The internal evidence for the use of the term Rus is mixed at best: in the Primary Chronicle the term early refers clearly to foreign-born princes, only later to be applied to their descendants together with the people over which they ruled. The Novgorod Chronicle, another literary source for our knowledge of the early East Slavs, by contrast applies the term Rus consistently to the people in and around Kiev, relatively far to its south and removed from the original Baltic homeland of the imported Scandinavians. Because of this lack of clarity, scholars have also sought out the use of terms similar to Rus in works whose authors came from some of the surrounding cultures with which the Eastern Slavs had interaction.
Numerous historical documents actually employ terms which can plausibly be identified with the term Rus (Rusĭ) found in the Primary Chronicle. The earliest among these is the Annals of St. Bertin (Latin Annales Bertiniani), like the Primary Chronicle a written account of historical events organized by their year of occurrence. We find under the year 839 AD mention of an embassy sent by the Byzantine emperor Theophilus to the court of the emperor Louis the Pious in Ingelheim. The account (Waitz, 1883, p.19) states that
|Misit etiam cum eis quosdam, qui se, id est gentem suam, Rhos vocari dicebant, quos rex illorum chacanus vocabulo ad se amicitiae, sicut asserebant, causa direxerat, petens per memoratam epistolam, quatenus benignitate imperatoris redeundi facultatem atque auxilium per imperium suum toto habere possent, quoniam itinera, per quae ad illum Constantinopolim venerant, inter barbaras et nimiae feritatis gentes inmanissimas habuerant, quibus eos, ne forte periculum inciderent, redire noluit. Quorum adventus causam imperator diligentius investigans, comperit, eos gentis esse Sueonum.||[Theophilus] sent with them certain men who called themselves, that is (called) their people, the Rhos; and whom, by their account, their king, or kagan in their terminology, sent to [Theophilus] in friendship. [Theophilus] requested in the previously mentioned letter that on account of the emperor's graciousness they be granted permission to return and an escort through his empire, since the roads by which they had arrived at Constantinople had fallen to the barbarians and exceedingly wild tribes, and by which (roads) he did not wish for them to return, lest they chance upon danger. The emperor, upon diligently investigating the reasons for their arrival, established that they were from the people of the Sueoni.|
The passage demonstrates a link between the Rhos, or Rus, and the Sueoni, who were in fact Swedes. This falls in line with the account in the Primary Chronicle. In this period much of Western Europe still felt the sting of Viking Age and the pervasive fear of Viking attacks, many of which began with trickery and cunning as disguised Scandinavians arrived at unsuspecting villages (Coupland, 2003). Thus Louis the Pious would have been well advised to investigate the origin of these particular Scandinavians before offering any assistance. In addition it is worth noting that St. Bertin's account of the Rhos, dating to 839, precedes the Primary Chronicle's Invitation to the Varangians, which is recorded under the year 862.
Another early source comes from Liutprand of Cremona, writing in the 10th century. He writes of Russi who attacked Byzantium in 941 AD. Liutprand (Reuber, 1584, p.92) states that
|Constantinopolitana urbs, quae prius Byzantium, nova nunc dicitur Roma, inter ferocissimas gentes est constituta.||The city Constantinople, formerly Byzantium, now called New Rome, is situated among the fiercest of peoples.|
|Habet quippe ab Aquilone Hungaros, Pizenacos, Chazaros, Russios, quos alio nomine nos Nortmannos apellamus, atque Bulgaros nimium sibi vicinos||It has to the north the Hungarians, the Pizenaci, the Khazars, the Russii, whom by a different name we call Normans, and the Bulgars as close neighbors.|
Later Liutprand expands on the relation between Russii and "Normans" (ibid., p. 144):
|Gens quaedam est sub Aquilonis parte constituta, quam a qualitate corporis Graeci vocant Russos, nos vero a positione loci vocamus Nordmannos.||There is a certain people situated in a region of the North, which the Greeks call the Russii on account of their physical quality, but which we call Normans on account of their geographical location.|
|Lingua quippe Teutonum Nord aquilo, man autem mas seu vir dicitur: unde & Nordmannos Aquilonares homines dicere possumus.||In the German language Nord (means) 'north', and man means 'male' or 'man': whence we are also able to call the Normans the 'Northern men'.|
|Huius denique gentis rex Inger vocabulo erat, qui collectis mille & eo amplio navibus Constantinopolim venit.||And the king of this group went by the name Inger, who gathered a thousand and more ships and came to Constantinople.|
The comment on the Greek reason for the name Russii relates to a play on words. Latin russus and russeus mean 'reddish', as does Greek rousios.
These passages from Liutprand's work make clear that he himself understood the term "Russii" as a particular name for Normans. But moreover, he shows that in this context the term Norman (literally Normanni) still carries its literal sense: north-men. This generally falls in line with the accounts of the Rus as Scandinavians, or Norsemen. But as Liutprand's account focuses on the situation in Byzantium, it is not altogether certain whether 'north' should be taken in the general sense of 'in the north of Europe', i.e. Scandinavia, or in the more specific sense of 'to the north of Byzantium'. This latter, in principle, would allow even the inhabitants of Kiev to be called "north-men" from the perspective of the Byzantines. However it is more likely that by this time Normanni in Latin had taken on the connotation of Normans or Norsemen specifically, given that their fame as raiders had already long been spreading throughout Europe.
A handful of accounts also survive from the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds which mention a people likely to be associated with the Rus. One such account was written by Ibn Fadlan, a diplomat sent by the caliph of Baghdad on a mission to the Volga Bulgars. In recounting his travels he mentions the customs of a people, whom he calls Ru:siyyah, that he chanced upon in Atil (the Khazar city of Itil, located at the mouth of the Volga as it spills into the Caspian Sea). The following is an excerpt from his Risa:la, or 'writing' (Montgomery, 2000):
|I saw the Ru:siyyah when they had arrived on their trading expedition and had disembarked at the River Atil. I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs -- they are like palm trees, are fair and reddish, and do not wear the qurtaq or the caftan. The man wears a cloak with which he covers one half of his body, leaving one of his arms uncovered. Every one of them carries an axe, a sword and a dagger and is never without all of that which we have mentioned. Their swords are of the Frankish variety, with broad, ridged blades. Each man, from the tip of his toes to his neck, is covered in dark-green lines, pictures and suck like. Each woman has, on her breast, a small disc, tied <around her neck>, made of either iron, silver, copper or gold, in relation to her husband's financial and social worth. Each disc has a ring to which a dagger is attached, also lying on her breast.|
The above passage, admittedly, does not provide sufficient information to decide whether the Ru:siyyah are to be understood as Scandinavians or as Slavs, or as some other unspecified people. It is not until later in the account that Ibn Fadlan describes the burial practices of this people, and here we find clear Scandinavian overtones (Montgomery, 2000):
|I was told that when their chieftains die, the least they do is to cremate them. I was very keen to verify this, when I learned of the death of one of their great men. They placed him in his grave (qabr) and erected a canopy over it for ten days, until they had finished making and sewing his <funeral garments>.|
|In the case of a poor man they build a small boat, place him inside and burn it. In the case of a rich man, they gather together his possessions and divide them into three, one third for his family, one third to use for <his funeral> garments, and one third with which they purchase alcohol which they drink on the day when his slave-girl kills herself and is cremated together with her master. (They are addicted to alcohol, which they drink night and day. Sometimes one of them dies with the cup still in his hand.)|
This provides evidence of burial practices common among the Scandinavians of the era. Moreover the account goes on to describe in detail the ship burial of a particularly important group member.
The documentary evidence leaves tantalizing traces of the interaction between the Rus and cultures spread across their trade routes. However we would do well to keep in mind Mongomery's (2000) warning:
|I am not convinced that by Ru:s/Ru:siyyah our text means either the Vikings or the Russians specifically. I am neither a Normanist nor an anti-Normanist. The Arabic sources in general quite simply do no afford us enough clarity. The tendency among scholars is to presume that different Arab authors mean the same thing when they apply the names Ru:s or Maju:s to the people they describe. After a perusal of the sources, this strikes me as a perilous presumption.|
This displays well deserved caution, one which applies beyond the sources written from the perspective of the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds. It is not clear that all of the passages listed above truly are talking about the same people. On the one hand, it is not clear whether they distinguish Eastern Slavs from the Scandinavians that passed through their midst. On the other hand, it is not clear that the Eastern Slavs were sufficiently uniform amongst themselves to be distinguishable by cultural "outsiders" from Scandinavians often living in close quarters with them.
One point that does remain clear, however, is that the earliest East Slavic texts speak of an original distinction between the two peoples. A particular group of Scandinavians did evidently come to the East Slavic homeland and play an important role in the establishment of the early ruling class of the first dominant East Slavic cultural centers. But over the course of the succeeding century they seem to have blended with the indigenous Slavs to sufficient degree for the two cultures to form one distinct culture of Rus, with Old Russian and its spoken variants as the principal means of communication in the region.
The following passage relates the arrival of the Derevlians in Olga's court. After an exchange of greetings, Olga sets the stage and exacts her revenge. The extract lists lines 38-70.
38-40 - i povědaša ōlĭzě jako derevlęne pridoša. i vozva e ōlĭga k sobě i reče imŭ dobri gostĭe pridoša.
40-41 - i rěša derevlęne pridoxomŭ knęgine.
41-42 - i reče imŭ ōlĭga, da glagolite čto radi pridoste sěmo.
42-45 - rěša že drevlęne posla ny derĭvĭska zemlę rĭkušče sice, muža tvoego ubixomŭ, bęše bo mužĭ tvoi aki volkŭ vosxiščaja i grabę.
45-48 - a naši knęzi dobri sutĭ, iže raspasli sutĭ derevĭsku zemlju. da poidi za knęzĭ našĭ za malŭ. bě bo imę emu malŭ knęzju derĭvĭsku.
48-51 - reče že imŭ ōlĭga, ljuba mi estĭ rěčĭ vaša. uže mně muža svoego ne krěsiti, no xočju vy počtiti nautrija predŭ ljudĭmi svoimi.
52-53 - a nyne iděte v lodĭju svoju i lęzite v lodĭi veličajušče sę. azŭ utro poslju po vy.
53-56 - vy že rĭcěte ne edemŭ na koněxŭ, ni pěši idemŭ, no ponesěte ny v lodĭě. i vŭznesutĭ vy v lodĭi. i ō^pusti ja v lodĭju.
56-58 - ōlĭga že povelě iskopati jamu veliku i gluboku na dvorě teremĭstěmĭ vně grada.
58-60 - i zautra volga sědęšči v teremě posla po gosti. i pridoša k nimŭ glagoljušče, zovetĭ vy ōlĭga na čestĭ veliku.
60-62 - ōni že rěša ne edemŭ na konixŭ, ni na vozěxŭ. ponesěte ny v lodĭi.
62-64 - rěša že kijane, namŭ nevolę; knęzĭ našĭ ubĭenŭ. a knęgini naša xoče za vašĭ knęzĭ. i ponesoša ja v lodĭi.
64-67 - ōni že sědęxu v peregŭběxŭ v velikixŭ sustugaxŭ gordęšče sę, i prinesoša ja na dvorŭ k olĭzě.
67 - nesŭše vrinuša e vŭ jamu i s lodĭeju.
68-69 - prinikŭši ōlĭga i reče imŭ, dobra li vy čestĭ.
69-70 - ōni že rěša, pušči ny igorevy smerti. i povelě zasypati ja živy. i posypaša ja.
i povědaša ōlĭzě jako derevlęne pridoša. i vozva e ōlĭga k sobě i reče imŭ dobri gostĭe pridoša. 40-41 -
i rěša derevlęne pridoxomŭ knęgine. 41-42 -
i reče imŭ ōlĭga, da glagolite čto radi pridoste sěmo. 42-45 -
rěša že drevlęne posla ny derĭvĭska zemlę rĭkušče sice, muža tvoego ubixomŭ, bęše bo mužĭ tvoi aki volkŭ vosxiščaja i grabę. 45-48 -
a naši knęzi dobri sutĭ, iže raspasli sutĭ derevĭsku zemlju. da poidi za knęzĭ našĭ za malŭ. bě bo imę emu malŭ knęzju derĭvĭsku. 48-51 -
reče že imŭ ōlĭga, ljuba mi estĭ rěčĭ vaša. uže mně muža svoego ne krěsiti, no xočju vy počtiti nautrija predŭ ljudĭmi svoimi. 52-53 -
a nyne iděte v lodĭju svoju i lęzite v lodĭi veličajušče sę. azŭ utro poslju po vy. 53-56 -
vy že rĭcěte ne edemŭ na koněxŭ, ni pěši idemŭ, no ponesěte ny v lodĭě. i vŭznesutĭ vy v lodĭi. i ō^pusti ja v lodĭju. 56-58 -
ōlĭga že povelě iskopati jamu veliku i gluboku na dvorě teremĭstěmĭ vně grada. 58-60 -
i zautra volga sědęšči v teremě posla po gosti. i pridoša k nimŭ glagoljušče, zovetĭ vy ōlĭga na čestĭ veliku. 60-62 -
ōni že rěša ne edemŭ na konixŭ, ni na vozěxŭ. ponesěte ny v lodĭi. 62-64 -
rěša že kijane, namŭ nevolę; knęzĭ našĭ ubĭenŭ. a knęgini naša xoče za vašĭ knęzĭ. i ponesoša ja v lodĭi. 64-67 -
ōni že sědęxu v peregŭběxŭ v velikixŭ sustugaxŭ gordęšče sę, i prinesoša ja na dvorŭ k olĭzě. 67 nesŭše vrinuša e vŭ jamu i s lodĭeju. 68-69 -
prinikŭši ōlĭga i reče imŭ, dobra li vy čestĭ. 69-70 -
ōni že rěša, pušči ny igorevy smerti. i povelě zasypati ja živy. i posypaša ja.
38-40 And they announced to Olga that the Derevlians had arrived. And Olga summoned them before her and said to them, "The welcome guests have arrived." 40-41 And the Derevlians replied, "We have arrived, princess." 41-42 And Olga bade them, "Tell: for what have you come here?" 42-45 And the Derevlians responded, "The nation of Dereva sent us, speaking thus: 'We have killed your husband, for your husband was like a wolf, robbing and plundering. 45-48 But our princes are good, who cultivated the land of Dereva. Come (and marry) our prince, Mal.'" For his name was Mal, the Derevlian prince. 48-51 And Olga said to them, "Your words are dear to me. Now (there is) no (way) for me to raise my husband. But I want to honor you tomorrow before my people. 52-53 For now go to your boat and take your repose in the boat, exulting. In the morning I will send for you. 53-56 But say this: 'We will not be carried on horses, nor will we go on foot, but carry us on a boat.' And they will carry you on the boat." And she released them to the boat. 56-58 But Olga ordered a hole to be dug wide and deep in the tower court outside of the city. 58-60 And the next morning, sitting in the tower, Olga sent for the guests. And they came to them, saying, "Olga summons you for a great honor." 60-62 And they responded, "We will not be carried on horses, nor on carts. Carry us in the boat." 62-64 The Kievans said, "We have need; our prince is killed. But our princess longs after your prince." And they carried them in the boat. 64-67 And they sat on the cross-benches (?) in great robes, exalted with pride. And they brought them into the court to Olga. 67 Having carried them, they cast them into the pit with the boat too. 68-69 Olga peered in and said to them, "Is that honor good (enough) for you?" 69-70 And they replied, "To us it's worse than Igor's death." And she commanded that (they) bury them alive. And they covered them.
Consonant-stem nouns form the "other" declension of Old Russian. Really the consonant-stem nouns descend from a wide variety of Indo-European formations. But within Common Slavic in general, and Old Russian in particular, these formations have coalesced into a fairly unified declensional type. Speaking generally, the Old Russian nouns of this declension show a nominative singular that can take one of a handful of shapes, each appearing more or less "strange" or "unique" from the viewpoint of the nominal declensions we have seen heretofore. This unique nominative singular is then stripped from the noun and replaced with a suffix that then persists throughout the remainder of the paradigm.
To this suffix Old Russian adds a specific set of endings which, though somewhat distinct from the declension types we have seen, remains consistent throughout all the individual consonant-stem declensions. Foremost among these endings is the genitive singular in -e, for which some scholars call these the e-declension. Such nomenclature is specific to Slavic studies and does not refer, in contrast to other declensions, to any thematic vowel dating to the Indo-European period. It does however recall the *-e- found in the PIE genitive singular ending *-es.
The v-declension in Indo-European terms should more properly be called the long-u-declension. This declension comprises a handful of exclusively feminine nouns whose inflectional type harkens back to that of nouns with a long-*u in Proto-Indo-European. In the nominative singular the final *-s of the regular inflection fell away in Common Slavic and the long-u evolved into Common Slavic *-y, hence Old Russian y. In the remainder of the paradigm, however, where this long-*u preceded vowel-initial endings, the long-*u was reanalyzed as the sequence *-uu-, and hence *-uō(t) before the following vowel. This leaves a distinctive stem suffix -ŭv- that permeates the paradigm of v-stem nouns. Examples of nouns belonging to this declension are svekry 'mother-in-law', ljuby 'love', and smoky 'fig'. The forms of crĭky 'church' illustrate the v-stem declension.
In the locative, dative, and instrumental plural we see the influence of the a-declension with forms such as crĭkŭvamŭ. The same applies to the dative and instrumental dual forms. In particular we note that the v-declension forms an exception to the rule of thumb that the thematic vowel appears in the dative plural.
We also find the ending -ĭju in the instrumental singular, a form influenced both by the a-declension and by the feminines of the i-declension. Moreover the i-declension shows a strong influence on nouns of the v-declension, so that we also find forms such as genitive and locative singular crĭkŭvi alongside the expected crĭkŭve. In fact the influence of the i-stems is so pervasive in some nouns that the nominative singular itself has been reformed. An example of this is provided by kry 'blood', which properly belongs to the v-declension, but whose forms show a strong influence from the i-declension.
|G||krŭve, krŭvi||-||krŭvĭi, krŭvŭ, krŭvy|
Note that jers in tense position, such as in krŭvĭi and crĭkŭvĭju, may be written with -i-: krŭvii and crĭkŭviju.
The n-stem declension contains the remnants of what was a very important class of nouns in the Indo-European parent language. In Proto-Indo-European many nouns of the core vocabulary showed *n-stem inflection; some seemed to alternate between *r-stem and *n-stem: English r-stem water corresponds to Hittite r-stem wadar with the same meaning; however the Hittite noun shows an n-stem in many oblique forms, such as genitive singular wedenas, which in turn corresponds to the n-stem preserved in Old Norse vatn 'water'.
As with the v-stem declension, the forms split between a unique form for the nominative singular and a relatively stable stem throughout the rest of the paradigm. For the n-stems, a nominative singular with -n- preceded by a long-*o in PIE resulted in Old Russian -y; meanwhile a nominative singular with -n- preceded by long-*e in PIE resulted in a nasalized -ę in Old Church Slavonic, but -ja in Old Russian with the typical loss of nasalization. In the remainder of the paradigm, the sequence *-en- typically preceded a vowel, and so persisted unchanged. This yields the stem suffix -en- characteristic of the n-declension. Examples from this declension include the masculine noun kamy 'stone', as well as the neuter nouns vrěmja (veremja) 'time' and čismja 'number'.
The masculine noun kamy 'stone', whose nominative derives from an original form with long-*o, and the neuter noun imja 'name', whose nominative harkens back to the long-*e grade, serve to illustrate the n-stem declension.
Note in this declension the reappearance of the ending -ĭmĭ in the instrumental singular, as well as -ĭ- in the locative, dative, and instrumental plural where the v-declension employed -a-. In the paradigm for the neuter noun imja, however, we see the instrumental plural appears as imen-y, employing the ending familiar from the o-stems. We also find the expected ending -a for the plural nominative, accusative, and vocative of neuter nouns.
As with the v-stems, the i-stem declension strongly influenced the n-stem declension. As a result we also find forms such as kameni for the genitive singular kamene. Occasionally we also find an innovative nominative singular kamenĭ based on the stem found throughout the rest of the paradigm and the nominative singular ending typical of i-stem nouns (a shape reinforced by its being the same as the accusative singular).
The common noun dĭnĭ 'day' shows considerable influence both from the i-stem and the v-stem nouns. Consider its declension as illustrated below.
|G||dĭne, dĭni||dĭnu, dĭnĭju||dĭnŭ, dĭnovŭ, dĭnĭi|
|L||dĭne, dĭni||dĭnu, dĭnĭju||dĭnĭxŭ|
We find in this paradigm the importing of the instrumental singular ending -ĭju from the feminine i-stems, while the nominative plural dĭnĭe shows the influence of the masculine i-stems. Moreover we also see the genitive plural dĭnovŭ formed by analogy with the u-stem nouns.
The compound adjectives, also termed long-form or definite adjectives, exhibit endings which derive from a combination of the short-form, twofold endings and the endings of the third person pronoun *i [*jĭ]. At the most basic level, Old Russian simply appends the pronominal forms after the corresponding form of the simple adjective. But the result becomes a phonological unit, and so the resulting combination often undergoes phonetic changes obscuring to some degree the origin of the form.
We may illustrate the basic structure with the nominative and genitive singular forms of the adjective dobrŭ 'good'. Here we treat the Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic forms in parallel. There are two primary reasons for this:
With that in mind, consider the following table.
|Underlying Form||OCS||Old Russian|
If w look at the OCS forms, we see from the masculine and neuter forms that the simple adjective forms and the corresponding pronominal forms sit side by side. However, given that the back jer is now in tense position in the masculine nominative form, we expect to find the variant dobryi, which is actually the more typical form. Moreover, the feminine genitive form shows that elision of the initial elements of the pronominal forms often accompanies the composition of elements. In the Old Russian forms this tendency towards simplification has been extended. While even within OCS we find assimilation in the masculine and neuter genitive singular leading to forms such as dobraago and then contraction leading to dobrago, Old Russian has greatly reduced this form in dobrogo. Here we find no trace of the twofold genitive singular ending -a. The resulting ending parallels the pronominal ending. The same holds for many of the other forms throughout the paradigm.
The hard stem compound adjectives derive, straightforwardly enough, from the composition of the hard stem simple adjective forms with the third person pronominal forms. Because of their greater transparency in terms of compositional analysis, as well as for their ubiquity in Old Russian texts, we first list for convenience the proper Old Church Slavonic forms of the adjective dobrŭ 'good'.
The proper Old Russian forms, listed below, show a greater tendency toward simplifying the junction between adjectival and pronominal endings.
We find the greatest simplification, as compared to the OCS forms, in the singular oblique cases. As mentioned earlier we note the reformulation of the masculine and neuter genitive singular ending -a-ego as -ogo, with an initial -o- otherwise unexpected from the combining elements -a- and -e-. Similarly we find the feminine genitive singular dobroję contains o-vocalism where the OCS form does not. We find a similar situation in the dative, with masculine and neuter dobromu, and feminine dobroi.
Most of the remaining forms are subject to further contraction. For example we often find dobrymi for dobryimi in the instrumental plural, and likewise for other forms of similar shape in the dual and plural.
We also find the results of second palatalization in certain forms of the compound adjective where the stem ends in a velar consonant. The following table lists those forms of velikŭ 'great' which exhibit palatalization.
|N A V Du.||velicěi||velicěi|
The soft compound adjectives correspond to the composition of soft simple twofold adjectives with the corresponding pronominal forms. As above, we list first the Old Church Slavonic forms because of their transparency of composition and their frequent occurrence in the Old Russian texts. The adjective ništĭ 'poor' serves to illustrate the paradigm.
The following chart list the proper Old Russian forms for the adjective sin'ĭ 'blue'.
We see in the soft stems the same tendency toward reduction as in the hard stems. In the soft stems, however, we tend to find e-vocalism where in the hard stems we found o-vocalism: e.g. masculine genitive singular sin'jego versus dobrogo.
Old Russian, along with Old Church Slavonic and other Slavic languages, employs a particular past participle based on an l-suffix, a suffix with remnants in a handful of other Indo-European branches, Italic most notably among them. This participle, known variously as the l-participle, resultative participle, or the second past participle, does not enjoy as free a use as other past participle formations in Old Russian. Rather, this participle almost exclusively finds employ as the participial component of periphrastic, or compound, verbal formations of the past tense. As such, it exhibits only case endings of the nominative, in agreement with the subject of the periphrastic verb. These endings come from the twofold hard-stem adjective declension. The l-suffix is typically attached to the aorist-infinitive stem of the verb. The following table provides some examples.
|I||nes-ti||nes-lŭ, -la, -lo||having carried|
|II||dvig-nu-ti||dvig-lŭ, -la, -lo||having moved|
|dvig-nu-lŭ, -la, -lo|
|III||zna-ti||zna-lŭ, -la, -lo||having known|
|IV||xod-i-ti||xodi-lŭ, -la, -lo||having gone|
|V||da-ti||da-lŭ, -la, -lo||having given|
As depicted in the above chart, the l-participle of verbs containing the -nu- suffix can be built onto the stem including the suffix or directly onto the root without the suffix.
The resultative participle of iti 'to go' is built from the special stem šĭd-: with regular loss of -d- before -l-, this yields šĭlŭ, šĭla, šilo. We see a similar sound change in other verbs with stems ending in a dental. For example u-vjad-nu-ti 'to fade' has resultative participle uvjalŭ, etc.
One interesting feature of the Old Russian resultative participle is the use of endings other than -ŭ when the nominative singular masculine is called for. This occurs particularly with the Birchbark Writs. In these documents we find the endings -le, -lě, -lĭ, -lę, -lo in place of the expected -lŭ. For example, we find in number 345 the form zvalo esmĭ 'I called' for expected *zŭvalŭ esmĭ.
Old Russian, like other Slavic languages in general, and like Old Church Slavonic in particular, employs numerous particles to color the meaning of clauses and phrases. Among these particles verbal prefixes and prepositions factor prominently. We discuss these two types of particles below.
Old Russian verbal prefixes form an indispensible part of the language. Frequently verbal prefixes double as prepositions, and their use in many ways parallels their use in English. In English verbal prefixes can at times dramatically change the meaning of a verb: compare the unprefixed stand with the prefixed understand. At other times the prefix only changes the original verb's sense slightly if at all: compare stretch to outstretch. The same situation obtains in Old Russian, where some prefixes substantially change the original verb's meaning, while others provide almost no perceptible distinction in sense.
However prefixes in Old Russian also serve in another role: to change the aspect of a verb. In particular, where an unprefixed verb is generally imperfective, the addition of (any) prefix will serve to make the new prefixed verb perfective. Debate surrounds the question as to what degree this had become systematized within the earliest stages of East Slavic, but we do see in the texts the beginning of what has become one of the hallmarks of Russian verbal inflection. We will discuss verbal aspect in somewhat more detail later in these lessons.
For the most part Old Russian displays the same set of verbal prefixes as that found in Old Church Slavonic. Moreover, these prefixes do typically correspond to self-standing prepositions. But there are some noteworthy differences. In particular, vy- is a specifically East and North Slavic prefix, perhaps borrowed from Gothic ut (cf. Eng. out), with the final -t dropping before following consonants. The preposition iz often introduces the prepositional phrase which complements or completes the meaning of the associated verb with prefix vy-. And the particle vŭz- appears only as a prefix within East Slavic. Likewise pere- only assumes the role of a prefix in East Slavic.
The following table lists some of the most pervasive verbal prefixes, along with the basic sense each one imparts to the verb to which it is affixed. Finally the last two columns provide examples of these senses and an accompanying translation.
|vy-||out||vyxoditi iz...||to go out of|
|iz-||out, thoroughly||izědati||to eat up, devour|
|vŭz-||(inception)||vŭzljubiti||to fall in love|
|(iteration, 're-')||vŭzdati||to return, give back|
|za-||(inception)||zažešči||to ignite, catch fire|
|na-||(accumulation)||nasytiti sę||to eat one's fill|
|o-, ob-||(pftv. of state change)||okameniti||to turn to stone, petrify|
|pere-, prě-||through, over||prěstupiti||to cross a threshold|
|excessively (adj.)||prěmŭnogo||exceedingly much|
|po-||forth (direction)||poiti||to set out|
In the parent language Proto-Indo-European, what we now call prepositions functioned for the most part as self-standing adverbs that would color a sentence as a whole, but which would not be associated with any particular word in the sentence. It seems that the case system was robust enough to distinguish sufficiently the grammatical functions of the various substantives in a sentence. We still see this adverbial use of later prepositions in some of the most archaic documents of the language family, namely in the Homeric epics of Greece and the Vedas of India.
But as the various daughter languages evolved, we see that many of them began to simplify the case system, sometimes drastically. Slavic for its part preserves many of the cases reconstructed for PIE, though it does lose the ablative case for example. As cases fell away, the remaining cases ended up taking up the slack: for example not only does the Old Russian genitive denote possession, as the PIE genitive, but it can also denote the origin or source, a sense originally denoted by the ablative. As a given case came to denote a variety of different meanings, the adverbs served to pluck out from among the different choices the particular meaning intended. And as this became more frequent, and more necessary, the adverbs gravitated closer and closer to the nouns until, in Slavic, they came to stand directly before the noun as a preposition.
Old Russian prepositions often govern a variety of cases. Because of the development described above, the sense a preposition imparts often corresponds closely to the case governed: in fact it is the preposition-case unit that has meaning, and not the preposition alone within Old Russian. For example, the preposition vŭ can mean either 'in' or 'into'. But since the locative case naturally denotes the location, then vŭ only means 'in' when governing the locative. Likewise, since the accusative can denote the goal of directed motion, then vŭ only means 'into' when governing the accusative.
Of course any language is much more robust than any theoretical description, and this is particularly true of Old Russian. Hence we find some preposition-case combinations where it is not clear how the original meaning of the case would correspond naturally to the overall sense imparted. We must therefore learn the preposition-case combinations together by rote. The following chart provides a list of the most common prepositions in Old Russian texts, along with the cases they govern and the particular sense elicited in combination with each case. The last two columns provide examples together with translations.
|vŭ||A||into (direction)||vŭ derevě||to Dereva|
|L||in (place)||vŭ derevěxŭ||in Dereva|
|do||G||until, up to||do sego dĭne||up to this day|
|za||A||for, after, behind (direction)||za kŭnjazĭ||after the prince|
|G||because of||za obyčaja||by (force of) habit|
|I||after, behind (place)||za moremŭ||across the sea|
|iz||G||from, out of, out from||iz grada||out from the city|
|kŭ||D||to, toward||kŭ cěsarju||to the emperor|
|na||A||onto (direction)||na čĭstĭ veliku||for a great honor|
|L||on (place)||na gorě||on the hill|
|nadŭ||A||over, above (direction)||nadŭ verxŭ||over the top|
|I||over, above (place)||nadŭ grobŭmĭ ego||over his grave|
|o, ob||A||over, round, about (direction)||o zemlju||over the earth|
|L||over, round, about (place)||o sobě||by themselves|
|otŭ||G||from, out of (source)||otŭ grada||out from the city|
|G||by, by means of (agent)||otŭ Boga||by God|
|po||A||below, through, for||po danĭ||in pursuit of tribute|
|L||after, because of, for||po muži svoemĭ||for her husband|
|D||on, about (direction, extent)||po stranamŭ||across the lands|
|podŭ||A||under (direction)||podŭ krovŭ moi||(enter) under my roof|
|I||under (place)||podŭ nogami vašimi||under your feet|
|pri||L||near, at the time of||pri večerě||toward evening|
|prědŭ||A||before, in front of (direction)||prědŭ Bogŭ||before God|
|L||before, in front of (place)||peredŭ ljudĭmi||in the presence of good people|
|sŭ||A||for the extent of||sŭ druguju storonu||on the other side|
|G||down from, away, off||sŭ Donu velikago||from the great Don|
|I||with (association)||sŭ synŭmĭ svoimĭ||with her son|
|u||G||at (place)||u groba||at the tomb|
We have seen that adjectives fall into two broad categories: definite and indefinite. This distinction has a clear morphological realization: the indefinite forms of the adjective take endings derived from the twofold nominal declension, while definite adjectives append to these twofold forms the corresponding forms of the third person pronoun *i. Old Russian in fact further refines the definite forms of the adjectives by blurring the boundary between nominal and pronominal endings.
But originally the distinction between definite and indefinite adjectives lies on another, perhaps more fundamental, level, one which becomes clearer upon comparison with other early remnants of the Slavic languages. In particular, the indefinite adjectives originally served to modify an as yet unspecified referent, whereas the definite adjectives modified specific referents. We may compare with English. The Old Church Slavonic phrase dobrŭ mǫžĭ, employing an indefinite adjective form, most closely parallels the English phrase 'a good man'. By contrast the Old Church Slavonic phrase dobrŭi mǫžĭ, employing a definite adjective form, most closely parallels the English phrase 'the good man'. In the simplest sense, the addition of the pronoun *i to the simple adjective forms serves the same function as the definite article the serves in English. The lack of the pronominal forms corresponds to the English use of the indefinite article a or an. More generally, compound adjectival forms generally modify nouns whose referents have already been introduced into the narrative at an earlier stage and are assumed known to the reader or listener: the compound adjectives point back to that previously introduced element.
However when we look closely at the situation in Old Russian, this distinction seems early to have started breaking down. In fact we find that the particular case form involved seems to play a role in the choice between definite and indefinite adjective forms: the definite adjective forms seem to be prevalent in the masculine and neuter instrumental singular, and in the genitive and locative of all genders (Schmalstieg 1996).
Modern Russian usage employs the long-form (definite) adjective in attributive position, the short-form (indefinite) in predicate position. We find this tendency already in place in Old Russian texts. For example we find in the Primary Chronicle: otroci Svěnĭlži izodělisja sutĭ... a my nazi "Sveinald's retainers are clothed... but we (are) naked." In this example nazi 'naked' is the short-form adjective, here used predicatively. But we also find such short-forms used attributively, as in the following example, also from the Primary Chronicle: ty kŭnjazĭ esi mudrŭ i sŭmyslĭnŭ "You are a wise and prudent prince". Here mudrŭ 'wise' and sŭmyslĭnŭ 'prudent' modify kŭnjazĭ 'prince' attributively. Moreover we find instances of the long-form (definite) adjective used predicatively: kto poslĭ živyi ōstanětĭ sę 'whoever will remain alive afterwards'. Here the long-form živyi of živŭ 'alive' is predicate to kto 'whoever'.