Hypothesis: Old Slavic has been created as a zonal conlang.

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Hypothesis: Old Slavic has been created as a zonal conlang.

Postby Vojta » Sat 04 Dec 2010 10:57 pm

Hello everybody!
Please, what do You think about this idea?

I. Proto-slavic, old slavonic, old church slavonic, old slavonic, neoslavonic

Simply said, this story is very similar to the case with Old Anglo-Saxon and medieval English and modern English, Classical Greek, Byzantium Greek, modern Katharevousa Greek and modern Greek, or with Hebrew languages or Arabic languages etc. It is quite normal, that languages change in centuries.

1) Proto-slavic is a hypothetical common ancestor of all Slavic languages from about 1500 BC to 500. We do not exactly know, if it does really existed, because Slavic language group may be mixture of more ancestors having balanced influences (venetian, thracian, iranian, ...?) and never was with absolutely single language. But majority of linguists work with this hypothesis of the only one proto-slavic language.

2) Old Slavonic is the first known Slavic literacy language from IX century. It has been created by sts Kyrillos and Methodios and their partners for the mission to Moravian Empire. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Moravia) This language served about 2-3 centuries not only as liturgical language, but also as the official common written "high language" for general usage not only in Moravia, but also Bulgaria and other slavic countries. Alphabet was Glagolitic. This language influenced national languages (e.g. information flow from OS to national languages).

3) Old Church Slavonic is the medieval and the only liturgical language (from about XIII to XVIII centuries) of the medieval orthodox church. It was direct ancestor of OS and kept almost identical orthography with OS, but was written in Cyrillic, had limited dictionary and reduced grammar. This language lost its universality, because non religious communication has been started in evolving national languages. This language had many dialects (UK, RUS, SRB, BG, ...), because it has been strongly influenced. (e.g. information flow from national languages to OCS)

4) Church Slavonic is the current unified official liturgical language of the orthodox church and greek-catholic church. Of course, it is pronounced with several accents (BG, SRB, RUS, UK, ...) but it has unified cyrillic orthography, grammar and modernized dictionary, which is most influenced by Russian.

5) Neoslavonic is our conlang. It is artificial extrapolation and fixing of the language 2) - OS (not OCS nor CS at all). Neoslavonic conlang project assumes an alternative history where OS language has been evolved parallely with the evolution of national languages and did not stop to play the role of a "high standard understandable language for all Slavic nations".

II. Does OS belong to the southern branch of languages?

1) There are two myths about OS:
a) OS is old Bulgarian - this is very popular in Bulgaria.
b) OS is old Macedonian - this is very popular in Macedonia (Slavomacedonia).

I do not want to offend anyone at all, but this question is really not simple:

a) The oldest literacy heritage of OS from IXc. proves, that OS is not only very close to the old bulgarian and macedonian, but also has many non "bulgaro-macedonian" elements coming from another archaic slavic populations in Greece, Asia minor, Panonia (this is now Hungary) and Corutania (this is now part of Austria). We exactly know, that there were 7 creators (or first writers) in this language: Kyrillos, his brother Methodios and 5 colleagues (Naum, Kliment, Sava, Angelar and Lazar). They were probably monks together with st. Methodios in the monastery at mount Olympos in Bythinia (Asia minor) and they were from miscellaneous nations - definitely not only pure Bulgarians.

b) Next, OS language coherence (based on the lexicostatistical analysis I described in previous mail) to the modern Bulgarian/Slavomacedonian is less than the coherence between OS and modern Czech, for example. (Czech has very similar noun, pronoun and adjective declention patterns and also has closer vocabulary and closer prepositions. The only feature, where Czech is less coherent with OS than Bulgarian is the verbal system, but early medieval Czech had also the same verbal system, which still exists in Bulgarian.) The same very high level of coherence with CS has also Slovak, Rusyn and Slovenian.

c) More intensive OS language use in southern slavic coutries started later - after the death of st. Methodios when slavic liturgy in Moravia has been disabled and replaced by latin by the Pope and OS awared people (priests, students, ...) were expelled from Moravia away. This started intensive usage of OS in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and other south slavic states. And yet bit more later also in Russia etc. There this language has been changed through OCS to CS.

d) We know, that glagolitic alphabet has been created artificially by st. Kyrillos. This alphabet is very original, some characters are coming from miscelaneous oriental alphabets and byzantic astrological and philosophical symbols (for example letter S (S means slovo=word=logos) is a vertical combination of a triangle (the God) over a circle (the Earth) and it looks like a fish (another christian symbol). The letter I is vertically reversed S and two letters IS (Jesus) creates nice picture of two fishes = astrological constellation of the Christian age, etc. etc.) This new original alphabet was directly ordered by the moravian ruler Rostislav, who asked to build a strong and independent state and therefore could not directly take either Latin or Greek alphabet. In early medieval it was not like today: Taking alphabet of somebody else significantly weakens the independence on him. It also explains, why Bulgarians (which were dependent on Byzantium) changed the alphabet to Cyrillic (which is in fact the almost unchanged Greek alphabet with some additions). So, if we know, that the OS alphabet has been designed by an extra reason, why would be the language itself the same as the language in Bulgaria - language of the good neighbor, but still competitive state to Moravia!?

III. conclusion

All these arguments convinces me that OS was kind of something, which today we call an conlang and initially fulfilled its role very well. Later, unfortunately, this concept has been interrupted and Slavic nations were separated into different cultural areas (e.g. roman catholic - orthodox schism, Islam invasion into the Europe, ...) without the possibility of wider cooperation among them.

These thoughts are not mine. I got them from various readings, and especially from my private discussions with one of the greatest experts on the history and Slavonic Studies - greek professor Antonios-Aimilios Tachiaos. He studied almost all slavic and byzantium sources in original and wrote many books about it: http://www.protoporia.gr/author_info.ph ... _id/908134 This one is really excellent: If You can, read it: http://www.perizitito.gr/product.php?productid=143936


Ταχιάος Α. Α. Ν.: Η ζωή και το έργο των Κύριλλου και Μεθόδιου: Το βυζαντινό πολιτιστικό κληροδότημα στους Σλάβους, ISBN 978-960-12-1790-1

Zhuravlev, Anatolij F. 1994. Leksiko-statisticzeskoe modelirovanie systemy slavjanskogo jazykovogo rodstva. Moskva: Indrik. Formula of the lexicostatistical model at page 63.

This is based on the deep lexicostatistical test made from the etymological dictionary of slavic languages in 15 books (ed. O.N. Trubachev, Moscow 1974).
There is a complex formula how to compute statistical distance of languages:

G(A,B) = SUM i is from 2 to n ((n + 2 - i) * V(A,B)i) / H(A) / H(B), where

A,B are tested languages,
n is total number of tested languages
G(A,B) is congruence of these two languages
H(A), H(B) is inherited dictionary from common root of these two languages
V(A,B)i is isoglossa

In the Zhuravlev's formula, the higher value has isoglossa limited to only two languages and the lower number has isoglossa, which is common for more languages from the tested group.

The highest number of proximity is between upper and lower lusatian sorbian: 1.93,
Bulgarian-Slavomacedonian has 1.73,
Czech-Slovak has 1.36,
Bielorusian-Russian has 1.27,
Ukrainian-Russian has 1.20 (but ukrainians learn Russian as well) and
Polish-Bulgarian has only 0.93 etc.

If languages have proximity at least 1.1, they can be assigned into one group, but this approach goes intoa lot of such similar solutions.

For mutual understanding of ordinary people You need to have at least 1.2.
Old Slavonic has value 1.15 (to Polish) or better (1.27 to Czech, for example) to modern slavic languages.

Vojtieh, the conlanger
Neoslavonic language, Slavic conlangs
http://www.neoslavonic.org, http://IZVIESTIJA.info
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Re: Hypothesis: Old Slavic has been created as a zonal conlang.

Postby Delodephius » Sun 05 Dec 2010 1:17 pm

Ahaaa, you took a Greek scholar as a source. No wonder you call Macedonians Slavo-Macedonians and their language Slavo-Macedonian. For shame.
- Latina Ἑλληνική संस्कृतम् पाळि עִבְרִית پارسيک الفصحى 文言 Norrœnt
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Re: Hypothesis: Old Slavic has been created as a zonal conlang.

Postby IJzeren Jan » Mon 06 Dec 2010 3:59 am

Here's my reply I also sent to the Conlang list:

"Was Old [Church] Slavonic a conlang? I guess this depends pretty much on how you define a "constructed language". First, let's establish that every natural language or dialect has artificial, "created" elements, and also that every constructed language has natural elements. Therefore, you can't just say: "This is a constructed language and that is a natural language", because in reality it is a scale with a huge gray area. Besides, the question what makes an element "constructed" is determined by two things: a) how was it developed (behind a desk, within a committee etc.), and b) where does the material come from. One typical example of such a gray area are standardised literary languages based on multiple dialects. In part, these languages were indeed composed, but only on the basis of pre-existing, closely related material. And of course, this process of composing involved choices, and these choices are indeed made "behind a desk". Yet, nobody would call these languages "conlangs", even though their level of artificiality is undoubtedly higher than the very dialects they were based on.

So how does this relate to OCS? Well, the answer is quite simply: we cannot tell, because we don't know what the vernacular of those days looked like. But given the descriptions I have read, my impression is that C&M basically tried to codify an existing, but previously unwritten language. Later in Moravia they added some couleur locale to it. That is no so strange if you consider that in those days, OCS was still essentially a foreign language, even though the Slavic languages were significantly less different from each other than today. Thus, a few adaptations were made. Whether these adaptations were the result of natural development or conscious planning, nobody knows. But do note that also Medieval Latin had local differences, albeit minor ones. All in all, OCS most definitely had artificial elements, just like every new standardisation effort does. But calling it a conlang is an over-simplification, to say the least."

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Re: Hypothesis: Old Slavic has been created as a zonal conlang.

Postby pittmirg » Wed 08 Dec 2010 3:59 pm

Vojta wrote:Next, OS language coherence (based on the lexicostatistical analysis I described in previous mail) to the modern Bulgarian/Slavomacedonian is less than the coherence between OS and modern Czech, for example.

Could this be simply due to a greater lexical and morphological conservativeness of Modern Czech in comparison with Modern Bulgarian?


OCS has some remarkable syntactic similarities to Greek which aren't shared by modern Slavic languages and presumably the vernacular varieties contemporary to it (at least the ones which preceded extant modern Slavic languages), e.g. it doesn't have the obligatory negative agreement typical for Slavic languages. However, the same could be said about formal Polish, which has syntactic structures shared with Latin (e.g. postnominal classifying adjectives), which are much less common in the colloquial language (in my experience, as a native speaker).
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