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 bystŭ: "The king was pained, and on account of... he ordered...". In the same verse the OCS has povelě 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 navaždena materjǫ svoejǫ 'instructed by her mother'. With a personal agent, one would expect a construction otŭ + 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.
vŭ ono vrěmę uslyša irodŭ tetrarxŭ sluxŭ iisusovŭ | i reče otrokomŭ svoimŭ sĭ estŭ ioanŭ krĭstitel'ĭ tŭ vŭskrĭse otŭ mrĭtvyixŭ i sego radi sily dějǫtŭ sę o n'emĭ |
irodŭ bo imŭ ioana sŭvęza i i vŭsadi i vŭ tĭmĭnicǫ irodĭjady radi ženy filipa bratra svoego |
glagolaaše bo emu ioanŭ ne dostoitŭ ti iměti eę | i xotę i ubiti uboja sę naroda zan'e proroka iměaxǫ i |
dĭni že byvŭšu roždĭstva irodova plęsa dŭšti irodĭjadina po srědě i ugodi irodovi | těmĭže sŭ klętvojǫ izdreče ei dati egože ašte vŭsprositŭ |
ona že navaždena materjǫ svoejǫ daždĭ mi reče sĭde na misě glavǫ ioana krĭstitelja |
i pečalĭnŭ bystŭ cěsar'ĭ | klętvŭ že radi i vŭzležęštiixŭ sŭ n'imŭ povelě dati i i posŭlavŭ usěknǫ ioana vŭ tĭmĭnici |
i priněsę glavǫ ego na misě i dašę děvici i nese materi svoei | i pristǫpl'ĭše učenici ego vŭzęsę tělo ego i pogrěsę e i prišĭdŭše vŭzvěstišę iisusovi |
vŭ ono vrěmę uslyša irodŭ tetrarxŭ sluxŭ iisusovŭ | i reče otrokomŭ svoimŭ sĭ estŭ ioanŭ krĭstitel'ĭ tŭ vŭskrĭse otŭ mrĭtvyixŭ i sego radi sily dějǫtŭ sę o n'emĭ | irodŭ bo imŭ ioana sŭvęza i i vŭsadi i vŭ tĭmĭnicǫ irodĭjady radi ženy filipa bratra svoego | glagolaaše bo emu ioanŭ ne dostoitŭ ti iměti eę | i xotę i ubiti uboja sę naroda zan'e proroka iměaxǫ i | dĭni že byvŭšu roždĭstva irodova plęsa dŭšti irodĭjadina po srědě i ugodi irodovi | těmĭže sŭ klętvojǫ izdreče ei dati egože ašte vŭsprositŭ | ona že navaždena materjǫ svoejǫ daždĭ mi reče sĭde na misě glavǫ ioana krĭstitelja | i pečalĭnŭ bystŭ cěsar'ĭ | klętvŭ že radi i vŭzležęštiixŭ sŭ n'imŭ povelě dati i i posŭlavŭ usěknǫ ioana vŭ tĭmĭnici | i priněsę glavǫ ego na misě i dašę děvici i nese materi svoei | i pristǫpl'ĭše učenici ego vŭzęsę tělo ego i pogrěsę e i prišĭdŭše vŭzvěstišę 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 roždǫ, 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,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 ě and i 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 mogǫ 'I am able', but the second person is možeši '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, iskǫ 'I demand', but išteši 'you demand'.
Also in this stage kt, gt both became št. Hence mošti 'to be able' from *mog-ti; also rešti '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 ě, i, then palatalization took place. For example, otrokŭ 'boy', but otroci 'boys' from *otrok-oj; also rekǫ 'I say', but rĭci 'say!' from *rĭk-oj.
In addition, -sk-, -zg- became -sc-, -zdz-, sometimes developing into -st-, -zd-. Thus ljudĭskŭ 'human', but ljudĭscii 'humans', and further ljudĭstii.
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 kŭnęzĭ 'prince' from the Germanic *kuning -- however kŭnęgyn'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 > č or c||sk > št||c > č|
|g > ž or dz||zg > žd||dz > ž|
|x > š or s|
Below is a chart outlining other consonantal changes which are often encountered.
Dentals, Labials, Resonants
|t > št||p > pl'||l > l'||sn > šn'|
|d > žd||b > bl'||r > r'||zn > žn'|
|s > š||v > vl'||n > n'||sl > čl'|
|z > ž||m > ml'|
|st > št|
|zd > žd|
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 ŭ and ĭ. 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 (ŭ or ĭ) 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 sŭmolĭnĭskŭ, the sequence (read the following from left to right) is weak-(full vowel)-weak-strong-weak (ŭ-o-ĭ-ĭ-ŭ).
When pronounced, strong jers were often promoted to full vowels, and weak jers dropped. The back jer ŭ in strong position became the back vowel o, and the front jer ĭ became the front vowel e. So, in accordance with the strong-weak pattern from above, sŭmolĭnĭskŭ evolves into smolnesk.
Why then is smolnesk not the city name familiar from Russian geography? One must realize that the form sŭmolĭnĭskŭ is not the only one which will occur in the language. This is the nominative form; but the genitive is sŭmolĭnĭska. The dative is sŭmolĭnĭsku. Most forms of this word will not have a jer following the k. By the strong-weak pattern, the genitive form sŭmolĭnĭska 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 dĭnĭ 'day'. Dropping weak and promoting strong jers would give den. However, dĭnĭ is often found in combination with the word sĭ 'this'. Together, dĭnĭ sĭ means 'this day', 'today'. The two-word combination dĭnĭ sĭ 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 ĭj > ij and ŭj > yj. Spellings alternate between showing the jer and showing the fully vocalized form: abĭje vs. abije 'suddenly'; pĭjǫ vs. pijǫ 'I drink'. As with strong and weak postition, one must consider entire units: vŭ istinǫ becomes vy istinǫ 'in truth'.
Moreover, when ĭ was preceded by the glide j, it was vocalized as the full vowel i. Thus *jĭže > *jiže, which is written as iže '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 svętŭ '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 azŭ 'I' and ty 'you' (lit. 'thou') are given below.
|D||mĭně (mi)||nama (na)||namŭ (ny)|
|D||tebě (ti)||vama (va)||vamŭ (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 jĭ, 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 tŭ 'that' or onŭ 'that one there', more rarely sĭ 'this', are used. Their declensions will be given in subsequent lessons; below is the declension of the pronoun *i.
When the enclitic particle že is attached to the forms of *i, one obtains the relative pronoun. Thus iže 'he who' (this form does occur in the nominative), eiže 'the (female) one to whom', ejuže '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. izbavitŭ i 'he shall save him.' The genitive of the feminine pronoun is not used to replace the accusative, so that eę is 'of her'.
When following prepositions, these pronouns take a prothetic n-, hence kŭ n'imŭ 'to them' instead of imŭ, na n'emĭ 'on him', and so forth. One writes vŭ n'ĭ 'in him' and not vŭ n'i because the accusative form i is actually jĭ. The collocation evolves as vŭn jĭ > vŭ njĭ, and so vŭ n'ĭ. This appearance of the prothetic n apparently started with the prepositions kŭ, vŭ, and sŭ, whose forms in PIE had a final -n (cf. OCS sŭ 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 -ě-. When following -j- or a palatal consonant, or when final, this became -i-.
Imperative for the verbs glagolati, -ljǫ, -lješi 'say'; moliti, -ljǫ, -liši 'beg'; znati, znajǫ, znaješi 'know'; vesti, vedǫ, vedeši '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 pridǫ 'may I come, let me come'; da pridǫtŭ 'may they come, let them come'.
Verbs of the same type as glagolati and znati also have plural endings -jamŭ and -jate, e.g. glagol'jamŭ beside glagol'imŭ, 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 rešti.
The stem of the present active participle may be obtained from the third person plural present indicative of verbs. The stem is -ǫšt- or -ęšt-, as may be determined from the third plural present indicative. Thus glagolati 'to say' has 3rd plural glagol'jǫtŭ; hence the present active participle is formed from the stem glagol'jǫšt-. By contrast, slyšati 'to hear' has 3rd plural slyšętŭ, giving slyšęšt- for the participle stem. The masculine nominative singular form is different, being either -y or -ę. -ę 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 -mŭ 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 molimŭ '(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 že 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'ě mimo idetŭ, a slovesa moě ne mimo idǫtŭ "heaven and earth will pass, but my words will not pass away."
ako, jako, ěko '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 ěko približi sę, vidivŭ gradŭ plaka sę o nemĭ "when he was come near, having beheld the city he wept over it". Similarly i otŭpusti namŭ dlŭgy iašę, jako i my otŭpuštajemŭ "and forgive us our debts, as we forgive...".
ašte 'if, whether' Proclitic. This is a conditional particle: ašte xošteši, možeši "if you wish, you are able." Also used to generalize relative pronouns: iže 'he who', iže ašte 'whoever, whosoever'.
bo 'for, because' Enclitic. Often used after i as ibo 'and really': ibo i psi ědętŭ "for even the dogs eat."
da 'in order that' Proclitic. Introduces final result: ěko sŭnidŭ s nebese, da ne tvorǫ volę mojeję, nŭ voljǫ posŭlabŭšaago mę "for I came down from heaven, not that I do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Through statements like narodŭ že zaprěti ima da umlĭčite "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 svętitŭ sę imę tvoe "Hallowed be Thy name."
že 'on the other hand, or, and' Enclitic. Highlights the contrast between clauses; often untranslated, or rendered weakly by a simple narrative 'and': bystŭ že nalezęštju emĭ iarodu "and it happened, while the people pressed upon him, that...". Attached to pronouns, they become relative pronouns -- thus ego 'of it', egože 'of which, of that which': izdreče ei dati egože ašte vŭsprositŭ "he promised to give her whatsoever she would ask."
i 'and; even, too' Proclitic. This may connect clauses, as in vŭ ono vrěmę uslyša irodŭ tetrarxŭ sluxŭ iisusovŭ i reče otrokomŭ svoimŭ "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: posŭla i togo kŭ nimŭ "he sent also him to them".
ide 'for, since' Proclitic. Not to be confused with the aorist form ide 'he went'. Thus kako bǫdetŭ se ide mǫža ne znajǫ "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: onŭže reče krŭstijanyn'i li jesi "and he said, are you a Christian woman?" When proclitic, it takes the meaning 'or': li kako rečeši 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 něsmŭ azŭ xristosŭ "I am not the Christ", and da ne vidętŭ očima ni razumějǫtŭ srĭdĭcemĭ "so that they not see with the eyes, nor understand with the heart." Compare pride ioanŭ ni pię ni jady "John came, neither drinking nor eating."
nŭ 'but' Proclitic. Connects two clauses: tatŭ ne prixoditŭ, nŭ da ukradetŭ "the thief comes not, but that he steal."
to 'then, so' Proclitic. Correlative to ašte 'if': ašte li xošteši vŭ životŭ vŭniti, to sŭxrani zapovědi "but if you wish to enter into life, then keep the commandments."
jegda, jegdaže 'when, if' Proclitic. For example, pridǫtŭ že dĭnie, egdaže otŭnimetŭ sę otŭ nixŭ ženixŭ "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 slěpi esmŭ "are we blind as well?", meaning "surely we are not blind, are we?"