My questions regarding 12th century Old East Slavonic I.

higgadt

New Member
Hungarian
Hi, everyone!

I’d like to ask the help of someone familiar with/well versed in Old East Slavonic. I’m working on a modification to a historical-strategical game which starts in the 1170’s, and I’d like to be able to represent topographical and personal names, titles and such regarding the Russian principalities of that time according to the language spoken at that period. (I’m mostly interested in the principalities of Kiev, Pereyaslavl, Chernigov, Smolensk, Ryazan and Vladimir and their language.)

I’ve tried to read about the historical and linguistic features of the late 12th century as much as possible but since I don’t speak Russian my possibilities are limited.

As far as I know the two best sources for the period, considering my interest, are the Laurentian Codex (Лаврентьевская летопись) and Vasmer’s Etymological Dictionary (Этимологический словарь Фасмера). (As for the codex I have access to the edition of 1926-28 at ІЗБОРНИК. Історія України IX-XVIII ст. Першоджерела та інтерпретації, which gives the text in a close transliteration of the original.) Reading about the codex I’ve learned that it was compiled in Нижний Новгород in 1377 (based on various sources, including the Повѣсть времѧньныхъ лѣтъ) and thus written in the northeastern variant of OES (or maybe I’m wrong and it is in Old Church Slavonic?) of the late 14th century, which creates an almost precisely 200 year gap with the epoch that I’m most interested in. This is probably the main reason why I find differencies regarding personal and topographical names in these sources.

So my questions are these:

What do you think, which spelling represents the late 12th century better – the one found in Лавр. or the one found in ЭCФ (if there’s a discrepancy)?

For example:

A) The capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality is given as Володимерь in Лавр. and as Володимѣрь in ЭCФ. The second form surely looks more ancient to me.

B) Ryazan is given as Рѧзань in Лавр., and as *Рѣзанъ in ЭCФ. (Altough the * might mean that this form only existed in the Common Slavic period and there’s no written record of it.)

C) Chernigov is given as Черниговъ in both sources (however very rarely it is given as Чернѣговъ in Лавр. as well), but wikipedia comes up with Чьрниговъ – again a seemingly more ancient form.

D) Volga is Волга, rarely alternating with Волъга in Лавр., while wikipedia gives Вльга as the OES form.

E) Тьмуторокань, Тъмуторокань, Тмуторокань – all these variants appaer in Лавр. and Vasmer simply recognizes this fact, mentioning that the 2nd form is known from an inscription dated 1068.

F) The personal name Yuri is alternating between Гюрги and Юрги in Лавр., but Геѡрги also appears, which might be a form exclusively used in the church. Vasmer laconically states that Гюрги is the OES form.

G) Konstantin: Костѧнтинъ (Лавр.) <=> Къснятинъ (ЭCФ)

H) Andrey: Андрѣи (Лавр.) <=> Анъдреи (ЭCФ)

And the list could go on…

What do you think which forms represent the late 12th century better?

{I also happen to have some questions regarding the articulation of some letters, which I will post in this same topic. Please check that out as well!}
 
  • What do you think, which spelling represents the late 12th century better – the one found in Лавр. or the one found in ЭCФ (if there’s a discrepancy)?
    None. Old East Slavic didn't have a separate codified written variant: for its speakers it was the vernacular, whereas the learned, cultured, official language was Old Church Slavonic or, more precisely, the adapted Old Church Slavonic with a greater or lesser percent of vernacular features. Imagine a Bible translation based on one, very geographically remote, dialect (East Balkanic in this case) in the mouths of speakers of other dialects who never heard anybody speaking as written. In the vast majority of cases the texts we possess reflect a compromise between the ideal learned language and the way the writer actually spoke. The only exceptions are birch bark manuscripts, but their vast majority is found in Novgorod, not elsewhere (as the swampy soils in Novgorod favor preservation of this kind of remains). Even the graffiti found in churches ("John was here") are not fully vernacular. Thus, what you may find in the literature concerning any ancient dialect, except that of Novgorod, are modern extrapolations based on the ideas various scholars have on when a certain feature arose in a certain area. This is only partly reliable as it implies an originally monolithic language split by local innovations, ignoring (for the lack of evidence) any disappearing ancient distinctions: we know for example that this approach doesn't work at all for Novgorod since before the discovery of birch bark manuscripts the picture based on the later peculiarities of this area and on the ancient mistakes in the official manuscripts showed nothing similar to a big gap between the standard language of the parchments and what was written on the birch bark.

    A) The capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality is given as Володимерь in Лавр. and as Володимѣрь in ЭCФ. The second form surely looks more ancient to me.
    The name consists of two roots: Влади-~Володи- reflects the South~East Slavic development of the ancient al (directly attested as Βαλδ- in earlier Byzantine sources), whereas -меръ/-мѣръ/-миръ are local transformations of the word that ceased being transparent: -мѣръ is the etymologically correct variant ("glorious"), -миръ is apparently a contamination with миръ "world; peace", and -меръ is perhaps a variant Slavic rendition of the Gothic form of this suffix. The name of the city originally ended in -р҄ь, being a relational adjective, but later it merged with the name itself. This all creates 12 variants (Владимиръ/Владимир҄ь/Володимиръ/Володимир҄ь…), all of which perhaps existed in the real life, though it is hard to tell what was the vernacular local variant of the 12th century: let it be Володимер҄ь.

    B) Ryazan is given as Рѧзань in Лавр., and as *Рѣзанъ in ЭCФ. (Altough the * might mean that this form only existed in the Common Slavic period and there’s no written record of it.)
    According to Нерознак ВП · 2009 · Названия древнерусских городов: 151–152, the attested form is only Рѧзань (the form with ѣ is the modern etymologizing fantasy).

    C) Chernigov is given as Черниговъ in both sources (however very rarely it is given as Чернѣговъ in Лавр. as well), but wikipedia comes up with Чьрниговъ – again a seemingly more ancient form.
    According to Neroznak, forms Черниговъ and Чернѣговъ are both attested, the latter being more rare. The Greek source of the 10th century (De Administrando Imperio - Wikipedia) mentions Τζερνιγόγα. *Чьрниговъ is indeed more ancient, but it is not attested.

    D) Volga is Волга, rarely alternating with Волъга in Лавр., while wikipedia gives Вльга as the OES form.
    The form Вльга is somebody's fantasy, it is neither attested nor able to produce Волга in East Slavic (the modern outcome of *вльга would have been **влезя or **влега). It is actually even unknown whether this river name is Slavic (e. g. Волъга rather looks like an adaptation of a foreign word). I'd say a safer assumption for the 12th century vernacular would be just Волга.

    E) Тьмуторокань, Тъмуторокань, Тмуторокань – all these variants appaer in Лавр. and Vasmer simply recognizes this fact, mentioning that the 2nd form is known from an inscription dated 1068.
    The local vernacular name is attested (Stone of Tmutarakan - Wikipedia & Тмутараканский камень — Википедия) as Тъмꙋторокан-, so *Тъмуторокан҄ь. That's a foreign name, with a very unusual structure, hence the variants.

    F) The personal name Yuri is alternating between Гюрги and Юрги in Лавр., but Геѡрги also appears, which might be a form exclusively used in the church. Vasmer laconically states that Гюрги is the OES form.
    Hard to tell: perhaps all the forms were in use, depending on the place and register. Compare Robert~Bob.

    G) Konstantin: Костѧнтинъ (Лавр.) <=> Къснятинъ (ЭCФ)
    The same.

    H) Andrey: Андрѣи (Лавр.) <=> Анъдреи (ЭCФ)
    The same.
     

    higgadt

    New Member
    Hungarian
    Thank You for Your help! After browsing the forum, and reading some of Your analysises, I was hoping that You would show up and help me clarify some things!:)
     
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