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 бъістъ: "The king was pained, and on account of... he ordered...". In the same verse the OCS has повєлѣ дати и, where the и 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 наваждєна матєрѭ своєѭ 'instructed by her mother'. With a personal agent, one would expect a construction отъ + 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.
въ оно врѣмѧ ѹслъіша иродъ тєтрархъ слѹхъ иисѹсовъ | и рєчє отрокомъ своимъ сь єстъ иоанъ крьститєл҄ь тъ въскрьсє отъ мрьтвъіихъ и сєго ради силъі дѣѭтъ сѧ о н҄ємь |
иродъ бо имъ иоана съвѧза и и въсади и въ тьмьницѫ иродьјадъі ради жєнъі филипа братра своєго |
глаголаашє бо ємѹ иоанъ нє достоитъ ти имѣти єѧ | и хотѧ и ѹбити ѹбоја сѧ народа зан҄є пророка имѣахѫ и |
дьни жє бъівъшѹ рождьства иродова плѧса дъшти иродьјадина по срѣдѣ и ѹгоди иродови | тѣмьжє съ клѧтвоѭ издрєчє єи дати єгожє аштє въспроситъ |
она жє наваждєна матєрѭ своєѭ даждь ми рєчє сьдє на мисѣ главѫ иоана крьститєлја |
и пєчальнъ бъістъ цѣсар҄ь | клѧтвъ жє ради и възлєжѧштиихъ съ н҄имъ повєлѣ дати и и посълавъ ѹсѣкнѫ иоана въ тьмьници |
и принѣсѧ главѫ єго на мисѣ и дашѧ дѣвици и нєсє матєри своєи | и пристѫпл҄ьшє ѹчєници єго възѧсѧ тѣло єго и погрѣсѧ є и пришьдъшє възвѣстишѧ иисѹсови |
въ оно врѣмѧ ѹслъіша иродъ тєтрархъ слѹхъ иисѹсовъ | и рєчє отрокомъ своимъ сь єстъ иоанъ крьститєл҄ь тъ въскрьсє отъ мрьтвъіихъ и сєго ради силъі дѣѭтъ сѧ о н҄ємь | иродъ бо имъ иоана съвѧза и и въсади и въ тьмьницѫ иродьјадъі ради жєнъі филипа братра своєго | глаголаашє бо ємѹ иоанъ нє достоитъ ти имѣти єѧ | и хотѧ и ѹбити ѹбоја сѧ народа зан҄є пророка имѣахѫ и | дьни жє бъівъшѹ рождьства иродова плѧса дъшти иродьјадина по срѣдѣ и ѹгоди иродови | тѣмьжє съ клѧтвоѭ издрєчє єи дати єгожє аштє въспроситъ | она жє наваждєна матєрѭ своєѭ даждь ми рєчє сьдє на мисѣ главѫ иоана крьститєлја | и пєчальнъ бъістъ цѣсар҄ь | клѧтвъ жє ради и възлєжѧштиихъ съ н҄имъ повєлѣ дати и и посълавъ ѹсѣкнѫ иоана въ тьмьници | и принѣсѧ главѫ єго на мисѣ и дашѧ дѣвици и нєсє матєри своєи | и пристѫпл҄ьшє ѹчєници єго възѧсѧ тѣло єго и погрѣсѧ є и пришьдъшє възвѣстишѧ иисѹсови |
(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 рождѫ, one must know to look up родити. 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,x. 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 ѣ and и of OCS as written down.
First Palatalization: In this stage, k,g,x changed into č',ž',š'. The environment for this change was one in which the velar was followed by a front vowel (ě, e, i, ĭ, ę) or soft liquid sonant (r', l' thought of essentially as vowels). However, this only happened before ě when it was derived from e:; before following i only when it developed from i: or ej. For example, the first person is могѫ 'I am able', but the second person is можєши 'you are able', from *mog-eši (the asterisk denotes a form not attested, but reconstructed).
In the same environment, sk, zk became sč, zdž, then šč, ždž, and finally št, žd. For example, искѫ 'I demand', but иштєши 'you demand'.
Also in this stage kt, gt both became št. Hence мошти 'to be able' from *mog-ti; also рєшти 'to say' from *rek-ti.
Second Palatalization: In this stage k,g,x became c', dz' (> z'), s', respectively, when followed by ě or i. This phase came about when the diphthongs oj, aj became ě 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 ѣ, і, then palatalization took place. For example, отрокъ 'boy', but отроци 'boys' from *otrok-oj; also рєкѫ 'I say', but рьци 'say!' from *rĭk-oj.
In addition, -sk-, -zg- became -sc-, -zdz-, sometimes developing into -st-, -zd-. Thus людьскъ 'human', but людьсции 'humans', and further людьстии.
Third Palatalization: During this stage, k,g,x became c', dz' (> z'),s' when preceded by a front vowel and followed by a back vowel. Thus кънѧзь 'prince' from the Germanic *kuning -- however кънѧгъін҄и '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
|к > ч or ц||ск > щ||ц > ч|
|г > ж or ѕ||зг > жд||ѕ > ж|
|х > ш or с|
Below is a chart outlining other consonantal changes which are often encountered.
Dentals, Labials, Resonants
|т > щ||п > пл҄||л > л҄||сн > шн҄|
|д > жд||б > бл҄||р > р҄||зн > жн҄|
|с > ш||в > вл҄||н > н҄||сл > чл҄|
|з > ж||м > мл҄|
|ст > щ|
|зд > жд|
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 ъ and ь. 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 (ъ or ь) 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 съмольньскъ, the sequence (read the following from left to right) is weak-(full vowel)-weak-strong-weak (ъ-о-ь-ь-ъ).
When pronounced, strong jers were often promoted to full vowels, and weak jers dropped. The back jer ъ in strong position became the back vowel о, and the front jer ь became the front vowel є. So, in accordance with the strong-weak pattern from above, съмольньскъ evolves into смолнєск.
Why then is смолнєск not the city name familiar from Russian geography? One must realize that the form съмольньскъ is not the only one which will occur in the language. This is the nominative form; but the genitive is съмольньска. The dative is съмольньскѹ. Most forms of this word will not have a jer following the к. By the strong-weak pattern, the genitive form съмольньска 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 смолєнска. This is the name Smolensk as commonly encountered.
Another example is the word дьнь 'day'. Dropping weak and promoting strong jers would give дєн. However, дьнь is often found in combination with the word сь 'this'. Together, дьнь сь means 'this day', 'today'. The two-word combination дьнь сь as a unit has a weak-strong-weak pattern, yielding днєс '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 ĭj > ij and ŭj > yj. Spellings alternate between showing the jer and showing the fully vocalized form: абьѥ vs. абиѥ 'suddenly'; пьѭ vs. пиѭ 'I drink'. As with strong and weak postition, one must consider entire units: въ истинѫ becomes въі истинѫ 'in truth'.
Moreover, when ь was preceded by the glide j, it was vocalized as the full vowel и. Thus *jĭže > *jiže, which is written as ижє '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 свѧтъ 'holy' with the appended pronoun *jĭ 'he' becomes svętŭjĭ 'the one who is holy'. The following glide makes the ŭ tense, so that it becomes y. And the preceding glide means the ĭ is pronounced as i. Hence the adjective is often written as svętyi. The spellings svętŭi and svęty 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 азъ 'I' and тъі 'you' (lit. 'thou') are given below.
|D||мьнѣ (ми)||нама (на)||намъ (нъі)|
|D||тєбѣ (ти)||вама (ва)||вамъ (въі)|
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 jĭ, which in the orthography of OCS would become и. 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 тъ 'that' or онъ 'that one there', more rarely сь 'this', are used. Their declensions will be given in subsequent lessons; below is the declension of the pronoun *и.
When the enclitic particle жє is attached to the forms of *и, one obtains the relative pronoun. Thus ижє 'he who' (this form does occur in the nominative), єижє 'the (female) one to whom', єюжє '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 єго will often function as direct object. и nevertheless still occurs, and should not be confused with the conjunction и 'and'; it is used only enclitically, e.g. избавитъ и 'he shall save him.' The genitive of the feminine pronoun is not used to replace the accusative, so that єѧ is 'of her'.
When following prepositions, these pronouns take a prothetic n-, hence къ н҄имъ 'to them' instead of имъ, на н҄ємь 'on him', and so forth. One writes въ н҄ь 'in him' and not въ н҄и because the accusative form и is actually jĭ. The collocation evolves as vŭn jĭ > vŭ njĭ, and so vŭ n'ĭ. This appearance of the prothetic н apparently started with the prepositions къ, въ, and съ, whose forms in PIE had a final -n (cf. OCS съ 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 глаголати 'to say' and молити '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 -ѣ-. When following -j- or a palatal consonant, or when final, this became -и-.
Imperative for the verbs глаголати, -лѭ, -лѥши 'say'; молити, -лѭ, -лиши 'beg'; знати, знаѭ, знаѥши 'know'; вєсти, вєдѫ, вєдєши '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 да with the present indicative, e.g. да придѫ 'may I come, let me come'; да придѫтъ 'may they come, let them come'.
Verbs of the same type as глаголати and знати also have plural endings -јамъ and -јатє, e.g. глагол҄јамъ beside глагол҄имъ, глагол҄јатє beside глагол҄итє.
The infinitive is characterized by the ending -ти. Often the stem undergoes certain sound changes when the infinitive ending is added, e.g. the stem вєд- gives infinitive вєсти, and рєк- gives рєшти.
The stem of the present active participle may be obtained from the third person plural present indicative of verbs. The stem is -ѫшт- or -ѧшт-, as may be determined from the third plural present indicative. Thus глаголати 'to say' has 3rd plural глагол҄ѭтъ; hence the present active participle is formed from the stem глагол҄ѭшт-. By contrast, слъішати 'to hear' has 3rd plural слъішѧтъ, giving слъішѧшт- for the participle stem. The masculine nominative singular form is different, being either -ъі or -ѧ. -ѧ is appended to stems ending in a palatal consonant (including -j-), -ъі 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 -мъ 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. молити gives молимъ '(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 и or жє 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.
а, али 'but' Proclitic. Sets two parts of a statement in opposition: иєбо и зємл҄ѣ мимо идєтъ, а словєса моѣ нє мимо идѫтъ "heaven and earth will pass, but my words will not pass away."
ако, јако, ѣко '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 и ѣко приближи сѧ, видивъ градъ плака сѧ о нємь "when he was come near, having beheld the city he wept over it". Similarly и отъпѹсти намъ длъгъі иашѧ, јако и мъі отъпѹштаѥмъ "and forgive us our debts, as we forgive...".
аштє 'if, whether' Proclitic. This is a conditional particle: аштє хоштєши, можєши "if you wish, you are able." Also used to generalize relative pronouns: ижє 'he who', ижє аштє 'whoever, whosoever'.
бо 'for, because' Enclitic. Often used after и as ибо 'and really': ибо и пси ѣдѧтъ "for even the dogs eat."
да 'in order that' Proclitic. Introduces final result: ѣко сънидъ с нєбєсє, да нє творѫ волѧ моѥѩ, нъ волѭ посълабъшааго мѧ "for I came down from heaven, not that I do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Through statements like народъ жє запрѣти има да ѹмльчитє "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: да свѧтитъ сѧ имѧ твоє "Hallowed be Thy name."
жє 'on the other hand, or, and' Enclitic. Highlights the contrast between clauses; often untranslated, or rendered weakly by a simple narrative 'and': бъістъ жє налєзѧштю ємь иародѹ "and it happened, while the people pressed upon him, that...". Attached to pronouns, they become relative pronouns -- thus єго 'of it', єгожє 'of which, of that which': издрєчє єи дати єгожє аштє въспроситъ "he promised to give her whatsoever she would ask."
и 'and; even, too' Proclitic. This may connect clauses, as in въ оно врѣмѧ ѹслъіша иродъ тєтрархъ слѹхъ иисѹсовъ и рєчє отрокомъ своимъ "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: посъла и того къ нимъ "he sent also him to them".
идє 'for, since' Proclitic. Not to be confused with the aorist form идє 'he went'. Thus како бѫдєтъ сє идє мѫжа нє знаѭ "how shall this be, since I do not know a man".
ли 'or'; ли...ли 'either... or' Proclitic or enclitic. This most generallymarks a question; when enclitic, usually a direct question: онъжє рєчє кръстијанъін҄и ли ѥси "and he said, are you a Christian woman?" When proclitic, it takes the meaning 'or': ли како рєчєши братѹ твоємѹ "or how will you speak to your brother?"
нє 'not'; нє...ни 'neither... nor' нє generally stands before the item negated, occuring once in a main clause; ни may occur several times in the same clause. Thus нѣсмъ азъ христосъ "I am not the Christ", and да нє видѧтъ очима ни разѹмѣѭтъ срьдьцємь "so that they not see with the eyes, nor understand with the heart." Compare придє иоанъ ни пиѧ ни јадъі "John came, neither drinking nor eating."
нъ 'but' Proclitic. Connects two clauses: татъ нє приходитъ, нъ да ѹкрадєтъ "the thief comes not, but that he steal."
то 'then, so' Proclitic. Correlative to аштє 'if': аштє ли хоштєши въ животъ вънити, то съхрани заповѣди "but if you wish to enter into life, then keep the commandments."
ѥгда, ѥгдажє 'when, if' Proclitic. For example, придѫтъ жє дьниє, єгдажє отънимєтъ сѧ отъ нихъ жєнихъ "but the days will come, when the bridegroom will be taken from them."
ѥда 'surely not' Proclitic. Introduces a question expecting a negative answer. Thus єда и мъі слѣпи єсмъ "are we blind as well?", meaning "surely we are not blind, are we?"