- Early Cyrillic alphabet
Early Cyrillic alphabet Type Alphabet Languages Old Church Slavonic, Church Slavonic, old versions of many Slavic languages Time period from circa 940 Parent systems Sister systems Latin alphabet
ISO 15924 Cyrs, 221 Unicode range U+0400 to U+04FF
U+0500 to U+052F
U+2DE0 to U+2DFF
U+A640 to U+A69F
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.
The Early Cyrillic alphabet is a writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire in the 9th or 10th century to write the Old Church Slavonic liturgical language. The modern Cyrillic script is still used primarily for Slavic languages, and for Asian languages that were under Russian cultural influence during the 20th century.
- А Б В Г Д Е Ж Ѕ З И І К Л М Н О П Ҁ Р С Т Ѹ Ф Х Ѡ Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ Ꙑ Ь Ѣ Ꙗ Ѥ Ю Ѧ Ѫ Ѩ Ѭ Ѯ Ѱ Ѳ Ѵ
The earliest form of manuscript Cyrillic, known as ustav, was based on Greek uncial script, augmented by ligatures and by letters from the Glagolitic alphabet for consonants not found in Greek. There was no distinction of capital and lowercase letters, though manuscript letters were rendered larger for emphasis, or in various decorative initial and nameplate forms.
Tradition holds that the two Slavic scripts, Glagolitic and Cyrillic, were invented by two brothers, the monks Saint Methodius and Saint Cyril, in the 860s. However, Glagolitic appears to be older, and Cyrillic later. It appears that Glagolitic may have predated the introduction of Christianity, and was only formalized by St Cyril and expanded by him to cover non-Greek sounds, possibly under commission of Boris I when Christianity was made the official state religion in 864. Cyrillic, on the other hand, may have been a creation of Cyril's students, perhaps at the Preslav Literary School, who derived it from a more 'dignified' Greek in the 890s as a more suitable script for church books, though retaining Cyril's non-Greek additions from Glagolitic.
Since its creation, the Cyrillic script has adapted to changes in spoken language and developed regional variations to suit the features of national languages. It has been the subject of academic reforms and political decrees. Variations of the Cyrillic script are used to write languages throughout Eastern Europe and Asia.
The form of the Russian alphabet underwent a change when Tsar Peter I of Russia introduced the Civil Script (Russian: гражданскій шрифтъ, graždanskij šrift, or граждaнкa, graždanka, in contrast to the prevailing Church Typeface, Russian: церковнославя́нский шрифтъ, cerkovnoslavjanskij šrift) in 1708. Some letters and breathing marks which were only used for historical reasons were dropped. Medieval letterforms used in typesetting were harmonized with Latin typesetting practices, exchanging medieval forms for Baroque ones, and skipping the western European Renaissance developments. The reform subsequently influenced Cyrillic orthographies for most other languages. Today, the early orthography and typesetting standards only remain in use in Church Slavonic.
A comprehensive repertoire of early Cyrillic characters is included in the Unicode 5.1 standard, published on April 4, 2008. These characters and their distinctive letterforms are represented in specialized computer fonts for Slavistics.
Image Unicode Name
Trans. IPA Origin Notes А а азъ azŭ [azŭ] a [a] Greek alpha Α "I" Б б боукы buky [buky], [bukŭi] b [b] Derived from В below? "letters" В в вѣдѣ vědě [vædæ] v [v] Greek beta Β "know" Г г глаголи glagoli [ɡlaɡoli] g [ɡ] Greek gamma Γ "speak" Д д добро dobro [dobro] d [d] Greek delta Δ "good" Є є єсть estĭ [ɛstĭ] e [ɛ] Greek epsilon Ε "am" or "is" – present tense from "to be" Ж ж живѣтє živěte [ʒivætɛ] ž, zh [ʒ] Glagolitic zhivete Ⰶ "live" Ѕ ѕ / Ꙃ ꙃ ѕѣло dzělo [dzælo] dz [dz] Greek stigma Ϛ (a sigma-tau ligature) "very" З з / Ꙁ ꙁ земля zemlja [zemlja] z [z] Greek zeta Ζ The first form developed into the second. "earth" И и ижє iže [iʒɛ] i [i] Greek eta Η "which" І і / Ї ї и/ижеи i/ižei [i, iʒɛi] i, I [i] Greek iota Ι "and" К к како kako [kako] k [k] Greek kappa Κ "as" Л л людиѥ ljudije [ljudijɛ] l [l] Greek lambda Λ "people" М м мыслитє myslite [myslitɛ]~[mŭislitɛ] m [m] Greek mu Μ "think" Н н нашь našĭ [naʃĭ] n [n] Greek nu Ν "ours" О о онъ onŭ [onŭ] o [o] Greek omicron Ο "he" or "it" П п покои pokoi [pokoj] p [p] Greek pi Π "peaceful state" Р р рьци rĭci [rĭtsi] r [r] Greek rho Ρ "say" С с слово slovo [slovo] s [s] Greek lunate sigma Ϲ "word" or "speech" Т т тврьдо tvrdo [tvr̥do] t [t] Greek tau Τ "hard" or "surely" Оу оу / Ꙋ ꙋ оукъ ukŭ [ukŭ] u [u] Greek omicron-upsilon ΟΥ / Ꙋ The first form developed into the second, a vertical ligature. "learning" Ф ф фрьтъ frtŭ [fr̤̥tŭ] f [f] Greek phi Φ Х х хѣръ xěrŭ [xærŭ] kh [x] Greek chi Χ Ѡ ѡ отъ otŭ [otŭ] ō, w [oː] Greek omega ω "from" Ц ц ци ci [tsi] c [ts] Glagolitic tsi Ⱌ Ч ч чрьвь črvĭ [tʃr̤̥vĭ] č, ch [tʃ] Glagolitic cherv Ⱍ "worm" Ш ш ша ša [ʃa] š, sh [ʃ] Glagolitic sha Ⱎ Щ щ шта šta [ʃta] št, sht [ʃt] Glagolitic shta Ⱋ Later analyzed as a Ш-Т ligature by folk etymology Ъ ъ ѥръ jerŭ [jɛrŭ] ŭ, u: [ŭ] Glagolitic yer Ⱏ Ꙑ ꙑ ѥры jery [jɛry] y [y], or possibly [ŭi] ЪI or ЪИ ligature Ь ь ѥрь jerĭ [jɛrĭ] ĭ, i: [ĭ] Glagolitic yerj Ⱐ Ѣ ѣ ять jatĭ [jatĭ] ě [æ] Glagolitic yat Ⱑ ? Ꙗ ꙗ я ja [ja] ja [ia] I-А ligature Ѥ ѥ ѥ je: [jɛ] je [iɛ] І-Є ligature Ю ю ю ju [ju] ju [iu] I-ОУ ligature, dropping У There was no [jo] sound in early Slavic, so I-ОУ did not need to be distinguished from I-О. Ѧ ѧ ѧсъ ęsŭ [ɛ̃sŭ] ę, ẽ [ɛ̃] Glagolitic ens Ⱔ Called юсъ малый (little yus) in Russian. Ѩ ѩ ѩсъ jęsŭ [jɛ̃sŭ] ję, jẽ [jɛ̃] I-Ѧ ligature Called юсъ малый йотированный (iotated little yus) in Russian. Ѫ ѫ ѫсъ ǫsŭ [ɔ̃sŭ] ǫ, õ [ɔ̃] Glagolitic ons Ⱘ Called юсъ большой (big yus) in Russian. Ѭ ѭ ѭсъ jǫsŭ [jɔ̃sŭ] jǫ, jõ [jɔ̃] I-Ѫ ligature Called юсъ большой йотированный (iotated big yus) in Russian. Ѯ ѯ кси ksi [ksi] ks [ks] Greek xi Ξ These last four letters were not needed for Slavic but used to transcribe Greek and as numerals. Ѱ ѱ пси psi [psi] ps [ps] Greek psi Ψ Ѳ ѳ фита fita [fita] θ, th, T, F [t]~[θ]~[f] Greek theta Θ Ѵ ѵ ижица ižica [iʒitsa] ü, v [ɪ], [y], [v] Greek upsilon Υ
In addition to the basic letters, there were a number of scribal variations, combining ligatures, and regionalisms used, all of which varied over time.
Numerals, diacritics and punctuation
Several diacritics, adopted from Polytonic Greek orthography, were also used (these may not appear correctly in all web browsers; they are supposed to be directly above the letter, not off to its upper right):
- ӓ trema, diaeresis (U+0308)
- а̀ varia (grave accent), indicating stress on the last syllable (U+0340)
- а́ oksia (acute accent), indicating a stressed syllable (Unicode U+0341)
- а҃ titlo, indicating abbreviations, or letters used as numerals (U+0483)
- а҄ kamora (circumflex accent), indicating palatalization (U+0484); in later Church Slavonic, it disambiguates plurals from homophonous singulars.
- а҅ dasia or dasy pneuma, rough breathing mark (U+0485)
- а҆ psili, zvatel'tse, or psilon pneuma, soft breathing mark (U+0486). Signals a word-initial vowel, at least in later Church Slavonic.
- а҆̀ Combined zvatel'tse and varia is called apostrof.
- а҆́ Combined zvatel'tse and oksia is called iso.
- · ano teleia (U+0387), a middle dot used as a word separator
- , comma (U+002C)
- . full stop (U+002E)
- ։ Armenian full stop (U+0589), resembling a colon
- ჻ Georgian paragraph separator (U+10FB)
- ⁖ triangular colon (U+2056, added in Unicode 4.1)
- ⁘ diamond colon (U+2058, added in Unicode 4.1)
- ⁙ quintuple colon (U+2059, added in Unicode 4.1)
- ; Greek question mark (U+037E), similar to a semicolon
- ! exclamation mark (U+0021)
- Relationship of Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets
- Bosnian Cyrillic
- Romanian Cyrillic alphabet
- Reforms of Russian orthography
- Berdnikov, Alexander and Olga Lapko, PDF, EuroTEX ’99 Proceedings, September 1999
- Birnbaum, David J., PDF, September 28, 2002
- Cubberley, Paul (1996) "The Slavic Alphabets". In Daniels and Bright, below.
- Daniels, Peter T., and William Bright, eds. (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
- Everson, Michael and Ralph Cleminson, PDF, September 4, 2003
- Franklin, Simon. 2002. Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c. 950–1300. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-511-03025-8.
- Lev, V., "The history of the Ukrainian script (paleography)", in Ukraine: a concise encyclopædia, volume 1. University of Toronto Press, 1963, 1970, 1982. ISBN 0-8020-3105-6
- Simovyc, V., and J. B. Rudnyckyj, "The history of Ukrainian orthography", in Ukraine: a concise encyclopædia, volume 1 (op cit).
- Zamora, J., Help me learn Church Slavonic
- Azbuka, Church Slavonic calligraphy and typography.
- Obshtezhitie.net, Cyrillic and Glagolitic manuscripts and early printed books.
Types of handwritten European scripts Ancient
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