1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Slavs

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SLAVS. Judged by the language test, and no other is readily available, the Slavs are the most numerous race in Europe, amounting to some 140,000,000 souls. Outside Europe there are the Russians in Siberia, a mere extension of the main body, and a large number of emigrants settled in America, where, however, although most of the nationalities have their own newspapers, the second generation of immigrants tends to be assimilated.

Divisions and Distribution.—The Slavs are divided geographically into three main groups, Eastern, North-Western and Southern; linguistically also the same division is convenient.

The Russians stand by themselves as the Eastern group. They hold all the East European plain from the 27th meridian to the Urals, the Finnish and Tatar tribes making up but a small proportion of the population: beyond these limits to the east they stretch into central Siberia and thence in narrow bands along the rivers all the way to the Pacific; on the west the Ruthenians (q.v.) of Galicia form a wedge between the Poles and the Magyars and almost touch the 20th meridian. The Russians must number 100,000,000.

The North-Western group includes the Poles, about 15,000,000, in the basin of the Vistula; the Kashubes (q.v.), about 200,000, on the coast north-west of Danzig; the High and Low Sorbs (q.v.) or Wends in Lusatia, 180,000 Slavs completely surrounded by Germans; the Čechs (Czech, q.v.) in the square of Bohemia, making up with their eastern neighbours, the Moravians, a people of 6,000,000 in northern Austria surrounded on three sides by Germans. In the north of Hungary, connecting up Ruthenians, Poles and Moravians, but most closely akin to the latter, are 2,500,000 Slovaks (q.v.). With the Sorbs, Poles and Kashubes are to be classed the now teutonized Slavs of central Germany, who once stretched as far to the north-west as Rugen and Holstein and to the south-west to the Saale. They are generally called Polabs (q. v.), or Slavs on the Elbe, as their last survivors were found on that river in the eastern corner of Hanover.

The Southern Slavs, Slovenes (q.v.), Serbo-Croats (see Servia) and Bulgarians (see Bulgaria), are cut off from the main body by the Germans of Austria proper and the Magyars, both of whom occupy soil once Slavonic, and have absorbed much Slavonic blood, and by the Rumanians of Transylvania and the Lower Danube, who represent the original Dacians romanized. These Slavs occupy the main mass of the Balkan Peninsula downwards from the Julian Alps and the line of the Muhr, Drave and Danube. North of this all three races have considerable settlements in southern Hungary. Their southern boundary is very ill-defined, various nationalities being closely intermingled. To the south-west the Slavs march with the Albanians, to the south-east with the Turks, and to the south and along the Aegean coasts they have the Greeks as neighbours.

Although the Southern Slavs fall into these three divisions, linguistically the separation is not sharp, nor does it coincide with the political frontiers. Roughly speaking, the eastern half of the peninsula is held by the Bulgarians, some 5,000,000 in number, the western half by the Serbo-Croats, of whom there must be about 8,000,000. This is the most divided of the Slavonic races; its members profess three forms of religion and use three alphabets—the Serbs and Bosnians being mostly Orthodox and using the Cyrillic alphabet, but including many Mussulmans; the Croats being Roman Catholics, writing with Latin letters; and the Dalmatians also Roman Catholics, but using, some of them, the ancient Glagolitic script for their Slavonic liturgy. The language also falls into three dialects independent of the religions, and across all these lines run the frontiers of the political divisions—the kingdom of Servia (more correctly written Serbia); the kingdom of Montenegro; the Turkish provinces of Old Servia and Novibazar, still in Turkish hands; those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria; the coast-line and islands of Istria and Dalmatia, which also form part of Austria; and the kingdom of Croatia, which is included in the dominion of Hungary, to say nothing of outlying colonies in Hungary itself and in Italy. In the extreme north-west, in Carniola, in the southern parts of Styria and Carinthia, and over the Italian border in the province of Udine and the Vale of Resia live the Slovenes, something under 1,500,000, much divided dialectically. Between the Slovenes and the Croats there are transition dialects, and about 1840 there was an attempt (Illyrism) to establish a common literary language. In Macedonia and along the border are special varieties of Bulgarian, some of which approach Servian. Akin to the Macedonians were the Slavs, who once occupied the whole of Greece and left traces in the place-names, though they long ago disappeared among the older population. Akin to the Slovenes were the old inhabitants of Austria and south-west Hungary before the intrusion of the Germans and Magyars.

History.—This distribution of the Slavs can be accounted for historically. In spite of traditions (e.g. the first Russian chronicle of Pseudo-Nestor) which bring them from the basin of the Danube, most evidence goes to show that when they formed one people they were settled to the north-east of the Carpathians in the basins of the Vistula, Pripet and Upper Dněstr (Dniester). To the N. they had their nearest relatives, the ancestors of the Baltic tribes, Prussians, Lithuanians and Letts; to the E. Finns; to the S.E. the Iranian population of the Steppes of Scythia (q.v.); to the S.W., on the other side of the Carpathians, various Thracian tribes; to the N.W. the Germans; between the Germans and Thracians they seem to have had some contact with the Celts, but this was not the first state of things, as the Illyrians, Greeks and Italians probably came between. This location, arrived at by a comparison of the fragmentary accounts of Slavonic migrations and their distribution in historic time, is confirmed by its agreement with the place taken by the Slavonic language among the other Indo-European languages (see below), and by what we know of the place-names of eastern Europe, in that for this area they seem exclusively Slavonic, outside it the oldest names belong to other languages. The archaeological evidence is not yet cleared up, as, for the period we have to consider, the late neolithic and early bronze age, the region above defined is divided between three different cultures, represented by the fields of urns in Lusatia and Silesia, cist graves with cremation in Poland, and the poor and little-known graves of the Dnepr

(Dnieper) basin. This variety may to some extent be due to the various cultural influences to which the same race was exposed, the western division lying on the route between the Baltic and Mediterranean, the central being quite inaccessible, the eastern part in time showing in its graves the influence of the Steppe people and the Greek colonies in Scythia. There is a gradual transition to cemeteries with Roman objects which shade off into such as are certainly Slavonic.

The physical type of the Slavs is not sufficiently clear to help in throwing light upon the past of the race. Most of the modern Slavs are rather short-headed, the Balkan Slavs being tall and dark, those of central Europe dark and of medium height, the Russians on the whole rather short though the White and Little Russians are of medium height; in complexion the southern Russians are dark, the northern light, but with less decided colour than fair western Europeans. In spite of the prevalent brachycephaly of the modern Slavs, measurements of skulls from cemeteries and ancient graves which are certainly Slavonic have shown, against all expectation, that the farther back we go the greater is the proportion of long heads, and the race appears to have been originally dolichocephalic and osteologically indis- tinguishable from its German, Baltic and Finnish neighbours. In its present seats it must have assimilated foreign elements, German and Celtic in central Europe, Finnish and Turkish in Great and Little Russia, all these together with Thracian and Illyrian in the Balkans; but how much the differences between the various Slavonic nations are due to admixture, how much to their new homes, has not been made clear.

In spite of the vast area which the Slavs have occupied in historic times there is no reason to claim for them before the migrations a wider homeland than that above defined beyond the Carpathians; given favourable circumstances a nation multiplies so fast (e.g. the Anglo-Saxons in the last hundred and twenty years) that we can set no limits to the area that a com- paratively small race could cover in the course of four centuries. Therefore the mere necessity of providing them with ancestors sufficiently numerous does not compel us to seek for the Slavs among any of the populous nations of the ancient world. Various investigators have seen Slavs in Scythians, Sarmatians, Thracians, Illyrians, and in fact in almost all the barbarous tribes which have been mentioned in the east of Europe, but we can refer most of such tribes to their real affinities much better than the ancients, and at any rate we can be sure that none of these were Slavs.

There is no evidence that the Slavs made any considerable migration from their first home until the 1st century a.d. Their first Transcarpathian seat lay singularly remote from the knowledge of the Mediterranean peoples. Herodotus (iv. 17, 51, 105) does seem to mention the Slavs under the name of Neuri (q.v.), at least the Neuri on the upper waters of the Dnestr are in the right place for Slavs, and their lycanthropy suggests modern Slavonic superstitions; so we are justified in equating Neuri and Slavs, though we have no direct statement of their identity. Other classical writers down to and including Strabo tell us nothing of eastern Europe beyond the immediate neigh- bourhood of the Euxine.

Pliny (N.H. iv. 97) is the first to give the Slavs a name which can leave us in no doubt. He speaks of the Venedi (cf. Tacitus, Germania, 46, Veneti); Ptolemy (Ceog. hi. 5. 7, 8) calls them Venedae and puts them along the Vistula and by the Venedic gulf, by which he seems to mean the Gulf of Danzig: he also speaks of the Venedic mountains to the south of the sources of the Vistula, that is, probably the northern Carpathians. The name Venedae is clearly Wend, the name that the Germans have always applied to the Slavs. Its meaning is unknown. It has been the cause of much confusion because of the Armorican Veneti, the Paphlagonian Enetae, and above all the Enetae- Venetae at the head of the Adriatic. Enthusiasts have set all of these down as Slavs, and the last with some show of reason, as nowadays we have Slovenes just north of Venice. However, inscriptions in the Venetian language are sufficient to prove that it was not Slavonic. Other names in Ptolemy which almost certainly denote Slavonic tribes are the Veltae on the Baltic,

ancestors of the Wiltzi, a division of the Polabs (q.v.), the Sulani and the Saboci, whose name is a Slavonic translation of the Transmontani of another source.

Unless we are to conjecture Stlavani for Ptolemy's Stavani, or to insist on the resemblance of his Suobeni to Slovene, the name Slav first occurs in Pseudo-Caesarius (Dialogues, ii. no; Migne, P.G. xxxviii. 985, early 6th century), but the earliest definite account of them under that name is given by Jordanes (Getica, v - 34; 35> c - 55° A.D.): Dacia . . . ad coronae speciem arduis Alpibus emunita, iuxta quorum sinistrum lalus, qui in aquilone vergit, ab ortu Vistulae fluminis per immensa spatia Venetharum populosa natio consedit. Quorum nomina licet nunc per varias familias et loca mutentur, principaliter tamen Sclaveni et Antes nominantur. Sclaveni a civitate Novietunense (Noviodunum, Isakca on the Danube Delta) . . . usque ad Danastrum el in boream Viscla tenus commorantur . . . Antes vero, qui sunt eorum fortissimi, qua Fonticum mare curvatur a Danastro exten- duntur usque ad Danaprum; cf. xxiii. 119, where these tribes are said to form part of the dominions of Hermanrich. Sclaveni, or something like it, has been the regular name for the Slavs from that day to this. The native form is Slovene; in some cases, e.g. in modern Russian under foreign influence, we have an a instead of the o. The combination si was difficult to the Greeks and Romans and they inserted /, th or most commonly c, which continues to crop up. So too in Arabic Saqaliba, Saqldb. The name has been derived from slovo, a word, or slava, glory, either directly or through the -slav which forms the second element in so many Slavonic proper names, but no explanation is satisfactory. The word " slave " and its cognates in most European languages date from the time when the Germans supplied the slave-markets of Europe with Slavonic captives. The name Antes we find applied to the Eastern Slavs by Jordanes; it may be another form of Wend. Antae is used by Procopius (B.C. iii. 14). He likewise distinguishes them from the Sclaveni, but says that both spoke the same language and both were formerly called Spori, which has been identified with Serb, the racial name now surviving in Lusatia and Servia. Elsewhere he speaks of the measureless tribes of the Antae; this appellation is used by the Byzantines until the middle of the 7th century.

The sudden appearance in the 6th-century writers of definite names for the Slavs and their divisions means that by then the race had made itself familiar to the Graeco-Roman world, that it had spread well beyond its original narrow limits, and had some time before come into contact with civilisation. This may have been going on since the 1st century a.d., and evidence of it has been seen in the southward movement of the Costoboci into northern Dacia (Ptolemy) and of the Carpi to the Danube (a.d. 200), but their Slavonic character is not established. A few ancient names on the Danube, notably that of the river Tsierna (Cerna, black), have a Slavonic look, but a coincidence is quite possible. The gradual spread of the Slavs was masked by the wholesale migrations of the Goths, who for two centuries lorded it over the Slavs, at first on the Vistula and then in south Russia. We hear more of their movements because they were more immediately threatening for the Empire. In dealing with Ptolemy's location of the Goths and Slavs we must regard the former as superimposed upon the latter and occupying the same territories. This domination of the Goths was of enormous importance in the development of the Slavs. By this we may explain the presence of a large number of Germanic loan words common to all the Slavonic languages, many of. them words of cultural significance. " King, penny, house, loaf, earring " all appear in Slavonic; the words must have come from the Goths and prove their strong influence, although the things must have been familiar before. On the other hand " plough " is said to be Slavonic, but that is not certain. When the Huns succeeded the Goths as masters of central Europe, they probably made the Slavs supply them with contingents. Indeed their easy victory may have been due to the dissatisfaction of the Slavs. Priscus (Muller, F.H.G. iv. p. 69, cf. Jord. Get. xlix. 258) in his account of the camp of Attila mentions words which may be Slavonic, but have also been explained from German. After the fall of the Hunnish power the Eastern Goths and Gepidae pressed southwards and westwards to the conquest of the Empire, and the Lombards and Heruli followed in their tracks. When next we get a view of northern Germany we find it full of Slavs, e.g. from Procopius (B.G. ii. 15) we know that they held the Mark of Brandenburg by 512; but this settlement was effected without attracting the attention of any contemporary writer. Modern historians seem to adopt their attitude to the process according to their view of the Slavs; German writers, in their contempt for the Slavs, mostly deny the possibility of their having forced German tribes to leave their homes, and assume that the riches of southern Europe attracted the latter so that they willingly gave up their barren northern plains; most Slavonic authors have taken the same view in accordance with the idealistic picture of the peaceful, kindly, democratic Slavs who contrast so favourably with the savage Germans and their war-lords; but of late they have realised that their ancestors were no more peaceful than any one else, and have wished to put down to warlike pressure from the Slavs all the southward movements of the German tribes, to whom no choice was left but to try to break through the Roman defences. A reasonable view is that the expansion of the Eastern Germans in the last centuries B.C. was made at the expense of the Slavs, who, while no more peaceful than the Germans, were less capable than they of combining for successful war, so that Goths and others were dwelling among them and lording it over them; that the mutual competitions of the Germans drove some of these against the Empire, and when this had become weakened, so that it invited attack, some tribes and parts of tribes moved forward without any pressure from behind; this took away the strength of the German element, and the Slavs, not improbably under German organization, regained the upper hand in their own lands and could even spread westwards at the expense of the German remnant.

Almost as uncertain is the exact time when the Southern Slavs began to move towards the Balkans. If already at the time of Trajan’s conquests there were Slavs in Dacia, it would account for the story in Ps. Nestor that certain Volchi or Vlachi, i.e. Romance speakers, had conquered the Slavs upon the Danube and driven them to the Vistula, for the place that the name of Trajan has in Slavonic tradition, and for the presence of an agricultural population, the Sarmatae Limigantes subject to the nomad Sarmatae (q.v.), on the Theiss. In any case, we cannot say that the Slavs occupied any large parts of the Balkan Peninsula before the beginning of the 6th century, when they appear in Byzantine history as a new terror; there seems to have been an invasion in the time of Justin, and another followed in 527 (Procopius, B.G. iii. 40 and Hist. Arc. 18). At the same time as the Slavs, the Huns, the Bulgars, and after 558 the Avars, were also making invasions from the same direction. The first and last disappeared like all nomads, but the Bulgars, making themselves lords of one section of the Slavs, gave it their own name. By 584 the Slavs had overrun all Greece, and were the worst western neighbours of the Eastern Empire. Hence the directions how to deal with Slavs in the Strategicum of the emperor Maurice (c. 600) and the Tactics of Leo.

By the end of the following century they were permanently settled throughout the whole of the Balkan Peninsula. (For their further history see Servia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Dalmatia, Croatia-Slavonia.) These Southern Slavs, though divided into nationalities, are closely akin to one another. There is no reason to think the Serbo-Croats an intrusive wedge, although Constantine Porphyrogenitus (De adm. Imp. 30-33) speaks of their coming from the north in the time of Heraclius—the middle of the 7th century. Their dialects shade into one another, and there is no trace of any influence of the North-Western group. Constantine was probably led astray by the occurrence of the same tribal names in different parts of the Slavonic world. Meanwhile the Southern Slavs were cut off from the rest of the race by the foundation in the 6th century of the Avar kingdom in Pannonia, and after its destruction in the 7th, by the spread of the Germans south-eastwards, and finally by the incursion of another Asiatic horde, that of the Magyars, who have maintained themselves in the midst Of Slavs for a thousand years. Their conquests were made chiefly at the expense of the Slovenes and the Slovaks, and from their languages they have borrowed many words in forms which have now disappeared.

Of the history of the Eastern Slavs, who were to become the Russian people, we know little before the coming of the Swedish Rus, who gave them their name and organization; we have but the mention of Antae acting in concert with the other Slavs and the Avars in attacking the Empire on the lower Danube, and scattered accounts of Mussulman travellers, which show that they had reached the Don and Volga and stretched up northward to Lake Ilmen. The more southerly tribes were tributary to the Khazars. An exact definition of the territory occupied by each Slavonic people, and a sketch of its history from the time that it settled in its permanent abode, will be found either under its own name or under that of its country.

Culture and Religion.—For all the works treating of Slavonic antiquities we cannot draw a portrait of the race and show many distinguishing features. Savage nations as described by the Greeks and' Romans are mostly very much alike, and the testimony of language is not very easy to use. The general impression is one of a people which lived in small communistic groups, and was so impatient of authority that they scarcely combined for their own defence; and in spite of individual bravery only became formidable to others when cemented together by some alien element: hence they all at one time or another fell under an alien yoke; the last survivals of Slavonic licence being the vece of Novgorod, and the Polish diet with its unpractical regard for any minority. The Slavs were acquainted with the beginnings of the domestic arts, and were probably more given to agriculture than the early Germans, though they practised it after a fashion which did not long tie them to any particular district—for all writers agree in telling of their errant nature. They were specially given to the production of honey, from which they brewed mead. They also appear to have been notable swimmers and to have been skilled in the navigation of rivers, and even to have indulged in maritime piracy on the Aegean, the Dalmatian coast and most of all the Baltic, where the island of Rügen was a menace to the Scandinavian and German sea-power; The Oriental sources also speak of some aptitude for commerce; Their talent for music and singing was already noticeable. Of their religion it is strangely difficult to gain any real information. The word Bogŭ, “god,” is reckoned a loan word from the Iranian Baga. The chief deity was the Thunderer Perún (cf. Lith. Perkúnas) , with whom is identified Svarog, the god of heaven; other chief gods were called sons of Svarog, Dažbog the sun, Chors and Veles, the god of cattle. The place of this latter was taken by St Blasius. A hostile deity was Stribog, god of storms. There seem to have been no priests, temples or images among the early Slavs. In Russia Vladimir set up idols and pulled them down upon his conversion to Christianity; only the Polabs had a highly developed cult with a temple and statues and a definite priesthood. But this may have been in imitation of Norse or even Christian institutions. Their chief deity was called Triglav, or the three-headed; he was the same as Svętovit, apparently a sky god in whose name the monks naturally recognized Saint Vitus. The goddesses are colourless personifications, such as Vesna, spring, and Morana, the goddess of death and winter. The Slavs also believed, and many still believe, in Vily and Rusalki, nymphs of streams and woodlands; also in the Bába-Jagá, a kind of man-eating witch, and in Běsy, evil spirits, as well as in vampires and werewolves. They had a full belief in the immortality of the soul, but no very clear ideas as to its fate. It was mostly supposed to go a long journey to a paradise (raj) at the end of the world and had to be equipped for this. Also the soul of the ancestor seems to have developed into the house or hearth god (Domovój, Křet) who guarded the family. The usual survivals of pagan festivals at the solstices and equinoxes have continued under the form of church festivals.

Christianity among the Slavs.—The means by which was effected the conversion to Christianity of the various Slavonic nations has probably had more influence upon their subsequent history than racial distinctions or geographical conditions.

Wherever heathen Slavonic tribes met Chrietendom missionary effort naturally came into being. This seems first to have been the case along the Dalmatian coast, where the cities retained their Romance population and their Christian faith. From the 7th century the Croats were nominally Christian, and subject to the archbishops of Salona at Spalato and their suffragans. Frpm the beginning of the 9th century Merseburg, Salzburg and Passau were the centres for spreading the Gospel among the Slavonic tribes on the south-eastern marches of the Frankish empire, in Bohemia, Moravia, Pannonia and Carinthia. Though we need not doubt the true zeal of these missionaries, it was still a fact that as Germans they belonged to a nation which was once more encroaching upon the Slavs, and as Latins (though the Great Schism had not yet taken place) they were not favourable to the use of their converts' native language. Still they were probably the first to reduce the Slavonic tongues to writing, naturally using Latin letters and lacking the skill to adapt them satisfactorily. Traces of such attempts are rare; the best are the Ereisingen fragments of Old Slovene now at Munich.

In the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula the Slavs had already begun to turn to Christianity before their conquest by the Bulgars. These latter were hostile until Boris, under the influence of his sister and of one Methodius (certainly not the famous one), adopted the new faith and put to the sword those that resisted conversion (A.D. 865). Though his Christianity came from Byzantium, Boris seems to have feared the influence of the Greek clergy and applied to the Pope for teachers, submitting to him a whole series of questions. The Pope sent clergy, 'but would not grant the Bulgarians as much independence as they asked, and Boris seems to have repented of his application to him. He raised the question at the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 870), which decided that Bulgaria was subject to the Eastern Church.

Cyril and Methodius.—In the same way Rostislav, prince of Greater Moravia, fearing the influence of Latin missionaries, applied to Byzantium for teachers who should preach in. f the vulgar tongue (A.D. 861). The emperor chose two brothers, sons of a Thessalonian Greek, Methodius and Constantine (generally known as Cyril by the name he adopted upon becoming a monk). The former was an organizer, the latter a scholar, a philosopher and a linguist. His gifts had been already exercised in & mission to the Crimea; he had brought thence the relics of S. Clement, which he finally laid in their resting-place in Rome. But the main reason for the choice was that the Thessalonians, surrounded as they were by Slavonic tribes, were well known to speak Slavonic perfectly. On their arrival in Moravia the brothers began to teach letters and the Gospel, and also to translate the necessary liturgical books and instruct the young in them. But soon (in 864) Rostislav was attacked by Louis the German and reduced to complete obedience, so that there could be no question of setting up a hierarchy in opposition to the dominant Franks, and the attempts to establish the Slavonic liturgy were strongly opposed. Hearing of the brother’s work Pope Nicholas I. sent for them to Rome. On their way they spent some time with Kocel, a Slavonic prince of Pannonia, about Platten See, and he much favoured the Slavonic books. In Venice the brothers had disputes as to the use of Slavonic service-books; perhaps at this time these found their way to Croatia and Dalmatia. On their arrival in Rome Nicholas was dead, but Adrian II. was favourable to them and their translations, and had the pupils they brought with them ordained. In Rome Constantine fell ill, took monastic vows and the name of Cyril, and died on the 14th of February 869. Methodius was consecrated archbishop of Pannonia and Moravia, about 870, but Kocel could not help him much, and the German bishops had him tried and thrown into prison; also in that very year Rostislav was dethroned by Svatopluk, who, though he threw off the Frankish yoke, was not steadfast in supporting the Slavonic liturgy. In 873 Pope John VIII. commanded the liberation of Methodius and allowed Slavonic services, and for the next few years the work of Methodius went well. In 879 he was again called to Rome, and in 880 the Pope distinctly pronounced in his favour and restored him to his archbishopric, but made a German, Wiching, his suffragan. Methodius died in 885, and Wiching, having a new pope, Stephen V. (VI.), on his side, became his successor. So the Slavonic service-books and those that used them were driven out by Svatopluk and took refuge in Bulgaria, where the ground had been made ready for them. Boris, having decided to abide by the Greek Church, welcomed Clement, Gorazd and other disciples of Methodius. Clement, who was the most active in literary work, laboured in Ochrida and others in various parts of the kingdom.

In spite of the triumph of the Latino-German party, the Slavonic liturgy was not quite stamped out in the west; it seems to have survived in out-of-the-way corners of Great Moravia until that principality was destroyed by the Magyars. Also during the life of Methodius it appears to have penetrated into Bohemia, Poland and Croatia, but all these countries finally accepted the Latin Church, and so were permanently cut off from the Orthodox Servians, Bulgarians and Russians.

These details of ecclesiastical history are of great importance for understanding the fate of various Slavonic languages, scripts and even literatures. From what has been said above it appears that Cyril invented a Slavonic alphabet, translated at any rate a Gospel lectionary, perhaps the Psalter and the chief service-books, into a Slavonic dialect, and it seems that Methodius translated the Epistles, some part of the Old Testament, a manual of canon law and further liturgical matter. Clement continued the task and turned many works of the Fathers into Slavonic, and is said to have made clearer the forms of letters. What was the alphabet which Cyril invented, where were the invention and the earliest translations made by him, and who were the speakers of the dialect he used, the language we call Old Church Slavonic (O.S.)? As to the alphabet we have the further testimony of Chrabr, a Bulgarian monk of the next generation, who says that the Slavs at first practised divination by means of marks and cuts upon wood; then after their baptism they were compelled to write the Slavonic tongue with Greek and Latin letters without proper rules; finally, by God's mercy Constantine the Philosopher, called Cyril, made them an alphabet of 38 letters. He gives the date as 855, six or seven years before the request of Rostislav. If we take this to be exact Cyril must have been working at his translations before ever he went to Moravia, and the language was presumably that with which he had been familiar at Thessalonica—that of southern Macedonia, and this is on the whole the most satisfactory view. At any rate the phonetic framework of the language isO.S. Old Bulgarian. more near to certain Bulgarian dialects than to any other, but the vocabulary seems to have been modified in Moravia by the inclusion of certain German and Latin words, especially those touching things of the Church. These would appear to have been already familiar to the Moravians through the work of the German missionaries. Some of them were superseded when O.S. became the language of Orthodox Slavs. Kopitar and Miklosich maintained that O.S. was Old Slovene as spoken by the subjects of Kocel, but in their decision much was due to racial patriotism. Something indeed was done to adapt the language of the Translations to the native Moravian; we have the Kiev fragments, prayers after the Roman use in which occur Moravisms, notably c and z where O.S. has št and zd, and fragments at Prague with Eastern ritual but Cech peculiarities. Further, the Freisingen fragments, though their language is in the main Old Slovene and their alphabet Latin, have some connexion with the texts of an O.S. Euchologium from Sinai.

Alphabets.—Slavonic languages are written in three alphabets according to religious dependence; Latin adapted to express Slavonic sounds either by diacritical marks or else by conventional combinations of letters among those who had Latin services; so-called Cyrillic, which is the Greek Liturgical Uncial of the 9th century enriched with special signs for Slavonic letters—this is used by all Orthodox Slavs; and Glagolitic, in the “spectacled” form of which certain very early O.S. documents were written, and which in another, the “square,” form has survived as a liturgical script in Dalmatia, where the Roman Church still allows the Slavonic liturgy in the dioceses of Veglia, Spalato, Zara and Sebenico. and in Montenegro; the Croats now employ Latin letters for civil purposes.

The annexed table gives these alphabets—the Glagolitic in both forms with numerical values (columns 1-3); the Cyrillic in its fullest development (4, 5), with the modern version of it made for Russian (6) by Peter the Great's orders; Bulgarian uses more or less all the Russian letters but the reversed e and the last two, while keeping more old Cyrillic letters, but its orthography is in such a confused state that it is difficult to say which letters may be regarded as obsolete; Servian (7) was reformed by Karadžić (Karajich (q.v.)) on the model of Russian, with special letters and ligatures added and with unnecessary signs omitted. The old ways of writing Slavonic with Latin letters were so confused and variable that none of them are given. The Čechs first attained to a satisfactory system, using diacritical marks invented by Hus; their alphabet has served more or less as a model for all the other Slavonic languages which use Latin letters, and for that used in scientific grammars, not only of Slavonic but of Oriental languages. Column 8 gives the system as applied to Croat, and corresponding exactly to Karadžić’s reformed Cyrillic. Column 9 gives the Čech alphabet with the exception of the long vowels, which are marked by an accent; in brackets are added further signs used in other Slavonic languages, e.g. Slovene and Sorb, or in strict transliterations of Cyrillic. Polish (10) still offers a compromise between the old arbitrary combinations of letters and the Čech principle of diacritical marks. The last column shows a convenient system of transliterating Cyrillic into Latin letters for the use of English readers without the use of diacritical marks; it is used in most of the non-linguistic articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica which deal with Slavs. With regard to Glagolitic (derived from Glagol, a word) and Cyrillic, it is clear that they are closely connected. The language of the earliest Glagolitic MSS. is earlier than that of the Cyrillic, though the earliest dated Slavonic writing surviving is a Cyrillic inscription of Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria (A.D. 993). On the whole Glagolitic is likely to be the earlier, if only that no one would have made it who knew the simpler Cyrillic. It certainly bears the impress of a definite mind, which thought out very exactly the phonetics of the dialect it was to express, but made its letters too uniformly complicated by a love for little circles. A sufficiently large number of the letters can be traced back to Greek minuscules to make it probable that all of them derive thence, though agreement has not yet been reached as to the particular combinations which were modified to make each letter. Of course the modern Greek phonetic values alone form the basis. The numerical values were set out according to the order of the letters. Some subsequent improvement, especially in the pre-iotized vowels, can be traced in later documents. The presumption is that this is the alphabet invented by Cyril for the Slavs who formerly used Greek and Latin letters without system.

When brought or brought back to Bulgaria by Clement and the other pupils of Methodius, Glagolitic took root in the west, but in the east some one, probably at the court of Simeon, where everything Greek was in favour, had the idea of taking the arrangement of the Glagolitic alphabet, but making the signs like those of the Uncial Greek then in use for liturgical books, using actual Greek letters as far as they would serve, and for specifically Slavonic sounds the Glagolitic signs simplified and made to match the rest. Where this was impossible in the case of the complicated signs for the vowels, he seems to have made variations on the letters A and B. With the uncials he took the Greek numerical values, though his alphabet kept the Glagolitic order. Probably the Glagolitic letters for š and št have exchanged places, and the value 800 belonged to š, as the order in Cyrillic is ц, Ч, ш, Ш. Who invented Cyrillic we know not; Clement has been said to have made letters clearer, but only in a secondary source and he seems to have been particularly devoted to the tradition of Methodius, and he was bishop of Ochrida, just where Glagolitic survived longest.


Old New Num. Old Num. Russ, Serb. Croat Ccch&c, Polish

Mention must be made of Brückner’s theory that Cyril invented Cyrillic first, but degraded it into Glagolitic to hide its Greek origin from the Latin clergy, the whole object of his mission being hostility to Rome, whereas in Orthodox countries this caution was soon seen to be unnecessary. The Glagolitic alphabets in the table are copied from Codex Marianus (11th century) and the Reims gospel, an O.S. MS. of the 14th century, on which the kings of France took their coronation oath.

As to the special sounds which these various scripts expressed, we may notice in the vocalism a tendency to broaden the short vowels and to narrow the long ones, a process which has left results even where distinctions of quantity no longer exist; further, the many changes which can be followed in historic time and are due to the destruction of the old rule of open syllables by the disappearance of the half vowels ĭ and ŭ, or to their developing into full vowels where indispensable for pronunciation (No. I. inf.). But the ruling principle which has determined the physiognomy of Slavonic speech is the degree in which consonants have been affected by the following vowel. Where this has been broad a, o, u, y, ą, ŭ, this has resulted only in an occasional labialization most noticeable in the case of l; where it has been narrow, i, e, ě, (once ea or e), ę, ǐ, and i̭, the result has been palatalization or " softening " in various degrees, ranging from a slight change in the position of the tongue producing a faint j sound in or just after the consonant—expressed in column 9 by the sign ′, and in Cyrillic by the pre-iotizing of the following vowel—to the development out of straightforward mutes and sibilants of the sibilants, palato-sibilants and affricates z, s, ž, š, ř, dz, c, , č, šč, &c. (see No. 9 and V. inf.).

Slavonic Languages.—The Slavonic languages belong to the Indo-European (I.E.) family. Within that family they are very closely connected with the Baltic group, Old Prussian, Lithuanian (Lithu.) and Lettish, and we must regard the linguistic ancestors of both groups as having formed one for some time after they had become separated from their neighbours. If the original home of the I.E. family is to be set in Europe, we may take the Balto-Slavs to have represented the north-eastern extension of it. The Balto-Slavs have much in common with the northerly or German group, and with the easterly or Aryan group, their next neighbours on each side. The Aryans likewise split into two divisions, Iranian and Indian, whereof the former, in the Sarmatians, remained in contact with the Slavs until after the Christian era, and gave them some loan words, e.g. Bogŭ—Pers. Baga (god); Russian, Sobaka; Median, Cpaka (dog). The south- eastern or Thracian group (Armenian) and beyond it the Illyrian (Albanian) made up the four groups which have sibilants for I.E. non-velar gutturals (see inf. No. 9), and in this stand apart from most European groups, but in other respects the Balto- Slavs were quite European.

The Baltic group and the Slavs were separated by the marshes of White Russia, and after their early oneness did not have much communication until the Slavs began to spread. Since then the Baltic languages have borrowed many Slavonic words. After the Aryans had moved eastwards Slavonic was left in contact with Thracian, but we know so little about it that we cannot measure their mutual influence. On the other side the Germans, beginning as the next group to the Balto-Slavs, and having thereby much in common with them (so much so that Schleicher wanted to make a Germano-Slavo-Baltic group), have never ceased to influence them, have given them loan words at every stage and have received a few in return.

After the Baltic group had separated from the Slavonic, we must imagine a long period when Slavonic (SI.) was a bundle of dialects, showing some of the peculiarities of the future languages, but on the whole so much alike that we may say that such and such forms were common to them all. This stage may be called Proto-Slavonic. Except for the few cases where Old Church Slavonic (O.S.) has either definitely South Slavonic characteristics or peculiar characteristics of its own, as written down by Cyril it represents with wonderful completeness Proto- Slavonic at the moment of its falling apart, and words cited below may be taken to be O.S. unless otherwise designated. Some of the main characteristics of the Slavonic languages as a whole in relation to I.E. are indicated below; restrictions and secondary factors are necessarily omitted. As a rule O.S. represents the Slavonic languages fairly well, while Latin or Greek equivalents are given as the most familiar examples of I.E. Hypothetical forms are starred.

1. I.E. ī becomes (>) i, gosti: hostīs (ace. pi.); I.E. i>$, vidova: vidua; I.E. j>j,jucha: jus (broth).

2. I.E. e becomes £, seme: semen; I.E. &> 6. bera: fero.

3. I.E. & and u are alike o in SI., orati: arare; ostni: octo; I.E. 6 in end syllables, >u; vozii: 6%os; I.E. o and are alike a, bratric: f rater; duva: duo.

4. I.E. u becomes y, ty: tu; I.E. u>ii, snucha: nurus, Sanskr. snuid : I.E. u>v, veza: veho.

5. I.E. r and / both long and short survived as vowels, *vlM written vliku, Sanskr. vxkas, " wolf "; consonantal r and / sur- vived unchanged.

6. I.E. m and n both long and short: the former gave i or H; suto: centum; the latter e or a, deseti: decern. Consonantal m and n mostly survived before a vowel, after it they coalesced with it to make the nasal vowels a and e; pqti: pontis; petti: πέμττος.

7. I.E. Aspirates are represented by corresponding sonants, bera: fero; medu (" honey," " mead "): jxtdv; mlgla: o/xixXi?.

8. I.E. j often becomes ch; vetuchu: vetus; not always, synu: Lithu. silnus, " son "; otherwise ch generally renders Gothic h in loan words; chlebu: hlaibs, "loaf"; chyzii: hus, "house."

9. I.E. velar gutturals k, g, gh and labio-velars, 1< g> gh become in SI. k, g, g, kljuci: clavis; qglii: angulus; migla: o/iixM; kiito: quis, govedo: βοῦς, Sanskr. gaits'; snegU: nix, nivem, but the Palato-gutturals k, g, gh become SI. s, z, z; deseti: decern; zrino: granum; zima: hiems; Lithu. i, 5, i; deszimtis, zirnis, zema.

10. (a) Gutturals k, g, ch (for s) before e, ě (for ē), i, ĭ, ę and j early in the Proto-Sl. period became č, ž, š, vlĭče, voc. of vliM: ~hi>Ke; zelqdi: glandis; pluse, 3rd pi. fr. pluchu: eirKevaav.

(b) Later k, g, ch before S, i (for oi or ai), and sometimes after i, i, e, > c, dz (z), s. Vlice loc. cf. o'ikoi; lezi, imperat. of lega, " lie ": X^yots; dusi, dusechU, nom. loc. pi. of duchu, " spirit "; k&nezf: Ger. kuning: " king;"

(c) I.E. or Proto-Sl. sj, zj became S, i, siti, Lithu. siuti, Lat. suo, " sew "; nozi for *nozjo, " knife."

(d) Non-guttural consonants followed by j (tj, dj, nj; pj, bj, vj, mj) gave different results (except nj) in different languages (see below No. V.), but in Proto-Sl. there was already a tendency for the j to melt into and so change the consonant.

n. Proto-Sl. gradually got rid of all its closed syllables, hence—

(a) Final consonants were dropped- DomU: domus.

(b) Diphthongs became simple vowels ai, oi > e; UvM: laevus; vide: ol8a; ei > i; vidu: elSos; au, eu, ou > u; ucho: auris.

12. Proto-Slavonic had long, short and very short or half vowels (those expressed above by i and it). It had a musical accent, free in its position with different intonations when it fell upon long syllables. (For the fate of these in different modern languages see below, No. VIII.)

13. The phenomena of vowel gradation (Ablaut) as presented by Slavonic are too complicated to be put shortly. In the main they answer to the I.E., e.g. O.S. birati, bera, sil-boru: δί-φρος, φέρω, φόρος.

In their morphology the SI. languages have preserved or developed many interesting forms. Nouns have three genders, three numbers in O.S., Slovene, Serbo-Croat and Sorb (other tongues have more or less numerous traces of the Dual), and, except Bulgarian, seven cases—Nom., Voc. (not in Gt. Russian or Slovene), Ace, Gen., Dat., Instrumental and Locative. Tha AM. has coincided with the Genitive.

The -o, -a and -i declensions have gained at the expense of the consonantal stems, and phonetic change has caused many cases to coincide especially in the -i decl. The comparative of the Adj. is formed on I.E. models with š < sj corresponding to Latin r < s, mĭnĭi, gen. mĭnĭša, cf. minus, minoris. The pronominal declension is less well preserved. There is no article, but i (6s) has been added to the adj. to make it definite; also in Bulgarian and in some dialects of Russian tu is postfixed as a real article.

The SI. verb has lost most of the I.E. voices, moods and tenses. The passive only survives in the pres. and past participles; of the finite moods there are but the ind* and opt. (almost always used as an imperat.) left; its only old tenses are the pres. and the aor., to which it has added an impf. of its own. There is an inf. (in -ti, being an old dat.) and a supine in -tU, an accusative. Of active participles there are a pres. and a past and a second past part, used in making compound tenses. There are a solitary perfect form, vědě: οἶ, and a solitary fut. part, byšę, gen. byiesta: cj>v<rcov, <j>0(tovtos. The verb has two stems; from the pres. stem is formed the ind. pres. and impf., the imperat. and the act. and pass. pres. participles. All other forms are based upon the infinitive stem.

Personal Endings:—


Sing. Du. Plur.

i. -mi -vS -mil

2. -si -ta -te

3. -ti -te -eti


Sing. Du. Plur.

-(m) -ve -mu

-si -ta -te

-ti -te -{n)li


Sing. Du. Plur.

-(m) -ve -mii

-(s) -ta -te

-it) -te -(nl)

1st Sing. In thematic verbs the vowel + m has given a, but there has been a tendency to replace it according to the non- thematic analogy, which has necessitated changes in 1st plur.

2nd Sing, -si has given -si everywhere but in O.S.

3rd Sing, -ti has been dropped everywhere but in Russian, where the literary language has IU. The Dual only survives in Serb, Sorb, Slovene and O.S., and in these the forms are confused.

1st plur. -mii has developed alfull vowel where the 1st sing, has replaced the -m.

The secondary endings have lost their -m, -s, -t and-w/ by phonetic change.

Non-thematic presents are, jesmi, eiyui, sum; dami (redupl. for

  • dadmi), SLdoivu; jami, edo; vlmi, Sanskr. vedmi, "I wit";

imdmi (new form of emo), " I have."

The aorist has no augment; it is sigmatic and non-sigmatic. The latter or 2nd aor. (cf . Horn. impf. ^kpov, $«pe) survived only in consonant stems and that in O.S. and Old Cech, pekH = 'eirtccov. It was common in the 2nd and 3rd sing, (where the -s- forms would not be clear) pece < *peke-s,*peke-t = treaces, eictcot. The sigmatic aorist very rarely and only in consonant stems in O.S. keeps its -s-, vesii <*vedsH. In stems ending in k, r or a vowel, s > ch; bychu = i(t>voa and this ch >$ before e. The ordinary later form for consonant stems inserts a vowel, vedochu. The aorist has survived in S. Slavonic and in Sorb, and is found in the older stages of the other tongues. The same languages (except Slovene) have kept the impf. which was present in Proto-Sl. but does not go back to I.E., being formed on the analogy of the aor. With the aor. has coalesced the opt. bimi, " be," used with the 2nd past part, to make a conditional. Stem of pres. part. act. ends in -nt- but the consonant decl. has become an -{o- decl., so we have vezy <I.E. *ueghonts=ix<J>v, gen. vezqlta < *vezonlja as against ixovros. Pres. part. pass, ends in -mu; it has survived more or less in Russian, elsewhere is obsolescent. Past part. act. I. is formed with I.E. -ues-; nom. sing. masc. -uos (tiSccs) gave H, vedii, having led, byvu, having been; but in fern, and oblique cases formed as from -io- stem s remained, hence Russian vedsij, byvHj. Past part. act. II. in -/- cf. Lat. bibulus from bibo, used with an auxiliary to form past and conditional. Past part. pass, in -t- or -»-; tert& = tritus. Znan% = known. I.E. future having been lost, futurity is expressed by an auxiliary badq (ero) chosta (will), &c. with the inf. or by the pres. form of the perfective veyb. The passive is expressed either by the use of the passive participles or by the reflexive se, which can refer to the 1st and 2nd persons as well as to the 3rd.

Syntactical peculiarities of the Slavonic languages that may be noted are a tendency to use the genitive instead of the accu- sative (which has often coincided in form with the nominative) in the case of living beings, masculine -0- stems, and in the plur. ; the use of the genitive for the accusative or even nominative in negative clauses; the dative absolute and the dative as subject to an infinitive; the instrumental instead of the nominative as a predicate, and in orat&o obliqua the preservation of the tense of the original statement instead of our way of throwing it into the past.

In the use of the verbs the development of " aspects " makes up for the few tenses. Actions (or states) expressed by a verbal form have a beginning, a continuance and an end. There are, however, some (momentaneous) actions whose beginning and end come together and allow no continuance. All verbs fall into two great divisions, imperfective, which express the continuance of an action, without regard to its beginning or end, and perfective, which express the points of beginning or ending. The continuance of an action may be unbroken or may consist of like acts which are repeated. So imperfective verbs are divided into durative, as nesti, " to be carrying," and iterative, as nositi, " to be wont to carry "; the repeated acts of the iterative can either be each of them momentaneous, e.g. Cech, sifileti, " to shoot," i.e. " be firing single shots," or each have some continuance, e.g. nositi above, or we can even express the occasional repetition of groups of momentaneous actions, e.g. Cech. stfilivati, " to have the habit of going out shooting."

Among perfective verbs we have (1) momentaneous, expressing action which has no continuance, kriknati, " to give a cry," sesti, " to take a seat "; (2) finitive, expressing not the continu- ance of the action, though that there has been, but its end or completion, napl&niti, "to fill to the brim"; (3) ingressive, expressing the moment of beginning an action, vuzl' ubiti, " to fall in love with."

As perfective verbs do not express continuance, an idea ' implied in the present, they cannot require a present form, so this is used for perfective futures; e.g. sedq (pres. form from perfective sfsti) = " I shall take.a seat," as opposed to imperfective badq siditi, ". I shall be sitting." If a preposition is compounded with a idurative verb as nesti, " to carry " (in general), " to be carrying," it makes it perfective, as iznesii, " to carry out " (one ; single action brought to a conclusion), so Eng. "sit" is usually imperfective, " sit down " perfective, If an iterative has a preppsition it is mostly used as a durative; iznositi can mean, "habitually to carry out" but more often = " to be carrying out," that is, it supplies the imperfective form to iznesti. The development of this system has enabled some Slavonic languages, e.g. Russian, to do with only two tenses, pres. and past, to each verb morphologically considered, per- fective and imperfective verbs supplementing each other; e.g. if .we take a Greek verb, the pres. (ind. and infin.) and imperf, correspond to the present, inf. and past of a Russian imperfective verb; the aor. indie, and inf. are represented by the perfective past and infin., which has also to do duty for the Greek perfect and plup.; the future and the future perfect in Greek dp not express the same distinctions as the imperfective future and perfective future (in form a present) in SI., the Greek giving chronological prder of action, but not giving the distinction of aspect, though the, future perfect is naturally perfective.

The. prepositions are very much like those in other I.E. lan- guages both in actual Jorms and in use.

The formation of the sentence is not naturally complicated; but SI. has in times past been largely influenced by Greek, Latin and German with their involved periods; latterly there has been a tendency to follow the simpler models of French and English. Such being the Slavonic languages as a whole and regarded in their relationship to I. E-,, they may now be considered in their relationship to each other, and some of the principal character- istics enumerated upon which their internal classification has been founded. More or less complete accounts of each language will be found.under its name.

Distinctive, Points of Different Sl. Languages.[1]—I. (ŭ, ĭ). The fate of the Proto-Sl. half vowels ic, i, still preserved in O.S., e. g. sŭnŭ, " sleep, " dtni, " day," is various; as a rule they disappear, ŭ entirely (though when final still written in R.), i leaves a trace by softening the preceding consonant. But if needed to eke out consonants, in Sorb, Slovak, Lit. R. and mostly in Gt. R., ŭ, ĭ develop into full vowels o, e—R. sonŭ, gen. sua; denĭ, gen. dna. In Polish and Čech both > e, but in P. ĭ softens the preceding cons., in Č. it usually does not—P. sen, dzień; Č. sen, den; in Slovene and Ser. they are not distinguished, Slovene ŭ, a or e, san, dan or den = Ser. a, san, dan, gen. dana, Ser. keeping the middle vowel which is elsewhere dropped. Bulgarian varies dialectically.

II. (y.) y only remains in Gt. Russian, Polish and Sorb though still written in Čech; it has elsewhere become i, but in Polish it becomes * after k and g, in Sorb and R. after k, g, ch-^ O.S. kysnqti, " go sour," gybnqti, “perish,” chytrU, " cunning "; P. kisnqt, gin ad, chyter; R. kisnuti, gibnuti, chit' eric.

III. (r, l.) The treatment of the liquids varies greatly.

(a) r is always a lingual trill, never alveolar. In S. Slav, it is only softened before j and ı̯—O.S. zorja, “dawn.” In N.W. and E. Slav, r became r′ before ǐ, i, e, ę, é̆ and j. Russian and Slovak have remained at this stage, Č., Polish, Kas. have made r into ř (rz) in which r and ž are run into one. (See Table I.)

Table I.
ĭ i e ę č j
O.S. zvěrĭ, “beast” věriti, “believe” remenĭ, “strap” tręsạ tręsei, “tremo” rěka, " river " zorja, “dawn”
Russian  zvěrĭ věritĭ remenĭ tr''asu trasošǐ rěka zora
Polish zwierz wierzyć rzemień trzạsę trzęsiesz rzeka zorza

But P. ę for orig. ą does not soften—P. ręka: O.S. rạka, “hand.”

In Sorb such a change only happened after k, p, t, in which case High S. has f (written f), Low S. S, but in Low S., r after k, p, t becomes s even before hard vowels: Proto-Sl. tri, "three," High S.tsi, Low S.lsi; Proto-Sl. kraj, "edge," High S. kraj, Low S. ksaj.

(b) l occurs in three varieties, I, I, V , but each language has generally either middle / alone or else I and /'. Lit. R. and Bulg. have all three. I has been arrived at in C. and Slovene by the loss of the distinctions, perhaps under German influence; Ser. has l and l′, final l>o; but I occurs in dialects of all lan- guages and was no doubt in O.S., Proto-Sl. and even Balto-Slav. It has a velar and a labial element and in most languages tends to appear as 0, u, t> or w, though this is only written in Ser. and Lit. R. O.S. dalu, " gave," R. dalU, Lit. R. dav, Wh. R. dav, _daw, P. dal (dialect dau), C. dal, Ser. dao. l′ is very soft, like Fr. ville.

(c) N.W. Slav, keeps -tl- -dl- whereas S. Slav, (except some cases of Slovene padl, plella, &c.) and R. drop the t and d—Č. padl, " fell," radio, " aratrum," pletl, " plaited" ; O.S. and R. palu, ralo, plelu, but R. drops I of masc. sing, past, part. II. after other consonants. O.S. neslu, C. nesl, R. n'esu, " carried."

(d) Proto-Sl. , or perhaps ŭr, ĭr, ŭl, ĭl gave S- Slav., Č. and Slovak r, I written in O.S. rii, ri, lu, li indifferently, though soft and hard may once have been distinguished. Of this group Slovene and Ser. later allowed the / to become ol, ou or u. Sorb, Polish and R. developed various vowels, partly according to the original quality, partly according to other influences, e.g. O.S. sridice, " heart," trugu, "market," d^&m, " wolf," slunice, "sol"; Ser. srdce, trg, vuk, sunce; Slovene srdce, trg, volk, solnce; Č. srdce, trh, vlk, since; P. ierce, targ, wilk, slonce; R. s'erdce, torgu, volkii., solnce.

(e) Proto-Sl. rii, ri f lit, U had in S. Slav, and partly in C. the same fate as r, I; in Polish and R. the vowel comes after the liquid. O.S. 'bruvi, "brow," kristu, "cross," plM, " flesh," sliza, " tear "; Ser. brv, krst, put, suza; Slovene, brv, krst, polt, solza; C. brv, but plet'; P. brew, krzest, plec, {s)lza; R. brovi, kr'estu, ploti, sl'eza.

(f) Proto-Sl. -or-, -ol-, -er-, -el- before a consonant.

(i.) Type ort, olt (ert, elt are not certain) beginning a word.— The liquid mostly comes first, sometimes the same vowel persists in all languages, e.g. Proto-Sl. *ordlo (Lithu. drklas, aratrum) , O.S. , Bulg., Ser., Slovene, R. ralo, C. Polab. P., radio. But Proto-Sl. eldii (Lithu. eldija), O.S. alUdiji, ladiji, "boat," Ser., Slovene, ladja, R. lodija, C. lodi, Polab, Itid'a and *orm (Pruss. arms), O.S. ravinu, " even," Ser. rdvan, Bulg. Slovene, rdven, R. rov'enu, C. rovny,F. rdwny show Russian agreeing with N.W. Slav against S. Slav. The difference probably depends on intonation.

(ii.) Type tort, tolt, tert, telt with a consonant before as well: the various treatments of this combination are among the chief criteria for classification, esp. the Russian speciality called full vocalism (polnoglasie) torol, tolot, teret, telet (or tolot, teloi) which is probably archaic, is one of the chief reasons for putting Russian in a separate division; Polish and Sorb come nearest to it, with trot, Hot, tret, tlet, but the N.W. division is not uniform as Kasube and the extinct Polab have the interesting forms tort, llit, trit, tlat, which are partly archaic, partly a transition to the most novel forms of the southern group to which Čech and Slovak^in this particular accede, trat, tlat, tret, tilt, but after I and z Čech has tlat for tlet. Deviations due to intonation have not been set forth. (See Table II.)

Table II.

Proto-Sl. Stem.



Polab, Kas.


S. SI. e.g. O.S.

  • gord- " hortus," " town "






  • molt- " hammer " . ;






  • berg- Ger. " berg," " shore "






  • melk- " milk "...






  • helm- " hdm " . . .

sel'emu of Selomib


  • gelb- " groove " . . .

zelobil | zldb

(Kas.) Hob



IV. The Proto-Slavonic nasals a and e could be either long or short. This distribution is fairly kept in languages which have quantity and governs the results in Polish in which the nasal sound is preserved. The examples below show the main repre- sentatives. Traces of nasal pronunciation survive in Bulgarian, Slovene and Kasube. (See Table III.)

Table III.



Bulg. usu.




Sorb, High, Low.




611, on; in, en.

a; e.

ii, or d; e.

u; c.

d, 0; e, e.

u, ou; e, e.

u; a, je; e, I.



a; i, I.

 *mŏnka, “pain”




mdka, monka,






 *mōnká, " flour "




moka, muka






 *desĕmtĭ, “ten”






dzesac, zases




penlt, " five "






pjec, pes'



pic or pšinc

In Kašube remains; ę becomes nasalized i or ī and this may lose the nasal or restore it as a full n or m; it has also nasalized all the other vowels and has the power of using nasals in loan- words, e.g. testamạt, as did O.S. e.g. kolęda, kalendae, sqdŭ = sund. Polab has (i and e—ronka, O.S. rqka, "hand," mengsie—mesa, “carnis,” but swante = svelu, " holy."

V. Softening (Palatalization, &c).—Nothing has so much affected Slavonic speech as the effect of ĭ, i, e, ě, ę and j on preceding consonants, and the variations produced are among the chief points of difference between the languages.

(a) The gutturals felt this first of all, k, g, ch, become (I.) I, z, i and (II.) c, ds(z), s, and these changes are universal (see 10,

a, b above) except that after the separation of the Slavs the same process was continued in the S. and E. branches even when a 11 intervened, whereas the N.W. branch remained untouched. Proto-Sl. *kvetu, " flower," *gvezda, " star "(vulchvi), magi; O.S. cvetu, dzvesda, (vlHsvi); R. cveM, zvezda; but Cech kvet, hvhda; P. kwiat, gwiazda.

(b) The action of j was the most general, influencing the dentals in all languages and in some the labials as well, whereas

the narrow vowels act on the dentals only and that not in all languages. The results of Proto-Sl. tj, dj in O.S. and Bulg. are the most surprising, giving st' ' , id', by way of si and ždž (as is shown by their agreeing with the results of Proto-Sl.

Proto-Slav. O.S. Bulg. Mac. Serbo-Croat and Slovene. Č. P. R.
*svetja, “candle” svest'a svesta svek'a svijel'a svjeca svica svíce świeca sveca
*medja," boundary" . mezd'a mezda meg'a med'a media meja meze miedza m'eza
*peklj, " stove " . pesti pesti pec pec pec piec p'eci
*moglj, " power " . moštĭ moštĭ moc moc moc moc močĭ

stj, skj, e.g. prelist'enu, " deceived," ist'a, " I seek," cf. R.liscenA, iscit). Some Macedonians have the strange result k' and g'. Among the Serbo-Croats we find every grade between t', d', and c',dz',orc, dz, the Slovenes having c' , j (our y), the Cechs and Sorbs c, z, the Poles and Polabs c, dz, and the Russians eandz; the fate of ktj and gtj has been the same as that of tj throughout. (c) Before the narrow sounds i, i, e, I and the descendants of e there has resulted a later softening which has gone farthest in - Low Sorb, producing S and z, and in High Sorb and

Polish, c and dz, not so far in Gt. R. where t' d' remain, Wh. R. is intermediate with now t, dz, now t' , d' ; in C. even t' d' only come before i, i and e. In S. Slavonic this effect is dialectical. C. tllo, " body," dilati, " make," deset, " ten "; P. cialo, dzielo, dziesiei; High Sorb, dzesac; Low Sorb, iaseS; Wh. R. celo, dielo, dzesac; Gt. R. t'elo, d'elo, d'es'ati.

(d) S, z, n, before j gave š, ž, n′ throughout (No. 10, c, d, above). Before the narrow vowels they give ś, ź, ń in Sorb, Polish, Slovak and Russian, but Cech has no s or z or ft before e nor always before i; S. Slavonic has »' before j. Otherwise in it such softening is only dialectical, but Bulgarian forms a transition to Russian.

(e) In Polish and Sorb we have the labials p', b' (f'),v',m' softening before j and the narrow vowels, in Cech only before $, in Slovak nowhere. In S. Slavonic they only soften before j and then the j appears as l′ (pi', bl' , vl', ml'), invariably in Serb, generally in Slovene, generally too p. b. f. v. m.in Russian, but there before the narrow sounds of newer for- mation they can all be softened in the ordinary way (p', b', f, v', m'), in Bulgarian this l has disappeared and we have p' , b' , v' , m'. But O.S. followed the S. Slav, rule; and the I was probably once present in N.W. Slav. It remains everywhere in one or two roots—O.S. pl'uja (tttvco for sp}u}o), R. pl'uju, P. pluje, otherwise O.S. zeml'a, R. z'eml'a, P. ziemia, " humus."

On the whole the various languages do not differ much in principle in the treatment of j, but softening before i, i, e, e, e, seems to have its extreme point in P., Kas. and Polab, spreading from them to Sorb, White Russian and Gt. Russian; Cech, Slovak and Lit. Russian have it in a far less degree, and in S. Slavonic it is very little developed.

VI. Right across the Slavonic world from W. to E. g has become h, leaving the N. and the S. untouched. This change is found in Cech, Slovak, High but not Low Sorb, is traceable in Polish, and characteristic in White, South Gt. Russian and Lit. Russian, also in the Russian pronunciation of Ch. Slavonic. The h produced is rather the spirant gh than the true aspirate. Low Sorb, R., O.S., &c, gora, P. gdra, "mountain." C, Slovak, High Sorb, Wh. and Lit. R. hora.

VII. Common Slav je and ju beginning a word appear in R. as and u; O.S. jedinU, " one," jucha, " broth "; R. odinii, ucha.

VIII. Proto-Sl., as we have seen, had long, short and very short or half vowels and a musical accent with differing intonations. O.S. was probably similar, but we have no sufficient materials for determining its quantities or accents as quantity! systematic writing of the latter only came in from the

14th century. The fate of the half vowels we have seen (I.). Traces of former long vowels are very clearly to be seen in Sorb, Polish and Lit. R., and less clearly in Bulg. and Gt. R., all of which have lost distinctions of quantity; Slovene can have long vowels only under the accent. In Kasube, C., Slovak and Serbo- Cr. there are also unaccented long syllables. Russian has kept the place of the original accent best, next to it Bulgarian; conse- quently it seems very capricious, appearing on different syllables in different flexions, but it has become merely expiratory. In Slovene it is still musical, but is, so to speak, steadier. For the intonations Serbo-Croat is the chief guide, but here the accent intonation is spread over two syllables, in Croatian (ca dialect), the main stress is usually on the old place, in Servian (sto dialect) it has shifted back one. In N.W. Slavonic, with the exception of Kasube in which it is free, the accent is fixed, in C., Slovak and Sorb on the first syllable of the word, in Polish on the penultimate.

On the whole it may be said that the geographical classification of the Slavs into N.W., S. and E. Slavs is justified linguistically, though too much stress must not be laid upon it as the lines of division are made less definite by the approximation of the languages which come next each other, the special characteristics of each group are generally represented in dialects of the others if not in the written languages; also some peculiarities (e.g. VL, g>h) run right across all boundaries, and secondary softening runs from N. to S., becoming less as it goes away from Poland (V., c) . In fact, the triple division might be purely arbitrary but for the fact that the belt of Germans, Magyars and Rumanians has made impossible the survival of transitional dialects con- necting up Cech with Slovene, Slovak with Servian, Russian with Bulgarian. Slovak, as it were, just fails to be a universal link : in the north Russian and Polish have much in common, but Lithuania made some sort of barrier and the difference of religion favoured separate development.

In the north Polish is closely connected with Kasube, and this with Polab, making the group of L'ach dialects in which the nasals survived (IV.). The two Sorb dialects link the L'achs on to the Cechs and Slovaks, the whole making the N.W. group with its preference for c, z, s as against c, z, f (which were perhaps unknown to Polab, V. b), its b' as against W (V. e), its keeping kv' and gv' (V. a), tl and dl (III. c), its ř (III. a, not in Slovak) and the fixed accent (VIII. not in Kaš.). The whole group (except Sorb) agrees with R. in having lost the aor. and impf. Yet C. and Slovak agree with S. Slav, in trat, tret (III, f, ii.) in survival of r and I (III. d) and of quantity (VIII.). Again, Slovene has occasional tl, dl (III. c), and its accent and quantity are not quite southerly, but its many dialects shade across to Croat and Servian, and they must all be classed together for the fate of tj, dj (V. b) and a, e (IV.). The Sopcy and Macedonians, among their numerous dialects, make a bridge between Servian and Bulgarian. The special mark of the latter is tj, dj>sl, zd, which is the main philological argument for making O.S. Bulgarian. In general S. Slav, shows less soft letters than N.W. and E. (V. c and d). It shares with Russian bl <bj (V. e) tl, dl >l (III. c) kv′, gv′>cv (V. a) and the general loss of ą, ę (IV.), and is closer to it in the fate of tj, dj (V. b). Bulgarian, especially in some dialects, is, as it were, a transition to Russian, e.g. in accentuation.

Russian stands by itself by its torot, tolot (III. f, ii.) and its treatment of tj and dj (V. b) and the place of its accent (VIII.) in all of which it is rather archaic, while je>o, ju>u (VII.) is its own innovation. In its secondary softenings Lit. R., Gt. R. and Wh. R. make a gradual bridge between S. Slav and Polish (V. c-e). In common with Polish, R. further has the retention of y (II.) and the loss of the aor. and impf.

Finally, within historic time certain dialects have influenced others through literary and political intercourse. O.S. has influenced all the Orthodox Slavs and the Croats, so that Russian is full of words with O.S. forms pronounced à la Russe (>u, >ja, št′>šč, &c). Čech has almost overshadowed Slovak and early afforded literary models to Polish. Polish has overshadowed Kasube and much influenced Little and White Russian and Great Russian in a less degree. Russian has in its turn supplied modern Bulgarian with a model. Again, other tongues have contributed something; in common Slavonic there are already German loan words, and others have followed in various periods, especially in Cech and Polish, while the very structure of Slovene and Sorb has been affected. Polish has adopted many Latin words. Bulgarian and Servian received many Turkish words. Russian took over many Eastern words in the Tatar period, and the common vocabulary of Western civilization since the time of Peter the Great, but on the whole, though the Slav easily takes to a fresh language, he has kept his own free from great admixture.

Bibliography.—1. Ethnography: M. F. Mirkovič and A. S. Budilovič, Etnografičeskaja Karta Slavjanskich Narodnostej (Ethnographical Map of Sl. Peoples) (St Petersburg, 1875); Le Monnier, Sprachenkarle von Osterreich-Ungarn (Vienna, 1888); Osterreich-Ungarn im Wort und Bild (Vienna and Teschen). 2. Antiquities and Early History: [[Author:Pavel Jozef Šafárik|P. J. Šafařík)), Slovanské Starožitnosti (Slavonic Antiquities: German and Russian Translations) (Prague, 1862–1863); A. Th. Hilferding, Collected Works (St P., 1868); A. Harkavy, Skazania Musul’manskich Pisatelej Slavjanach i Russach (Information of Musulman writers about the Sl. and Rus.) (St P., 1870); M. Drinov, Zaselenie Balkanskago Poluostrova Slavjanami (Occupation of the Balkan Peninsula by the Sl.) (Moscow, 1873) ; G. Krek, Einleitung in die slavische Literaturgeschichte (Graz, 1886); Th. Braun, Razyskania v oblasti Goto- Slavjanskich Otnosenij (Investigations into the province of Gotho-Slavonic Relations) (St P., 1899) ; J. Marquart, Osteuropaische und ostasiatische Streifziige (Leipzig, 1903); L. Niederle, - Lidstvo v době předhistorické (Prague, 1893), " Man in Prehistoric Time," Russian Trans. (St P., 1898), Slovanske Starozitnosti (Slavonic Antiquities, a splendid review of the whole subject) (Prague, 1902 ). 3. Proto-Slavonic and Comparative Grammars, &c. : A. Schleicher, Vergleichende Grammatik der indo-germanischen Sprachen (Weirnar, 1866); J. Schmidt, Die Verwandschaftsverhaltnisse der I.-G. Sprachen (Weimar, 1872) ; O. Schrader, Reallexikon d. I.-G. Altertumskunde (Strassburg, 1907); V. Jagic, " Einige Streitfragen : 3. Eine einheitliche slavische Ursprache," in Arch. f. slav. Phil. xxii. (1900); Fr. Miklosich, Vergleickende Grammatik der si. Spr. (Vienna, 1875–1883); T. Florinskij, Lekcii po Slavjanskomy Jazykoznaniu (Lectures on Slavonic Linguistics. Both Miklosich and Florinskij give short grammars of each language) (Kiev, 1895–1897); V. Vondrák, Vergleichende slavische Grammatik (a true comparative grammar) (Göttingen, 1906–1908); F. Miklosich, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der slavischen Sprachen (Vienna, 1886); R. Th. Brandt, Načertanie Slavjanskoj Akcentologii (Outline of SI. Accentuation) (St P., 1880) ; E. Berneker, Slavische Chrestomathie mit Glossaren (specimens of all SI. tongues) (Strassburg, 1902). The central organ for Slavonic studies is Archiv für slavische Philologie, conducted by V. Jagic (Berlin, 1876—). 4. Literary History: A. N. Pypin and Spasowicz, Istoria slavjanskich Literatur (2nd ed., St P., 1879); W. R. Morfill, Slavonic Literature (S.P.C.K., London, 1883). 5. O.S. Grammar, &c: F. Miklosich, Altslovenische Formenlehre in Paradigmen (Vienna, 1874); A. Leskien, Handbuch der altbulgarischen (alt- kirchenslavischen) Sprache (with Texts) (4th ed., Weimar, 1905), Russian trans, with account of Ostromir Gospel by Scepkin and Sachmatov (Moscow, 1890); V. Vondrák, Alikirchenslavische Grammatik (Berlin, 1900) ; F. Miklosich, Lexicon Palaeoslovenicum- Graeco-Latinum (Vienna, 1862–1865). 6. O.S. Texts: Evangelium Zographense (glag.), ed. Jagic (Berlin, 1879); Evangelium Marianum (glag.), ed. Jagic (St P., 1883) ; Evangelium A ssemani (glag.), ed.Crncic (Rome, 1878); Psalterium et Euchologium Sinaitica (glag.), ed. Geitler (Agram, 1882–1883); Glagolita Clozianus, ed. Vondrák (Prague, 1893) ; " Fragmenta Kieviana " (glag.), ed. Jagic, Denkschr. k. Akad. d. W., phil.-hist. Kl. xxxviii. (Vienna, 1890); Codex Suprasliensis (cyr.), ed. Miklosich (Vienna, 1851); Evangelium Savcae (cvr.), ed. Scepkin (St P., 1900); Evangelium Ostromiri (cyr.), ed." Savvinkov (St P., 1889). 7. Alphabets: P. J. Safarik, Xjber den Ursprung und Heimat des Glagolismus (Prague, 1858); I. Taylor, The Alphabet, vol. ii. (London, 1883); L. Geitler, Die albanesischen und slavischen Schriften (facsimiles) (Vienna, 1883) ; V. Jagic, Cetyre Paleograficeskia Statji (Four Palaeographical Articles) (St P., 1884); Id. " Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der kirchenslavi- schen Sprache," in Denkschr. d. k. Akad. d. Wiss., phil.-hist. Kl. xlvii. (Vienna, 1902); id. " Einige Streitfragen 5." (numerical value and nasals in glag.), in Arch. f. si. Phil, xxiii. (1901); A. Leskien, "Zur glagolitischen Schrift," ib. xxvi. (1905); A. Brückner, " Thesen zur Cyrillo-Methodianischen Frage," ib. xxvii. (1906); E. Th. Karskij, Očerk Slavjanskoj Kirillovskoj Paleografii (Outline of Sl. Cyrillic Palaeography) (Warsaw, 1901).  (E. H. M.) 

  1. Bulg. = Bulgarian; Č. = Čech ; Kas. = KaSube ; Lit. R. = Little Russian; P. = Polish;- R. = Russian, i.e. Great Russian; Ser. ^ Servian; Wh. R. = White Russian.