Early Cyrillic alphabet

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Early Cyrillic alphabet
Clementalphabet.png
Type
Languages Old Church Slavonic, Church Slavonic, old versions of many Slavic languages
Time period
from circa 893
Parent systems
Sister systems
Latin alphabet
Coptic alphabet
Armenian
ISO 15924 Cyrs, 221
U+0400 to U+04FF
U+0500 to U+052F
U+2DE0 to U+2DFF
U+A640 to U+A69F

The Early Cyrillic alphabet is a writing system that was developed during the late ninth century on the basis of the Greek alphabet[2][3][4] for the Orthodox Slavic population in Europe.[5] It was developed in the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire to write the Old Church Slavonic language.[6][7] The modern Cyrillic script is still used primarily for Slavic languages, and for Asian languages that were under Russian cultural influence during the 20th century.


Азбука.jpg


а б в г д е ж ѕ з и і к л м н о п р с т оу ф
х ѡ ц ч ш щ ъ ь ѣ ю ѥ ѧ ѫ ѩ ѭ ѯ ѱ ѳ ѵ ҁ

History[edit]

The earliest form of manuscript Cyrillic, known as ustav, was based on Greek uncial script, augmented by ligatures and by letters from the Glagolitic alphabet for consonants not found in Greek.[8]

The Glagolitic alphabet was created by the monk Saint Cyril, possibly with the aid of his brother Saint Methodius, around 863.[8] Cyrillic, on the other hand, may have been a creation of Cyril's students in the 890s at the Preslav Literary School under Boris I of Bulgaria as a more suitable script for church books, though retaining the original Bulgarian symbols in Glagolitic.[9] An alternative hypothesis proposes that it emerged in the border regions of Greek proselytization to the Slavs before it was codified and adapted by some systematizer among the Slavs; the oldest Cyrillic manuscripts look very similar to 9th and 10th century Greek uncial manuscripts,[8] and the majority of uncial Cyrillic letters were identical to their Greek uncial counterparts.[10] One possibility is that this systematization of Cyrillic was undertaken at the Synod of Preslav in 893, when the Old Church Slavonic liturgy was adopted by the Bulgarian Empire.[10]

During the Middle Ages the Cyrillic Alphabet was known as the Slavic Alphabet or the Bulgarian Alphabet.

The Cyrillic alphabet was very well suited for the writing of Old Church Slavic, generally following a principle of “one letter for one significant sound”, with some arbitrary or phonotactically-based exceptions.[8] Particularly, this principle is violated by certain vowel letters, which represent [j] plus the vowel if they are not preceded by a consonant.[8] It is also violated by a significant failure to distinguish between /ji/ and /jĭ/ orthographically.[8] There was no distinction of capital and lowercase letters, though manuscript letters were rendered larger for emphasis, or in various decorative initial and nameplate forms.[9] Letters served as numerals as well as phonetic signs; the values of the numerals were directly borrowed from their Greek-letter analogues.[8] Letters without Greek equivalents mostly had no numeral values, whereas one letter, koppa, had only a numeric value with no phonetic value.[8]

Since its creation, the Cyrillic script has adapted to changes in spoken language and developed regional variations to suit the features of national languages. It has been the subject of academic reforms and political decrees. Variations of the Cyrillic script are used to write languages throughout Eastern Europe and Asia.

The form of the Russian alphabet underwent a change when Tsar Peter I of Russia introduced the Civil Script (Russian: гражданскій шрифтъ, graždanskij šrift, or граждaнкa, graždanka, in contrast to the prevailing Church Typeface, Russian: церковнославя́нскій шрифтъ, cerkovnoslavjanskij šrift) in 1708. Some letters and breathing marks which were only used for historical reasons were dropped. Medieval letterforms used in typesetting were harmonized with Latin typesetting practices, exchanging medieval forms for Baroque ones, and skipping the western European Renaissance developments. The reform subsequently influenced Cyrillic orthographies for most other languages. Today, the early orthography and typesetting standards only remain in use in Church Slavonic.

A comprehensive repertoire of early Cyrillic characters is included in the Unicode 5.1 standard, published on April 4, 2008. These characters and their distinctive letterforms are represented in specialized computer fonts for Slavistics.

Alphabet[edit]

Image Unicode Name
(Cyrillic)
Name
(translit.)
Name
(IPA)
Trans. IPA Numeric value Origin Meaning Notes
Early-Cyrillic-letter-Azu.svg А а азъ azŭ [azŭ] a [a] 1 Greek alpha Α I
Early Cyrillic letter Buky.svg Б б боукꙑ buky [bukɯ] b [b] One of forms of Greek beta Β letters
Early Cyrillic letter Viedi.png В в вѣдѣ vědě [vædæ] v [v] 2 Greek beta Β know
Early Cyrillic letter Glagoli.png Г г глаголи glagoli [ɡlaɡoli] g [ɡ][8] 3 Greek gamma Γ speak
Early Cyrillic letter Dobro.png Д д добро dobro [dobro] d [d] 4 Greek delta Δ good When marked with a palatalization mark, this letter is pronounced [ɟ]; this only occurs rarely, and only in borrowings.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Yesti.png Є є єсть estĭ [jɛstĭ] e [ɛ] 5 Greek epsilon Ε is Pronounced [jɛ] when not preceded by a consonant.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Zhiviete.png Ж ж живѣтє živěte [ʒivætɛ] ž, zh [ʒ] Glagolitic zhivete live
Early Cyrillic letter Dzelo.png Ѕ ѕ / Ꙃ ꙃ ꙃѣло dzělo [dzælo] dz, ʒ,[8] [dz] 6 Greek stigma Ϛ very The form had the phonetic value [dz] and no numeral value, whereas the form ѕ was used only as a numeral and had no phonetic value.[8] In many manuscripts з is used instead, suggesting lenition had taken place.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Zemlia.png З з / Ꙁ ꙁ зємл҄ꙗ zemlja [zɛmʎa] z [z] 7 Greek zeta Ζ earth The first form developed into the second.
Early Cyrillic letter Izhe.png И и ижє iže [jiʒɛ] i [i] 8 Greek eta Η which Pronounced [ji] or [jĭ] when not preceded by a consonant and not the particle ‹i› (“and”); the orthography does not distinguish between [ji] and [jĭ].[8] Speculatively, this letter might have originally been intended to represent [i] and [ji].[8]
Early Cyrillic letter I.png І і / Ї ї и/ижєи i/ižei [i]/[jiʒɛi] i, ı, ì [i] 10 Greek iota Ι and Pronounced [ji] or [jĭ] when not preceded by a consonant and not the particle ‹i› (“and”); the orthography does not distinguish between [ji] and [jĭ].[8] Speculatively, this letter might have originally been intended to represent [jĭ].[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Kako.png К к како kako [kako] k [k] 20 Greek kappa Κ as When marked with a palatalization mark, this letter is pronounced [c]; this only occurs rarely, and only in borrowings.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Liudiye.png Л л людиѥ ljudije [ʎudijɛ] l [l]; sometimes [ʎ][8] 30 Greek lambda Λ people When marked with a palatalization mark or followed by a palatalizing vowel (ю, ѭ, or , and sometimes ѣ), this letter is pronounced [ʎ]; some manuscripts do not mark palatalization, in which case it must be inferred from context.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Myslite.png М м мꙑслитє myslite [mɯslitɛ] m [m] 40 Greek mu Μ think
Early Cyrillic letter Nashi.png Н н нашь našĭ [naʃĭ] n [n]; sometimes [ɲ][8] 50 Greek nu Ν ours When marked with a palatalization mark or followed by a palatalizing vowel (ю, ѭ, or , and sometimes ѣ), this letter is pronounced [ɲ]; some manuscripts do not mark palatalization, in which case it must be inferred from context.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Onu.png О о онъ onŭ [onŭ] o [o] 70 Greek omicron Ο he/it
Early Cyrillic letter Pokoi.png П п покои pokoi [pokoj] p [p] 80 Greek pi Π peace/calm
Early Cyrillic letter Ritsi.png Р р рьци rĭci [rĭtsi] r [r]; sometimes [rʲ][8] 100 Greek rho Ρ say When marked with a palatalization mark or followed by a palatalizing vowel (ю or ѭ), this letter is pronounced [rʲ]; some manuscripts do not mark palatalization, in which case it must be inferred from context.[8] This palatalization was lost rather early in South Slavic speech.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Slovo.png С с слово slovo [slovo] s [s] 200 Greek lunate sigma Ϲ word/speech
Early Cyrillic letter Tvrido.png Т т тврьдо tvrĭdo [tvrĭdo] t [t] 300 Greek tau Τ hard/surely
Early Cyrillic letter Uku.png Оу оу / Ꙋ ꙋ оукъ ukŭ [ukŭ] u [u] 400 Greek omicron-upsilon ΟΥ / Ꙋ learning The first form developed into the second, a vertical ligature. A less common alternative form was a digraph with izhitsa: Оѵ оѵ.
Early Cyrillic letter Fritu.png Ф ф фрьтъ frĭtŭ [frrĭtŭ] f [f] or possibly [p][8] 500 Greek phi Φ This letter was not needed for Slavic but used to transcribe Greek Φ and Latin ph and f.[8] It was probably, but not certainly, pronounced as [f] rather than [p]; however, in some cases it has been found as a transcription of Greek π.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Khieru.png Х х хѣръ xěrŭ [xærŭ] kh, x,[8] h [x] 600 Greek chi Χ When marked with a palatalization mark, this letter is pronounced [ç]; this only occurs rarely, and only in borrowings.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Otu.png Ѡ ѡ отъ otŭ [otŭ] ō, w, o, ô [o] 800 Greek omega ω from This letter was rarely used, mostly appearing in the interjection “oh”, in the preposition ‹otŭ›, in Greek transcription, and as a decorative capital.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Tsi.png Ц ц ци ci [tsi] c [ts] 900 Glagolitic tsi
Early Cyrillic letter Chrivi.png Ч ч чрьвь črĭvĭ [tʃrĭvĭ] č, ch [tʃ] 90 Glagolitic cherv worm This letter replaced koppa as the numeral for 90 after about 1300.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Sha.png Ш ш ша ša [ʃa] š, sh [ʃ] Glagolitic sha
Early Cyrillic letter Shta.png Щ щ ща šta [ʃta] št, sht [ʃt] Glagolitic shta This letter varied in pronunciation from region to region; it may have originally represented the reflexes of [tʲ].[8] It was sometimes replaced by the digraph шт.[8] Pronounced [ʃtʃ] in Old East Slavic. Later analyzed as a Ш-Т ligature by folk etymology, but neither the Cyrillic nor the Glagolitic glyph originated as such a ligature.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Yeru.png Ъ ъ ѥръ jerŭ [jɛrŭ] ŭ, ъ[8] [ŭ] or [ʊ][8] Glagolitic yer[10] After č, š, ž, c, dz, št, and žd, this letter was pronounced identically to ь instead of its normal pronunciation.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Yery.png Ꙑ ꙑ / Ъи ъи[8] ѥрꙑ jery [jɛrɯ] y [ɯ] or [ɯji] or [ɯjĭ][8] Ъ + І or Ъ + И ligature. Ꙑ was the more common form; rarely, a third form, ы, appears.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Yeri.png Ь ь ѥрь jerĭ [jɛrĭ] ĭ, ь[8] [ĭ] or [ɪ][8] Glagolitic yerj[10]
Early Cyrillic letter Yati.png Ѣ ѣ ꙗть jatĭ [jatĭ] ě [æ][8] Glagolitic yat[10] In western South Slavic dialects of Old Church Slavonic, this letter had a more closed pronunciation, perhaps [ɛ] or [e].[8] This letter was only written after a consonant; in all other positions, was used instead.[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Ya.png Ꙗ ꙗ ja [ja] ja [ja] І-А ligature This letter was probably not present in the original Cyrillic alphabet.[10]
Early Cyrillic letter Ye.png Ѥ ѥ ѥ je [jɛ] je [jɛ] І-Є ligature This letter was probably not present in the original Cyrillic alphabet.[10]
Early Cyrillic letter Yu.png Ю ю ю ju [ju] ju [ju] І-ОУ ligature, dropping У There was no [jo] sound in early Slavic, so І-ОУ did not need to be distinguished from І-О. After č, š, ž, c, dz, št, and žd, this letter was pronounced [u], without iotation.
Early Cyrillic letter Yusu Maliy.png Ѧ ѧ ѧсъ ęsŭ [jɛ̃sŭ] ę, ẽ [ɛ̃] 900 Glagolitic ens Pronounced [jɛ̃] when not preceded by a consonant.[8] Called юсъ малый (little yus) in Russian.
Early Cyrillic letter Yusu Maliy Yotirovaniy.png Ѩ ѩ ѩсъ jęsŭ [jɛ̃sŭ] ję, jẽ [jɛ̃] І-Ѧ ligature This letter does not exist in the oldest (South Slavic) Cyrillic manuscripts, but only in East Slavic ones.[8] It was probably not present in the original Cyrillic alphabet.[10] Called юсъ малый йотированный (iotated little yus) in Russian.
Early Cyrillic letter Yusu Bolshiy.png Ѫ ѫ ѫсъ ǫsŭ [ɔ̃sŭ] ǫ, õ [ɔ̃] Glagolitic ons Called юсъ большой (big yus) in Russian.
Early Cyrillic letter Yusu Bolshiy Yotirovaniy.png Ѭ ѭ ѭсъ jǫsŭ [jɔ̃sŭ] jǫ, jõ [jɔ̃] І-Ѫ ligature After č, š, ž, c, dz, št, and žd, this letter was pronounced [ɔ̃], without iotation. Called юсъ большой йотированный (iotated big yus) in Russian.
Early Cyrillic letter Ksi.png Ѯ ѯ ѯи ksi [ksi] ks [ks] 60 Greek xi Ξ These two letters were not needed for Slavic but were used to transcribe Greek and as numerals.
Early Cyrillic letter Psi.png Ѱ ѱ ѱи psi [psi] ps [ps] 700 Greek psi Ψ
Early Cyrillic letter Fita.png Ѳ ѳ фита fita [fita] θ, th, T, F [t], or possibly [θ] 9 Greek theta Θ This letter was not needed for Slavic but was used to transcribe Greek and as a numeral. It seems to have been generally pronounced [t], as the oldest texts sometimes replace instances of it with т.[8] Normal Old Church Slavonic pronunciation probably did not have a phone [θ].[8]
Early Cyrillic letter Izhitsa.png Ѵ ѵ ижица ižica [jiʒitsa] ü, v, [i], [y], [v] 400 Greek upsilon Υ small yoke This letter was used to transcribe Greek upsilon and as a numeral. It also formed part of the digraph оѵ.
Early Cyrillic letter Koppa.png Ҁ ҁ копа kopa [kopa] q no sound value 90 Greek koppa Ϙ This letter had no phonetic value, and was only used as a numeral. After about 1300, it was replaced as a numeral by črĭvĭ.[8]

In addition to the basic letters, there were a number of scribal variations, combining ligatures, and regionalisms used, all of which varied over time.

Numerals, diacritics and punctuation[edit]

Each letter had a numeric value also, inherited from the corresponding Greek letter. A titlo over a sequence of letters indicated their use as a number; usually this was accompanied by a dot on either side of the letter.[8] In numerals, the ones place was to the left of the tens place, the reverse of the order used in modern Arabic numerals.[8] Thousands are formed using a special symbol, ҂ (U+0482), which was attached to the lower left corner of the numeral.[8] Many fonts display this symbol incorrectly as being in line with the letters instead of subscripted below and to the left of them.

Titlos were also used to form abbreviations, especially of nomina sacra; this was done by writing the first and last letter of the abbreviated word along with the word’s grammatical endings, then placing a titlo above it.[8] Later manuscripts made increasing use of a different style of abbreviation, in which some of the left-out letters were superscripted above the abbreviation and covered with a pokrytie diacritic.[8]

Several diacritics, adopted from Polytonic Greek orthography, were also used, but were seemingly redundant[8] (these may not appear correctly in all web browsers; they are supposed to be directly above the letter, not off to its upper right):

ӓ  trema, diaeresis (U+0308)
а̀  varia (grave accent), indicating stress on the last syllable (U+0340)
а́  oksia (acute accent), indicating a stressed syllable (Unicode U+0341)
а҃  titlo, indicating abbreviations, or letters used as numerals (U+0483)
а҄  kamora (circumflex accent), indicating palatalization[citation needed] (U+0484); in later Church Slavonic, it disambiguates plurals from homophonous singulars.
а҅  dasia or dasy pneuma, rough breathing mark (U+0485)
а҆  psili, zvatel'tse, or psilon pneuma, soft breathing mark (U+0486). Signals a word-initial vowel, at least in later Church Slavonic.
а҆̀  Combined zvatel'tse and varia is called apostrof.
а҆́  Combined zvatel'tse and oksia is called iso.

Punctuation systems in early Cyrillic manuscripts were primitive: there was no space between words and no upper and lower case, and punctuation marks were used inconsistently in all manuscripts.[8]

·  ano teleia (U+0387), a middle dot used to separate phrases, words, or parts of words[8]
.  Full stop, used in the same way[8]
։  Armenian full stop (U+0589), resembling a colon, used in the same way[8]
  Georgian paragraph separator (U+10FB), used to mark off larger divisions
  triangular colon (U+2056, added in Unicode 4.1), used to mark off larger divisions
  diamond colon (U+2058, added in Unicode 4.1), used to mark off larger divisions
  quintuple colon (U+2059, added in Unicode 4.1), used to mark off larger divisions
;  Greek question mark (U+037E), similar to a semicolon

Some of these marks are also used in Glagolitic script.

Used only in modern texts

,  comma (U+002C)
.  full stop (U+002E)
!  exclamation mark (U+0021)

Gallery[edit]

Medieval Greek Uncial manuscripts from which early Cyrillic letter forms take its shape[edit]

Early Cyrillic manuscripts[edit]

See also[edit]

Media related to early Cyrillic alphabet at Wikimedia Commons

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]