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Thread: Old Church Slavonic: пресвѧтаѧ богородица, спаси насъ

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    Old Church Slavonic: пресвѧтаѧ богородица, спаси насъ

    I have recently received a ring from a friend with an inscription which I am trying to figure out. I have narrowed it down to the cyrillic alphabet or a slight variation of the alphabet. I am unsure what roughly is written and would like to find out. If someone can help me identify the characters or language in the photographs or even roughly translate the inscription it would be fantastic! Thank you very much!a.jpgs.jpgd.jpg

  2. #2
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    Re: Unknown language

    It's Church Slavonic and it says, "Holy Mother of God, deliver us/save us" (original: пресвѧтаѧ богородица, спаси насъ).

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    Re: Old Church Slavonic: пресвѧтаѧ богородица, спаси насъ

    Thank you so much! This has been so helpful, I really appreciate it. I cannot thank you enough!

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    Re: Unknown language

    I agree with the translation. However, it is in Russian. In Church Slavonic, Vocative should be used.

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    Re: Unknown language

    Quote Originally Posted by Christo Tamarin View Post
    I agree with the translation. However, it is in Russian. In Church Slavonic, Vocative should be used.
    I noticed that too. Assuming the ring isn't pre-18th century, I think the jeweler may have just made a (forgivable) mistake.

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    Re: Unknown language

    Quote Originally Posted by iobyo View Post
    It's Church Slavonic and it says, "Holy Mother of God, deliver us/save us" (original: пресвѧтаѧ богородица, спаси насъ).
    Does this letter ѧ correspond to the modern я? If yes, then I think it is in Russian because the first ѧ in пресвѧтаѧ should be a nasal vowel in Old Church Slavonic.
    Last edited by francisgranada; 18th September 2013 at 11:59 AM.

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    Re: Unknown language

    Quote Originally Posted by francisgranada View Post
    Does this letter ѧ correspond to the modern я? If yes, then I think it is in Russian because the first ѧ in пресвѧтаѧ should be a nasal vowel in Old Church Slavonic.
    Yes, one may consider the Russian letter Я as the modern shape of the letter ѧ .
    The so called Church Slavonic language (церковно-славянский) is just a version of the Old Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) with the pronunciation changed in the middle-age/modern Russian manner and the orthography changed accordingly. In particlular, it should have Vocative.

    The inscription in question is just in Russian, in modern Russian. What about the orthography? First, an ancient shape of the letter Я is used. Second, if it follows the pre-1918 orthography, then пресвѧтаѧ should be прѣсвѧтаѧ, and if the modern orthography is used, then the final -ъ in насъ is obsolete.

    Thus, we have:

    In Russian, modern orthography: Пресвятая Богородица, спаси нас.
    In Russian, pre-1918 orthography: Прѣсвятая Богородица, спаси насъ.
    In Church Slavonic: Прѣсвятая Богородицe, спаси насъ.
    In Old Church Slavonic: Прѣсвятаia Богородицe, съпаси насъ.

  8. #8
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    Re: Unknown language

    Quote Originally Posted by Christo Tamarin View Post
    Yes, one may consider the Russian letter Я as the modern shape of the letter ѧ .
    The so called Church Slavonic language (церковно-славянский) is just a version of the Old Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) with the pronunciation changed in the middle-age/modern Russian manner and the orthography changed accordingly. In particlular, it should have Vocative.

    The inscription in question is just in Russian, in modern Russian. What about the orthography? First, an ancient shape of the letter Я is used. Second, if it follows the pre-1918 orthography, then пресвѧтаѧ should be прѣсвѧтаѧ, and if the modern orthography is used, then the final -ъ in насъ is obsolete.

    Thus, we have:

    In Russian, modern orthography: Пресвятая Богородица, спаси нас.
    In Russian, pre-1918 orthography: Прѣсвятая Богородица, спаси насъ.
    In Church Slavonic: Прѣсвятая Богородицe, спаси насъ.
    In Old Church Slavonic: Прѣсвятаia Богородицe, съпаси насъ.
    Actually, both the Russian pre-revolutionary orthography and the Russian Church Slavonic used «ре/ле» instead of the etymological «рѣ/лѣ» in all such words, i. e. «пресвятый» (should be here http://slavdict.narod.ru/_0491.htm cp. all the other words there) and «млеко» (http://slavdict.narod.ru/_0309.htm). This manner is documented from the very beginning of the East Slavic written tradition and is often explained by the fact that on most of the East Slavic territory ѣ was a closed sound, while in Bulgaria — a very open one, so using «е» instead of «ѣ» created a less divergent pronunciation (plus, of course, the inducing effect of the East Slavic «ере/еле»). Don't know about the modern Bulgarian church texts, but a modern Serbian Church Slavonic manual uses the same orthographic convention (https://sites.google.com/site/rankovicpbf/pbf6).

    Also, a note about the name of that language. The Bulgarian source of the Church Slavonic was forgotten for many centuries until it was rediscovered by linguists around 1870 (as far as I remember). During all this millennium, this language was called in Russia «славянский язык» ("Slavonic language") and was regarded as a solemn literary register of Russian, not as a separate language originating from some other ethnic group — this is the source of all the orthographic and lexical changes.
    Last edited by ahvalj; 18th September 2013 at 8:18 PM.

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