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Old East Slavic (traditionally also: Old Russian, be, старажытнаруская мова; russian: древнерусский язык; uk, давньоруська мова) was a language used during the 10th–15th centuries by
East Slavs The East Slavs are the most populous subgroup of the Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share ...
in
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose of , and in and from the late 9th to the mid-13th century,John Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia'' (Penguin, 1995), p.16.Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
, Rusyn, and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
languages later evolved.


Terminology

The current widely accepted name of the language is ''Old East Slavic'', in reference to the modern family of
East Slavic languages The East Slavic languages constitute one of the three regional subgroups of Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nativ ...
. Its original speakers were the
Slavic tribes This is a list of Slavic peoples Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Eurasia ...
inhabiting territories of today's Belarus, the western edge of Russia, and western and central Ukraine. Although the language is sometimes called "Old Russian" (; russian: древнерусский язык, translit=drevnerusskij jazyk) "with a bow to tradition", this term is a misnomer, because initial stages of the language which it denotes predate the dialectal divisions marking the nascent distinction between modern East Slavic languages (Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian). ''Old East Slavic'' is therefore the more appropriate term. Some scholars replaced the anachronistic “Russian” with an adjective for ''
Rus Rus or RUS may refer to: People and places * Rus (surname)Rus is a Romanian language, Romanian and Slovene language, Slovene surname that may refer to: Romanians *Daniela L. Rus, roboticist, Romanian-born, working in US *Ioan Rus Romanian polit ...
'', using the name Rus'ian, Rusian (with one "s"), or Rus' language (), although these are less commonly used forms. In the context of the history of Ukrainian,
George Shevelov , birth_date = , birth_place = Łomża, Łomża Governorate, Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all o ...
referred to historical phases of the language as Proto-Ukrainian and Old Ukrainian, using criteria based on the available sources: the PU period (up to the mid 11th century) having no sources written down by speakers in Ukraine, and the OU period (from the mid 11th to the 14th century) represented by texts chiefly compiled in Church Slavonic but preserving evidence of Old East Slavic in Ukraine. The periodization of the literary language represents great changes and breaks resulting from events in cultural and political history; in contrast, the spoken language of Ukraine "shows a surprising continuity in development from prehistoric times to our day."


General considerations

The language was a descendant of the
Proto-Slavic language Proto-Slavic is the Attested language, unattested, linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of all the Slavic languages. It represents Slavic speech approximately from the 2nd millennium B.C. through the 6th century A.D. As with m ...
and faithfully retained many of its features. A striking innovation in the evolution of this language was the development of so-called
pleophonyThe Slavic liquid metathesis refers to the phenomenon of metathesis of liquid consonant In phonetics, liquids are a class of consonants consisting of lateral approximant, voiced lateral approximants like together with rhotic consonant, rhotics lik ...
(or ''polnoglasie'' 'full vocalisation'), which came to differentiate the newly evolving East Slavic from other Slavic dialects. For instance, Common Slavic '' *gordъ'' 'settlement, town' was reflected as OESl. ''gorodъ'', Common Slavic '' *melko'' 'milk' > OESl. ''moloko'', and Common Slavic '' *korva'' 'cow' > OESl ''korova''. Other Slavic dialects differed by resolving the closed-syllable clusters *eRC and *aRC as liquid metathesis ( South Slavic and West Slavic), or by no change at all (see the article on ''
Slavic liquid metathesis and pleophonyThe Slavic liquid metathesis refers to the phenomenon of metathesis of liquid consonant In phonetics, liquids are a class of consonants consisting of lateral approximant, voiced lateral approximants like together with rhotic consonant, rhotics lik ...
'' for a detailed account). Since extant written records of the language are sparse, it is difficult to assess the level of its unity. In consideration of the number of tribes and clans that constituted
Kievan Rus Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
, it is probable that there were many dialects of Old East Slavonic. Therefore, today we may speak definitively only of the languages of surviving manuscripts, which, according to some interpretations, show regional divergence from the beginning of the historical records. By c. 1150 it had the weakest local variations among the four regional macrodialects of
Common Slavic Proto-Slavic is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nati ...
, c. 800–c. 1000, which had just begun to differentiate into its branches. With time, it evolved into several more diversified forms, which were the predecessors of the modern
Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
, Rusyn and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
languages. The regional languages were distinguishable starting in the 12th or 13th century. Thus different variations evolved of the Russian language in the regions of Novgorod, Moscow, South Russia and meanwhile the Ukrainian language was also formed. Each of these languages preserves much of the Old East Slavic grammar and vocabulary. Especially Russian language borrows much of the vocabulary from
Church Slavonic Church Slavonic (''црькъвьнословѣньскъ ѩзыкъ'', ''crĭkŭvĭnoslověnĭskŭ językŭ'', literally "Church-Slavonic language"), also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic or New Church Slavic, is the conservative ...
. However, findings by Russian linguist
Andrey Zaliznyak Andrey Anatolyevich Zaliznyak ( rus, Андре́й Анато́льевич Зализня́к, p=zəlʲɪˈzʲnʲak; 29 April, 1935 – 24 December, 2017) was a Soviet and Russian linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language ...

Andrey Zaliznyak
suggests that, in the 11th century, the Novgorodian Russian language differed from the Kiev language as well as from all other Slavic languages much more than in later centuries, meaning that there was no common Old East Slavic language of Kievan Rus' from which Ukrainian, Russian and Belorusian languages diverged, but that the Russian language developed as a convergence of the Novgorod language and other Russian dialects. Also, Russian linguist Sergey Nikolaev, analysing historical development of Slavic dialects’ accent system, concluded that a number of other tribes in Kievan Rus came from different Slavic branches and spoke distant Slavic dialects. Another Russian linguist G. A. Khaburgaev as well as a number of Ukrainian linguists (
Stepan Smal-Stotsky Stepan Yosypovych Smal-Stotsky ( uk, Степан Смаль-Стоцький, pl, Stepan Smal-Stocki) was a Ukrainian linguist and academician, Slavist, cultural and political figure, member of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine, and ambas ...
,
Ivan Ohienko Metropolitan Ilarion ( secular name Ivan Ivanovitch Ohienko; uk, Іван Іванович Огієнко; 2 January (14 January), 1882 in Brusilov, Kiev Governorate – 29 March 1972 in Winnipeg Winnipeg () is the capital and largest cit ...
,
George Shevelov , birth_date = , birth_place = Łomża, Łomża Governorate, Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all o ...
, Yevhen Tymchenko, Vsevolod Hantsov, Olena Kurylo) deny the existence of a common Old East Slavic language at any time in the past. According to them, the dialects of East Slavic tribes evolved gradually from the common Proto-Slavic language without any intermediate stages. When after the end of the 'Tatar yoke' the territory of former Kievan Rus was divided between the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state that lasted from the 13th century to 1795, when the territory was among the , the , and the . The state was founded by , who were at the time a nation born from several united from . The Grand ...

Grand Duchy of Lithuania
and the medieval Rus' principality Grand Principality of Moscow, two separate literary traditions emerged in these states, Ruthenian in the west and medieval Russian in the east.


Literary language of Kievan Rus'

The political unification of the region into the state called
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose of , and in and from the late 9th to the mid-13th century,John Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia'' (Penguin, 1995), p.16.Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...

Belarus
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
and
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
trace their origins, occurred approximately a century before the adoption of
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
in 988 and the establishment of the South Slavic
Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic () was the first Slavic literary language A literary language is the form of a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (S ...
as the liturgical and literary language. The Old Church Slavonic language was introduced. Documentation of the language of this period is scanty, making it difficult at best fully to determine the relationship between the literary language and its spoken dialects. There are references in Arab and Byzantine sources to pre-Christian Slavs in European Russia using some form of writing. Despite some suggestive archaeological finds and a corroboration by the tenth-century monk
Chernorizets HrabarChernorizets Hrabar ( chu, Чрьнори́зьць Хра́бръ, ''Črĭnorizĭcĭ Hrabrŭ'', bg, Черноризец Храбър)Sometimes modernized as ''Chernorizetz Hrabar'', ''Chernorizets Hrabr'' or ''Crnorizec Hrabar'' was a Bulgarian m ...
that ancient Slavs wrote in " strokes and incisions", the exact nature of this system is unknown. Although the
Glagolitic The Glagolitic script (, ''glagolitsa''; Bulgarian and Macedonian: глаголица, romanized as ''glagolitsa'' and ''glagolica'' respectively; Croatian: ; Czech: ; Slovak: ''hlaholika'') is the oldest known Slavic alphabet An a ...
alphabet was briefly introduced, as witnessed by church inscriptions in
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

Novgorod
, it was soon entirely superseded by the
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolic, Uralic languages, Uralic, Caucas ...
. The samples of birch-bark writing excavated in
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

Novgorod
have provided crucial information about the pure tenth-century vernacular in North-West Russia, almost entirely free of Church Slavonic influence. It is also known that borrowings and calques from
Byzantine Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...
began to enter the vernacular at this time, and that simultaneously the literary language in its turn began to be modified towards Eastern Slavic. The following excerpts illustrate two of the most famous literary monuments. NOTE:. The spelling of the original excerpt has been partly modernized. The translations are best attempts at being literal, not literary.


Primary Chronicle

, from the
Laurentian Codex 250px Laurentian Codex or Laurentian Letopis (genre), Letopis (russian: Лаврентьевский список, Лаврентьевская летопись) is a collection of chronicles that includes the oldest extant version of the ''Primary ...
, 1377: Early language; fall of the
yer A yer is either of two letters in Cyrillic alphabet , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs , fam2 = Proto-Sinaitic , fam3=Ph ...

yer
s in progress or arguably complete (several words end with a consonant; кнѧжит "to rule" < кънѧжити, modern Uk , R , B ). South Slavic features include времѧньнъıх "bygone"; modern R , modern Ukr , modern B . Correct use of
perfect Perfect commonly refers to: * Perfection, a philosophical concept * Perfect (grammar), a grammatical category in certain languages Perfect may also refer to: Film * Perfect (1985 film), ''Perfect'' (1985 film), a romantic drama * Perfect (2018 ...
and
aorist Aorist (; abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for exam ...
: єсть пошла "is/has come" (modern R ), нача "began" (modern R as a development of the old perfect.) Note the style of punctuation.


Tale of Igor's Campaign

Слово о пълку Игоревѣ. , from the Pskov manuscript, fifteenth cent. Illustrates the sung
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
s, with typical use of metaphor and simile. It has been suggested that the phrase растекаться мыслью по древу (to run in thought upon/over wood), which has become proverbial in modern Russian with the meaning "to speak ornately, at length, excessively," is a misreading of an original мысію (akin to "mouse") from "run like a squirrel/mouse on a tree"; however, the reading мыслью is present in both the manuscript copy of 1790 and the first edition of 1800, and in all subsequent scholarly editions.


Old East Slavic literature

The Old East Slavic language developed a certain literature of its own, though much of it (in hand with those of the Slavic languages that were, after all, written down) was influenced as regards style and vocabulary by religious texts written in Church Slavonic. Surviving literary monuments include the legal code ''Justice of the Rus'' (''Руська правда'' ), a corpus of
hagiography A hagiography (; ) or vita (from Latin ''vita'', life, which begins the title of most medieval biographies) is a biography of a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness S ...
and
homily A homily (from Greek ὁμιλία, ''homilía'') is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture, giving the "public explanation of a sacred doctrine" or text. The works of and (known as ) are considered exemplary examples of Christian homil ...

homily
, the epic Song of Igor (''Слово о полку игореве'' ) and the earliest surviving manuscript of the
Primary Chronicle The ''Tale of Bygone Years'' ( orv, Повѣсть времѧньныхъ лѣтъ, ''Pověstĭ vremęnĭnyxŭ lětŭ''), known in English-language historiography as the ''Primary Chronicle'' or ''Old Russian Primary letopis'' or, after the auth ...
(''Повесть временных лет'' ) – the Laurentian codex (''Лаврентьевский список'' ) of 1377. The earliest dated specimen of Old East Slavic (or, rather, of
Church Slavonic Church Slavonic (''црькъвьнословѣньскъ ѩзыкъ'', ''crĭkŭvĭnoslověnĭskŭ językŭ'', literally "Church-Slavonic language"), also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic or New Church Slavic, is the conservative ...
with pronounced East Slavic interference) must be considered the written ''Slovo o zakone i blagodati'', by
Hilarion Hilarion the Great (291–371) was an anchorite who spent most of his life in the desert according to the example of Anthony the Great Anthony or Anthony the Great ( grc-gre, Ἀντώνιος ''Antṓnios''; ar, القديس أنطون ...
,
metropolitan Metropolitan may refer to: * Metropolitan area, a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories * Metropolitan borough, a form of local government district in England * Metropolitan county, a type ...
of
Kiev Kyiv ( uk, Київ) or Kiev . is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also share ...

Kiev
. In this work there is a panegyric on Prince Vladimir of Kiev, the hero of so much of East Slavic popular poetry. It is rivalled by another panegyric on Vladimir, written a decade later by Yakov the Monk. Other eleventh-century writers are Theodosius, a monk of the
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra or Kyivo-Pechers’ka Lavra ( uk, Києво-Печерська лавра, translit=Kyievo-Pecherska lavra; russian: Киeво-Печерская лавра, translit=Kiyevo-Pecherskaya lavra), also known as the Kiev Monaster ...

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
, who wrote on the Latin faith and some ''Pouchenia'' or ''Instructions'', and
Luka ZhidiataLuka Zhidiata (russian: Лука́ Жидя́та) was the second bishop of Novgorod the Great (1035–1060) and saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. He replaced Efrem, who was not consecrated bishop, but who administered the eparchy from the deat ...
, bishop of
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

Novgorod
, who has left a curious ''Discourse to the Brethren''. From the writings of Theodosius we see that many pagan habits were still in vogue among the people. He finds fault with them for allowing these to continue, and also for their drunkenness; nor do the monks escape his censures. Zhidiata writes in a more vernacular style than many of his contemporaries; he eschews the declamatory tone of the Byzantine authors. And here may be mentioned the many lives of the saints and the Fathers to be found in early East Slavic literature, starting with the two Lives of Sts
Boris and Gleb Boris and Gleb ( orv, Борисъ и Глѣбъ, ''Borisŭ i Glěbŭ''; russian: Борис и Глеб, ''Boris i Gleb''; ua, Борис і Гліб, ''Borys i Hlib''), Christian names Roman and David, respectively ( orv, Романъ, Дав ...

Boris and Gleb
, written in the late eleventh century and attributed to Jacob the Monk and to
Nestor the Chronicler Nestor may refer to: * Nestor (mythology), King of Pylos in Greek mythology Arts and entertainment * Nestor (Ulysses episode), "Nestor" (''Ulysses'' episode) an episode in James Joyce's novel ''Ulysses'' * Nestor Studios, first-ever motion pictur ...

Nestor the Chronicler
. With the so-called
Primary Chronicle The ''Tale of Bygone Years'' ( orv, Повѣсть времѧньныхъ лѣтъ, ''Pověstĭ vremęnĭnyxŭ lětŭ''), known in English-language historiography as the ''Primary Chronicle'' or ''Old Russian Primary letopis'' or, after the auth ...
, also attributed to Nestor, begins the long series of the Russian annalists. There is a regular catena of these chronicles, extending with only two breaks to the seventeenth century. Besides the work attributed to
Nestor the Chronicler Nestor may refer to: * Nestor (mythology), King of Pylos in Greek mythology Arts and entertainment * Nestor (Ulysses episode), "Nestor" (''Ulysses'' episode) an episode in James Joyce's novel ''Ulysses'' * Nestor Studios, first-ever motion pictur ...

Nestor the Chronicler
, there are the chronicles of
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative centerAn administrati ...

Novgorod
,
Kiev Kyiv ( uk, Київ) or Kiev . is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also share ...

Kiev
,
Volhynia Volhynia (; uk, Волинь, Volyn'; be, Валынь (); pl, Wołyń ), is a historic region in Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central r ...
and many others. Every town of any importance could boast of its annalists,
Pskov Pskov ( rus, Псков, a=pskov-ru.ogg, p=pskof; see also names in other languages) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1 ...

Pskov
and
Suzdal Suzdal ( rus, Суздаль, p=ˈsuzdəlʲ) is a town A town is a . Towns are generally larger than s and smaller than , though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin and ...

Suzdal
among others. In the twelfth century we have the sermons of bishop
Cyril of Turov Cyril of Turov, alternately Kirill of Turov (Church Slavonic Кѷриллъ Туровськiй, be, Кірыла Тураўскі, russian: Кирилл Туровский; 1130–1182) was a bishop and saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. He w ...
, which are attempts to imitate in Old East Slavic the florid Byzantine style. In his sermon on
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
is represented under the form of spring,
Paganism Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
and
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
under that of winter, and evil thoughts are spoken of as boisterous winds. There are also the works of early travellers, as the igumen Daniel, who visited the
Holy Land The Holy Land (: , la, Terra Sancta; : or ) is an area roughly located between the and the Eastern Bank of the . Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical and with the . The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory ro ...

Holy Land
at the end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century. A later traveller was Afanasiy Nikitin, a merchant of
Tver Tver ( rus, Тверь, p=tvʲerʲ) is a types of inhabited localities in Russia, city and the administrative centre of Tver Oblast, Russia. Population: 414,606 (2015 est.); 403,606 (Russian Census (2010), 2010 Census); 408,903 (Russian Census (20 ...

Tver
, who visited
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
in 1470. He has left a record of his adventures, which has been translated into English and published for the
Hakluyt Society The Hakluyt Society is a text publication society A text publication society is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an di ...
. A curious monument of old Slavonic times is the ''Pouchenie'' (Instruction), written by
Vladimir Monomakh Vladimir II Monomakh ( Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Мономахъ, ''Volodiměrŭ Monomakh''; russian: Владимир Мономах; uk, Володимир Мономах, translit=Volodymyr Monomakh; Christian name: ''Vasiliy'', ...
for the benefit of his sons. This composition is generally found inserted in the Chronicle of Nestor; it gives a fine picture of the daily life of a Slavonic prince. ''The Paterik of the Kievan Caves Monastery'' is a typical medieval collection of stories from the life of monks, featuring devils, angels, ghosts, and miraculous resurrections.
Lay of Igor's Campaign 's illustration to the tale, 1941 ''The Tale of Igor's Campaign'' ( orv, Слово о пълкѹ Игоревѣ, translit=Slovo o pŭlku Igorevě) is an anonymous Heroic poem, epic poem written in the Old East Slavic : ''Cyrillic letters in this a ...
narrates the expedition of
Igor Svyatoslavich Prince Igor Svyatoslavich the Brave (Old East Slavic : ''Cyrillic letters in this article are romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ...
, prince of
Novhorod-Siverskyi Novhorod-Siverskyi ( uk, Новгород-Сіверський ; pl, Nowogród Siewierski; russian: Новгород-Северский) is a historic city in Chernihiv Oblast Chernihiv Oblast ( uk, Черні́гівська о́бласть ...
against the
Cumans The Cumans (or Kumans), also known as Polovtsians or Polovtsy (plural only, from the Russian exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by ...
. It is neither
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
nor a poem but is written in rhythmic prose. An interesting aspect of the text is its mix of
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
and ancient Slavic religion. Igor's wife Yaroslavna famously invokes natural forces from the walls of
Putyvl Putyvl′ Frank SysynBetween Poland and the Ukraine: The Dilemma of Adam Kysil, 1600-1653 - P. 25. (, ) or Putivl′ ( rus, Пути́вль, p=pʊˈtʲivlʲ) is a city in north-east Ukraine, in Sumy Oblast. It serves as the administrative cente ...
. Christian motifs present along with depersonalised pagan gods in the form of artistic images. Another aspect, which sets the book apart from contemporary Western epics, are its numerous and vivid descriptions of nature, and the role which nature plays in human lives. Of the whole bulk of the Old East Slavic literature, the Lay is the only work familiar to every educated Russian or Ukrainian. Its brooding flow of images, murky
metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of ...
s, and ever changing rhythm have not been successfully rendered into English yet. Indeed, the meanings of many words found in it have not been satisfactorily explained by scholars. The ''
Zadonshchina ''Zadonshchina'' (russian: Задонщина; could be translated as "the region beyond the Don River, Russia, Don River") is a Russian literary monument of the late 14th century, which tells of the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. The text Redact ...
'' is a sort of prose poem much in the style of the ''Tale of Igor's Campaign'', and the resemblance of the latter to this piece furnishes an additional proof of its genuineness. This account of the
battle of Kulikovo :''For the opera 'The Battle of Kulikovo' see '' The Battle of Kulikovo (russian: Мамаево побоище, Донское побоище, Куликовская битва, битва на Куликовом поле) was fought between th ...
, which was gained by
Dmitri Donskoi Saint Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy (russian: Дми́трий Ива́нович Донско́й, also known as Dimitrii or Demetrius), or Dmitry of the Don, sometimes referred to simply as Dmitry (12 October 1350 – 19 May 1389), son of Ivan I ...
over the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") ...

Mongols
in 1380, has come down in three important versions. The early laws of Rus’ present many features of interest, such as the
Russkaya Pravda ''Russkaya Pravda'' or Rus' Justice (Rus' Justice or Rus' Truth; orv, Правда роусьскаꙗ, ''Pravda Rusĭskaya'' (13th century, 1280), Правда Руськая, ''Pravda Rus'kaya'' (second half of the 15th century); russian: Ру ...
of
Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav the Wise or Yaroslav I; russian: Ярослав Мудрый, ; uk, Ярослав Мудрий; non, Jarizleifr Valdamarsson; la, Iaroslaus Sapiens. (c. 978 – 20 February 1054) was the Grand Prince of Kiev from 1019 until his death. ...

Yaroslav the Wise
, which is preserved in the chronicle of Novgorod; the date is between 1018 and 1072.


Study

The earliest attempts to compile a comprehensive
lexicon A lexicon is the of a or branch of (such as or ). In , a lexicon is a language's inventory of s. The word ''lexicon'' derives from word (), neuter of () meaning 'of or for words'. Linguistic theories generally regard human languages as c ...

lexicon
of Old East Slavic were undertaken by
Alexander Vostokov 165px, Alexander Khristoforovich Vostokov (born Alexander Woldemar Osteneck; russian: link=no, Алекса́ндр Христофо́рович Восто́ков; – ) was one of the first Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия ...
and
Izmail Sreznevsky Izmail Sreznevsky in 1854. Izmail Ivanovich Sreznevsky (russian: Измаил Иванович Срезневский; 13 June 1812, Yaroslavl – 21 February 1880, St. Petersburg) was a Russian Empire, Russian Imperial and Ukrainian language, Ukrai ...

Izmail Sreznevsky
in the nineteenth century. Sreznevsky's
Materials for the Dictionary of the Old Russian Language on the Basis of Written Records
' (1893–1903), though incomplete, remained a standard reference until the appearance of a 24-volume academic dictionary in 1975–99.


Notable texts

* ''
Bylina A bylina ( rus, были́на, p=bɨˈlʲinə; plural, pl. ''byliny'') is an Russian literature, Old Russian oral literature, oral epic poetry, epic poem. Byliny songs are loosely based on historical fact, but greatly embellished with fantasy ...
s'' * ''
The Tale of Igor's Campaign 's illustration to the tale, 1941 ''The Tale of Igor's Campaign'' ( orv, Слово о пълкѹ Игоревѣ, translit=Slovo o pŭlku Igorevě) is an anonymous Heroic poem, epic poem written in the Old East Slavic language. The title is occasi ...
'' – the most outstanding literary work in this language * ''
Russkaya Pravda ''Russkaya Pravda'' or Rus' Justice (Rus' Justice or Rus' Truth; orv, Правда роусьскаꙗ, ''Pravda Rusĭskaya'' (13th century, 1280), Правда Руськая, ''Pravda Rus'kaya'' (second half of the 15th century); russian: Ру ...
'' – an eleventh-century legal code issued by
Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav the Wise or Yaroslav I; russian: Ярослав Мудрый, ; uk, Ярослав Мудрий; non, Jarizleifr Valdamarsson; la, Iaroslaus Sapiens. (c. 978 – 20 February 1054) was the Grand Prince of Kiev from 1019 until his death. ...

Yaroslav the Wise
* '' Praying of Daniel the Immured'' * ''
A Journey Beyond the Three Seas ''A Journey Beyond the Three Seas'' (russian: Хожение за три моря, ''Khozheniye za tri morya'') is a Russian literature, Russian literary monument in the form of travel notes, made by a merchant from Tver, Afanasiy Nikitin during h ...
''


See also

*
Belarusian language Belarusian (; in Belarusian: , , ) is an East Slavic language spoken by the Belarusians. It is Languages of Belarus, one of the two official languages in the Belarus, Republic of Belarus under the current Constitution of Belarus, Constitution (Ar ...
* *
Russian language Russian (, tr. ''russkiy yazyk'') is an East Slavic languages, East Slavic language native to Russia in Eastern Europe. It is a part of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family, and is one of four living East Slavic languages ...
*
Rusyn language The Rusyn language (; Carpathian Rusyn: rue, label=none, русиньскый язык, rusîn'skyj jazyk, Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the City of Novi Sa ...
*
Ruthenian language Ruthenian or Old Ruthenian (also see other names) was the group of varieties of East Slavic spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later in the East Slavic territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The written form is also cal ...
*
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
*
Ukrainian language Ukrainian ( uk, украї́нська мо́ва, translit=ukrainska mova, label=native name, ), historically also called Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language The East Slavic languages constitute one of the three regional subgroups of Slav ...
* List of Latvian words borrowed from Old East Slavic


Notes


References

* * *


External links


Old Russian Online
by Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum, free online lessons at th
Linguistics Research Center
at the
University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin, UT, or Texas) is a public university, public research university in Austin, Texas, founded in 1883. The University of Texas was included in the Association of American Universities in 1929. The i ...

Ostromir's Gospel Online

Online library of the Old Russian texts

The Pushkin House
a great 12-volumed collection of ancient texts of the 11th–17th centuries with parallel Russian translations
''Izbornyk''
library of Old East Slavic chronicles with Ukrainian and Russian translations {{Authority control Belarusian language Russian language Ukrainian language