Early Cyrillic alphabet
|Early Cyrillic alphabet
|Languages||Old Church Slavonic, Church Slavonic, old versions of many Slavic languages|
|Time period||from circa 893|
|Sister systems||Latin alphabet
|ISO 15924||Cyrs, 221|
|Unicode range||U+0400 to U+04FF
U+0500 to U+052F
U+2DE0 to U+2DFF
U+A640 to U+A69F
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.|
The Early Cyrillic alphabet is a writing system that was developed during the late ninth century on the basis of the Greek alphabet for the Orthodox Slavic population in Europe. It was developed in the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire to write the Old Church Slavonic language. 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.
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. 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.
The Glagolic alphabet was created by the monks Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, in the 860s. The Cyrilic Alphabet was created in Preslav in the First Bulgarian Empire under the commission of Boris I of Bulgaria when Christianity was made the official state religion in 864. Cyrillic, on the other hand, may have been a creation of Cyril's students, at the Preslav Literary School in the 890s as a more suitable script for church books, though retaining the original Bulgarian symbols in Glagolitic.
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.
|А а||азъ||azŭ||[azŭ]||a||[a]||1||Greek alpha Α||"I"|
|Б б||боукы||buky||[buky], [bukŭi]||b||[b]||One of forms of Greek beta Β||"letters"|
|В в||вѣдѣ||vědě||[vædæ]||v||[v]||2||Greek beta Β||"know"|
|Г г||глаголи||glagoli||[ɡlaɡoli]||g||[ɡ]||3||Greek gamma Γ||"speak"|
|Д д||добро||dobro||[dobro]||d||[d]||4||Greek delta Δ||"good"|
|Є є||єсть||estĭ||[ɛstĭ]||e||[ɛ]||5||Greek epsilon Ε||"is" – present tense from "to be"|
|Ж ж||живѣтє||živěte||[ʒivætɛ]||ž, zh||[ʒ]||Glagolitic zhivete Ⰶ||"live"|
|Ѕ ѕ / Ꙃ ꙃ||ѕѣло||dzělo||[dzælo]||dz||[dz]||6||Greek stigma Ϛ||"very"|
|З з / Ꙁ ꙁ||земля||zemlja||[zemlja]||z||[z]||7||Greek zeta Ζ||The first form developed into the second. "earth"|
|И и||ижє||iže||[iʒɛ]||i||[i]||8||Greek eta Η||"which"|
|І і / Ї ї||и/ижеи||i/ižei||[i, iʒɛi]||i, I||[i]||10||Greek iota Ι||"and"|
|К к||како||kako||[kako]||k||[k]||20||Greek kappa Κ||"as"|
|Л л||людиѥ||ljudije||[ljudijɛ]||l||[l]||30||Greek lambda Λ||"people"|
|М м||мыслитє||myslite||[myslitɛ]~[mŭislitɛ]||m||[m]||40||Greek mu Μ||"think"|
|Н н||нашь||našĭ||[naʃĭ]||n||[n]||50||Greek nu Ν||"ours"|
|О о||онъ||onŭ||[onŭ]||o||[o]||70||Greek omicron Ο||"he" or "it"|
|П п||покои||pokoi||[pokoj]||p||[p]||80||Greek pi Π||"peaceful state"|
|Р р||рьци||rĭci||[rĭtsi]||r||[r]||100||Greek rho Ρ||"say"|
|С с||слово||slovo||[slovo]||s||[s]||200||Greek lunate sigma Ϲ||"word" or "speech"|
|Т т||тврьдо||tvrdo||[tvr̥do]||t||[t]||300||Greek tau Τ||"hard" or "surely"|
|Оу оу / Ꙋ ꙋ||оукъ||ukŭ||[ukŭ]||u||[u]||400||Greek omicron-upsilon ΟΥ / Ꙋ||The first form developed into the second, a vertical ligature. "learning"|
|Ф ф||фрьтъ||frtŭ||[fr̤̥tŭ]||f||[f]||500||Greek phi Φ|
|Х х||хѣръ||xěrŭ||[xærŭ]||kh||[x]||600||Greek chi Χ|
|Ѡ ѡ||отъ||otŭ||[otŭ]||ō, w||[oː]||800||Greek omega ω||"from"|
|Ц ц||ци||ci||[tsi]||c||[ts]||900||Glagolitic tsi Ⱌ|
|Ч ч||чрьвь||črvĭ||[tʃr̤̥vĭ]||č, ch||[tʃ]||90||Glagolitic cherv Ⱍ||"worm"|
|Ш ш||ша||ša||[ʃa]||š, sh||[ʃ]||Glagolitic sha Ⱎ|
|Щ щ||шта||šta||[ʃta]||št, sht||[ʃt]||Glagolitic shta Ⱋ||Later analyzed as a Ш-Т ligature by folk etymology|
|Ъ ъ||ѥръ||jerŭ||[jɛrŭ]||ŭ, u:||[ŭ]||Derived from Greek beta Β ?, Glagolitic yer Ⱏ ?|
|Ꙑ ꙑ||ѥры||jery||[jɛry]||y||[y], or possibly [ŭi]||Ъ + I ligature|
|Ь ь||ѥрь||jerĭ||[jɛrĭ]||ĭ, i:||[ĭ]||Derived from Greek beta Β ?, Glagolitic yerj Ⱐ ?|
|Ѣ ѣ||ять||jatĭ||[jatĭ]||ě||[æ]||Derived from Greek beta Β ?, Glagolitic yat Ⱑ ?|
|Ꙗ ꙗ||я||ja||[ja]||ja||[ia]||I-А ligature|
|Ѥ ѥ||ѥ||je:||[jɛ]||je||[iɛ]||І-Є ligature|
|Ю ю||ю||ju||[ju]||ju||[iu]||I-ОУ ligature, dropping У||There was no [jo] sound in early Slavic, so I-ОУ did not need to be distinguished from I-О.|
|Ѧ ѧ||ѧсъ||ęsŭ||[ɛ̃sŭ]||ę, ẽ||[ɛ̃]||900||Glagolitic ens Ⱔ||Called юсъ малый (little yus) in Russian.|
|Ѩ ѩ||ѩсъ||jęsŭ||[jɛ̃sŭ]||ję, jẽ||[jɛ̃]||I-Ѧ ligature||Called юсъ малый йотированный (iotated little yus) in Russian.|
|Ѫ ѫ||ѫсъ||ǫsŭ||[ɔ̃sŭ]||ǫ, õ||[ɔ̃]||Glagolitic ons Ⱘ||Called юсъ большой (big yus) in Russian.|
|Ѭ ѭ||ѭсъ||jǫsŭ||[jɔ̃sŭ]||jǫ, jõ||[jɔ̃]||I-Ѫ ligature||Called юсъ большой йотированный (iotated big yus) in Russian.|
|Ѯ ѯ||кси||ksi||[ksi]||ks||[ks]||60||Greek xi Ξ||These last four letters were not needed for Slavic but used to transcribe Greek and as numerals.|
|Ѱ ѱ||пси||psi||[psi]||ps||[ps]||700||Greek psi Ψ|
|Ѳ ѳ||фита||fita||[fita]||θ, th, T, F||[t]~[θ]~[f]||9||Greek theta Θ|
|Ѵ ѵ||ижица||ižica||[iʒitsa]||ü, v||[ɪ], [y], [v]||400||Greek upsilon Υ|
|South Slavic languages
|Western South Slavic|
|Eastern South Slavic|
|a Includes Banat Bulgarian alphabet.|
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 
Several diacritics, adopted from Polytonic Greek orthography, were also used (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 (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.
- · ano teleia (U+0387), a middle dot used as a word separator
- ։ Armenian full stop (U+0589), resembling a colon
- ჻ Georgian paragraph separator (U+10FB)
- ⁖ triangular colon (U+2056, added in Unicode 4.1)
- ⁘ diamond colon (U+2058, added in Unicode 4.1)
- ⁙ quintuple colon (U+2059, added in Unicode 4.1)
- ; Greek question mark (U+037E), similar to a semicolon
Used only in modern texts
Early Cyrillic manuscripts 
See also 
Media related to early Cyrillic alphabet at Wikimedia Commons
- Relationship of Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets
- Bosnian Cyrillic
- Romanian Cyrillic alphabet
- Reforms of Russian orthography
- Mauricio Borrero, "Russia", p. 123
- World Cultures Through Art Activities, Dindy Robinson, p. 115
- Handbook of Scripts and Alphabets, George L. Campbell, p. 42
- "Cyrillic alphabet". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 16 May. 2012
- The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire, Oxford History of the Christian Church, J. M. Hussey, Andrew Louth, Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 0191614882, p. 100.
- Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks, Florin Curta, Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0521815398, pp. 221-222.
- Cubberley 1994
- Berdnikov, Alexander and Olga Lapko, PDF, EuroTEX ’99 Proceedings, September 1999
- Birnbaum, David J., PDF, September 28, 2002
- Cubberley, Paul (1996) "The Slavic Alphabets". In Daniels and Bright, below.
- Daniels, Peter T., and William Bright, eds. (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
- Everson, Michael and Ralph Cleminson, PDF, September 4, 2003
- Franklin, Simon. 2002. Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c. 950–1300. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-511-03025-8.
- Lev, V., "The history of the Ukrainian script (paleography)", in Ukraine: a concise encyclopædia, volume 1. University of Toronto Press, 1963, 1970, 1982. ISBN 0-8020-3105-6
- Simovyc, V., and J. B. Rudnyckyj, "The history of Ukrainian orthography", in Ukraine: a concise encyclopædia, volume 1 (op cit).
- Zamora, J., Help me learn Church Slavonic
- Azbuka, Church Slavonic calligraphy and typography.
- Obshtezhitie.net, Cyrillic and Glagolitic manuscripts and early printed books.