|Early Cyrillic alphabet|
|from circa 893 in Bulgaria|
|Languages||Old Church Slavonic, Church Slavonic, old versions of many Slavic languages|
|ISO 15924||Cyrs, 221 , Cyrillic (Old Church Slavonic variant)|
The Early Cyrillic alphabet, also called classical Cyrillic or paleo-Cyrillic, is a writing system that was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the late 9th century on the basis of the Greek alphabet for the Slavic peoples living near the Byzantine Empire in South East and Central Europe. It was used by Slavic peoples in South East, Central and Eastern Europe.
It was developed in the Preslav Literary School in the capital city of the First Bulgarian Empire in order to write the Old Church Slavonic language. The modern Cyrillic script is still used primarily for some Slavic languages (such as Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Russian and Ukrainian), and for East European and Asian languages that have experienced a great amount of Russian cultural influence.
The Glagolitic alphabet was created by the monk Saint Cyril, possibly with the aid of his brother Saint Methodius, around 863. Cyrillic, on the other hand, was a creation of Cyril's students in the 890s at the Preslav Literary School as a more suitable script for church books, based on uncial Greek but retaining some Glagolitic letters for sounds not present in Greek. 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, and the majority of uncial Cyrillic letters were identical to their Greek uncial counterparts. One possibility is that this systematization of Cyrillic was undertaken at the Council of Preslav in 893, when the Old Church Slavonic liturgy was adopted by the First Bulgarian Empire.
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. Particularly, this principle is violated by certain vowel letters, which represent [j] plus the vowel if they are not preceded by a consonant. It is also violated by a significant failure to distinguish between /ji/ and /j?/ orthographically. 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. Letters served as numerals as well as phonetic signs; the values of the numerals were directly borrowed from their Greek-letter analogues. Letters without Greek equivalents mostly had no numeral values, whereas one letter, koppa, had only a numeric value with no phonetic value.
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 the Great introduced the civil script (Russian: , romanized: gra?danskiy ?rift, or , gra?danka), in contrast to the prevailing church typeface, (Russian: ? , romanized: cerkovnoslavjanskiy ?rift) in 1708. (The two forms are sometimes distinguished as paleo-Cyrillic and neo-Cyrillic.) Some letters and breathing marks which were used only 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 remain in use only in Church Slavonic.
A comprehensive repertoire of early Cyrillic characters has been included in the Unicode standard since version 5.1, published April 4, 2008. These characters and their distinctive letterforms are represented in specialized computer fonts for Slavistics.
|Translit. international system||Translit. ALA-LC||IPA||Numeric value||Origin||Meaning of name||Notes|
|? ?||az?||[az?]||a||a||[a]||1||Greek alpha ?||I|
|? ?||buky||[buk?]||b||b||[b]||Greek beta in Thera form||letters|
|? ?||?||v?d?||[vædæ]||v||v||[v]||2||Greek beta ?||know|
|? ?||?||glagoli||[?la?oli]||g||g||[?]||3||Greek gamma ?||speak||When marked with a palatalization mark, this letter is pronounced [?]; this occurs only rarely, and only in borrowings.|
|? ?||dobro||[dobro]||d||d||[d]||4||Greek delta ?||good|
|? ?||?||est?||[j?st?]||e||e||[?]||5||Greek epsilon ?||is||Pronounced [j?] (was used interchangeably with ?) when not preceded by a consonant.|
|? ?||?iv?te||[?ivæt?]||?||zh||[?]||Glagolitic zhivete ?||live|
|? ? / ? ?||?||dz?lo||[dzælo]||dz/?||?||[dz]||6||Greek stigma ?||very||The form ? had the phonetic value [dz] and no numeral value, whereas the form ? was used only as a numeral and had no phonetic value. Since the 12th century, ? came to be used instead of ?. In many manuscripts ? is used instead, suggesting lenition had taken place.|
|? ? / ? ?||zemlja||[z?m?a]||z||z||[z]||7||Greek zeta ?||earth||The first form developed into the second.|
|? ?||i?e||[ji]||i||?=i, ?=?||[i]||8||Greek eta ?||which||Pronounced [ji] or [j?] when not preceded by a consonant and not the particle ("and"); the orthography does not distinguish between [ji] and [j?]. Speculatively, this letter might have originally been intended to represent [i] and [ji].|
|? ? / ? ?||?||i||[i]||i||?||[i]||10||Greek iota ?||and||Pronounced [ji] or [j?] when not preceded by a consonant and not the particle ("and"); the orthography does not distinguish between [ji] and [j?]. Speculatively, this letter might have originally been intended to represent [j?].|
|? ?||?||djerv||[drv], [trv]||?||?||[d?], [t?]||Glagolitic djerv ??||Used chiefly in early Bosnian-Serbo-Croatian texts, or as a transliteration of Glagolitic ? in modern editions of Old Church Slavonic texts.|
|? ?||?||kako||[kako]||k||k||[k]||20||Greek kappa ?||as||When marked with a palatalization mark, this letter is pronounced [c]; this occurs only rarely, and only in borrowings.|
|? ?||ljudije||[?udij?]||l||l||[l]; sometimes [?]||30||Greek lambda ?||people||When marked with a palatalization mark or followed by a palatalizing vowel (?, ?, or ?, and sometimes ?), this letter is pronounced [?]; some manuscripts do not mark palatalization, in which case it must be inferred from context.|
|? ?||?||myslite||[m?slit?]||m||m||[m]||40||Greek mu ?||think|
|? ?||?||na||[na]||n||n||[n]; sometimes [?]||50||Greek nu ?||ours||When marked with a palatalization mark or followed by a palatalizing vowel (?, ?, or ?, and sometimes ?), this letter is pronounced [?]; some manuscripts do not mark palatalization, in which case it must be inferred from context.|
|? ?||on?||[on?]||o||o||[o]||70||Greek omicron ?||he/it|
|? ?||pokoi||[pokoj?]||p||p||[p]||80||Greek pi ?||peace/calm|
|? ?||?||r?ci||[r?tsi]||r||r||[r]; sometimes [r?]||100||Greek rho ?||say||When marked with a palatalization mark or followed by a palatalizing vowel (? or ?), this letter is pronounced [r?]; some manuscripts do not mark palatalization, in which case it must be inferred from context. This palatalization was lost rather early in South Slavic speech.|
|? ?||slovo||[slovo]||s||s||[s]||200||Greek lunate sigma ?||word/speech|
|? ?||tvr?do||[tvr?do]||t||t||[t]||300||Greek tau ?||hard/surely|
|/ ? ?||?||uk?||[uk?]||u||=u, ?=?||[u]||400||Greek omicron-upsilon / ?||learning||The first form developed into the second, a vertical ligature. A less common alternative form was a digraph with izhitsa? .|
|? ?||fr?t?||[frr?t?]||f||f||[f] or possibly [p]||500||Greek phi ?||This letter was not needed for Slavic but used to transcribe Greek ? and Latin ph and f. 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 ?.|
|? ?||?||x?r?||[xær?]||ch/x||kh||[x]||600||Greek chi ?||When marked with a palatalization mark, this letter is pronounced [ç]; this occurs only rarely, and only in borrowings.|
|? ?||ot?||[ot?]||o/v||?=?, ?=t||[o]||800||Greek omega ?||from||This letter was rarely used, mostly appearing in the interjection "oh", in the preposition |
|? ?||ci||[tsi]||c||t?s||[ts]||900||Glagolitic tsi ?|
|? ?||?r?v?||[t?r?v?]||?||ch||[t?]||90||Glagolitic cherv ?||worm||This letter replaced koppa as the numeral for 90 after about 1300.|
|? ?||?a||[?a]||?||sh||[?]||Glagolitic sha ?|
|? ?||?ta||[?ta]||?t||sht||[?t]||Glagolitic shta ?||This letter varied in pronunciation from region to region; it may have originally represented the reflexes of [t?]. It was sometimes replaced by the digraph . Pronounced [?t?] in Old East Slavic. Later analyzed as a ?-? ligature by folk etymology, but neither the Cyrillic nor the Glagolitic glyph originated as such a ligature.|
|? ?||jer?||[j?r?]||?/?||?, omit at end of a word||[?] or [?]||Glagolitic yer ?||After ?, ?, ?, c, dz, ?t, and ?d, this letter was pronounced identically to ? instead of its normal pronunciation.|
|? ?||jery||[j?r?]||y||?=?, ?=y,||[?] or [?ji] or [?j?]||? + ? ligature.||? was the more common form; rarely, a third form, ?, appears.|
|? ?||jer?||[j?r?]||?/?||?||[?] or [?]||Glagolitic yerj ?|
|? ?||?t?||[jæt?]||?||?||[æ]||Glagolitic yat ?||In western South Slavic dialects of Old Church Slavonic, this letter had a more closed pronunciation, perhaps [?] or [e]. This letter was written only after a consonant; in all other positions, ? was used instead. An exceptional document is Pages of Undolski, where ? is used instead of ?. Therefore, judging from the modern-day dispute in Bulgarian, it could have been used, depending on dialect, to represent [ja] in some cases, and [?] in others.|
|? ?||?||ja||[ja]||ja||i?a||[ja]||?-? ligature||This letter was probably not present in the original Cyrillic alphabet.|
|? ?||?||je||[j?]||je||i?e||[j?]||?-? ligature||This letter was probably not present in the original Cyrillic alphabet.|
|? ?||?||ju||[ju]||ju||i?u||[ju]||?- ligature, dropping ?||There was no [jo] sound in early Slavic, so ?- did not need to be distinguished from ?-?. After ?, ?, ?, c, dz, ?t, and ?d, this letter was pronounced [u], without iotation.|
|? ?||?s?||[s?]||?||?||||Glagolitic ons ?||Called ? (big yus) in Russian.|
|? ?||j?s?||[js?]||j?||i||[j]||?-? ligature||After ?, ?, ?, c, dz, ?t, and ?d, this letter was pronounced , without iotation. Called ? (iotated big yus) in Russian.|
|? ?||?s?||[js?]||?||?||||900||Glagolitic ens ?||Pronounced [j] when not preceded by a consonant. Called (little yus) in Russian.|
|? ?||j?s?||[js?]||j?||i||[j]||?-? ligature||This letter does not exist in the oldest (South Slavic) Cyrillic manuscripts, but only in East Slavic ones. It was probably not present in the original Cyrillic alphabet. Called (iotated little yus) in Russian.|
|? ?||ksi||[ksi]||ks||k?s||[ks]||60||Greek xi ?||These two letters were not needed for Slavic but were used to transcribe Greek and as numerals.|
|? ?||psi||[psi]||ps||p?s||[ps]||700||Greek psi ?|
|? ?||?||fita||[fita]||t/f/th||?||[t], or possibly [?]||9||Greek theta ?||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 ?. Normal Old Church Slavonic pronunciation probably did not have a phone [?].|
|? ?||i?ica||[ji?itsa]||i,ü||?=?, ?=v?||[i], [y], [v]||400||Greek upsilon ?||small yoke||This letter was used to transcribe Greek upsilon and as a numeral. It also formed part of the digraph .|
|? ?||?||kopa||[kopa]||q||no sound value||90||Greek koppa ?||This letter had no phonetic value, and was used only as a numeral. After about 1300, it was replaced as a numeral by ?r?v?.|
In addition to the basic letters, there were a number of scribal variations, combining ligatures, and regionalisms used, all of which varied over time.
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. In numerals, the ones place was to the left of the tens place, the reverse of the order used in modern Arabic numerals. Thousands are formed using a special symbol, ? (U+0482), which was attached to the lower left corner of the numeral. 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. 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.
Several diacritics, adopted from Polytonic Greek orthography, were also used, but were seemingly redundant (these may not appear correctly in all web browsers; they are supposed to be directly above the letter, not off to its upper right):
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.
Some of these marks are also used in Glagolitic script.
Used only in modern texts
Media related to early Cyrillic alphabet at Wikimedia Commons
The Psalter and the Book of Prophets were adapted or "modernized" with special regard to their use in Bulgarian churches, and it was in this school that glagolitic writing was replaced by the so-called Cyrillic writing, which was more akin to the Greek uncial, simplified matters considerably and is still used by the Orthodox Slavs.