Old Church Slavonic

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Later use of the language in a number of medieval Slavic states resulted in the adjustment of Old Church Slavonic to the local vernacular, though a number of Southern Slavic, Moravian or Bulgarian features were also preserved. Some of the significant later recensions of Old Church Slavonic (referred to as Church Slavonic) in the present time are: Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Russian. In all cases, denasalization of the yuses occurred; so that only Old Church Slavonic and modern Polish retained the old Slavonic nasal vowels.

Croatian recension

The Croatian recension of Old Church Slavonic is one of the earliest known today. It only used the Glagolitic alphabet of angular Croatian type. It is characterized by the following developments:

  • de-nasalisation of PSl. *ę > e, PSl. *ǫ > u, e.g. Cr. ruka : OCS rǫka ("hand"), Cr. jezik : OCS językъ ("tongue, language")
  • PSl. *y > i, e.g. Cr. biti : OCS byti ("to be")
  • PSl. weak-positioned yers *ъ and *ь in merged, probably representing some schwa-like sound, and only one of the letters was used (usually 'ъ'). Evident in earliest documents like Baška tablet.
  • PSl. strong-positioned yers *ъ and *ь were vocalized into a in most Štokavian and Čakavian speeches, e.g. Cr. pas : OCS pьsъ ("dog")
  • PSl. hard and soft syllabic liquids *r and r′ retained syllabicity and were written as simply r, as opposed to OCS sequences of mostly rь and rъ, e.g. krstъ and trgъ as opposed to OCS krьstъ and trъgъ ("cross", "market")
  • PSl. #vьC and #vъC > #uC, e.g. Cr. udova : OCS. vъdova ("widow")

Russian recension

The Russian recension was developed after the 10th century on the basis of the earlier Bulgarian recensions, from which it differed slightly. Its main features are:

  • substitution of the nasal sound /õ/ with [u]
  • merging of letters ě and ja[17]

The canon of Old Church Slavonic

The core corpus of Old Church Slavonic manuscripts is usually referred to as canon. Manuscript must satisfy certain linguistic, chronological and cultural criteria to be incorporated into the canon, i.e. it must not significantly depart from the language and tradition of Constantine and Methodius, usually known as the Cyrillo-Methodian tradition.

For example, the Freising Fragments, dating from the tenth century, do show some linguistic and cultural traits of Old Church Slavonic, but are usually not included in the canon as some of the phonological features of the writings appear to belong to certain Pannonian Slavic dialect of the period. Similarly, the Ostromir Gospels exhibits dialectal features that classify it as East Slavic, rather than South Slavic, so it's not included in the canon either. On the other hand, the Kiev Missal is included in the canon, even though it manifests some West Slavic features and contains Western liturgy, due to the Bulgarian linguistic layer and connection to the Moravian mission.

Manuscripts are usually classified in two groups, depending on the used alphabet, of Cyrillic and Glagolitic. With the exception of Kiev Missal and Glagolita Clozianus which exhibit West-Slavic and Croatian features respectively, all Glagolitic texts are assumed to be of the Macedonian recension:

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