The second defining event of the early Russian state is the adoption of Christianity by prince Vladimir in 988 AD. In the simplest terms the fundamental reason for the singular importance of this event is that, as with the Southern Slavs before them, it is only with the arrival of Christianity that the Eastern Slavs enter the larger European historical record. The importation of Christianity brought with it a preoccupation with text, specifically with the text of the Bible, and this focus on the written word served to spur a culture of writing and bookish learning to a degree that had not yet been seen among the Eastern Slavs. The literary documents which provide us with a window into early East Slavic culture, and into the language which distinguished it, owe their very existence to this newfound interest in the written word.
But the second aspect of Christianity's adoption among the Rus that had dramatic repercussions for the rest of East Slavic history was how it occurred. Specifically the fact that Vladimir accepted the Christian teachings espoused by the clergy at Byzantium meant that the East Slavs remained politically aligned with Byzantium and focused on points east. This had the effect of putting up a sort of barrier between them and the rest of Western Europe, and so early Russia therefore neglected to take part in many of the cultural and religious movements that characterized the transition of Western Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the Modern Age.
Such a momentous decision obviously did not take place in a vacuum. We must therefore attempt to understand Vladimir's acceptance of the Byzantine recension in the context of the times.
Already in the fourth century AD Christianity had found adherents north of the Black Sea. In particular the Goths had adopted Christianity, though they subscribed to the heretical teachings of Arius, who opposed the doctrine of Trinitarianism, whereby the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are supposed to be of the "same essence". But as the Huns invaded the region, the Goths were dislodged and a primary foothold of Christianity along the expanding steppe left with them. Following the Goths' departure numerous systems of belief, ranging from Islam, brought by Arabs to the shores of Greece, to paganism, brought by the Avars into Pannonia, began to vie for dominance in the reaches of Eastern Europe.
Christianity made its reentrance to Eastern Europe with the expansion of Charlemagne's empire in the late 8th century. It was Charlemagne who pushed out from his Frankish homeland and drove the Avars from their seat along the Danube. This reintroduced Christianity to the eastern frontier of Europe and opened a wave of Germanic missionary work. Moreover, Charlemagne legitimized his ascension by linking himself directly to the papal seat of power in Rome. This provided a model of imperial expansion and legitimation which numerous princes throughout Western Europe sought to emulate.
It was in this context that the princes of Moravia sent to Byzantium for missionaries. They had grown weary of encroachment by German-speaking missionaries who gave the liturgy in Latin. And so Constantine (later Cyril) and Methodius made their famous entrance into history in the middle of the 9th century by translating the liturgy into Old Church Slavonic in their various travels to Moravia.
Though the introduction of Byzantine Christianity to Moravia provided a strong bond between Byzantium and a large part of the Slavic world at the time, the Eastern Slavs for their part still let it be known that they were not immediately prone to being fast friends with the Byzantine Empire. Already in the early 9th century the Rus had pillaged the Byzantine city of Amastris. Byzantium subsequently militarized Cheronesus (Korsun) in the Crimea to protect its shipping routes in the Black Sea.
To add insult to injury, in 860 the Rus attacked Byzantium unexpectedly with 200 ships. As a consequence Byzantium struck an alliance with the Khazars in an effort to protect themselves from the Rus. But on a more conciliatory front, Byzantium sent a mission to convert the Rus to Christianity, with the hope of persuading them to a more friendly disposition toward the empire. Evidently this plan met with some success, as in 867 the Rus accepted a bishop.
But the strengthening of ties between Byzantium and the emerging Russian state only proceeded in fits and starts. Shortly thereafter, in 907, prince Oleg of Kiev attacked Byzantium to guarantee Rus trade rights with the empire. This was followed in 941 by a campaign led by Oleg's successor Igor, who also attacked Byzantium with a view to secure trade rights. Ultimately they were repulsed by the Greek fire, but undeterred Igor again led a force against Byzantium in 943. The emperor quickly agreed to reinstate the basic principles of the treaty struck after Oleg's original campaign, and Igor departed without entering the city.
Shortly after Igor's death at the hands of a regional tribe harried by his unceasing appetite for tribute, the Byzantine missions gained an unexpected convert. Sometime between 954-956 Igor's widow Olga, mother of Svjatoslav, is baptized in Byzantium. But upon assuming power Svjatoslav rejected Christianity and began a fierce offensive against neighboring kingdoms.
After defeating the Khazars to the southeast, Svjatoslav turns west in 968 at the behest of the Byzantine emperor to attack and defeat the Bulgarians along the Danube. He returns abruptly to Kiev as it falls under attack from the Pechenegs. Repulsing the Pecheneg onslaught, Svjatoslav decides he no longer wishes to remain in Kiev, and returns to Bulgaria to dethrone tsar Boris II and set up a capital at Pereiaslavets on the Danube. Svjatoslav's plans are thwarted when, in 971, the new Byzantine emperor defeats the Bulgarians, now allied with Svjatoslav, and reinstalls Boris II. Svjatoslav is forced to surrender and come to terms: he must cease his attacks on the Byzantine Empire, particularly in the Crimea, and must send military aid when requested. As Svjatoslav returns from Bulgaria to Kiev, he is attacked by the Pechenegs on the Dnieper. He is killed and his skull used by the Pecheneg leader as a drinking vessel. The Russian throne falls to Svjatoslav's son Jaropolk, who maintains power for less than a decade before being deposed by his brother Vladimir.
This is the sequence of events leading up to Vladimir's decision to convert to Christianity. The Primary Chronicle recounts the process by which he arrives at his decision. Briefly, Vladimir sends envoys to the centers of practice of the major religions: Islam, Judaism, Western Christianity, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The envoys are impressed with Byzantium's Church of St. Sophia, and their report convinces Vladimir to accept Eastern Christianity. Vladimir subsequently attacks Cheronesus in the Crimea, and in exchange for not attacking Byzantium in the same fashion, he wins the hand of Anna, the Byzantine emperor's daughter, in marriage.
The Primary Chronicle therefore portrays the decision as a wise comparison of the major religions of the surrounding regions, in which Vladimir bases his decision on the obvious superiority of Byzantine worship. But the Primary Chronicle leaves out some crucial details (Majeska, 2009):
It seems plausible, therefore, that Vladimir's decision was informed not only by a sage comparison of faiths, but also by the political exigencies that often force the hand of forward-leaning leaders. In particular we can isolate at least four different factors surrounding Vladimir's conversion that likely pushed him toward Byzantium (Majeska 2009):
Vladimir would not have been immune to consideration of the obvious benefits. On the one hand, as a Christian Vladimir would gain respect throughout the other European empires. On the other hand, by marrying Anna, Vladimir would immediately gain higher status than Otto II. The drawback, of course, was that to marry Anna Vladimir would have to accept the Eastern Orthodoxy. But Vladimir had likely already decided to do this. So finally, in 989, Vladimir declared Eastern Christianity the national religion of the Rus.
The passage below describes how Olga, not content with the punishment exacted, seeks further retribution with Derevlian visitors. Having done all she can to the envoys of the Derevlians, she determines to visit destruction upon the Derevlians in their own land. She couches her answers to the Derevlians' inquiries in oblique references to hide her intents, and she once more exacts revenge on the unsuspecting nobles. The extract lists lines 71-101.
71-74 - poslavši ōlĭga kŭ derevlęnomŭ reče imŭ, da ašče mę prositi pravo, to prišlite muža naročity, da v velicě čti pridu za vašĭ knęzĭ. eda ne pustętĭ mene ljudĭe kievĭstii.
74-77 - se slyšavše derevlęne sobraša sę lučĭšie muži iže derĭžaxu derevĭsku zemlju. i poslaša po nju.
77-79 - derevlęnomŭ že prišedŭšimŭ povelě ōlĭga movĭ stvoriti rĭkušče sice, izmyvše sę pridite ko mně.
79-82 - ōni že perežĭgoša istopku i vlězoša derevlęne. načaša sę myti i zaproša ō nixŭ istobŭku.
82-83 - i povelě zažeči ja ō^ dverii. tu izgorěša vsi.
83-87 - i posla kŭ derevlęnomŭ rĭkušči sice, se uže idu k vamŭ. da pristroite medy mnogi vŭ gradě ideže ubiste muža moego, da plačju sę nadŭ grobomŭ ego i stvorju tryznu mužju svoemu.
87-88 - ōni že to slyšavše sŭvezoša medy mnogi zělo. vŭzvariša.
88-90 - ōlĭga že poimši maly družiny, legŭko idušči, pride kŭ grobu ego.
90-92 - plaka sę po muži svoemŭ. i povelě ljudemŭ svoimŭ sŭsuti mogilu veliku, jako sospoša. i povelě tryznu tvoriti.
92-94 - po semĭ sědoša derevlęne piti. i povelě ōlĭga ōtrokomŭ svoimŭ služiti pred nimi.
94-96 - rěša derevlęne k olĭzě, kdě sutĭ družina naša, ixŭ že poslaxomŭ po tę.
96-97 - ōna že reče, idutĭ po mně sŭ družinoju muža moego.
97-98 - jako upiša sę derevlęne, povele ōtrokomŭ svoimŭ piti na nę.
98-101 - a sama ō^ide kromě i povelě družině sěči derevlęne. i isěkoša ixŭ ,e. a ōlĭga vozŭvrati sę kievu i pristroi voi na prokŭ ixŭ.
poslavši ōlĭga kŭ derevlęnomŭ reče imŭ, da ašče mę prositi pravo, to prišlite muža naročity, da v velicě čti pridu za vašĭ knęzĭ. eda ne pustętĭ mene ljudĭe kievĭstii. 74-77 -
se slyšavše derevlęne sobraša sę lučĭšie muži iže derĭžaxu derevĭsku zemlju. i poslaša po nju. 77-79 -
derevlęnomŭ že prišedŭšimŭ povelě ōlĭga movĭ stvoriti rĭkušče sice, izmyvše sę pridite ko mně. 79-82 -
ōni že perežĭgoša istopku i vlězoša derevlęne. načaša sę myti i zaproša ō nixŭ istobŭku. 82-83 -
i povelě zažeči ja ō^ dverii. tu izgorěša vsi. 83-87 -
i posla kŭ derevlęnomŭ rĭkušči sice, se uže idu k vamŭ. da pristroite medy mnogi vŭ gradě ideže ubiste muža moego, da plačju sę nadŭ grobomŭ ego i stvorju tryznu mužju svoemu. 87-88 -
ōni že to slyšavše sŭvezoša medy mnogi zělo. vŭzvariša. 88-90 -
ōlĭga že poimši maly družiny, legŭko idušči, pride kŭ grobu ego. 90-92 -
plaka sę po muži svoemŭ. i povelě ljudemŭ svoimŭ sŭsuti mogilu veliku, jako sospoša. i povelě tryznu tvoriti. 92-94 -
po semĭ sědoša derevlęne piti. i povelě ōlĭga ōtrokomŭ svoimŭ služiti pred nimi. 94-96 -
rěša derevlęne k olĭzě, kdě sutĭ družina naša, ixŭ že poslaxomŭ po tę. 96-97 -
ōna že reče, idutĭ po mně sŭ družinoju muža moego. 97-98 -
jako upiša sę derevlęne, povele ōtrokomŭ svoimŭ piti na nę. 98-101 -
a sama ō^ide kromě i povelě družině sěči derevlęne. i isěkoša ixŭ ,e. a ōlĭga vozŭvrati sę kievu i pristroi voi na prokŭ ixŭ.
71-74 Olga, having sent to the Derevlians, said to them, "If it is proper to seek me, then send noteworthy men, so that I go to your prince in the highest honor. Otherwise the Kievan people will not release me." 74-77 When the Derevlians heard this, there gathered the best men who held power over the land of Dereva. And they sent them for her. 77-79 When the Derevlians arrived, Olga ordered them to take a bath, speaking thus: "Once you have washed yourselves, come to me." 79-82 And they heated the bathhouse, and the Derevlians entered. They began to bathe, and they shut the bathhouse around them. 82-83 And she gave the command to burn them from the doors. There they all perished in the flames. 83-87 And she sent to the Derevlians, saying thus, "Lo! Now I will go to you. So make ready great (quantities of) honey in the city where you killed my husband, so that I may mourn over his grave and conduct a wake for my husband." 87-88 And having heard this, they gathered exceedingly great (quantities of) honey. They cooked it. 88-90 And Olga, having gathered a small retinue, going easily, arrived at his grave. 87-92 She wept for her husband. And she ordered her people to heap up a great burial mound, so that they built it up. And she ordered them to conduct a wake. 92-94 After this the Derevlians sat down to drink. And Olga ordered her servants to minister before them. 92-96 The Derevlians asked Olga, "Where is our retinue, which we sent for you?" 96-97 And she said, "They are coming after me with the retinue of my husband." 97-98 As the Derevlians had become drunk, she ordered her servants to fall upon them. 98-101 Then she stepped out and commanded her troop to cut down the Dervelians. And they killed 5,000 of them. Then Olga returned to Kiev and prepared her army against the rest of them.
We have already seen some examples of the declension of consonant stems, or the so-called e-declension, specifically the declension of v-stem and of n-stem nouns. In this section we continue that discussion. The basic outline is the same: the nominative singular shows a special form, but this is replaced by a suffix which remains throughout the rest of the paradigm. To this we append the inflectional endings, characterized by the -e of the genitive singular. With v-stems and n-stems we have not exhausted the suffix types which appear in Old Russian. In the following sections we outline the major stem types that remain.
The s-stem declension encompasses a small number of predominantly neuter nouns which occur quite frequently in the texts. Many of these nouns show their Indo-European heritage with striking clarity. For example once we take into account the loss of final *-s in Common Slavic and the loss of intervocalic *-s- in Greek, Old Russian nebo 'heaven', with genitive singular nebese, recalls morpheme for morpheme its Greek cousin nephos, with genitive singular nephous from earlier *neph-es-os. Other nouns in the declension follow the same basic pattern: an ending -o in the nominative and accusative singular (deriving from an original PIE *-os), but a suffix -es- persisting throughout the remainder of the paradigm to which the e-declension endings are added.
The neuter noun slovo 'word' is cognate with Greek klewos and Sanskrit šravas, both 'fame', and shows Old Russian's close affiliation with Sanskrit in the satem subgroup of languages, where the palatovelar consonants (such as Greek k-) evolved into true palatals (Old Russian s- [s-] and Sanskrit š-). The forms of slovo serve to illustrate the Old Russian declension.
We note in the instrumental plural that the ending is -y rather than the ending -ĭmi encountered in the paradigm of kamy.
By the time of the Old Russian texts the s-declension was no longer productive, that is, new nouns were no longer being adopted into, or inflected according to, this declension. It therefore comes as little surprise that nouns of this declension should appear with inflectional forms adopted from other more productive declensions. For example, the influence of the i-declension can be felt in the alternate genitive and locative singular form slovesi. The influence of the o-stem and i-stem nouns is particularly strong in the paradigms of the nouns oko 'eye' and uxo 'ear'. These nouns typically occur only in the singular and dual.
In the singular of uxo we see the intrusion of the o-stem declension with the re-formed genitive singular uxa. But in the dual forms of both nouns we see the complete overhall of the declension in accordance with the inflection of the i-stem nouns.
Note that the change k > č in the paradigm of oko and the change x > š in the paradigm of uxo both arise as a result of first palatalization.
Another small class of consonant-stem nouns is that of the nt-stem declension. These nouns derive from a class showing the suffix *-ent in Proto-Indo-European. In final position this became *-ę in Common Slavic, yielding -ę in Old Church Slavonic, but -ja or -a in Old Russian due to the general loss of nasalization in vowels. Preceding a vowel-initial ending, however, the tendency to re-analyze syllable boundaries meant that PIE *-ent-V- became Common Slavic *-en-tV-, hence *-ętV-. Thus we find Old Church Slavonic -ęt- and Old Russian -jat- or -at- as the suffixes that pervade the rest of the paradigm.
In general the nouns of this declension are diminutives built to other nouns, such as otroča 'child' from otrokŭ 'boy, servant' (compare OCS otročę from otrokŭ). All nouns in this declension are neuter. Old Russian otroča 'child' and telja 'calf' illustrate the forms.
Some nouns of this declension show interference from the i-stem nouns. Thus dětja 'child' has singular forms, such as the genitive dětjate, which follow the above pattern, but plural forms influenced by the i-declension: nominative and accusative plural děti, genitive plural dětĭi, locative plural dětĭxŭ, instrumental plural dětĭmi. One feminine noun of particular importance, desjatĭ 'ten', shows a mixture of forms from nt- and i-declensions. The forms are listed below.
The final important class of consonant-stem nouns we will discuss is the r-stem declension. This type of noun shows remnants across a wide range of Indo-European languages, most often including core vocabulary relating to familial affiliations. Thus Latin pater and mater, Greek pate:r and me:te:r, and even their respective equivalents in English: father and mother. In Old Russian, only the feminine nouns mati 'mother' and dŭči 'daughter' remain as members of this class. The forms of mati are as follows.
As may now be expected, this declension also shows interference from the i-stem nouns, so that we also find forms materi for the genitive and locative singular, as well as for the nominative plural. In addition we occasionally find materĭi in the genitive plural.
The numberal četyre 'four', which only has plural forms, is often listed as an additional member of this class. We list below the plural forms for masculine, neuter, and feminine genders.
We occasionally find the form četyrĭma in place of the instrumental plural četyrĭmi.
Comparison of adjectives refers to patterns whereby a language distinguishes between different degrees in which an adjective may characterize the noun it modifies. In English while a clean room lacks filth, a certain room may obtain this condition to an even greater degree and so be termed a cleaner room. Finally, a particular room may make claim to being the most lacking in filth, and hence the cleanest room. The three adjectival forms clean, cleaner, cleanest represent the different degrees of comparison of the adjective clean. The basic adjective itself, clean, is termed the positive degree. The form cleaner, signifying relatively more of the quality specified by the positive degree, is termed the comparative degree. And the form cleanest, denoting the obtaining of the quality to the maximum degree, is the superlative degree. In English some adjectives mark the comparative and superlative degrees with morphological suffixes, such as the -er and -est of cleaner and cleanest, respectively. Other words possess no such morphological marking for the various degrees, and so English employs the use of qualifying adverbs. For example, the positive degree robust forms the comparative degree via the phrase more robust and the superlative via most robust. Old Russian functions similarly.
The Old Russian comparative degree of adjectives has two forms: the short form and the long form. These should not be confused with the short and long form of (the positive degree of) adjectives, i.e. the simple and compound forms of adjectives. Rather the distinction between the short and long forms of the comparative degree of adjectives derives from the length of the suffix appended to the adjectival base before adding the case endings themselves. This suffix had two forms in Common Slavic: the short form *-jĭš- and the long form *-ějĭš-.
The short form of the comparative adds the suffix *-jĭš- to the basic stem of the adjective. In the masculine nominative singular, the final sibilant is lost, yielding *-jĭ. This form as such does not occur, however: instead we find a compound form where the third person pronoun *i [*jĭ] is added. Thus the masculine nominative singular ending that we actually find in the Old Russian texts is *-jĭjĭ > -ĭi, or frequently -ii. The nominative singular of the neuter derives from *-je.
All other case forms append endings to the suffix *-jĭš-. Because the suffix begins with a palatal glide, we find the effects of palatalization in the final consonant of the adjectival base. Several adjectives with recognizable suffixes, in particular -ŭk- or -ok-, drop this suffix before appending the comparative suffix. For example, the adjective vysokŭ 'high' drops the suffix -ok-, leaving vys-. To this is added the comparative suffix, which yields a stem vyš-ĭš-, with palatalization of the original -s- of the stem. We use the forms of vyšĭš- 'higher' to illustrate the short form comparative paradigm.
We frequently find the special masculine accusative singular form vyšĭšĭ replaced by either the nominative or genitive form. In addition, singular neuter forms occasionally lose the suffix -ĭš- in the dative: e.g. neuter dative singular vyšju. Moreover the suffix occasionally appears in the singular nominative and accusative: vyšĭše.
The long form of the comparative adds the suffix *-ějĭš- to the basic stem of the adjective. In the masculine nominative singular, the final sibilant is lost, yielding *-ějĭ, and written in the Cyrillic script as -ěi. In the remaining forms the *-š- of the *-ějĭš- suffix persists. Moreover, the initial *-ě- of the suffix derives from an original PIE *-e:- (long-e), and so this caused any preceding velar to undergo the changes ascribed to first palatalization. When this situation obtained, the *-ě- subsequently shifted back to *-a-, leaving the suffix *-ajiš-. Consider for example the comparative of velikŭ 'great': *velik-ějĭš- becomes *velič-ějĭš- with palatalization, then *velič-ajĭš- with backing, leaving veličaiš- 'greater' as the comparative stem. (Cf. Section 6.2.1 of Lesson 2.)
The adjective starŭ 'old' forms the comparative with the long suffix: *star-ějĭš-, yielding the stem starěiš- 'older'. We use its forms to illustrate the long-form comparative paradigm.
In English we frequently find that the comparative and superlative degrees of a certain adjective have phonetically little in common with the positive degree. For example the positive degree good differs markedly from the comparative better and superlative best. Such a collection is suppletive, that is, different lexical roots have come together to fill gaps in the complete paradigm of a given lexical root. Where good lacks a comparative *gooder built from the same base, it has adopted the comparative better properly belonging to a different base.
This process of suppletion in comparative paradigms is common throughout many languages, and Old Russian is no exception. The following table lists a few common adjectives whose comparative shows a different lexical base.
Old Russian displays no special morphological marking of the superlative degree. Rather Old Russian generally forms the superlative by means of a comparative form of an adjective accompanied by a genitive denoting the point of reference: for example vĭsěxŭ bol'ii 'biggest of all'. In addition we find the adverb zělo 'very' used with the positive base of the adjective to denote the extremes of the attribute described by the adjective. For example, note the expression medy mŭnogy zělo (acc. pl.) 'very great (quantities of) honey' in the story of Olga's Revenge.
In the section on the third person pronoun we mentioned in passing that *i forms the basis for the relative pronoun. Relative pronouns are those pronouns which are used to refer back to a noun outside of their own clause. An example in English would be The woman whom you greeted yesterday arrived a few minutes ago. In this example, whom is a relative pronoun: though it functions as a normal pronoun within its own clause, its antecedent woman lies outside of the relative clause whom you greeted yesterday and in the main clause The woman... arrived a few minutes ago. Typically, as in this example, such clauses serve to specify or further define the noun to which the relative pronoun refers, and in some sense they can be thought of as clauses which function as adjectives. Moreover we see in the English example that the relative pronoun takes its case from its function in its own clause. Here whom is the object of greeted and so in the English oblique case, whereas the noun to which it refers, woman, is the subject of the verb arrived of the main clause.
Relative pronouns in Old Russian function analogously to their English cousins. They refer to nouns outside of their own clause and as such take their gender and number from the noun to which they refer. But they take their case from their function in their own clause. Consider the following example, taken from the story of Olga's Revenge: naši knęzi dobri sutĭ iže raspasli sutĭ derevĭsku zemlju "Our princes are good, those who cultivated the land of Dereva". Here iže is masculine plural to agree with knęzi, but nominative because it is the subject of raspasli sutĭ. Contrast this with the following example: kdě sutĭ družina naša, ixŭže poslaxomŭ po tę "Where is our retinue, which we sent for you?" Here ixŭže is genitive because it is the human direct object of the verb poslaxomŭ. Though it should actually be feminine singular to agree with its antecedent družina, we see an instance of a common shift in Old Russian: the relative pronoun agrees with the logical referent. In this situation, the antecedent družina actually refers to a group of people, and so logically represents a masculine plural entity. Hence ixŭže is masculine plural.
The following paradigm illustrates the declension of the relative pronoun.
|N Pl.||iže||jaže||ěže, jaže|
|A||ěže, jaže||jaže||ěže, jaže|
The enclitic suffix že remains constant throughout the paradigm. Moreover we see from the paradigm and the preceding examples that the nominative forms of the relative pronoun do in fact occur in the extant Old Russian texts. In addition, as with the third person pronouns, the relative pronouns take a prothetic n- when following a preposition: otŭ n'ixŭže 'those by whom'.
The Old Russian interrogative pronoun occurs only with forms that are morphologically singular. In this respect it parallels the English interrogative pronouns who? and what? For example, we do not say *Whats are these?, but rather What are these?. The Old Russian interrogative also functions similarly to the English interrogative in another respect. While Old Russian distinguishes three grammatical genders, the interrogative pronoun distinguishes only two: masculine and feminine on the one hand, and neuter on the other. Just as in English, we would say What is this? when asking, say, about a book lying on a table; but we would say Who is this? when asking about a person, whether male or female. The forms of the interrogative pronoun are as follows.
As is typical, the genitive form kogo generally assumes the role of the accusative for animate referents. Several variant forms appear in the literature, including the proper Old Church Slavonic form cěmĭ for the instrumental masculine and feminine, showing the effects of the second palatalization. We also find neuter genitive forms čĭso and česo, as well as extended forms čĭsogo and česogo. The same formation extends to the dative, čĭsomu and česomu, as well as to the locative, česomĭ. In addition we find the variants čto and even što for the nominative neuter.
Old Russian possesses an interrogative adjective kŭi 'which? what sort of?'. The following table illustrates the paradigm.
|N Sg.||kŭ, kŭi||koe||koja|
|N Pl.||koi, cii||kaja||kyě|
The nominative masculine singular shows a variant form kyi due to the tense position of the back jer. The masculine and neuter instrumental singular also show the variant kyimĭ, while the dative and instrumental dual show a contracted form kyma. In the plural we find the variant kyě of the masculine accusative, as well as cěmi for the instrumental, and kyixŭ for the genitive and locative.
The pronouns kŭto 'who?' and čĭto 'what?' function not only as interrogatives, but also as indefinites: kŭto 'someone, anyone'; čĭto 'something, anything'. They share this feature with many of their Indo-European relatives, such as the interrogatives like Latin quis and Sanskrit kas.
In addition Old Russian may add the prefix ně- to the interrogative to form an indefinite pronoun: někŭto 'someone, anyone'. The same prefix may be applied to the interrogative adjective to form an indefinite adjective: někŭi 'some, a certain'. By contrast the prefix ni-, when attached to an interrogative, results in the corresponding negative. Thus from kŭto we derive be means of this prefix the negative pronoun: nikŭto 'no one'. And similarly we derive the negative adjective from the interrogative adjective: nikŭi 'no, not a'.
Old Russian forms certain tenses predominantly, or in certain instances exclusively, by means of periphrastic, or compound, structures. Typically these involve a finite form of the verb byti 'to be', accompanied by an l-participle modifying the subject. Other formations employ infinitives as complements to conjugated auxiliary verbs.
Old Russian inherits the Proto-Indo-European perfect formation in a single form: vědě 'I know', archaically 'I have seen'. This derives from PIE *uoida > *uoida+i > CS *vědě > vědě in both Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic. Compare Greek (w)oida and Sanskrit veda, both 'I know', and which provide perfect morpheme-for-morpheme counterpoints. In all other instances, however, Old Russian forms what may formally be called the perfect tense by means of a periphrastic construction involving the appropriate nominative form of the resultative participle and the present tense of the verb byti 'to be'. The verb nesti 'to carry' provides an example of the perfect paradigm.
|1 Sg.||neslŭ esmĭ||neslo esmĭ||nesla esmĭ||I (have) carried|
|2||neslŭ esi||neslo esi||nesla esi||you (have) carried|
|3||neslŭ estĭ||neslo estĭ||nesla estĭ||he/she/it (has) carried|
|1 Du.||nesla esvě||neslě esvě||neslě esvě||we two (have) carried|
|2||nesla esta||neslě esta||neslě esta||you two (have) carried|
|3||nesla esta||neslě esta||neslě esta||they two (have) carried|
|1 Pl.||nesli esmŭ||nesla esmŭ||nesly esmŭ||we (have) carried|
|2||nesli este||nesla este||nesly este||you (have) carried|
|3||nesli sutĭ||nesla sutĭ||nesly sutĭ||they (have) carried|
The morphology of the Old Russian perfect presents few challenges. Far more difficult, however, is understanding precisely its function as distinct from other past tenses. Typically the perfect tense (really a verbal aspect, rather than a tense, and not to be confused with the perfective aspect, which we will discuss later in this series) denotes what is commonly described as a 'past action with present relevance'. A slightly more precise phrasing, yet one that remains unfortunately vague nonetheless, is that the perfect tense denotes a past action resulting in a state that persists up through the moment of utterance. Consider the following example from English: the simple past I ate versus the perfect tense I have eaten. Both refer to a past action, but the latter implies a state of being which persists until the moment of utterance: loosely speaking, I have eaten suggests that the speaker is in a state of satiety, or of not having an empty stomach, at the moment of utterance.
The question for Old Russian, then, is: which type does the Old Russian perfect belong to? Is it equivalent to English I ate or to English I have eaten? The simple answer is that the situation remains unclear. In part, this is because it is difficult to tease out of the extant texts the author's intention in many circumstances. However the modern use of the l-participle in the formation of a simple past tense suggests that Old Russian too could view the perfect as a simple past. Thus we may rephrase the question: did the perfect formation ever have an interpretation as a true perfect in Old Russian? A good check would be parallelism: we must verify whether Old Russian perfects are coordinated with present tenses, suggesting that the perfects denote a state felt to have present force. Even with this concrete method of characterization, the data is mixed. We do in fact find coordination with present forms, but the context occasionally leads to difficulty in precise interpretation:
It seems that the Old Russian perfect early rendered a true perfect tense. As the language developed, the perfect took on the sense of a simple past, and at the same time there was a tendency to drop the accompanying forms of the copula, leaving only the participle.
The pluperfect essentially represents a perfect shifted back in time. That is, the pluperfect represents an action completed before (and creating a state enduring up to) another past time or action. In English, the pluperfect of eat is had eaten, for example. The Old Russian formation of the pluperfect parallels that of the perfect, replacing the present tense forms of byti 'to be' with forms from the imperfect běaxŭ, etc., or from the aorist byxŭ, etc., or běxŭ, etc. The verb nesti 'to carry' illustrates the paradigm.
|1 Sg.||neslŭ, -lo, -la||běaxŭ||/||byxŭ|
|2||neslŭ, -lo, -la||běaše||/||by|
|3||neslŭ, -lo, -la||běaše||/||by|
|1 Du.||nesla, -lě, -lě||běaxově||/||byxově|
|2||nesla, -lě, -lě||běašeta||/||bysta|
|3||nesla, -lě, -lě||běašeta||/||bysta|
|1 Pl.||nesli, -la, -ly||běaxomŭ||/||byxomŭ|
|2||nesli, -la, -ly||běašete||/||byste|
|3||nesli, -la, -ly||běaxu||/||byša|
Old Russian displays no morphological forms which serve uniquely to express the future. Instead Old Russian generally employs present tense forms where context dictates a future meaning. This parallels English usage of present progressive forms, as in I am going to the store in five minutes. Generally speaking such uses of the present forms to denote future action display verbal prefixes as befits the nascent system of marking of Slavic perfective aspect. But this tendency does not seem to have hardened into a set rule in the earliest Old Russian texts. Some verbs, such as dati 'to give', frequently omit the prefix in contexts where the present tense forms must be interpreted with future meaning.
We find a second future formation in Old Russian which parallels English constructions with an auxiliary and complement, as in I will jog or I shall jog. In Old Russian, several verbs form a periphrastic future by employing the infinitive in conjunction with a conjugated form of an auxiliary verb. The following verbs typically function as auxiliaries in periphrastic future formations: načati, počati, učati, all 'to begin'; xotěti 'to want, will'; iměti 'to have'; jati 'to take'. For example, from the Primary Chronicle we have eliže kamenĭ načĭnetĭ plavati "... even if a stone will float". In such constructions it seems that the auxiliary may at times retain some of its own basic meaning. Again the Primary Chronicle provides an example: rodilŭsja estĭ dětiščĭ vŭ Židŭxŭ, iže xoščetĭ pogubiti Egupĭtŭ "A child has been born among the Jews who will (wants to) destroy Egypt." The context does not make clear whether xotěti 'to want' retains its original meaning or serves simply to mark the future.
Old Russian forms a periphrastic future perfect in a manner analogous to that of the perfect and pluperfect. This employs an l-participle in conjunction with the "future" forms of byti 'to be': budu, budeši, budetĭ, etc., forms which are formally present tense but which carry a future sense "will be". The future perfect, as its name suggests, amounts to a perfect sense shifted forward in time. That is, a future perfect form stipulates that, as of a certain future point in time or future action, the action denoted by the verb form will already have been completed, and the ensuing state will continue up to that other future point in time. For comparison, the future perfect of English I eat is I will have eaten: as of some point in the future, my act of eating will be over, and the resulting lack of hunger will endure up to that future point in time. The verb nesti 'to carry' once again serves to illustrate the paradigm.
|1 Sg.||neslŭ, -lo, -la||budu|
|2||neslŭ, -lo, -la||budeši|
|3||neslŭ, -lo, -la||budetĭ|
|1 Du.||nesla, -lě, -lě||budevě|
|2||nesla, -lě, -lě||budeta|
|3||nesla, -lě, -lě||budeta|
|1 Pl.||nesli, -la, -ly||budemŭ|
|2||nesli, -la, -ly||budete|
|3||nesli, -la, -ly||budutĭ|
In Old Russian the nominative case serves to mark the subject of a finite (conjugated) verb. The verb may be explicitly stated or merely implied by context.
25.1.1 Subject & Predicate
Still in Old Russian the nominative case serves not only to mark the subject of a finite verb, but also to mark any substantive or adjective predicated to the subject. This provides a marked distinction between Old Russian and modern Russian: in the latter some or all of the predicate is frequently placed in the instrumental. This is a later innovation within Russian. The earlier state of affairs, with both subject and predicate in the nominative, displays the linguistic state inherited from Common Slavic and recapitulates the norm not only among close relatives like Old Church Slavonic, but also among more distant relatives like Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. The following excerpts provide examples in which the element predicated to the subject is a noun:
By contrast the following examples contain an adjective as the predicate nominative:
Old Russian also employs the nominative case when quoting names or giving titles. The following provide examples of the nominative used for naming:
25.1.2 The Nominative with Infinitive
Old Russian also shows instances of a peculiar construction involving the nominative with the infinitive. The peculiarity of the construction lies in the fact that the nominative which accompanies the infinitive generally must be construed as the object of the action signified by the infinitive. Thus one would either expect the noun to be in the accusative case or expect the infinitive to be passive (or reflexive, i.e. accompanied by sja). Neither of these tends to obtain. Consider the following examples of the nominative accompanied by the infinitive:
We also find the infinitive as the complement to an adjective in the nominative. Consider the following example of a nominative adjective with infinitive: voda že mutna velmi i sladka piti 'The water is very turbid and sweet to drink' (Abbot Daniel). Here we see, in fact, that English permits the same construction. Allow momentarily the use of the case structure originally inherited by English: Old English showed nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative cases, and occasionally an instrumental. Viewed from this perspective, turbid and sweet must be nominative as predicates to water, but they also seem to represent the object of the action represented by the infinitive to drink and for this reason should be accusative.
The Old Russian vocative provides the case of direct address, the case marking the person or thing whom the speaker is addressing. This case only distinguishes itself from the nominative in the singular of masculine and feminine nouns. Consider the following example of the vocative of nouns: o bojane, solobiju starago vremeni 'O Bojan, nightingale of old time(s)' (Igor Tale).
The vocative form for adjectives typically agrees with the nominative in all numbers when the adjective is not being used as a substantive. The following examples show nouns in the vocative modified by accompanying adjectives:
In the dual and plural of all nouns, the vocative and nominative forms are identical. Moreover, we frequently find the nominative used in place of the vocative even when a distinct vocative form is available. Consider the following example of the nominative used in place of the vocative: Marθa 'Martha!' (Ostromir Gospel, Luke 10.41). Here the expected a-stem vocative would be *Marθo.
Rarely, we find instances where the vocative appears in situations where we would expect the nominative. The following example shows the vocative used in place of nominative: se vŭdale varlame svjatomu sŭpasu zemlju i ogorodŭ... 'Indeed Varlaam gave to the Holy Savior (monastery) land and a garden...' (Gribble, 1973, p. 122). The context suggests that the vocative forms vŭdale varlame function as the subject of the statement, and so we would expect the nominative *vŭdalŭ varlamŭ.