What was the Russian language like in the time of Cyril and Methodius?
If we compare the original alphabet created by the Monk Kirill with the modern Russian alphabet, the question may arise: why did our ancestors need extra letters? The first alphabet consisted of 44-46 letters, and if you try to read ancient written sources and replace the “foreign” letters with familiar ones, the words will become clear: “sitting on the right side” will mean “sitting on the right side”. “the father’s hand” is easily recognizable as the father “sitting on the right hand”, an expression from the Orthodox Faith. The same can be done with the word “chelovek”, which will turn into the usual modern “person” when you replace the letter yacht with E and discard the solid sign.
Such amateur modifications will help an unprepared person to understand ancient texts, but they do not convey the history of the language in any way. Until the 12th century, Russians also used other sounds and arranged them in words in a special way. For example, b and b were not soft and hard signs, but the letters er and er. They were used to represent sounds [ŏ] (super short “O”) and [ĕ] (super short “E”), the usual “O” and all other vowels, including “E”, were always pronounced fully. In the modern language, vowels are clearly pronounced only under stress, and unstressed ones are probably similar to Old Russian reduced ones. In other words, the first two “o”s in the word “collar” may resemble the pronunciation of the letter Ъ in Russian.
In this context, the question may arise: what to do with old words like “man” and the old form of the word?[пчелиный] Bal”? These words took this form due to the law of open syllables, the rule most alien to the modern Russian people. All syllables, without exception, including those at the end of words, had to end with a vowel. Considering that at that time the letter Ѣ denoted a sound similar to “ee” when taken [ieː], then they pronounced it “cheloveko”, “medo”, “domo” – not forgetting that the ending “O” in them was too short. It is interesting that Ъ in the Bulgarian language has not lost its sound and is used in България and many other words.
Against such a different background from the modern language, it does not seem surprising that the letter E is absent from the Old Church Slavonic alphabet. It didn’t exist because there was no “fucking” pronunciation. This norm has been preserved to this day in traditional Orthodox prayers: “Hallowed be your nametoYes cometoIs the kingdom yours?to”.
Change everything for everything
However, in the centuries following the advent of the alphabet, the language changed, and by the 12th century, “e” began to change into “o” before hard consonants and under stress at the end of words.
“Starting from pre-Mongol times, in Russian written sources, including birch bark letters, they tried to indicate the places where the sound “e” occurs in some words. It was often written with an O, for example zhon. It gradually became a widely used speech norm. They continued to serve in the church almost as before, and the language of the community changed from Old Russian to Old Russian, and then to modern Russian,” Russian State University for the Humanities told socialbites.ca.
Before the advent of sound recording, there were few reliable ways to preserve the ancient pronunciation, but by modern times and the reign of Peter the Great, the pronunciation of Yo in many words had become almost unalterable. In the 1730s, thanks to the historian Vasily Tatishchev, the poet Vasily Trediakovsky and the philologist Vasily Adadurov, it was proposed to use the digraph “IÔ” – “capped decimal I and O” for the sound “Ё” in Russian writings. ” (division). Shortly before that, the satirist Antakya Cantemir used the digraph “Ио” for the same purposes in his work “On those who blaspheme the Doctrine”, but the publisher discarded it and brought the text into line with the rules.
“When the creation of the dictionary of the Russian Academy began in 1783, the main task was to reflect in it the living Russian language of that time. Therefore, at the suggestion of Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, “IÔ” was accepted for publication in the dictionary of words along with the corresponding sound. Later, in the 1790s, the letter E in the modern style began to appear in the works of writers from the circle of Nikolai Karamzin. It was first published in Ivan Dmitriev’s poetry collection “And my trinkets,” Pchelov explained.
No one knows exactly who introduced this style, but from the late 18th century onwards the letter E became increasingly common. Not everyone accepted the new norm and there was strong opposition.
“What is it like to change everything in everything? And if necessary; So it should be written like this: Alona”
— Wrote In 1781 the poet Alexander Sumarokov mentioned an older version, the digraph. Already in the 1830s, the Slavic philologist Alexander Vostokov considered E unnecessary and unnecessary, just as the word “fire” is not written with A, although it is heard there.
However, the letter E is found everywhere in the literature and documents of the 19th century. For example, it remained in the student records of the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum; Moscow Governor-General Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich always used it in documents. Yo appears in the ABC broadcast by Leo Tolstoy, who also called himself simply Lev. It is necessary to understand that in pre-revolutionary Russia there was no body that would enforce the norm of spelling, and this concerned only Y. There were Russian textbooks, but they were based on the authority of the author. The same was true for magazines and book publishers.
“Russian Christomatiy with Russian-Czech-Serbian vocabulary” (1894) edited by PA Lavrov and VN Shchepkin
Marxism and linguistics
In 1918, the Bolsheviks carried out a reform in Russian spelling. He relied on the draft reform of 1904, which included the clause “recognizing that it is desirable for the letter Ё to be more widely distributed in writing, since the letter Ѣ has been abolished”. Before the Reformation, everything and everyone’s words were distinguished with its help. But by the 1918 reform Yo was no longer there. According to Pchelov, the reason for this was mainly economic:
“In order to use this letter in the printing house, it is necessary to change the font. There is a civil war in the country, and at one point the Bolsheviks were on the verge of collapse. Additional metal is required for the additional letter, and moreover, the banned type of letter was forcibly taken from the printing houses and sent to be melted.”
They also fought over the new alphabet, a symbol of new Soviet power. On the contrary, as a sign of the struggle against Bolshevism, many White immigrants adhered to pre-reform spelling rules until their death.
The letter E became mandatory only in 1942 by order of the People’s Commissariat of Education. There is a historical anecdote about this, allegedly Stalin was angry that the names of several generals were misspelled in documents, but there is no confirmation of this story. However, according to historians, this version is close to the truth.
“A war is going on. Imagine a map of the territory on which the settlement of Kremnevo is located. How should it be read, Kremnevo or Kremnevo? There are many people in the army who need to be considered, rewarded, buried. What to call a person: Eskov or Yoskov, Shmelev or Shmelev? In battle you need absolute certainty.If you have two villages nearby, one of which is named after Yo, the commander must clearly know exactly what he must take or defend.
On German maps, all Russian names containing the letter E are written directly with the letter E – and this despite the fact that there is no such letter in the German language,” Pchelov said.
The obligatory spelling of Ё was only abolished in 1956; It was left out in proper names, in textbooks for foreigners, and in places where disambiguation was necessary. It was believed that native speakers themselves could understand where the letter e was pronounced as “o”, but history has proven that this is not the case. For example, incorrect pronunciations of X-ray, Königsberg, Roerich, Pearl Harbor, Goebbels, Chebyshev, pale, bile and many other words have become established in the Russian language. Even the word glider is read as glider by almost all modern people, although Soviet announcers initially announced the name of the metro station as Planernaya.
In many modern publishing houses and editorial offices (including socialbites.ca), the use of the letter E, except in proper names, is strictly prohibited. Designers particularly despise this text because they believe it clutters the text and makes it difficult to read (they try to avoid using quotation marks whenever possible for similar reasons).
Pchelov is radically opposed to this approach: “They say that first the Russians themselves will understand how to talk, then they have beets instead of beets.” In this regard, he urges to follow the authors of the 1904 reform and use the letter E as often as possible. However, neither the Russian Language Institute nor many other authoritative philologists agree with this opinion. Therefore, the obligatory letter E will not return to the Russian language in the foreseeable future.
Barbara Dickson is a seasoned writer for “Social Bites”. She keeps readers informed on the latest news and trends, providing in-depth coverage and analysis on a variety of topics.