Home > 9. The Alphabet & Redefining Intelligence > The Russian Alphabet (Part 2)–A Brief History

The Russian Alphabet (Part 2)–A Brief History

Cyril-methodius-small--WikiPD

§

The story of an alphabet is in large part the story of the area(s) where it is used, and the Cyrillic alphabet, the writing system of Russia and other countries across northern Eurasia, reflects the many changes that have taken place in that vast region since its introduction. And readers should note: Cyrillic is used by an estimated 252 million people today.

In fact, Cyrillic has gone through at least three stages of development: 1) the Glagolitic Alphabet (introduced in the 860s AD); 2) the Early Cyrillic Alphabet (developed at the Preslav Literary School in the late 800s); and 3) Modern Cyrillic–the “civil script” mandated by Peter the Great in 1708. Finally, the most recent change in Russian orthography took place in 1918, shortly after the Russian Revolution. As one might suspect from studying the development of other writing systems, the 1708 and 1918 reforms both involved simplification, and specifically the elimination of obsolete letters. Glagolitic had at least 41 letters; modern Russian has 33. 

Further Facts

1) Saints Cyril and Methodius, missionaries from the Byzantine Empire, are traditionally credited with devising Glagolitic and introducing it into Great Moravia, a large Slavic state that existed in the late 9th century. Following the disintegration of Great Moravia, the script was adopted by the First Bulgarian Empire in the 880s, and its use spread with the expansion of the Bulgarians through the 10th century. After the destruction of the Bulgarian Empire, when missionaries from its liturgical schools helped convert Kievan Rus to Christianity in the 980s, they introduced the Gospels in Cyrillic script.

2) Glagolitic is based on the Greek Alphabet, but also contains letters derived from Hebrew and perhaps even Coptic.

3) Glagolitic and Early Cyrillic were used with Old Church Slavonic, the first Slavic language recorded in writing and many liturgical texts were composed using them.

4) And please note that the simplification of Glagolitic involved not just the number of letters, but their shapes as well.

1. Glagolitic Letters

2. Early Cyrillic Letters

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

3. Modern Cyrillic Letters

А
A
Б
Be
В
Ve
Г
Ge
Ґ
Ge upturn
Д
De
Ђ
Dje
Ѓ
Gje
Е
Ye
Ё
Yo
Є
Yest
Ж
Zhe
З
Ze
З́
Zje
Ѕ
Dze
И
I
І
Dotted I
Ї
Yi
Й
Short I
Ј
Je
К
Ka
Л
El
Љ
Lje
М
Em
Н
En
Њ
Nje
О
O
П
Pe
Р
Er
С
Es
С́
[ɕ]
Т
Te
Ћ
Tshe
Ќ
Kje
У
U
Ў
Short U
Ф
Ef
Х
Kha
Ц
Tse
Ч
Che
Џ
Dzhe
Ш
Sha
Щ
Shcha
Ъ
Hard sign (Yer)
Ы
Yery
Ь
Soft sign (Yeri)
Э
E
Ю
Yu
Я
Ya

*

There is much to puzzle over here, and of course RT suspects that more is coming on this subject…

§

RT’s Related Posts: 1) Glagolitic-Starting a Great Tradition; 2) Moscow–Memories

§

PaintingSaints Cyril and Methodius, wall mural (1848); Troyan Monastery. WikiCmns; Public Domain. Glagolitic, Early, and Modern Cyrillic Alphabets: from their respective Wikipedia articles; Public Domain.

*

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. July 3, 2013 at 8:51 am
  2. October 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: