sea. Many languages are spoken in the region but it is the Slavic dialects to which the glossonym Macedonian is applied."
  19. ^ R. E. Asher, J. M. Y. Simpson. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, History, "Modern Macedonian literary activity began in the early 19th century among intellectuals attempt to write their Slavic vernacular instead of Church Slavonic. Two centers of Balkan Slavic literary arose, one in what is now northeastern Bulgaria, the other in what is now southwestern Macedonia. In the early 19th century, all these intellectuals called their language Bulgarian, but a struggled emerged between those who favored northeastern Bulgarian dialects and those who favored western Macedonian dialects as the basis for what would become the standard language. Northeastern Bulgarian became the basis of standard Bulgarian, and Macedonian intellectuals began to work for a separate Macedonian literary language. "
  20. ^ Tschizewskij, Dmitrij (2000) [1971]. Comparative History of Slavic Literatures. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. ISBN 978-0-826-51371-7. "The brothers knew the Old Bulgarian or Old Macedonian dialect spoken around Thessalonica."
  21. ^ Benjamin W. Fortson. Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, pg. 431 "Macedonian was not distinguished from Bulgarian for most of its history. Constantine and Methodius came from Macedonian Thessaloniki; their old Bulgarian is therefore at the same time 'Old Macedonian'. No Macedonian literature dates from earlier than the nineteenth century, when a nationalist movement came to the fore and a literacy language was established, first written with Greek letters, then in Cyrillic"
  22. ^ Benjamin W. Fortson. Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, p. 427 "The Old Church Slavonic of Bulgaria, regarded as something of a standard, is often called Old Bulgarian (or Old Macedonian)"
  23. ^ Henry R. Cooper. Slavic Scriptures: The Formation of the Church Slavonic Version of the Holy Bible, p. 86 "We do not know what portions of the Bible in Church Slavonic, let alone a full one, were available in Macedonia by Clement's death. And although we might wish to make Clement and Naum patron saints of such as glagolitic-script, Macedonian-recension Church Slavonic Bible, their precise contributions to it we will have to take largely on faith."
  24. ^ a b Birnbaum, Henrik (1974). On Medieval and Renaissance Slavic Writing. Mouton De Gruyter. ISBN 9783-1-1186890-5.
  25. ^ Lunt 2001, p. 4.
  26. ^ The Universal Cyclopaedia. 1900.
  27. ^ a b Kamusella 2008[page needed].
  28. ^ 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."
  29. ^ Alexander 2005, p. 310.
  30. ^ Price, Glanville (2000-05-18). Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-63122039-8.
  31. ^ Parry, Ken (2010-05-10). The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-44433361-9.
  32. ^ Rosenqvist, Jan Olof (2004). Interaction and Isolation in Late Byzantine Culture. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-85043944-8.
  33. ^ Curta 2006, pp. 221–22.
  34. ^ Silent Communication: Graffiti from the Monastery of Ravna, Bulgaria. Studien Dokumentationen. Mitteilungen der ANISA. Verein für die Erforschung und Erhaltung der Altertümer, im speziellen der Felsbilder in den österreichischen Alpen (Verein ANISA: Grömbing, 1996) 17. Jahrgang/Heft 1, 57–78.
  35. ^ "The scriptorium of the Ravna monastery: once again on the decoration of the Old Bulgarian manuscripts 9th–10th c." In: Medieval Christian Europe: East and West. Traditions, Values, Communications. Eds. Gjuzelev, V. and Miltenova, A. (Sofia: Gutenberg Publishing House, 2002), 719–26 (with K. Popkonstantinov).
  36. ^ Popkonstantinov, Kazimir, "Die Inschriften des Felsklosters Murfatlar". In: Die slawischen Sprachen 10, 1986, S. 77–106.
  37. ^ Gasparov, B (2010). Speech, Memory, and Meaning. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-311021910-4.
  38. ^ "Bdinski Zbornik [manuscript]". Lib. U Gent. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  39. ^ Тодорова-Гергова, Светлана. Отец Траян Горанов: За богослужението на съвременен български език, Българско национално радио ″Христо Ботев″, 1 април 2021 г.
  40. ^ Lunt 2001, pp. 15–6.
  41. ^ Huntley 1993, pp. 126–7.
  42. ^ Huntley 1993, pp. 127–8.
  43. ^ Syllabic sonorant, written with jer in superscript, as opposed to the regular sequence of /r/ followed by a /ь/.
  44. ^ a b Huntley 1993, p. 133.
  45. ^ Ertl, Alan W (2008). Toward an Understanding of Europe. Universal-Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59942983-0.
  46. ^ Kostov, Chris (2010). Contested Ethnic Identity. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-303430196-1.
  47. ^ Zlatar, Zdenko (2007). The Poetics of Slavdom: Part III: Njego. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-82048135-7.
  48. ^ a b Lunt 2001.
  49. ^ Vlasto 1970, p. 174.
  50. ^ Fortson, Benjamin W (2009-08-31). Indo-European Language and Culture. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-40518896-8.
  51. ^ Birnbaum, Henrik; Puhvel, Jaan (1966). Ancient Indo-European Dialects.
  52. ^ Sussex & Cubberley 2006, p. 43.
  53. ^ Kaliganov, I. "Razmyshlenija o makedonskom "sreze"…". kroraina.
  54. ^ "American contributions to the Tenth International Congress of Slavists", Sofia, September 1988, Alexander M. Schenker, Slavica, 1988, ISBN 0-89357-190-3, p. 47.
  55. ^ Crampton 2005, p. 15.
  56. ^ Metzger, Bruce Manning (1977). The Early Versions of the New Testament. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19826170-4.
  57. ^ Sussex & Cubberley 2006, p. 64.
  58. ^ Birnbaum 1991, p. 535.
  59. ^ Curta 2006.
  60. ^ Hussey, J. M. (2010-03-25). The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19161488-0.
  61. ^ 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 glagolitic manuscripts and the Eastern (or Bulgarian) OCS of the Suprasliensis…"
  62. ^ Vlasto 1970, p. 169.
  63. ^ Macedonian, Victor Friedman Archived 2017-10-11 at the Wayback Machine, Facts about world's languages, 2001
  64. ^ Fidlerová, Alena A.; Robert Dittmann; František Martínek; Kateřina Voleková. "Dějiny češtiny" (PDF) (in Czech). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  65. ^ Lunt 2001, p. 4.
  66. ^ Cubberley 2002, p. 44.
  67. ^ Gerald L. Mayer, 1988, The definite article in contemporary standard Bulgarian, Freie Universität Berlin. Osteuropa-Institut, Otto Harrassowitz, p. 108.
  68. ^ Marti 2012, p. 275: "[T]he first printed book in Cyrillic (or, to be more precise, in Bosančica)…"
  69. ^ Cleminson, Ralph (2000). Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections: a union catalogue. British Library. ISBN 978-0-71234709-9.
  70. ^ 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.