Our knowledge of the exploits of Sts. Cyril and Methodius derives primarily from the Church Slavonic Lives, the Vita Constantini and Vita Methodii. According to these, the two brothers were born in Macedonia in the Greek city of Thessalonica. Methodius was the elder, born in 815 AD, and Cyril, whose given name was Constantine, was born in 826 or 827 AD. Their father Leo was a man of some stature in the Byzantine Empire. At the time, much of northern Greece and the Balkans was Slavic-speaking, and it is clear that the brothers were well acquainted with the local Bulgarian-Macedonian dialects.
Cyril is reputed to have been a very talented young man. Upon completing his education, he was designated librarian at the patriarch's library in Byzantium. While there he taught philosophy, and thus is often referred to as Constantine the Philosopher. He displayed exceptional linguistic talent, being versed in Slavonic, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic. Such linguistic dexterity, coupled with his theological training, made him well-suited to the work of a missionary priest, and it was in this vein that he most greatly served the Byzantine empire. Methodius, for his part, served as an administrative official in Moravia. He later abandoned this pursuit to become a monk and missionary.
The text below, Matthew 14:1-12, relates the death of John the Baptist at the request of King Herod's daughter. The narrative style is simple and paratactic, and the OCS translation follows the original Greek almost word for word. Aorist forms in the Greek are rendered with aorists in OCS, imperfects with imperfects, and participles with participles. Minor differences between the translation and the original hint at the fact that the OCS translation is quite natural within the language itself. Two such features are found in verse 9. Here the Greek uses a past passive participle in conjunction with a finite verb: "The king, pained (participle) on account of..., ordered (finite verb)...". The OCS is almost exactly the same, but the participial construction is made finite with the addition of the form bystu': "The king was pained, and on account of... he ordered...". In the same verse the OCS has povelje' dati i, where the i makes explicit a direct object not rendered in the Greek. In verse 11, where the Greek has the passive "his head was brought... and was given...", the OCS favors an active construction with an unspecified plural subject: "they brought his head... and they gave...". These differences between the Greek and OCS are indeed very slight, and one must assume that they are made in the effort to convert what would have been slightly unnatural wording into a smooth and flowing OCS narrative.
Also to be noted is the use, in verse 8, of the instrumental case for the phrase navazhdena materjo^ svoejo^ 'instructed by her mother'. With a personal agent, one would expect a construction otu' + G. However, as will be discussed in Section 15: Genitive Objects and Negation, feminine nouns were treated differently from masculine nouns. Feminine nouns in general are used in the same way as inanimate nouns.
vu' ono vrje'me^ uslysha irodu' tetrarkhu' slukhu' iisusovu' | i retche otrokomu' svoimu' si' estu' ioanu' kri'stitel'i' tu' vu'skri'se otu' mri'tvyikhu' i sego radi sily dje'jo^tu' se^ o n'emi' |
irodu' bo imu' ioana su've^za i i vu'sadi i vu' ti'mi'nitso^ irodi'jady radi zheny filipa bratra svoego |
glagolaashe bo emu ioanu' ne dostoitu' ti imje'ti ee^ | i khote^ i ubiti uboja se^ naroda zan'e proroka imje'akho^ i |
di'ni zhe byvu'shu rozhdi'stva irodova ple^sa du'shti irodi'jadina po srje'dje' i ugodi irodovi | tje'mi'zhe su' kle^tvojo^ izdretche ei dati egozhe ashte vu'sprositu' |
ona zhe navazhdena materjo^ svoejo^ dazhdi' mi retche si'de na misje' glavo^ ioana kri'stitelja |
i petchali'nu' bystu' tsje'sar'i' | kle^tvu' zhe radi i vu'zlezhe^shtiikhu' su' n'imu' povelje' dati i i posu'lavu' usje'kno^ ioana vu' ti'mi'nitsi |
i prinje'se^ glavo^ ego na misje' i dashe^ dje'vitsi i nese materi svoei | i pristo^pl'i'she utchenitsi ego vu'ze^se^ tje'lo ego i pogrje'se^ e i prishi'du'she vu'zvje'stishe^ iisusovi |
vu' ono vrje'me^ uslysha irodu' tetrarkhu' slukhu' iisusovu' | i retche otrokomu' svoimu' si' estu' ioanu' kri'stitel'i' tu' vu'skri'se otu' mri'tvyikhu' i sego radi sily dje'jo^tu' se^ o n'emi' | irodu' bo imu' ioana su've^za i i vu'sadi i vu' ti'mi'nitso^ irodi'jady radi zheny filipa bratra svoego | glagolaashe bo emu ioanu' ne dostoitu' ti imje'ti ee^ | i khote^ i ubiti uboja se^ naroda zan'e proroka imje'akho^ i | di'ni zhe byvu'shu rozhdi'stva irodova ple^sa du'shti irodi'jadina po srje'dje' i ugodi irodovi | tje'mi'zhe su' kle^tvojo^ izdretche ei dati egozhe ashte vu'sprositu' | ona zhe navazhdena materjo^ svoejo^ dazhdi' mi retche si'de na misje' glavo^ ioana kri'stitelja | i petchali'nu' bystu' tsje'sar'i' | kle^tvu' zhe radi i vu'zlezhe^shtiikhu' su' n'imu' povelje' dati i i posu'lavu' usje'kno^ ioana vu' ti'mi'nitsi | i prinje'se^ glavo^ ego na misje' i dashe^ dje'vitsi i nese materi svoei | i pristo^pl'i'she utchenitsi ego vu'ze^se^ tje'lo ego i pogrje'se^ e i prishi'du'she vu'zvje'stishe^ iisusovi |
(14:1) At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus. (2) And he said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. (3) For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. (4) For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. (5) And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. (6) But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. (7) Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. (8) And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist's head in a charger. (9) And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. (10) And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. (11) And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. (12) And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
As mentioned in the previous lesson, palatalization of consonants was a very productive process in the OCS language. Knowledge of such sound changes will be of assistance in looking up forms in the dictionary. For example, when confronted with rozhdo^, one must know to look up roditi. Thus it is appropriate to devote attention to some of the broad patterns governing palatalization.
Palatization is a term denoting a change of a consonant in certain environments. When next to a "front" sound, a consonant becomes more "front". This is similar to the process whereby American English "aren't you" becomes "arenchoo". The t and y are brought closer to each other in pronunciation in a smoothing-out process. The dental t picks up some of the palatal articulation of the y, giving the ch sound. The same holds for palatalization of consonants in OCS, with a perhaps slightly different sense of what "smoothed-out" means.
In the stages of linguistic prehistory leading up to the documents of OCS, there appear to have been three separate stages of palatalization which affected the velar sounds k,g,kh. To see what distinguishes the stages, one must first briefly note the history of some of the OCS vowels. In particular, in Common Slavonic, there had been vowels e:, i: (long e and long i) and diphthongs ej, oj, aj; these had variously changed into the je' and i of OCS as written down.
First Palatalization: In this stage, k,g,kh changed into tch',zh',sh'. The environment for this change was one in which the velar was followed by a front vowel (je', e, i, i', e^) or soft liquid sonant (r', l' thought of essentially as vowels). However, this only happened before je' when it was derived from e:; before following i only when it developed from i: or ej. For example, the first person is mogo^ 'I am able', but the second person is mozheshi 'you are able', from *mog-eshi (the asterisk denotes a form not attested, but reconstructed).
In the same environment, sk, zk became stch, zdzh, then shtch, zhdzh, and finally sht, zhd. For example, isko^ 'I demand', but ishteshi 'you demand'.
Also in this stage kt, gt both became sht. Hence moshti 'to be able' from *mog-ti; also reshti 'to say' from *rek-ti.
Second Palatalization: In this stage k,g,kh became ts', dz' (> z'), s', respectively, when followed by je' or i. This phase came about when the diphthongs oj, aj became je' or i. Since o, a are back vowels, preceding consonants would not be subject to palatalization. When the diphthongs, however, containing o and a became the front vowels je', i, then palatalization took place. For example, otroku' 'boy', but otrotsi 'boys' from *otrok-oj; also reko^ 'I say', but ri'tsi 'say!' from *ri'k-oj.
In addition, -sk-, -zg- became -sts-, -zdz-, sometimes developing into -st-, -zd-. Thus ljudi'sku' 'human', but ljudi'stsii 'humans', and further ljudi'stii.
Third Palatalization: During this stage, k,g,kh became ts', dz' (> z'),s' when preceded by a front vowel and followed by a back vowel. Thus ku'ne^zi' 'prince' from the Germanic *kuning -- however ku'ne^gyn'i 'princess' preserves the velar g.
The following chart provides a summary of how the velars are palatalized. It indicates, for a given consonant, other consonants that may have developed from it. Knowledge of these possibilities is crucial for navigating the dictionaries.
Velars and Fricatives
|k > tch or ts||sk > sht||ts > tch|
|g > zh or dz||zg > zhd||dz > zh|
|kh > sh or s|
Below is a chart outlining other consonantal changes which are often encountered.
Dentals, Labials, Resonants
|t > sht||p > pl'||l > l'||sn > shn'|
|d > zhd||b > bl'||r > r'||zn > zhn'|
|s > sh||v > vl'||n > n'||sl > tchl'|
|z > zh||m > ml'|
|st > sht|
|zd > zhd|
These are intended to be used as a dictionary of correspondences, read from right to left. Given something to the right of ">", in looking up a word in a lexicon, check under spellings to the left of ">".
Reduced vowels is a common term denoting the jers u' and i'. In the language of the OCS texts, these reduced vowels were still pronounced. However, in the language of the scribes writing the manuscripts, they were well on their way out, and so one finds spellings of OCS words that reflect the scribes' own tendencies. In particular, jers are at times omitted, at other times changed into full (i.e. non-reduced) vowels. Whether omission or change to a full vowel would occur depended on the position the jer occupied within a word. One must realize, however, that "word" could mean any part of an utterance pronounced "together", without a break.
Of special importance is the distinction between strong and weak position of jers. Either jer (u' or i') may be strong or weak. To determine which, start at the end of the word (the right-hand side) and work toward the front (left): the first jer one encounters is weak, the next strong, the next weak, strong, and so on. If one encounters a (full) vowel, start over: weak, strong, weak, etc. For example, in the city name su'moli'ni'sku', the sequence (read the following from left to right) is weak-(full vowel)-weak-strong-weak (u'-o-i'-i'-u').
When pronounced, strong jers were often promoted to full vowels, and weak jers dropped. The back jer u' in strong position became the back vowel o, and the front jer i' became the front vowel e. So, in accordance with the strong-weak pattern from above, su'moli'ni'sku' evolves into smolnesk.
Why then is smolnesk not the city name familiar from Russian geography? One must realize that the form su'moli'ni'sku' is not the only one which will occur in the language. This is the nominative form; but the genitive is su'moli'ni'ska. The dative is su'moli'ni'sku. Most forms of this word will not have a jer following the k. By the strong-weak pattern, the genitive form su'moli'ni'ska has (now from left to right) weak-(full vowel)-strong-weak-(full vowel). Dropping weak jers and promoting stong jers to the corresponding full vowels, this becomes smolenska. This is the name Smolensk as commonly encountered.
Another example is the word di'ni' 'day'. Dropping weak and promoting strong jers would give den. However, di'ni' is often found in combination with the word si' 'this'. Together, di'ni' si' means 'this day', 'today'. The two-word combination di'ni' si' as a unit has a weak-strong-weak pattern, yielding dnes 'today'.
The tense position of jers is also important. A jer is said to be tense when it is followed by a glide, j. The jer vocalized as the corresponding full vowel by the rules i'j > ij and u'j > yj. Spellings alternate between showing the jer and showing the fully vocalized form: abi'je vs. abije 'suddenly'; pi'jo^ vs. pijo^ 'I drink'. As with strong and weak postition, one must consider entire units: vu' istino^ becomes vy istino^ 'in truth'.
Moreover, when i' was preceded by the glide j, it was vocalized as the full vowel i. Thus *ji'zhe > *jizhe, which is written as izhe 'he who'. This situation is often found in combination with tense position of a nearby jer in the forms of the definite adjective (long form of the adjective). For example, the adjective sve^tu' 'holy' with the appended pronoun *ji' 'he' becomes sve^tu'ji' 'the one who is holy'. The following glide makes the u' tense, so that it becomes y. And the preceding glide means the i' is pronounced as i. Hence the adjective is often written as sve^tyi. The spellings sve^tu'i and sve^ty are also found.
The nominative forms of the first and second person pronouns are only used for emphasis, being otherwise unnecessary because the subject is implicit in the verb. The oblique forms, however, are quite commonly used. There are no special "formal" pronouns in OCS; one uses the same pronoun "you" regardless of whether one addresses someone of higher or lower social status. The paradigms for azu' 'I' and ty 'you' (lit. 'thou') are given below.
|D||mi'nje' (mi)||nama (na)||namu' (ny)|
|D||tebje' (ti)||vama (va)||vamu' (vy)|
The forms in parentheses are alternate forms, which are enclitic, usually standing after the first accented word of a clause.
Forms of the reflexive pronoun are found only in the oblique cases. In English it is usually rendered by '-self': 'George laughed at himself'; 'One should not give too much of oneself away'; 'He stared at the dog scratching itself.' Although in English one might also say 'They talked amongst themselves', making the reflexive plural in accordance with the subject, this is not done in OCS. It refers to the subject as a whole, and is declined only in the singular.
The third person pronoun is most commonly used in oblique cases. It is formed from the stem j-, and so the nominative masculine singular form would be ji', which in the orthography of OCS would become i. Since the nominative singular forms of this stem do not occur, the asterisk indicates that the nominative forms are reconstructed. When a third person pronoun is needed in the nominative, forms of tu' 'that' or onu' 'that one there', more rarely si' 'this', are used. Their declensions will be given in subsequent lessons; below is the declension of the pronoun *i.
When the enclitic particle zhe is attached to the forms of *i, one obtains the relative pronoun. Thus izhe 'he who' (this form does occur in the nominative), eizhe 'the (female) one to whom', ejuzhe 'the two of whom', and likewise for the other forms.
The genitive of male nouns is often used in place of the accusative, so that ego will often function as direct object. i nevertheless still occurs, and should not be confused with the conjunction i 'and'; it is used only enclitically, e.g. izbavitu' i 'he shall save him.' The genitive of the feminine pronoun is not used to replace the accusative, so that ee^ is 'of her'.
When following prepositions, these pronouns take a prothetic n-, hence ku' n'imu' 'to them' instead of imu', na n'emi' 'on him', and so forth. One writes vu' n'i' 'in him' and not vu' n'i because the accusative form i is actually ji'. The collocation evolves as vu'n ji' > vu' nji', and so vu' n'i'. This appearance of the prothetic n apparently started with the prepositions ku', vu', and su', whose forms in PIE had a final -n (cf. OCS su' and Lat. cum); subsequently the prothetic n- came to be used with the other prepositions as well.
The present system of verbs includes the following: present and imperfect indicative, imperative, infinitive and participle. The present and imperfect indicative were discussed in Lesson 1, with example paradigms of the verbs glagolati 'to say' and moliti 'to beg'. These indicative forms refer to actual actions; the only finite verb forms referring to potential action that are built from the present stem are those of the imperative. These are historically optative forms: the optative marker -i- was added to the thematic vowel -o-, resulting in the diphthong -oj-. In OCS this was monophthongized to -je'-. When following -j- or a palatal consonant, or when final, this became -i-.
Imperative for the verbs glagolati, -ljo^, -ljeshi 'say'; moliti, -ljo^, -lishi 'beg'; znati, znajo^, znajeshi 'know'; vesti, vedo^, vedeshi 'lead'.
|'to say'||'to beg'||'to know'||'to lead'|
Phrases representing the first singular and third plural imperatives may be formed by using the particle da with the present indicative, e.g. da prido^ 'may I come, let me come'; da prido^tu' 'may they come, let them come'.
Verbs of the same type as glagolati and znati also have plural endings -jamu' and -jate, e.g. glagol'jamu' beside glagol'imu', glagol'jate beside glagol'ite.
The infinitive is characterized by the ending -ti. Often the stem undergoes certain sound changes when the infinitive ending is added, e.g. the stem ved- gives infinitive vesti, and rek- gives reshti.
The stem of the present active participle may be obtained from the third person plural present indicative of verbs. The stem is -o^sht- or -e^sht-, as may be determined from the third plural present indicative. Thus glagolati 'to say' has 3rd plural glagol'jo^tu'; hence the present active participle is formed from the stem glagol'jo^sht-. By contrast, slyshati 'to hear' has 3rd plural slyshe^tu', giving slyshe^sht- for the participle stem. The masculine nominative singular form is different, being either -y or -e^. -e^ is appended to stems ending in a palatal consonant (including -j-), -y to all others, as in the following examples:
|Conjugation||Nom. Masc. Sg.||Gen. Masc. Sg.|
The numbers under the "conjugation" column refer to a classification system which will be explained in subsequent lessons. The full declension of the present active participle will also be given later.
The present passive participle is formed by adding -mu' to the present tense stem. It is then declined as an o-/a-stem adjective, as will be discussed in the next lesson, e.g. moliti gives molimu' '(being) carried'.
As one sees from the reading selections, rarely are two independent OCS statements placed simply one after the other. In most utterances a particle such as i or zhe is used to signal the transition, sometimes highlighting the dependence of one statement on the other, other times merely marking the beginning of a new thought. Each nevertheless adds its own nuance, and so some of the more important particles are touched upon below. One must bear in mind that each particle has its own preferred position within a clause, some coming at the head (proclitic), some as the (usually) second element (enclitic). This position is noted for each particle below.
a, ali 'but' Proclitic. Sets two parts of a statement in opposition: iebo i zeml'je' mimo idetu', a slovesa moje' ne mimo ido^tu' "heaven and earth will pass, but my words will not pass away."
ako, jako, je'ko 'that, so that, how, when' Proclitic. This has an incredible range of meaning. It introduces indirect speech as does 'that' in English "he said that she..." or "I thought that she...". It may also introduce direct speech, functioning as an opening quotation mark. It has the sense of 'when' or 'as' in i je'ko priblizhi se^, vidivu' gradu' plaka se^ o nemi' "when he was come near, having beheld the city he wept over it". Similarly i otu'pusti namu' dlu'gy iashe^, jako i my otu'pushtajemu' "and forgive us our debts, as we forgive...".
ashte 'if, whether' Proclitic. This is a conditional particle: ashte khoshteshi, mozheshi "if you wish, you are able." Also used to generalize relative pronouns: izhe 'he who', izhe ashte 'whoever, whosoever'.
bo 'for, because' Enclitic. Often used after i as ibo 'and really': ibo i psi je'de^tu' "for even the dogs eat."
da 'in order that' Proclitic. Introduces final result: je'ko su'nidu' s nebese, da ne tvoro^ vole^ mojeje^, nu' voljo^ posu'labu'shaago me^ "for I came down from heaven, not that I do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Through statements like narodu' zhe zaprje'ti ima da umli'tchite "the crowd rebuked the two, that they be quiet", it is not difficult to see how this particle also comes to be used with a following verb in the present indicative to give a direct command: da sve^titu' se^ ime^ tvoe "Hallowed be Thy name."
zhe 'on the other hand, or, and' Enclitic. Highlights the contrast between clauses; often untranslated, or rendered weakly by a simple narrative 'and': bystu' zhe naleze^shtju emi' iarodu "and it happened, while the people pressed upon him, that...". Attached to pronouns, they become relative pronouns -- thus ego 'of it', egozhe 'of which, of that which': izdretche ei dati egozhe ashte vu'sprositu' "he promised to give her whatsoever she would ask."
i 'and; even, too' Proclitic. This may connect clauses, as in vu' ono vrje'me^ uslysha irodu' tetrarkhu' slukhu' iisusovu' i retche otrokomu' svoimu' "during that time Herod heard the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants..."; or it may be used as an adverb within a clause: posu'la i togo ku' nimu' "he sent also him to them".
ide 'for, since' Proclitic. Not to be confused with the aorist form ide 'he went'. Thus kako bo^detu' se ide mo^zha ne znajo^ "how shall this be, since I do not know a man".
li 'or'; li...li 'either... or' Proclitic or enclitic. This most generallymarks a question; when enclitic, usually a direct question: onu'zhe retche kru'stijanyn'i li jesi "and he said, are you a Christian woman?" When proclitic, it takes the meaning 'or': li kako retcheshi bratu tvoemu "or how will you speak to your brother?"
ne 'not'; ne...ni 'neither... nor' ne generally stands before the item negated, occuring once in a main clause; ni may occur several times in the same clause. Thus nje'smu' azu' khristosu' "I am not the Christ", and da ne vide^tu' otchima ni razumje'jo^tu' sri'di'tsemi' "so that they not see with the eyes, nor understand with the heart." Compare pride ioanu' ni pie^ ni jady "John came, neither drinking nor eating."
nu' 'but' Proclitic. Connects two clauses: tatu' ne prikhoditu', nu' da ukradetu' "the thief comes not, but that he steal."
to 'then, so' Proclitic. Correlative to ashte 'if': ashte li khoshteshi vu' zhivotu' vu'niti, to su'khrani zapovje'di "but if you wish to enter into life, then keep the commandments."
jegda, jegdazhe 'when, if' Proclitic. For example, prido^tu' zhe di'nie, egdazhe otu'nimetu' se^ otu' nikhu' zhenikhu' "but the days will come, when the bridegroom will be taken from them."
jeda 'surely not' Proclitic. Introduces a question expecting a negative answer. Thus eda i my slje'pi esmu' "are we blind as well?", meaning "surely we are not blind, are we?"