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Old Russian Online

Series Introduction

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

The title Old Russian serves to denote the language of the earliest documents of the eastern branch of the Slavic family of languages. The composition of the oldest surviving documents generally dates to some time within the 10th century AD. The term Old Russian is something of a misnomer in that the initial stages of the language which it denotes predate the dialectal divisions which mark the nascent distinction between modern Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian. Thus Old Russian serves as a common parent to all three of the major East Slavic languages, and as such a more appropriate term for the language is Old East Slavic. Unfortunately, in addition to being cumbersome, this terminology is not universally applied even within modern scholarship. Moreover, as the language Old Russian formed the medium of communication throughout the lands of the Rus [Rusĭ], about whom we will have more to say elsewhere in these lessons, some scholars employ the term Rusian for Old Russian. This is perhaps the most convenient of all the terms, but lamentably it is also the least commonly used.

Throughout these lessons, therefore, the terminology Old Russian is employed with a bow to tradition. However Old Russian is no more the oldest form of Russian than Latin is the oldest form of Spanish: Old Russian is equally Old Belorussian and Old Ukrainian. The terms Russian and Russia will also appear throughout these lessons; but unless qualified by the adjective modern (as in the modern Russian language), these terms should be taken in their historical sense: relating to the Rus.

1. Linguistic Heredity

At some point before the creation of the oldest written monuments of Old Russian, the Slavic tribes seem to have formed a more or less homogeneous speaking community with relatively minor regional variation. Scholars apply the term Common Slavic (CS or CoS), or Proto-Slavic (PSl), to the putative language spoken by this as yet little differentiated Slavic community. This language, some of whose features can be reconstructed by scholars, serves as a parent to all subsequent Slavic languages. Proto-Slavic itself seems to derive from a parent, termed Proto-Indo-European (PIE), which serves as the common ancestor for an even wider array of languages ranging from Iceland in the west to India and beyond in the east: the Germanic languages (e.g. German, English, Dutch, Icelandic), the Italic (Latin, Italian, Spanish, French), Hellenic (Greek, Mycenaean), Celtic (Old Irish, Welsh, Gaelic), and many Indic languages (Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi) all belong to this Indo-European family, among others. The close affinity of the Baltic languages to the Slavic languages leads many scholars to suppose that between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Slavic there was an intervening period of close habitation between Baltic and Slavic tribes, with the dialects being sufficiently intelligible to all to be viewed as part of a single language, Proto-Balto-Slavic.

Within the Proto-Slavic speaking community, migration and subsequent isolation of one subgroup or tribe from another tended to accentuate dialectal distinctions. As this process progressed, we find the emergence of three broad groupings within the Slavic language family: West Slavic (including modern Czech and Polish), South Slavic (including Bulgarian and Macedonian), and East Slavic (modern Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian). In each subgrouping, the members share some linguistic features among themselves which do not pertain to other groupings. In particular we find that, while Old Church Slavonic (OCS) shows features shared by South Slavic languages, Old Russian (OR or ORu) demonstrates its affiliation with the East Slavic languages.

If we look at the linguistic characteristics of the various subgroups of the Slavic language family, there is no one single feature that will identify a particular language as belonging, say, to the East Slavic group. Each particular feature is shared by languages in more than one subgroup. What we therefore seek for the purposes of linguistic classification is a minimal set of features which we can say are shared, as a whole, by members of one subgroup but not, as a whole, by members of another subgroup. The following list provides a set of three characteristics which serve, on the whole, to distinguish the East Slavic branch from the others. The features are stated in terms of how certain phonemic characteristics of the parent Proto-Slavic evolved within languages pertaining to the East Slavic subgroup (Vinokur, 1971).

  1. The reflexes of CS *tj, *dj are č, ž respectively. That is, where we find the phonemic sequence *tj, for example, in Common Slavic, this becomes the phoneme in languages belonging to the East Slavic subgroup. For example, CS *svetja yields Old Russian свѣча [svěča], but within South Slavic this becomes OCS свѣща [svěšča] 'candle'. Similarly CS *medja yields Old Russian мєжа [meža], but OCS мєжда [mežda] 'street' (cf. Schmalstieg, 1995).
  2. The reflexes of CS *tort, *tert groups are respectively torot and teret. This rule is stated in shorthand, where *t actually denotes any CS consonant, and *r represents any of the liquid resonants (i.e. *r, l). If we take the sequence *tort, the rule states that, when *or or *ol appear between any two consonants in Common Slavic, then in East Slavic languages a secondary *o appears after the *r or *l but before the final consonant. Thus CS *gordŭ becomes Old Russian городъ [gorodŭ], whereas in the South Slavic branch it yields OCS градъ [gradŭ] 'city'. Further examples: Old Russian перегнѫвъ [peregnǫvŭ], but OCS прѣгънѫвъ [prěgŭnǫvŭ] 'having bent'; Old Russian Володимира [Volodimira], but OCS Владимира [Vladimira] 'Vladimir' (cf. Matthews, 1960).
  3. The loss of nasal vowels. In the transition from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Slavic, we find that certain vowels tended to become nasalized in certain environments. In particular, when PIE *o was followed by a nasal consonant, and this in turn followed by a second consonant, then the nasal tended to drop in Common Slavic, but the *o retained a nasal quality much as the vowel in the French word bon. For example the third person plural present tense ending PIE *-onti yielded CS *-ǫtĭ, where *ǫ denotes a nasalized *o. Through similar processes the vowel *e acquired nasalization, represented by *ę. These nasalized vowels are retained in many modern Slavic languages, for example Polish. But the nasalization fell away in all languages of the East Slavic branch. Thus we find Old Russian язъӏкъ [jazykŭ] 'language', but OCS ѩзъӏкъ [językŭ]; also Old Russian станути [stanuti] 'to stand', but OCS станѫти [stanǫti]. It should be noted, however, that the emulation of OCS manuscript tradition meant that the letters representing nasalized vowels in OCS were still employed in Old Russian writing. Vacillation in the Ostromir Gospel (both глаголя and глаголѩ 'saying' occur) highlights that nasalization was not present, with the result that nasal and non-nasal symbols were used interchangeably (Schmalstieg, 1995).

Debate continues, however, regarding just how wide was the linguistic gap between Old Russian and its South Slavic cousin Old Church Slavonic. The heart of the debate lies in the fact that the earliest manuscripts of Old Russian generally comprise East Slavic redactions of earlier OCS manuscripts, and the conventions of OCS spelling likely exerted a heavy influence on Old Russian orthography. Thus some scholars propose a scenario for the 10th and 11th centuries in which the Old Russian manuscripts show a "bookish" language which remained distinct from the everyday language of discourse.

Other scholars, however, take issue with such arguments, notably Lunt (1987). As Lunt points out, no direct evidence regarding the everyday speech in the lands of the Rus has survived, and so notions regarding any differences between common speech and the language of the manuscripts remain completely speculative. Rather, discussions of the speech practices of the Rus must be based on the evidence in hand, namely inscriptions, manuscripts, and even what little graffiti survives. Moreover all indications from accounts of the original missions of Saints Cyril and Methodius suggest that, in the time period surrounding and immediately following the missions, variations among Slavic dialects were not so great as to impede mutual intelligibility. Lunt therefore proposes that Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic be viewed as two variants of the latest period of the common Slavic tongue, that is, as two variants of Late Common Slavic (LCS or LCoS) (Lunt, 1987).

Two major points support this view. The first concerns the presence of the jers ъ, ь (ŭ, ĭ). Both Old Russian and OCS preserve these reduced vowels that first arise in Common Slavic. Moreover they appear equally accurately in the earliest manuscripts of both languages, in the sense that they generally appear in positions where they would be expected on etymological grounds. In addition, they were true vowels: syllables containing jers are counted in syllable-counting poetry (Lunt, 1987). The scholar Trubetzkoy has established that the conditions determining when jers are strong or weak (terminology which we shall explain in the lessons) are shared by all Slavic languages. Thus their presence as a phonetic entity in a form that precedes their full vocalism (strong jers) or loss (weak jers) must be a characteristic of Common Slavic. Since the earliest remnants of both OCS and Old Russian still maintain the jers intact, before the shifts under the strong or weak conditions, these documents must represent a late stage of Common Slavic, before the breakup into respective daughter languages (Lunt, 1987).

The second point concerns pronunciation. We have seen above that Old Russian loses the nasalization accompanying some vowels from other dialects. However we still find a regular correspondence: OCS corresponds to Old Russian u, and OCS corresponds to Old Russian . This means that, in the earliest period of the language, the speaker of Old Russian could always read OCS with a local pronunciation and the result would be intelligible (Lunt, 1987).

The argument that OCS and Old Russian are both variants of Late Common Slavic has not convinced all scholars. But it does have a practical benefit: it provides a theoretical framework within which to view OCS and Old Russian as two remarkably similar languages. Their similarity is such that, at least for the earliest documents, one can profitably read Old Russian merely with a knowledge of OCS and a superficial understanding of the three characteristics of East Slavic mentioned above.

2. Geographical Location

By the time of the earliest documents, the speakers of Old Russian inhabit a vast expanse of eastern Europe between the two political poles of Novgorod in the north and Kiev in the south. However the events surrounding how the East Slavs arrived in this region, and from where they came, remain shrouded in mystery. Some vague references from Latin and Greek authors whose works predate the advent of writing among the Slavs nevertheless provide some tantalizing clues.

Among the works of the first century AD, we find two which mention tribes plausibly to be identified with the Slavic group or its subgroups. In his treatise Naturalis historia, Pliny the Elder employs the term Venedi, Veneti for tribes which modern scholars surmise to be early Slavs. Pliny mentions in particular a tribe known as the Anti, saying they inhabit the region between the Sea of Azov and the Caspian Sea, an area then controlled by the Sarmatians (Gimbutas, 1971). Also writing in the first century, Tacitus likewise mentions the Venedi or Veneti in his survey of tribes impinging upon the Roman Empire, the Germania. In this work he mentions that the Venedi consist of robbers and thieves who wander the forests and mountains. According to Tacitus they generally inhabited the region between the Peucini tribe (Germanic Bastarnae) in the eastern Carpathians and the Fenni, whose location is left unclear (Gimbutas, 1971).

In the second century, Claudius Ptolemy mentions what is presumably the same tribe in his work De geographia. He employs the term Grk. Ouenedai, Lat. Venedae, and he labels the Baltic Sea the "Venedic Gulf" by virtue of the tribe's proximity to its shores. Based on Ptolemy's descriptions, scholars surmise that these Venedae inhabited a region north of the Goths, to the west of the Baltic tribes (Galindians and Sudinians), and to the southwest of the Finnic tribes (Matthews, 1960).

It is not until the sixth century that we find references to the Veneti that appear to make distinctions between subgroups. In his work De origine actibusque Getarum, or simply the Getica, Jordanes employs Venetae as a general term. But he identifies two separate tribes within this group: the Antes or Antae, and the Sclaveni. He says that all are 'of one blood' (cf. Gimbutas, 1971). Generally the Venetae are said to inhabit the region between the Dniester and Dnieper. Of the two subgroups, Jordanes locates the westernmost group, the Sclaveni, in the vicinity of the Carpathian mountains, with the Vistula river to their north, and the Dniester river to the east (Gimbutas, 1971). The region inhabited by the Antae lies to the east of the land of the Sclaveni.

In this same period, Procopius of Caesarea, writing in Greek, mentions the Antai and Sklabe:noi in his work De bello Gothico. Of the Sklabenoi he states that they were intruders into the region of the lower Danube (Gimbutas, 1971). Moreover he asserts that both tribes spoke the same language and jointly inhabited an expansive area. Procopius seems to have been acquainted with Slavic troops in the Byzantine army. He provides us with a description of their physical features: "The Sklavini and Antes do not differ in appearance: all of them are tall and very strong, their skin and hair are neither very light nor dark, but all are ruddy of face. They live a hard life of the lowest grade just like the Messagetae, and are just as dirty as they" (quoted in Gimbutas, 1971).

The historical descriptions mentioned above are unspecific at best. At worst, they do not refer to Slavic tribes at all, a possibility which is difficult to rule out. If we do however draw the tentative conclusion that the above tribes refer to the Slavs before the advent of their own written documents, it seems probable that the Antae are those most likely to be identified as the forerunners of the East Slavs that appear to us in the earliest records of Old Russian.

3. Language Contact

The Old Russian language itself contains traces of the myriad interactions of its speakers with neighboring peoples in the course of trade and cultural exchange. These linguistic clues predominantly take the form of words borrowed from neighboring languages into Old Russian. The same process occurs in nearly all languages, and Old Church Slavonic itself adopted numerous words from the neighboring Germans and Greeks in their missionary work in Moravia. Since OCS had a profound influence on Old Russian, the latter acquired many words from the Germans and Greeks indirectly via OCS. Frequently these terms related to ecclesiastical themes. But the speakers of Old Russian also interacted with other neighboring cultures independently of the southern Slavs, and we find borrowings that serve to highlight these exchanges.

One such group of loanwords comes from the profound commercial and cultural ties that the early Rus shared with Scandinavia. The following terms come from Scandinavian borrowings (Matthews, 1960):

Another group of borrowings highlights economic ties with Germanic peoples. This interaction increased as the Germans pushed eastward along the Baltic Sea into Prussia. Numerous terms relate to titles and units of measure (Matthews, 1960):

But at the tail end of the Old Russian period we find later borrowings related to the exchange of fabrics in the 14th-15th centuries (Matthews, 1960):

Of course, Byzantium played a privileged role in both the economic life and religious development of the Rus. A wealth of terms coming from all aspects of daily life provide a testament to this intertwining of cultures (Matthews, 1960):

Some of these terms borrowed from Greek were themselves loanwords taken over from Latin. The following terms provide a small sample (Matthews, 1960):

In addition, as trade extended eastward, the Rus came into contact with Turkic cultures. The influence of Turkic cultures became more profound with the periodic attacks that culminated in the Tartar invasion. But the 13th-century Codex Cumanicus contains several Turkic loanwords that testify to Turkic influence preceding the invasion. The following list provides a sample of Old Russian terms of Turkic origin (Matthews, 1960):

4. History and Documents

No specific dates fix the period of Old Russian. Rather we may suppose from historical sources that its earliest stages represent something close to what was spoken upon the reception of the Byzantine liturgy in the middle of the 10th century, since this would likely have marked the opening of the literary tradition that produced the earliest surviving manuscripts. That would place the beginning of the Old Russian period sometime in the 10th century AD. Since no monuments have survived from this period, however, scholars generally agree that Old Russian as a documented system begins in the 11th century. At the other extreme, the end date is similarly flexible. Some scholars prefer to place the end of the Old Russian period relatively early, sometime near the beginning of the 14th century. Others prefer to place the end closer to the latter part of the 15th century, as the center of literary production shifts from Kiev to Moscow in the waning years of Tartar rule.

The corpus of Old Russian, broadly understood, is rather expansive. Its remains take a variety of forms. In particular we find roughly 180 inscriptions dating from the 11th to 14th centuries. Most famous among these is the Tmutorokan stone, discovered near Taman in 1792 and dated 1068. The inscription states that Prince Gleb measured a distance of 14,000 sazhens between Tmutorokan and Kerch across the Strait of Kerch (Vinokur, 1971).

Most interestingly, in the 1950s archaeologists discovered numerous documents in excavations near Novgorod. These birch-bark letters date from middle of 12th century. The texts are scratched on birch-bark with bone instruments. The content consists predominantly of private letters, but the finds also contain testaments and agreements (Sokolsky, 1966).

The preponderance of the remaining documentary evidence for Old Russian consists of manuscripts. Roughly 1000 manuscripts remain dating from the 11th to 14th centuries. More than 20 of these manuscripts come from the 11th century specifically. Unfortunately we have no single preserved manuscript from the 10th century (Vinokur, 1971). The following list provides a brief overview of some of the more important specimens of Old Russian manuscript evidence (cf. Vinokur, 1971; Sokolsky, 1966):

5. Remark on the Lesson Plan and Glossary

The functional view espoused by the lessons of this series is that Old Russian (Old East Slavic) shows such a great degree of similarity to Old Church Slavonic that it behooves the reader to draw parallels whenever possible. For that reason, the sections discussing the grammar of the language mirror those of the series Old Church Slavonic Online for ease of cross-reference.

Moreover, the headword entries for the glossed texts are keyed to the Lexicon Palaeoslovenico-Graeco-Latinum of Miklosich (1865), with minor variations. The reader will note that this forms the standard of lexical reference for the OCS series as well. Hopefully this will foster the attitude that the two languages, OCS and Old Russian, should be read together, knowledge of one informing the other. On the one hand, by all accounts this appears to be how the copyists of Old Russian manuscripts themselves understood Old Russian. On the other hand, the discussion above on the relation of the two provides a theoretical framework in which the two may be viewed profitably as flip-sides of the same coin. As one professor aptly put it, the reader will get a long way by "studying Old Russian as if it were Old Church Slavonic spelled poorly".

Perhaps a more logical choice of lexical standard would have been Sreznevskij's Materials for an Old Russian Dictionary (1893-1912). While long the standard reference in the field, being wholly in Russian it might pose a barrier to some readers of these lessons. Moreover, as it employs a standardized Old Russian orthography, it already eliminates, say, the nasalized in favor of u. This creates a difficulty in trying to compare Old Russian with OCS: it is much more straightforward to read an OCS form with a nasalized and immediately conclude that the corresponding Old Russian term will be found with u. The reverse is more difficult: an Old Russian form with u may correspond to an OCS form with either u or . For this reason it has seemed advisable to normalize to OCS spelling and to keep in mind the East Slavic features outlined above and later in the lessons to make the conversion to Old Russian.

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Old Russian Online

Lesson 1

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

I. The Great Sweep of Old Russian History

There were three major events that defined the earliest historical period of the East Slavic people:

To understand each of these events and its impact on the development of the early Russian cultural and political institutions, we must first understand something of the context within which they occurred.

The description below, and the Introductions to the lessons that follow, attempt to provide an overview of the geographic, economic, cultural, religious, and political conditions surrounding the composition of Old Russian texts during the "classical" period from the 11th to 15th centuries.

II. Eastern European Geography and Trade

II.i Geography

The Eastern Slavs make their appearance in history already situated in the vast expanse of Eastern Europe. We may speak broadly of this people as Russians, but only if we are careful to note that, in this early period, the term is merely a convenience for speaking inclusively of the ancestors of large populations of modern Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine. That this was not their original homeland we may surmise from, among other sorts of physical evidence, the linguistic traits they share with various branches of the Indo-European linguistic family tree. Their first mention in historical records comes not from their own monuments, but from authors writing in Greek, Latin, and other languages. These authors themselves were often quite removed from the East Slavic tribes and so the veracity of their claims leaves much to be desired. Principally we infer from their writings a general sense of the location of the Slavs as a whole. We must yet wait centuries for the nascent Russian culture to break into the historical record with its own voice.

We find the earliest Eastern Slavs located in the vast expanse between two roughly north-south-running mountain ranges. The Carpathians shielded the "civilized" plain of the Danube River which marked the extent of the Roman Empire from the wilderness that lay beyond. The variegated territory which extended between the Carpathians and the Ural Mountains far to their east provided the cradle of the Russian cultural birth.

The Black Sea, followed by the Caucasus Mountains, and completed by the landlocked Caspian Sea provided a natural boundary to the south. Abutting this southerly frontier from the north lay the steppe, a low-lying flattened geographic highway that would, centuries hence, provide the conduit for ruinous invasions of Europe, made all the worse for the Russians by the fact that, by dint of location, they were often the first to catch the full fury of the bloody onslaught.

As one moves north from this southerly belt the featureless terrain slowly yields to forest. Deciduous at first, the forest thickens relentlessly as its members trade in seasonal leaves for the perpetual spines of their coniferous cousins. The northern territory intersperses the forest with bog that further impedes travel. To the west of this wooded northerly expanse the terrain opens onto the shores of the Baltic Sea. Continuing north one passes Lakes Ladoga and Onega before encountering the White Sea and the inhospitable arctic climes beyond.

The densely wooded regions north of the steppe would have remained largely impassable to all but the most small-scale travel had not Nature provided its own highway system for extended travel: navigable rivers. From the eastern lip of the Baltic the river Dvina winds eastward into the uplands situated midway between the Carpathians and Urals. Here the Dvina comes within a geographic hair's breadth of the headwaters of the Volga, the region's great superhighway connecting the northerly reaches with the Caspian Sea in the south. As the Volga extends east from the uplands before making its sweeping turn south, its tributary the Oka meets it from the west. The two continue a short stretch southeast as one before the Kama, descending from the Urals and traveling eastward, finally joins them. The three continue together as the Volga, first southwest, then southeast, before finally emptying into the Caspian.

The net effect of the Volga's tributaries Oka and Kama is to provide a waterborne highway stretching east-west, starting at the easternmost extreme in the foothills of the Urals and flowing west into the central Uplands of the Russian expanse where, much later in the story of early Russia, Moscow was to grow from an early backwater into a unifying hub of the burgeoning Russian nation. But enabling further north-south travel were the rivers Dnieper and Don. The former trickles westward out of the Uplands, growing as it turns southward and finally empties into the Black Sea. Not to be outdone, the Don chooses an eastward path out of the central Uplands, until it to turns south and rushes toward the Black Sea, this time emptying in the Sea of Azov on the Black Sea's northeastern extreme.

Thus Nature provided both fertile, wooded lands and the ability to navigate them within the flat expanse to the west of the Urals. With a short break between them, the Dvina and Volga provided a north-south axis for travel from the Baltic to the Caspian. And by another short hop this path could be deflected to the Black Sea, where the jewel of the southerly belt awaited: Byzantium.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following extract begins the famous text of the Invitation to the Varangians, found in the Primary Chronicle under the year 859 AD and following. The passage below describes the conditions among the East Slavs and neighboring tribes leading up to the invitation.

1 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. ѯ з.
  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- the year
  • ѕ -- number; <ѕ> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • т -- number; <т> three hundred -- three hundred
  • ѯ -- number; <ѯ> sixty -- sixty
  • з -- number; <з> seven -- seven

2 - Имаху дань варязи изъ заморья на чюди и на словѣнехъ, на мери и на всѣхъ, и на кривичѣхъ; а козари имаху на полянѣхъ, и на северѣхъ, и на вятичѣхъ, имаху по бѣлѣй вѣверицѣ отъ дыма.

  • Имаху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <имати, ѥмлѭ, ѥмлѥши> take, take up; acquire -- received
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • варязи -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- The Varangians
  • изъ -- preposition; <из> (w. gen.) from, out of -- from
  • заморья -- noun; neuter genitive singular of <заморьѥ> a transmarine region, (any) region across the sea -- across the sea
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • чюди -- noun; feminine locative singular of <чюдь> (collective) the Chuds (a Finnish tribe, in Estonia near Lake Peipus) -- the Chuds
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • словѣнехъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine locative plural of <словѣнинъ> Slovene, of the Slovene tribe (located on Lake Ilmen near Novgorod) -- the Slovenes
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • мери -- proper noun; feminine locative singular of <меря> (collective) the Merians (a Finnish tribe, in the region of Jaroslavl and Rostov, along the Volga river) -- the Merians
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • всѣхъ -- proper noun; masculine locative plural of <весь> (collective) the Ves, Vepsians (a Finnish tribe between Lakes Ladoga and Belo-ozero) -- the Ves
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • кривичѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural <кривичи> (pl.) the Krivitchians (a Slavic tribe) -- the Krivitchians
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • козари -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <козаринъ> Khazar, of the Khazars (a Turkic tribe located along the Volga) -- the Khazars
  • имаху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <имати, ѥмлѭ, ѥмлѥши> take, take up; acquire -- received (tribute)
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • полянѣхъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine locative plural of <полӏанинъ> Polan, Polian, Polianian, of the Polianians (a Slavic tribe located along the Dnieper river) -- the Polianians
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • северѣхъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine locative plural of <сѣвєръ> Severian, of the Severian tribe (a Slavic tribe located along the Sejm and Sula rivers) -- the Severians
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- among
  • вятичѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <вӏатичи> (pl.) the Vjatichi, Viatichi, Vyatichi (a Slavic tribe) -- the Vjatichi
  • имаху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <имати, ѥмлѭ, ѥмлѥши> take, take up; acquire -- they received
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each) # The preposition по frequently has a distributive meaning
  • бѣлѣй -- adjective; feminine dative singular of <бѣлъ> white -- a white
  • вѣверицѣ -- noun; feminine dative singular of <вѣвєрица> squirrel -- squirrel (pelt)
  • отъ -- preposition; <отъ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- from
  • дыма -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <дъӏмъ> smoke; hearth, home -- hearth

3 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. ѯ и.

  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- the year
  • ѕ -- number; <ѕ> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • т -- number; <т> three hundred -- three hundred
  • ѯ -- number; <ѯ> sixty -- sixty
  • и -- number; <и> eight -- eight

4 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. ѯ ѳ.

  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- the year
  • ѕ -- number; <ѕ> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • т -- number; <т> three hundred -- three hundred
  • ѯ -- number; <ѯ> sixty -- sixty
  • ѳ -- number; <ѳ> nine -- nine

5 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. о.
  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- the year
  • ѕ -- number; <ѕ> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • т -- number; <т> three hundred -- three hundred
  • о -- number; <о> seventy -- seventy

6 - Изъгнаша варяги за море, и не даша имъ дани, и почаша сами в собѣ володѣти, и не бѣ в нихъ правды, и въста родъ на родъ, и быша в нихъ усобицѣ, и воевати почаша сами на ся.
  • Изъгнаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <изгнати, иждєнѫ, иждєнєши> cast out, cast away; drive out, drive away -- They drove
  • варяги -- adjective used as substantive; masculine accusative plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- the Varangians # Note the lack of palatalization in варяги, compared to the previous instance варязи. In the nominative plural, we expect the results of second palatalization after the shift *-oi> *-i; however after the shift *-ons> *-y in the accusative plural, we expect no palatalization. Here we see the proper unpalatalized reflex -g- of the accusative plural, but we also see that Old Russian frequently replaces the proper accusative plural ending with the nominative form .
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- across
  • море -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <мор҄є> sea -- the sea
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • даша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <дати, дамь, даси> give -- they did... give
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • дани -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • почаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <почѧти, -чьнѫ, -чьнєши> begin, commence -- began
  • сами -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <самъ> self, oneself -- they
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- amongst
  • собѣ -- pronoun; locative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • володѣти -- verb; infinitive of <владѣти, -дѣѭ, -дѣѥши> (freq. w. instr.) rule, rule over, hold power (over) -- to rule
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- no
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there was
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- among
  • нихъ -- pronoun; masculine locative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • правды -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <правьда> justice -- peace # Note the use of the genitive, rather than nominative, in the presence of negation
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • въста -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <въстати, -станѫ, -станєши> stand up, break out -- rose
  • родъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <родъ> race, kind, sort; generation; birth -- clan
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- against
  • родъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <родъ> race, kind, sort; generation; birth -- clan
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • быша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there was
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- among
  • нихъ -- pronoun; masculine locative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • усобицѣ -- noun; feminine nominative plural of <ѫсобица> discord, strife, sedition -- discord
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • воевати -- verb; infinitive of <воѥвати, воюѭ, воюѥши> fight, wage war -- to wage war
  • почаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <почѧти, -чьнѫ, -чьнєши> begin, commence -- began
  • сами -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <самъ> self, oneself -- they
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- against
  • ся -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- one another

7 - И рѣша сами в себѣ, "поищемъ собѣ князя, иже бы володѣлъ нами и судилъ по праву".
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- spoke
  • сами -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <самъ> self, oneself -- they
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- amongst
  • себѣ -- pronoun; locative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • поищемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <искати, -штѫ, -штєши> seek, search for -- Let us seek # This could be translated simply as a present with a future sense: "We will seek...". But we frequently find in Old Russian a use of the present tense where an imperative might be expected. Morphologically, the imperative form of this class would generally show a thematic -и-: поищимъ.
  • собѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- for ourselves
  • князя -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- a prince # Note the use of the genitive case for a male, human direct object
  • иже -- relative pronoun; masculine nominative singular of <ижє> who, which -- who
  • бы -- verb; 3rd person singular conditional-optative of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- would
  • володѣлъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <владѣти, -дѣѭ, -дѣѥши> (freq. w. instr.) rule, rule over, hold power (over) -- lead
  • нами -- pronoun; instrumental plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • судилъ -- verb; past participle <сѫдити, -ждѫ, -диши> judge, adjudicate -- judge
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- according to
  • праву -- adjective used as substantive; neuter dative singular of <правъ> just, right, proper -- the law

8 - И идоша за море къ варягомъ, к русӏ; сице бо тӏи звахуся варязи русь, яко се друзии зовутся свие, друзии же урмане, анъгляне, друзии гъте, тако и си.
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • идоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- they went
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- across
  • море -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <мор҄є> sea -- the sea
  • къ -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • варягомъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine dative plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- the Varangians
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • русӏ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <рѹсь> (collective) the Rus, Rus' (a Scandinavian tribe); the land of the Rus, Russia -- the Rus
  • сице -- adverb; <сицє> thus, so -- in this way
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • тӏи -- demonstrative adjective; masculine nominative plural of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- those
  • звахуся -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <звати, зовѫ, зовєши> cry out; call, summon + pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- are called
  • варязи -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- Varangians
  • русь -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <рѹсь> (collective) the Rus, Rus' (a Scandinavian tribe); the land of the Rus, Russia -- Rus
  • яко -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- as
  • се -- adverb; <сє> lo, behold -- ...
  • друзии -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѹгъ> other -- others
  • зовутся -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <звати, зовѫ, зовєши> cry out; call, summon + pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- are called
  • свие -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <свийнъ> Swedish, of Sweden (a Scandinavian tribe) -- Swedes
  • друзии -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѹгъ> other -- others
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- and still
  • урмане -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <нѹрманє> (pl.) the Normans, the Northmen, the Norse, Norwegians (a Scandinavian tribe) -- Normans
  • анъгляне -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <аглянє, анъглянє> (pl.) the Angles (a Western Germanic tribe) -- Angles
  • друзии -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѹгъ> other -- (and) others
  • гъте -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <готинъ> Goth, Gothic, of the Goths (likely the inhabitants of Gotland, not the East Germanic tribe) -- Goths
  • тако -- adverb; <тако> thus, in this way -- so
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- also
  • си -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- these ones

9 - Рѣша руси чюдь, и словѣни, и кривичи и вси, "земля наша велика и обилна, а наряда в ней нѣтъ; да и поидѣте княжитъ и володѣти нами".
  • Рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • руси -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <рѹсь> (collective) the Rus, Rus' (a Scandinavian tribe); the land of the Rus, Russia -- to the Rus
  • чюдь -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <чюдь> (collective) the Chuds (a Finnish tribe, in Estonia near Lake Peipus) -- the Chuds
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • словѣни -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <словѣнинъ> Slovene, of the Slovene tribe (located on Lake Ilmen near Novgorod) -- Slovenes
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • кривичи -- noun; masculine nominative plural <кривичи> (pl.) the Krivitchians (a Slavic tribe) -- Krivitchians
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • вси -- proper noun; masculine nominative plural of <весь> (collective) the Ves, Vepsians (a Finnish tribe between Lakes Ladoga and Belo-ozero) -- Ves
  • земля -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- land
  • наша -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- Our
  • велика -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- great
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • обилна -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <обильнъ> copious, abundant, large -- abundant
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • наряда -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <нарѧдъ> order -- order
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • ней -- pronoun; feminine locative singular of <*и> he -- it
  • нѣтъ -- adverb; <нє> not + verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there is no
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- ...
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • поидѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- come
  • княжитъ -- verb; supine of <кнѧжити, -жѫ, -жиши> rule, be king, have power -- to rule # The supine is essentially a frozen accusative of a verbal noun.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • володѣти -- verb; infinitive of <владѣти, -дѣѭ, -дѣѥши> (freq. w. instr.) rule, rule over, hold power (over) -- hold sway # Note the construction employing a supine and an infinitive in parallel
  • нами -- pronoun; instrumental plural of <азъ> I -- over us

Lesson Text

1 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. ѯ з. 2 - Имаху дань варязи изъ заморья на чюди и на словѣнехъ, на мери и на всѣхъ, и на кривичѣхъ; а козари имаху на полянѣхъ, и на северѣхъ, и на вятичѣхъ, имаху по бѣлѣй вѣверицѣ отъ дыма.

3 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. ѯ и.

4 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. ѯ ѳ.

5 - В лѣто ,ѕ. т. о. 6 - Изъгнаша варяги за море, и не даша имъ дани, и почаша сами в собѣ володѣти, и не бѣ в нихъ правды, и въста родъ на родъ, и быша в нихъ усобицѣ, и воевати почаша сами на ся. 7 - И рѣша сами в себѣ, "поищемъ собѣ князя, иже бы володѣлъ нами и судилъ по праву". 8 - И идоша за море къ варягомъ, к русӏ; сице бо тӏи звахуся варязи русь, яко се друзии зовутся свие, друзии же урмане, анъгляне, друзии гъте, тако и си. 9 - Рѣша руси чюдь, и словѣни, и кривичи и вси, "земля наша велика и обилна, а наряда в ней нѣтъ; да и поидѣте княжитъ и володѣти нами".

Translation

1 In the year 6367. 2 The Varangians received tribute from across the sea among the Chuds and among the Slovenes, among the Merians and among the Ves, and among the Krivitchians. But the Khazars received (tribute) among the Polianians, and among the Severians, and among the Vjatichi, they received a white squirrel (pelt) from (each) hearth.
3 In the year 6368.
4 In the year 6369.
5 In the year 6370. 6 They drove the Varangians across the sea, and they did not give them tribute, and they began to rule amongst themselves. And among them there was no peace, and clan rose against clan, and there was discord among them, and they began to wage war against one another. 7 And they spoke amongst themselves: "Let us seek a prince for ourselves, who would lead us and judge according to the law." 8 And they went across the sea to the Varangians, to the Rus; for in this way those Varangians are called Rus, as others are called Swedes, and still others Normans, Angles, and others Goths, so also these ones. 9 And the Chuds, and Slovenes, and Krivitchians, and Ves said to the Rus: "Our land is great and abundant, but there is no order in it; come to rule and hold sway over us."

Grammar

1 Alphabet

The history of Slavic alphabets provides ample evidence for scholarly disputes. The principal dispute surrounds the priority of the two alphabets encountered in the earliest documents: Glagolitic and Cyrillic. The latter bears the name of the missionary Constantine, later St. Cyril, who in roughly 863 AD with the assistance of his brother St. Methodius gave the Slavic tribes their first distinct alphabet. This he did in a mission to the South Slavic tribes at a time when Slavic dialects were still sufficiently indistinct that the Old Church Slavonic language into which Cyril translated the New Testament could be understood by other Slavs, and the alphabet served to represent the sounds of a large number of Slavic dialects.

The perennial question is, Which came first, Glagolitic or Cyrillic? Though the latter name honors Cyril's signal achievement, the general scholarly consensus is that Cyril himself created the Glagolitic alphabet. Its stark difference from the traditional "holy" alphabets of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin served to cement the view in the Byzantine Church that Slavic was indeed a truly distinct tongue meriting preaching of the Gospel in the indigenous language. Only later, goes the theory, was the alphabet revised into a simplified form easier for missionaries acquainted with Greek to pick up. This simplified form has come down to us as the Cyrillic alphabet.

Nevertheless, early texts provide us with enigmatic clues suggesting that the true order of creation of the alphabets might have been the reverse. In fact a short passage in one description of St. Cyril's acts suggests that he found the model for his alphabet in some "Russian letters" that he encountered during a mission to the Crimea which predated his mission to the Slavs.

    Обрѣтє жє тѹ єваггєлиє и ѱалтыри рѹсьскыми писмєны писано, и чловѣка ѡбрѣтъ глаголюща тою бєсѣдою, и бєсѣдова с нимъ, и силѹ рѣчи прӏимъ, своєи бєсѣдѣ прикладаа различнаа писмєна, гласнаа съгласнаа, и къ богѹ молитвѹ творѧ, въскорѣ начѧтъ чєсти и сказати, и мноѕи сѧ ємѹ дивлѧхѹ, бога хвалѧщє.
    And he found there the evangel and the psalter written with Russian letters, and having found a man who spoke this tongue, he conversed with him, and appreciated the power of the idiom. He adapted to his own tongue the various letters, each fitted to the sounds; and offering a prayer to the Lord he quickly began to honor Him, and many marveled at this man and praised the Lord. (Sokolsky, 1966)

It remains unclear how exactly to interpret a phrase such as "Russian letters" in an era predating the creation of the Slavic alphabet, though many have taken it to mean something akin to the symbols of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Such mysteries notwithstanding, Cyrillic is by far the commonest alphabet encountered among the texts of the Old Russian period. These lessons will therefore employ Cyrillic exclusively. As we will also see in these lessons, the East Slavic dialect, of which Russian is a member, maintains certain phonological characteristics which set it apart from the South Slavic dialect, to which Old Church Slavonic belongs. Even so, the historical and cultural importance of Old Church Slavonic exerted a heavy influence both on the literary styles and on the orthography of Russian for much of its early history. The reader must therefore be able to read certain of the letters of Old Church Slavonic even though they do not represent sounds native to Old Russian.

The following chart lists the letters of the Old Church Slavonic alphabet, together with their roman transliteration and approximate pronunciation. Early Slavic texts also employed the letters as numerals, and so the chart lists the equivalent numeric value of each letter.

Letter   Number   Name   Transliteration   Pronunciation
А а   1   азъ   A a   a as in 'father'
Б б   -   бѹкъӏ   B b   b as in 'boy'
В в   2   вѣдѣ   V v   v as in 'vine'
Г г   3   глаголи   G g   g as in 'good'
Д д   4   добро   D d   d as in 'dog'
Е є   5   єсть   E e   e as in 'end'
Ж ж   -   живѣтє   Ž ž   s as in 'pleasure'
Ѕ ѕ   6   ѕѣло   Dz dz   ds as in 'heads'
З з   7   зємл҄ӏа   Z z   z as in 'zebra'
Ӏ ӏ   10   ижє   I i   ee as in 'feet'
И и   8   ижєи   I i   ee as in 'feet'
(Ћ ћ)   -   ћа, дѥрв   G' g'   g as in 'coagulate'
К к   20   како   K k   c as in 'coop'
Л л   30   людиѥ   L l   l as in 'elk'
М м   40   мъӏслитє   M m   m as in 'mother'
Н н   50   нашь   N n   n as in 'not'
О о   70   онъ   O o   ou as in 'ought'
П п   80   покой   P p   p as in 'post'
Р р   100   рьци   R r   r as in 'rather', but trilled
С с   200   слово   S s   s as in 'song'
Т т   300   тврьдо   T t   t as in 'top'
Ѹ ѹ   400   ѹкъ   U u   oo as in 'food'
Ф ф   500   фрьтъ   F f   f as in 'father'
Ѳ ѳ   9   фита   Θ θ   t as in 'top', or th as in 'path', or f as in 'father'
Х х   600   хѣръ   X x   ch as in Scots English 'loch'
Ѡ ѡ   800   отъ   Ō ō   au as in 'caught'
Щ щ   -   ща   Šč šč   sh ch as in 'English cheese'
Ц ц   900   ци   C c   ts as in 'hats'
Ч ч   90   чрьвь, ча   Č č   ch as in 'church'
Ш ш   -   ша   Š š   sh as in 'sharp'
Ъ ъ   -   ѥръ   Ŭ ŭ   u as in 'put'
ЪӀ ъӏ   -   ѥръӏ   Y y   oo of 'foot' with the tongue, with lips as in ee of 'feet'; compare Bronx pronunciation of 'Spuyten Duyvil'
Ь ь   -   ѥрь   Ĭ ĭ   i as in 'stop it!'
Ѣ ѣ   -   ӏать   Ě ě   ya as in 'yam'
Ю ю   -   ю   Ju ju   you as in 'you'
ӀА ӏа   -   ӏа   Ja ja   ya as in 'yacht'
Ѧ ѧ   900   юсъ, ѧсъ   Ę ę   in as in French 'fin', similar to an in American English 'can't' when final t is not fully articulated (a glottal stop)
Ѫ ѫ   -   юсъ, ѫсъ   Ǫ ǫ   on as in French 'bon'
Ѩ ѩ   -   юсъ, ѩсъ   Ję ję   ien as in French 'bien'
Ѭ ѭ   -   юсъ, ѭсъ   Jǫ jǫ   ion as in French 'lion'
Ѯ ѯ   60   ѯи   Ks ks   x as in 'tax'
Ѱ ѱ   700   ѱи   Ps ps   ps as in 'taps'
Ѵ ѵ   400   ижица   Ü ü   i in English 'ship', or u in French 'tu', ue in German 'Muenchen'

In addition to the above characters, we find the following characters in Old Russian texts.

Letter   Number   Name   Transliteration   Pronunciation
Й й   -   и краткоє   Ji ji   y as in 'yes' or 'boy'
Я я   -   ӏать   Ja ja   ya as in 'yacht'
У у   400   у   U u   oo as in 'food'
Ы ы   -   ѥры   Y y   oo of 'foot' with the tongue, with lips as in ee of 'feet'; compare Bronx pronunciation of 'Spuyten Duyvil'

For the most part these symbols derived later than the original Cyrillic version of the alphabet employed in Old Church Slavonic and the earliest Old Russian. The symbol у is clearly a simplification of the OCS digraph ѹ. And я developed from the later cursive form of ѧ, which had lost its nasal quality in the dialects of East Slavic, in particular in Old Russian. Its name derives from the fact that it frequently alternated with ѣ. The symbol й seems only to make a noteworthy appearance from the 16th century onwards. But ы had already been a variant spelling of ъӏ encountered in certain remnants of OCS itself.

The sound represented by English y in 'yes' plays a pivotal role in the Slavic phonetic inventory, making its absence in the above alphabet all the more conspicuous. In Slavic linguistics this sound is typically represented in transcription by the symbol j. This symbol is often referred to as yod or jot, which latter might be written more clearly to the English speaker as 'yote', and rhymes with the word 'boat'. When preceding certain vowels we often find in Cyrillic ligatures comprised of the simple vowel preceded by what looks like a roman capital I or a Greek iota: ӏа, ѥ, ю, ѩ, ѭ. In Old Russian we also find я, whose pronunciation amounts to а preceded by yod. There was no marking of yod preceding и, and marking of yod before є was inconsistent. When it followed a consonant, texts occasionally employed the symbol ҄ to indicate its presence:

Palatalized        
Б҄ б҄   B' b'   b as in 'beauty'
К҄ к҄   K' k'   c as in 'cute'
Л҄ л҄   L' l'   ll as in 'William'
Н҄ н҄   N' n'   ni as in 'onion'
П҄ п҄   P' p'   p as in 'computer'
Р҄ р҄   R' r'   re as in 'are you', but trilled
Х҄ х҄   X' x'   ch y as in 'Is this the loch you mentioned?'

The so-called jers (rhyming with 'wears', but with w replaced by y) -- ь and ъ -- were reduced vowels. Having a generally weak articulation, they were often omitted in manuscripts. One often finds the symbol ҄ where a jer might be expected: ч҄то for чьто.

2 Sound System

We may organize the phonemes of Old Russian in a table by placing them according to their type and primary point of articulation. The letters in parentheses are not separate phonemes, but rather palatalized consonants consisting of the original consonant followed by a yod, i.e. by a palatal off-glide.

    Labial   Dental   Palatal(ized)   Retracted   Velar
Stops                    
voiceless   п   т   (п҄, к҄, х҄)       к
voiced   б   д   (б҄)       г
                     
Nasals   м   н   н҄        
                     
Fricatives                    
voiceless   ф   с   (с)   ш   х
voiced   в   з   (з)   ж    
                     
Affricates                    
voiceless       ц   щ   ч    
voiced           жд        
                     
Apical Trill       р   р҄        
                     
Lateral       л   л҄        
                     
Resonant           j        

We may likewise display the vowels, organizing them according how high or low the tongue is in the mouth and according to how far forward or back the tongue is pushed during articulation. Under such a scheme, we find the following structure for the vocalic system.

    Front           Central       Back    
High   и                   ы   у
        ь       ъ            
Middle           є       о        
                             
Low               а            

The Old Russian sound system largely resembles that of Old Church Slavonic. But there are some notable exceptions:

  • Affricates: While the Old Church Slavonic pronunciation of ѕ was as the dz in English 'adze', the Old Russian pronunciation seems to have been similar to that of English z, and we find alternation between ѕ and з.
  • Clusters: The Proto-Indo-European sequence *sk underwent palatalization before front vowels to yield *sk- > s'k'- > šč-. (An asterisk denotes a reconstructed or unattested form.) In Old Church Slavonic this further shifted according to šč > štč > št. In OCS the letter щ represents this combination št; in Old Russian щ represents the original palatalized sequence šč.
  • Jat: The exact pronunciation of ѣ is unclear in Old Russian, and we often find ӏа or я, or even є, where one would expect to find ѣ in Old Church Slavonic. Some scholars suggest a pronunciation approaching the a in the American English pronunciation of cat.
  • Nasalization: Old Russian distinguishes itself from Old Church Slavonic in part by its lack of nasalized vowels. The letters ѧ and ѫ in Old Russian owe their occurrence largely to the heavy influence of Old Church Slavonic literature and spelling conventions. Typically we find ѣ or я in Old Russian where Old Church Slavonic would have ѧ; and Old Russian shows ѹ or у where OCS has ѫ. The same holds for the corresponding letters denoting a palatal on-glide, e.g. OR ю where we find OCS ѭ.

Slavic languages in general, and Old Russian in particular, make an important distinction between "hard" and "soft" consonants. One can not sensibly discuss these distinctions without also discussing "palatal" or "palatalized" consonants, and it is here that scholarship makes what is a very simple concept into something altogether unintelligible. The present description will attempt to steer a middle course through terminology that is often defined differently by different authors. With this caveat, we distinguish the following concepts:

  • Soft Consonants: we call a consonant soft if it is followed by a front vowel;
  • Hard Consonants: we call a consonant hard if it is followed by a back vowel;
  • Palatalized: we say a consonant is palatalized if it is followed by yod.

The difficulty arises in part due to the confusion between palatal and palatalized consonants. A palatal consonant is simply a consonant whose point of articulation is the hard palate of the mouth. English ch in 'church' and j in 'jiffy' are palatal consonants in this sense. By contrast, the c in English 'cute' (pronounced as if written 'kyoot') is palatalized, i.e. it is a velar k-sound followed by the yod-sound.

The reason for the confusion stems from the fact that, as a language evolves over time, palatalized consonants have the tendency to mutate into palatal consonants, and likewise soft consonants tend to mutate into palatal consonants. Moreover if, for example, a soft consonant changes into a palatal consonant, then the resulting palatal consonant will likewise find itself before a front vowel, and we may thus call the resulting palatal consonant soft as well. This process is not unique to Slavic: in Germanic, we find Old Norse skip maintains the velar pronunciation of the k before i; but in Old English scip already we find the cluster sk has palatalized before the front vowel, a feature reflected in the modern pronunciation 'ship'. In the resulting form, the sh still precedes the front vowel that conditioned the original mutation.

In Old Russian, as in Old Church Slavonic, a labial consonant is accompanied by an epenthetic l when palatalized. For example, the sequence b + j results in blj. The following chart provides some examples of a given consonant in hard, soft, and palatalized contexts.

Consonant   Hard   Soft   Palatalized
[m]   имати [imati]   имєть [imetĭ]   ѥмл҄ю [jemlju]
[s]   пьсати [pĭsati]   письць [pisĭcĭ]   пишю [pišju < *pis-jǫ]
[b]   быти [byti]   любити [ljubiti]   люблю [ljublju < *ljub-jǫ]
[d]   родъ [rodŭ]   родити [roditi]   рожю [rožju < *rod-jǫ]

As mentioned above, there is no specific character representing the yod. Though there are numerous ioticized ligatures, such as ю above, texts do not always distinguish clearly between vowels with a preceding yod and those without. Thus the reader should consider alternations such as вижю 'I see' vs. видиши 'you see' to determine the presence of yod.

3 Twofold Declension

Old Russian, like Old Church Slavonic and Modern Russian, is an inflected language. In particular nouns display their grammatical role in an utterance by means of changes to the endings of the word. English, inasmuch as it is linguistically related to Old Russian, shows the same system of denoting grammatical function, though in greatly reduced form: for example, 's added to a noun denotes possession or relation, as in Jill's book or gold's luster. In English we may rephrase such expressions using prepositions: the book of Jill or the luster of gold. Old Russian also employs prepositions, but in many instances they are unnecessary because the ending of the word is sufficient for the task. Moreover, Old Russian employs many different endings for different shades of meaning, whereas English employs only a handful and for other shades of meaning requires prepositions.

Old Russian nouns display three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. These are grammatical genders, not natural genders. In general when a noun denotes an animal or person that is masculine, the noun too has the masculine grammatical gender; similarly for feminine beings and feminine nouns. Nouns denoting inanimate things or concepts may be neuter, but they may just as well take either of the other genders. For example, городъ 'city' is masculine, съмьрть 'death' is feminine, and вєрємя 'time' is neuter. In addition, Old Russian nouns show inflection for three numbers: singular, dual, and plural. The singular number denotes one of a thing, the plural denotes more than one, and the dual specifically denotes two. For example, in the nominative case рука denotes '(one) hand', рукы denotes 'hands', and рукѣ specifically denotes 'two hands'.

Old Russian inflects nouns in seven cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, locative, dative, instrumental, and vocative. Since each case may have a unique ending for singular, dual, or plural, this implies that each noun can potentially have twenty-one distinct forms. In practice, many cases have the same endings in the dual, and the nominative and vocative are always identical in the plural. This greatly reduces the number, and in several inflection paradigms the number is reduced even further. Each case denotes a specific grammatical role. The nominative marks the grammatical subject of the clause. The accusative denotes the direct object of the verb, or it may denote motion along a line or surface, or the destination of motion. The genitive in its simplest interpretation denotes possession; but the case is broad enough that it may denote a more general relationship or quality. The locative marks a stationary location, either temporal or physical, in or at which an event occurs. The dative case denotes the indirect object in a clause, or more generally a person or thing with an interest in the action or with reference to whom the action takes place. The instrumental denotes the means by which an action is performed, or it may denote accompaniment. The vocative is the case of direct address. In English, aside from the 's or s' of the genitive or the oblique case of pronouns, each of these roles is marked through the use of prepositions. The following chart outlines the cases of Old Russian, their basic senses, a preposition or prepositions in English that elicit the approximate sense, and an example in Old Russian.

Case Name   Description of Use   Basic Preposition   Example   Sense
Nominative   case of the subject, or something predicated to the subject   (none)   городъ   '(a/the) city' (as subject)
Accusative   case of the direct object, or of the destination of directed motion   (none); toward   городъ   '(a/the) city' (as object)
Genitive   case of the sphere of relation; possession; (masculine direct object)   of; (none)   города   'of (a/the) city'
Locative   case of the location in space or time   in, on, at   городѣ   'in (a/the) city'
Dative   case of the indirect object; person or thing affected by the action   to, for   городу   'for (a/the) city'
Instrumental   case of the instrument of an action; case of accompaniment   with, by   городомь   'with (a/the) city'
Vocative   case of direct address   o!   городє   'O City!'
                 
3.1 o, jo-Stem Nouns

The commonest pattern of noun declension encountered in Old Russian is that of the o- or jo-declension, termed by many authors the twofold nominal declension. The designation of the declension derives from the stem vowel preceding the ending. In some sense this is a theoretical construct: for the most part the endings that are appended to the stem vowel in declining nouns have so melded with the stem vowel itself that the latter is difficult to discern without recourse to the underlying historical phonetics. Nevertheless we maintain the terminology for two major reasons: first, it aligns with more general scholarly terminology; second, the declension type is more readily identifiable in Indo-European terms and able to be linked to related declensions in other languages, e.g. Latin and Greek, where the o-declension conforms more noticeably to its name. Within Old Russian a useful rule of thumb is that the stem vowel appears directly after the nominal root in the dative plural. For example the dative plural of городъ 'city' is город-о-мъ, and here we find the -о- of the o-declension before the ending -мъ. This rule of thumb holds for all but the consonant declensions, to be discussed later.

While many nouns in Proto-Indo-European, and later Common Slavic, appended *-o- to the nominal root, others appended *-jo-. This yod incurred a palatalization, or softening, of the preceding consonant within Common Slavic. It also left effects on the nominal endings themselves. We thus have two slightly different declension types for o- and jo-stem nouns, often called hard and soft declensions, respectively.

The paradigms of городъ 'city' and чєловѣкъ 'man, human' illustrate the twofold declension of masculine hard stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   городъ   города   городи           чєловѣкъ   чєловѣка   чєловѣци
A   городъ   города   городы           чєловѣкъ   чєловѣка   чєловѣкы
G   города   городу   городъ           чєловѣка   чєловѣку   чєловѣкъ
L   городѣ   городу   городѣхъ           чєловѣцѣ   чєловѣку   чєловѣцѣхъ
D   городу   городома   городомъ           чєловѣку   чєловѣкома   чєловѣкомъ
I   городомь   городома   городы           чєловѣкомь   чєловѣкома   чєловѣкы
V   городє   города   городи           чєловѣчє   чєловѣка   чєловѣци

Note the changes of the final velar consonant in the paradigm of чєловѣкъ. In particular we find a change of к to ч in the vocative singular and of к to ц in the locative singular and nominative, vocative, and locative plural. These changes result from the first and second palatalization, respectively, which we will discuss in greater detail in the next lesson.

Old Russian мужь 'man, husband' and змьи 'serpent, dragon' illustrate the declensions of masculine soft stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   мужь   мужя   мужи           змьи   змья   змьи
A   мужь   мужя   мужѣ           змьи   змья   змьѣ
G   мужя   мужю   мужь           змья   змью   змьи
L   мужи   мужю   мужихъ           змьи   змью   змьихъ
D   мужю   мужєма   мужємъ           змью   змьѥма   змьѥмъ
I   мужємь   мужєма   мужи           змьѥмь   змьѥма   змьи
V   мужю   мужя   мужи           змью   змья   змьи

Note in the above paradigms that we see, for instance, in the nominative singular the fronted counterpart to the ending from the hard stems. Moreover we see the remnants of the -j- of the jo-stem in the iotated forms of endings such as the dative singular . In the paradigm of змьи we find an important example of the general tendency in Old Russian to write etymological *-jĭ-, for which there was no special symbol, as -и-. For example, the underlying phonemic representation of the genitive plural змьи is /zmĭjĭ/, showing that the underlying genitive plural ending is the same as that for the genitive plural мужь. Moreover, since the front jer -ь- of this word's stem precedes the yod -j-, it falls in tense position and may alternately be written -и-: e.g. nominative singular змии or dative singular змию. We will discuss tense position of jers in the next lesson.

The neuter paradigms for the twofold declension closely resemble those of the masculine nouns. The nouns мѣсто 'place' and иго 'yoke' provide examples of the paradigms for neuter hard stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   мѣсто   мѣстѣ   мѣста           иго   изѣ   ига
A   мѣсто   мѣстѣ   мѣста           иго   изѣ   ига
G   мѣста   мѣсту   мѣстъ           ига   игу   игъ
L   мѣстѣ   мѣсту   мѣстѣхъ           изѣ   игу   изѣхъ
D   мѣсту   мѣстома   мѣстомъ           игу   игома   игомъ
I   мѣстомь   мѣстома   мѣсты           игомь   игома   игы
V   мѣсто   мѣстѣ   мѣста           иго   изѣ   ига

In the neuter paradigm note the agreement of the forms for the nominative and accusative of all numbers. This holds true for all neuter nouns, not only those that decline according to the twofold pattern. We also encounter again the effects of the second palatalization in forms such as the locative singular изѣ, where the final -г- of the stem has palatalized to -з-.

The Old Russian nouns сьрдьцє 'heart' and знамєньѥ 'sign, mark' serve to illustrate the forms of the neuter soft stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   сьрдьцє   сьрдьци   сьрдьца           знамєньѥ   знамєньи   знамєнья
A   сьрдьцє   сьрдьци   сьрдьца           знамєньѥ   знамєньи   знамєнья
G   сьрдьца   сьрдьцу   сьрдьць           знамєнья   знамєнью   знамєньи
L   сьрдьци   сьрдьцу   сьрдьцихъ           знамєньи   знамєнью   знамєньихъ
D   сьрдьцу   сьрдьцєма   сьрдьцємъ           знамєнью   знамєньѥма   знамєньѥмъ
I   сьрдьцємь   сьрдьцєма   сьрдьци           знамєньѥмь   знамєньѥма   знамєньи
V   сьрдьцє   сьрдьци   сьрдьца           знамєньѥ   знамєньи   знамєнья

As with the masculine soft stems, we see that the endings of the neuter soft stems show the fronted version of the corresponding hard ending. Moreover in знамєньѥ we find the tendency to write -jĭ- as -и-, for example in the genitive plural ending знамєньи [znamenĭjĭ]. We also note that the stem-final front jer -ь- is tense, so that we find alternate forms знамєниѥ, знамєния, and so on.

3.2 a, ja-Stem Nouns

The a- and ja-stem declensions also provide one of the commonest noun types alongside the o- and jo-stem nouns. As a general rule of thumb, the a- and ja-stems are feminine nouns; however some nouns that refer to male beings are grammatically masculine. For example жєна 'woman' and нога 'foot' are both feminine; but владъӏка 'ruler' is masculine, even though it is an a-stem noun.

The a- and ja-declensions also betoken their Indo-European forbears: a-stem nouns run rife through languages such as Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. In Old Russian the -a of this declension appears not only in the dative plural, but in the nominative singular as well. However there are a few nouns of the ja-declension, such as боярыни 'wife of a boyar' and пустыни 'wilderness', with nominative singular in -i rather than -ja. Even with these nouns, there seems to have been a tendency to shift back to forms more recognizably derived from the ja-declension, and so we also find nominative singulars боярыня and пустыня, respectively. Note that the new forms maintain the yod. As with the o- and jo-stems, the a- and ja-stems are termed hard and soft, respectively, and the yod of the latter shows the tendency to palatalize preceding consonants.

The forms of жєна 'woman' and нога 'foot', both feminine, serve to illustrate the paradigms of the hard stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   жєна   жєнѣ   жєны           нога   нозѣ   ногы
A   жєну   жєнѣ   жєны           ногу   нозѣ   ногы
G   жєны   жєну   жєнъ           ногы   ногу   ногъ
L   жєнѣ   жєну   жєнахъ           нозѣ   ногу   ногахъ
D   жєнѣ   жєнама   жєнамъ           нозѣ   ногама   ногамъ
I   жєною   жєнама   жєнами           ногою   ногама   ногами
V   жєно   жєнѣ   жєнъӏ           ного   нозѣ   ногы

Note that here too we encounter the effects of second palatalization before the ending , changing the -г- to -з-.

The nouns зємл҄я 'earth' (feminine) and судьи 'judge' (masculine) serve to illustrate the soft stem paradigms.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   зємл҄я   зємл҄и   зємл҄ѣ           судьи   судьи   судьѣ
A   зємл҄ю   зємл҄и   зємл҄ѣ           судью   судьи   судьѣ
G   зємл҄ѣ   зємл҄ю   зємл҄ь           судьѣ   судью   судьи
L   зємл҄и   зємл҄ю   зємл҄яхъ           судьи   судью   судьяхъ
D   зємл҄и   зємл҄яма   зємл҄ямъ           судьи   судьяма   судьямъ
I   зємл҄єю   зємл҄яма   зємл҄ями           судьѥю   судьяма   судьями
V   зємл҄є   зємл҄и   зємл҄ѣ           судьи   судьи   судьѣ

As with the front jer -ь- in змьи, the front jer in судьи is tense. We therefore find fully vocalized forms судии, судию, etc., alongside those listed above.

4 Verb Inflection

Old Russian inflects verbs to show person and number. This is similar to English, which changes the final sounds of the verb have, for example, to agree with the subject: I have, thou hast, she has, etc. In addition to distinguishing between singular and plural subjects, as between English she has and they have, Old Russian also distinguishes the dual number: e.g. there are distinct forms for the equivalents of each of English I have, we have, and we (two) have. The language distinguishes three simple tenses -- present, imperfect, and aorist -- where verbal inflection is confined to one word alone. The compound tenses -- perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect -- are all formed by combination of an inflected verb form with a separate participle. This parallels English formations such as the perfect, where a verb like take has a perfect form composed of two parts: has taken.

Common Slavic inherited from Proto-Indo-European a tripartite system of verbal construction. Specifically, each verb form can be broken down into three basic parts: root, suffix, and ending. The root comprises the meaning-bearing unit of the word. In practical terms, it holds the content which we seek when looking up the word in the dictionary. The ending, by contrast, encapsulates all information pertaining to person and number. It tells us who (I vs. you vs. he, she, it) and how many (you vs. y'all, or I vs. we two). Finally the suffix includes any other information, in particular information regarding tense. That is, certain suffixes mark the past tenses, others the present tenses, and so on. In Old Russian, as in the rest of Indo-European, the verbal root comes first, the ending last, and the suffix in between. In certain instances there is no suffix to speak of, or no ending (we never lack a verbal root, of course). In such situations linguists say the suffix, for example, is "null" or "zero" rather than saying there is no suffix. This simply facilitates the process of description, avoiding clumsy caveats such as "the suffix, when it is present, can have the form...". As another convenient shorthand, we say that the root and suffix taken together comprise the verbal stem.

Based on this scheme of root-suffix-ending, Old Russian verbs fall into five basic categories. The categories are distinguished by the suffix found in the present tense stem. For convenience we list these verbal classes below, together with an example verb from each category.

Class   Suffix   Example   2nd Pers. Sg.   Translation
I   -e-   нєсти   нєс-є-ши   carry
II   -ne-   двинути   дви-нє-ши   move
III   -je-   знати   зна-ѥ-ши   know
IV   -i-   любити   люб-и-ши   love
V   -0-   быти   єс- -и   be

Note that the fifth class has no suffix, or rather it has a zero suffix. Moreover the third class has a suffix which includes the yod -j-. As Old Russian has no separate character to represent this sound, we must often infer its presence either from pre-iotated forms of vowels or from the palatalization which it produces in preceding consonants.

In order to begin reading texts profitably and as quickly as possible, we introduce Old Russian verbal inflection in the context of the present and imperfect tenses. These tenses show the basic mechanics involved in analyzing Old Russian verb forms. Later lessons will go into greater detail regarding the different tense formations and verb classes.

4.1 Present Tense

The present tense denotes action contemporaneous with the moment of utterance. Note that the English present tense comprises two constructions, a simple and a continuous. For example the verb jog has simple present I jog and continuous present I am jogging. In English it is clear that the latter formation, I am jogging, denotes an action that is currently in progress as the statement is being uttered. The former, I jog, by contrast need not be going on at the same instant as the utterance -- in fact, it typically does not mean that. We can say I jog on Tuesdays or I jog every day of the week, so that I jog denotes a general truth rather than a present circumstance, and it could be rephrased more clearly as I am a jogger or I am a person who jogs. Thus the English "present tense" describes two very different situations, only one of which actually talks specifically about present time.

The Old Russian present tense fulfills both these functions: it may represent an action ongoing currently (e.g. I am jogging) or it may represent an action as a general truth (e.g. I jog, i.e. I am a jogger). Where it differs from English is that one and the same verb form can have either connotation: Old Russian does not have a separate verb form for an ongoing present action. Moreover, this same present verb form in Old Russian can act as a future tense, denoting an action that will occur after the moment of utterance. This too parallels English usage of the continuous present: for example I am jogging to the store in 5 minutes. One and the same verbal form in Old Russian covers all these senses.

In truth, Old Russian shows the beginnings of a very subtle system for distinguishing some of these senses. Old Russian often distinguishes the aspect of verbs, e.g. whether an action is viewed as completed or ongoing, by means of the presence or absence of a verbal prefix. Specifically the presence of a verbal prefix on most verbs marks the action as viewed as a complete whole, encompassing beginning, middle, and end. In the past tense, an English equivalent would be I jogged. By contrast, the absence of a prefix often denotes that the action is not viewed as completed; frequently this means that there is no reference to the action's end. For example, in English I was jogging is a past tense form that does not show completion: in context, the action could continue until the present moment. This will be discussed in greater detail in a later lesson, but it is a linguistic feature important enough to be worth noting right from the beginning.

The actual formation of the Old Russian present tense proceeds by obtaining the present tense stem. We obtain the present tense stem by removing the ending (-ши) from the second person singular form of the verb. Thus if we have the verb рєщи 'to say', with second person singular рєчєши, then the present tense stem of this verb is рєчє-. Obtaining the present tense stem thus requires that one know beforehand the form of the second person singular. Some dictionaries therefore provide this as part of the entry for a given verb.

It is worth pointing out that the final element -є- in the stem рєчє- we obtained above is called the thematic vowel. This thematic vowel is a suffix that intervenes between the verbal root, here рєк-, and the ending, in this instance -ши. When the thematic vowel is a front vowel, this triggers palatalization in preceding velar consonants. Often we find that the thematic vowel is -о- or some other back vowel, particularly in the first person singular and third person plural forms, and in these positions the thematic vowel does not trigger palatalization.

We illustrate the present conjugation of verbs by providing the paradigms of two verbs: нєсти 'to carry', from Class I, and глаголати 'to say', from Class III.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   нєсу   нєсєвѣ   нєсємъ           глагол҄ю   глагол҄ѥвѣ   глагол҄ѥмъ
2   нєсєши   нєсєта   нєсєтє           глагол҄ѥши   глагол҄ѥта   глагол҄ѥтє
3   нєсєть   нєсєта   нєсуть           глагол҄ѥть   глагол҄ѥта   глагол҄ють

The verb нєсти has second person singular нєсєши, hence present tense stem нєсє-. The verb глаголати shows a second person singular глагол҄ѥши, and thus has present stem глагол҄ѥ-. In Old Church Slavonic the third personal dual ending -тє is frequently replaced by -та. In Old Russian the ending -та regularly appears for the third person dual.

4.2 Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense denotes repeated or continuous action in the past. In denoting continuous past action the Old Russian imperfect most closely resembles the English continuous past, as in I was jogging. The imperfect in this sense renders an action as occurring over some span of time in the past, and it does not stipulate whether or not the action ceased before the time of utterance. In denoting repeated past action the Old Russian imperfect closely parallels the English construction used to, as in I used to jog. The imperfect in this sense connotes a series of individual actions; by virtue of their being individually isolatable, the implication is that each particular action had a definite beginning and end.

Scholarly description of the formation of the imperfect in Old Russian, as in Old Church Slavonic, presents numerous difficulties. Lunt (1980) provides perhaps the cleanest theoretical description. In these lessons, however, we will strive to achieve a pragmatic middle-ground.

The most distinctive feature of the imperfect is the tense suffix: -аа-х- in Old Russian; for comparison -ѣа-х- and -аа-х- in Old Church Slavonic. Musical notation (cf. Lunt, 1980) suggests that the suffix -аах- was indeed originally disyllabic, though it is unclear until what date such pronunciation survived in the spoken language. The first element, -а-, variously appears as -а-, -я-, -ѧ-, -ѩ-. The second element, -а-, often seems to have been contracted into the first, and so is often left unwritten. The third and last element, -х-, appears as -ш- or -с- in certain desinences.

Whereas the suffix which characterizes the imperfect remains readily identifiable, the stem to which it is attached is not so easy to predict. Most treatments of Old Russian stipulate that the imperfect suffix attaches to the infinitive-aorist stem. We find the infinitive-aorist stem by taking the infinitive, removing the infinitive marker -ти, and undoing any sound changes undergone by the stem in the process of affixing the infinitive marker. For a verb such as нєс-ти 'to carry', removal of the infinitive marker leaves нєс-, with no further adjustments. Similarly глагола-ти 'to say' yields an infinitive-aorist stem глагола-. But for вєс-ти 'to lead', we must realize that the -с- of the surface form derives from a root-final -д- that shifts to -с- before the -т- of the infinitive ending. Hence the infinitive-aorist stem for вєсти is вєд-.

Some verbs, however, do not append the imperfect suffix to the infinitive-aorist stem, but rather to the present stem. Here we should be careful to note that the stem employed is really the present stem without the thematic vowel. Thus for нєсти 'to carry', we have the second person singular нєсєши, with stem нєсє-: removing the thematic vowel, this then leaves нєс-. For двигнути 'to move' the second singular is двигнєши, so that the present stem is двигнє-: removing the thematic vowel yields двигн-.

We may now attempt to provide a pragmatic recipe for imperfect formation. We divide Old Russian verbs into two main classes, each receiving slightly different treatment (cf. Schmalstieg, 1995):

  • Infinitive: If removal of the infinitive suffix -ти leaves a final -а-, then the imperfect attaches the suffix to this stem, and the stem-final -а- is absorbed into the first element, -а-, of the suffix. For example, зна-ти yields the stem зна-, to which is appended the suffix to give знаах-.
  • Present-Stem: A large class of verbs attaches the imperfect suffix to the themeless present stem. For example, the second person singular present нєс-є-ши 'you carry' yields present stem нєс-є-, the themeless version of which is нєс-. To this we add the imperfect suffix to arrive at the imperfect stem нєс-яах-.

The reader must bear in mind, however, that Old Russian provides numerous exceptions to the rules stated above.

Continuing with the examples from the previous section, we illustrate the imperfect conjugation of verbs by providing the paradigms of нєсти 'to carry', from Class I, and глаголати 'to say', from Class III.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   нєсяахъ   нєсяаховѣ   нєсяахомъ           глаголаахъ   глаголааховѣ   глаголаахомъ
2   нєсяашє   нєсяашєта   нєсяашєтє           глаголаашє   глаголаашєта   глаголаашєтє
3   нєсяашє   нєсяашєта   нєсяаху           глаголаашє   глаголаашєта   глаголааху

Under the influence of the present endings, for the third person we often find forms with an additional -ть appended to the normal ending: e.g. singular нєсяашєть and глаголаашєть, plural нєсяахуть and глаголаахуть. Moreover, presumably under the influence of the aorist endings, we find alternate forms for the second and third person dual: нєсяаста and глаголааста for both second and third person.

One important exception to the above division into formation classes is that of verbs with infinitive stem in -а- which originally derives from Proto-Slavic *-ę-: for example Old Russian начати (начяти) 'to begin', compared with Old Church Slavonic начѧти. Such verbs form their imperfects according to the present-stem group.

Moreover we occasionally find that a single verb will show imperfects formed according to both groups outlined above. For example in the Primary Chronicle we find имаху дань 'they took tribute', where имаху is the third person plural imperfect built from имати 'to take' according to the infinitival paradigm outlined above. But the same phrase appears in the Igor Tale as ємляху дань 'they took tribute', where now имати takes its imperfect from the themeless present-stem construction.

5 Word Order

The study of Old Russian word order forms a highly controversial and hotly debated subdiscipline within historical studies of the Russian language. Old Russian's close linguistic relative, Old Church Slavonic, suffers from similar controversy. Within the corpus of Old Church Slavonic we find few instances of natively composed literature; instead the majority of the texts comprise biblical stories translated from Greek models. Likely owing to the similar nominal and verbal structures of the two languages, the OCS texts closely parallel their Greek exemplars. For this reason scholars have difficulty deciding whether a particular OCS passage shows the particular order of elements it does because this is a natural construction within OCS, or whether the order derives from adoring adherence to the Greek original.

In the Old Russian corpus we encounter the contrary problem. We have a wealth of natively composed literature. Much of it, however, is of an elevated style. As in English, in compositions of a highly educated register the composer tends to use constructions that frequently would not occur to a native speaker in casual conversation. And though we do have some documents, such as writings on birch bark, that very likely pertained to the everyday life of ordinary folk, these texts tend to be extremely short, often abbreviated, and of opaque interpretation. Finally, among the high literature of Old Russian we find a strong tendency, especially in the earliest phases, to emulate Old Church Slavonic. Thus we again end with the same dilemma as to whether a given construction represents a native style or an emulation of a highly regarded foreign style. Suffice it to say, the abundance of evidence in the Old Russian corpus provides ample examples to contradict any theory.

5.1 Subject & Predicate

Old Russian displays a remarkably free word order, especially in regard to the relative position of subject and predicate. The inherited tendency from its Indo-European ancestor is toward verb-final word order. Some scholars suggest that this is still the trend in Old Russian with transitive verbs: transitive verbs tend to stand at the end of their clause. The farther forward the speaker or writer places the verb, the more pronounced it becomes. A particular position of emphasis is before the subject. Consider the following example from the Primary Chronicle:

    Въ сє жє лѣто   рєкоша   дружина   Игорєви...
    And in that year   said   the retinue   to Igor...

meaning "And in that year the retinue said to Igor...". Here the verb рєкоша precedes its subject дружина.

Modern Russian tends to place the verb before the object when no particular emphasis is called for. We also see this tendency developing early, as in the following example:

    коньчахъ   книжькъӏ   сия
    I wrote   little book   this

meaning "I wrote this little book." This comes from the Svjatoslav Miscellany, dating to 1076.

5.2 Modifier & Modified

The term modifiers in the present context denotes those words which serve to restrict or qualify another word, typically a noun. Some modifiers, such as adjectives, must agree with the modified noun. Others, such as qualifying or dependent genitives, do not.

The Old Russian texts suggest that the position of adjectives relative to the noun they modified was relatively free. Old Russian adjectives come in two basic types, definite and indefinite, whose exact significance we will discuss later in these lessons. Much controversy surrounds the question of whether one or the other type tends to precede or follow the word it modifies. A definitive consensus has so far eluded scholars. We find examples where indefinite adjectives follow the noun modified, as in the following example from the Primary Chronicle:

    боръ   вєликъ
    pine forest   large

meaning "a large pine forest". We also find examples where the definite adjective precedes the modified noun, as in the Igor Tale:

    тѹ   кроваваго   вина   нє   доста
    here   related-to-blood   of wine   not   there was sufficient

meaning "Here the blood wine was insufficient." In this statement the definite adjective кроваваго precedes the noun вина which it modifies. However we find definite adjectives preceding and following the nouns they modify in parallel phrases with no apparent difference in meaning. For example we find

    съ   Дону   вєликаго
    from   Don   great

in the Igor Tale alongside

    отъ   вєликаго   Дону
    from   great   Don

both meaning "from the great Don" with no readily discernable distinction.

Possessive pronouns and adjectives both show a more distinct tendency to follow the noun which they modify. The following example, from the Primary Chronicle, illustrates:

    Поимѣмъ   жєну   єго   за   князь   свои   Малъ
    Let us take   wife   his   for   prince   our   Mal

meaning "Let us take his wife for our prince, Mal." Here the possessive pronoun єго follows the noun жєну which it qualifies, and likewise the possessive adjective свои follows the noun князь which it modifies. By contrast, the demonstrative pronominal adjective tends to precede the word it modifies:

    до   сєго   дьнє
    until   this   day

meaning "up to this very day". Here the proximal deictic сєго precedes the noun дьнє which it modifies.

5.3 Enclitics

Enclitics are words which carry no stress of their own. Typically they are preceded by a stressed word. In Old Russian we frequently encounter enclitic conjunctions such as бо 'for', or жє 'and', as the second word of their clause. For example we find the following in the Primary Chronicle:

    бѣ   бо   самъ   любя   жєнъӏ
    was   for   he himself   loving   women

meaning "for he himself was loving women", i.e. he loved women. We also find in the Primary Chronicle

    Они   жє   рѣша...
    They   and   said...

meaning "And they said...". Such enclitics often serve to mark the transition between clauses, and the regularity of their position after the first accented word of their clause can often assist the reader to identify clause boundaries where no other punctuation is readily available.

Old Russian Online

Lesson 2

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

II.ii Trade

As we have seen, the rivers provided natural thoroughfares throughout the East European expanse, and the settled populations along with enterprising outsiders quickly adapted these advantages to a diffuse and robust system of trade. At the easternmost extreme, where the initially eastward flowing Volga makes a sweeping turn toward the Caspian in the south, we find Bulgar, a trading hub dominated by a Turkic tribe of the same name. This cultural center occupied a special position along the Volga: it sat at the very edge of the Central Asian steppe. This prominent position at the edge of Central Asia's most productive superhighway meant that Bulgar formed a point of departure for an eastward journey along the Silk Road through predominantly Turkic-speaking cultures on the way to the Far East. Archaeological finds unearthing coins show specimens minted in Persia and Afghanistan. And accounts by Arab travelers of the 10th century such as Ibn Fadlan tell us that entrepreneurial Vikings known as Rus made their way along the rivers to Bulgar in search of eastern adornments.

Coins provide an excellent mechanism by which to follow trade, largely because they are durable and generally display distinctive features of their origin in their imprint. And coins similar to those found in Bulgar highlight a trade route extending up the Volga and westward along the Oka as it winds its way to its source in the central Uplands. Here the continued discovery of coins suggests the trade route hopped rivers: a relatively short overland trek could bridge the gap between the headwaters of the Oka and those of the Dnieper. This latter flowed westward just to the south of Smolensk, before turning south toward the Black Sea. But archaeological finds suggest that Smolensk was less economically important than a trading post just to its west: Gnezdovo.

Gnezdovo's location, viewed from the standpoint of commerce, was spectacular. Its easy access to the headwaters of the Dnieper and thence the Oka meant that it formed western outpost of the east-west trade route that led to Bulgar and beyond that the Silk Road. At the same time, Gnezdovo sat at the elbow of the Dnieper as it turned south toward the Black Sea. On this route lay Kiev (Kyiv), soon to be a cultural and political driving force within the nascent Russian state. And beyond, across the Black Sea itself, lay the imperial metropolis of Byzantium.

By this same elbow of the Dnieper, however, we find via a short overland passage the headwaters of the river Dvina. This flows west until if finally empties into the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. Thus Gnezdovo provided the linchpin in an east-west trade route that extended in the west from the shores of the Baltic and Scandinavia beyond to Bulgar and the Eurasian thoroughfare known as the steppe.

But also departing from Gnezdovo the river Lovat flowed north to Lake Ilmen and Novgorod, in many respects the birthplace of the emerging East Slavic identity in the annals of history. From there a trip north along the river Volkhov led to Lake Ladoga, to whose west lay the Gulf of Finland and the greater Baltic Sea beyond. Thus Gnezdovo formed the central junction in a north-south trade route starting in Byzantium in the south, passing upward through Kiev (Kyiv) and then Gnezdovo. From there one continued north to Novogorod and beyond into the reaches of Finnish tribes surrounding Lake Ladoga before turning west to the Baltic once again and its flowing Scandinavian trade.

The Scandinavians early grew wise to the existence of such trade routes. Artifacts from sites in Scandinavia proper show that their trade networks enabled the acquisition of Far Eastern goods. Runic inscriptions prove Scandinavian presence in the region surrounding Lake Ladoga, as well as in Berezanji at the mouth of the Dnieper in the Black Sea. This latter corroborates early accounts stating that Varangians, a particular subgroup of Scandinavians, already formed part of the Byzantine emperor's personal guard as early as the 10th century. And we have seen that Arab authors of roughly the same period place Scandinavians in Bulgar. Though the physical descriptions given often fail to distinguish Scandinavians from many other European peoples, the mention of one particular practice clinches the assertion that at least some of the tall, shaggy blond traders were indeed Scandinavians: ship burials.

It is in fact the burial finds of Gnezdovo that confirm a strong Scandinavian presence there as well. It is hard to say whether the outpost started as a Scandinavian trading colony or whether it was simply the case that Scandinavians maintained a continued presence in an otherwise multicultural trade center. For example, the swords found in many burials are not specific to the Scandinavians of the era. But we do find the signs of ship burials, which provide a definite hallmark of long-term Scandinavian habitation.

Though ideally located at the intersection of both north-south and east-west trade routes, Gnezdovo seems never to have been more than a large trading post or point of transfer. It never developed into a cultural center within the emerging Russian state. That distinction instead went first to Novgorod, to its north. Located beside Lake Ilmen, Novgorod was situated firmly within the forested reaches of the Eastern European expanse. As such it early seems to have provided a center for a rich trade in furs extending into the Baltic. That this was so is recorded not only in early Russian literature, but likewise in the Viking Sagas, where the city went by the name of Holmgard.

As Novgorod's centrality in Eastern Europe waned, the baton eventually passed to Kiev (Kyiv), to the south of Gnezdovo, situated on the Dnieper. Kiev too laid claim to a fortuitous location: near the transition from wooded land to Eurasian steppe. Thus Kiev not only formed a key midpoint in north-south trade between Gnezdovo and points north and Byzantium to its south. But according to Arab accounts of the trade of Frankish swords, Kiev also seemed to lie at the crux of a second, more southerly, east-west trade route: Frankish swords would pass through Prague on their way eventually to Kiev, before passing into the hands of Turkic traders and others making their living traversing the lightly levied paths along the steppe. This trade route, it seems, suffered little influence from the wide-ranging Scandinavians.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following passage completes the Primary Chronicle's account of the Invitation to the Varangians. In particular we learn of the three Varangian brothers who led settlers to the lands of the Eastern Slavs, and we find the events that lead to consolidation under the leadership of Rjurik.

10 - И изъбрашаяся .г. братья с роды своими, и пояша по собѣ всю русь, и придоша; старѣйший, Рюрикъ, сѣде Новѣгородѣ, а другий, Синеусъ, на Бѣлѣ-озерѣ, а третий Изборьстѣ, Труворъ.
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • изъбрашаяся -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <избрати, -бєрѫ, -бєрєши> elect, select, choose + pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- were chosen # Likely to be read изъбраша ся.
  • г -- number; <г> three -- Three
  • братья -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <братьӏа> (collective) brothers, brethren -- brothers
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • роды -- noun; masculine instrumental plural of <родъ> race, kind, sort; generation; birth -- clans
  • своими -- adjective; masculine instrumental plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • пояша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <поѩти, -имѫ, -имєши> take, seize -- they took
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • собѣ -- pronoun; locative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • всю -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all
  • русь -- proper noun; feminine accusative singular of <рѹсь> (collective) the Rus, Rus' (a Scandinavian tribe); the land of the Rus, Russia -- the Rus
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- they came
  • старѣйший -- comparative adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative singular of <старъ> old -- the oldest
  • Рюрикъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Рюрикъ> Rjurik, Ryurik, Rurik, Hroerekr (Scandinavian name) -- Rjurik
  • сѣде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <сѣсти, сѣдѫ, -дєши> sit down -- settled
  • Новѣгородѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Новъ Градъ> Novgorod (literally 'Newtown') -- in Novogord
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • другий -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative singular of <дрѹгъ> other -- the second
  • Синеусъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Синєѹсъ> Sineus, Signjutr (Scandinavian name) -- Sineus
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- in
  • Бѣлѣ-озерѣ -- proper noun; neuter locative singular of <Бѣло Ѥзєро> Belo-ozero, Beloozero (literally 'White Lake', name of a lake and the surrounding region) -- Belo-ozero
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- and
  • третий -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative singular of <трєтьи, -тьѥ, -тьӏа> third -- the third
  • Изборьстѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Изборьскъ> Izborsk -- in Izborsk # Note the palatalization of the consonant cluster -sk- to -st-.
  • Труворъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Трѹворъ> Truvor, Thorvardhr (Scandinavian name) -- Truvor

11 - И отъ тѣхъ варягъ прозвася Руская зємля, новугородьци, ти суть людье новогородьци отъ рода въряжьска, преже бобѣша словѣни.
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • отъ -- preposition; <отъ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- on account of
  • тѣхъ -- demonstrative adjective; masculine genitive plural of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- these
  • варягъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine genitive plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- Varangians
  • прозвася -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <прозвати, -зовѫ, -зовєши> call, summon + pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- it is called
  • Руская -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <рѹсьскъ> Rus (Rus'), of the Rus, relating to the Rus, Rusian, Russian -- the Russian
  • зємля -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- land
  • новугородьци -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <новъгородькъ> Novgorodian, of Novgorod -- the Novgorodians
  • ти -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- they
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- are
  • людье -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the... people
  • новогородьци -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <новъгородькъ> Novgorodian, of Novgorod -- Novgorodian
  • отъ -- preposition; <отъ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- from
  • рода -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <родъ> race, kind, sort; generation; birth -- the... clan
  • въряжьска -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <варѧжьскъ> Varangian, of the Varangians -- Varangian
  • преже -- adverb; <прѣждє> before -- before
  • бобѣша -- conjunction; <бо> for + verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- for... they were
  • словѣни -- adjective used as substantive; masculine locative plural of <словѣнинъ> Slovene, of the Slovene tribe (located on Lake Ilmen near Novgorod) -- the Slovenes

12 - По двою же лѣту Синєусъ умре и братъ его Труворъ; и прия власть Рюрикъ и раздая мужємъ своимъ грады, овому Полотескъ, овому Ростовъ, другому Бѣло-озєро.
  • По -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • двою -- number adjective; neuter locative dual of <дъва, дъвѣ> two -- two
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • лѣту -- noun; neuter locative dual of <лѣто> year, summer -- years
  • Синєусъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Синєѹсъ> Sineus, Signjutr (Scandinavian name) -- Sineus
  • умре -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ѹмрѣти, -рѫ, -рєши> die -- died
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- as well as
  • братъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <братръ, братъ> brother -- brother
  • его -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • Труворъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Трѹворъ> Truvor, Thorvardhr (Scandinavian name) -- Truvor
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- so
  • прия -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <приѩти, приимѫ, приимєши> take, seize -- assumed
  • власть -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <власть> rule, power, authority; despotic rule, tyranny -- power
  • Рюрикъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Рюрикъ> Rjurik, Ryurik, Rurik, Hroerekr (Scandinavian name) -- Rjurik
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- as well as
  • раздая -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <раздаӏати, -даѭ, -даѥши> distribute, give out -- distributed
  • мужємъ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- to... men
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine dative plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • грады -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- cities
  • овому -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine dative singular of <овъ, ово, ова> this, this one; (repeated) the one... the other -- to one
  • Полотескъ -- proper noun; masculine accusative singular of <Полотьскъ> Polotsk (name of a city) -- Polotsk
  • овому -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine dative singular of <овъ, ово, ова> this, this one; (repeated) the one... the other -- to another
  • Ростовъ -- proper noun; masculine accusative singular of <Ростовъ> Rostov (name of a city) -- Rostov
  • другому -- adjective used as substantive; masculine dative singular of <дрѹгъ> other -- to yet another
  • Бѣло-озєро -- proper noun; neuter accusative singular of <Бѣло Ѥзєро> Belo-ozero, Beloozero (literally 'White Lake', name of a lake and the surrounding region) -- Belo-ozero

13 - И по тѣмъ городомъ суть находици варязи, а перьвии насєльници в Новѣгородѣ словѣне, въ Полотьстѣ кривичи, в Ростовѣ меря, в Бѣлѣ-озерѣ весь, в Муромѣ мурома, и тѣми всѣми обладаше Рюрикъ.
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • тѣмъ -- demonstrative adjective; masculine dative plural of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- those
  • городомъ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- cities
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- are
  • находици -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <ноходьникъ> invader -- invaders
  • варязи -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- the Varangians
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- as
  • перьвии -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <пръвъ> first -- the first
  • насєльници -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <насєльникъ> inhabitant, resident; native; immigrant -- inhabitants
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • Новѣгородѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Новъ Градъ> Novgorod (literally 'Newtown') -- Novogord
  • словѣне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <словѣнинъ> Slovene, of the Slovene tribe (located on Lake Ilmen near Novgorod) -- (were) the Slovenes
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • Полотьстѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Полотьскъ> Polotsk (name of a city) -- Polotsk # Note the palatalization of the consonant cluster -sk- to -st-.
  • кривичи -- noun; masculine nominative plural <кривичи> (pl.) the Krivitchians (a Slavic tribe) -- the Krivitchians
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • Ростовѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Ростовъ> Rostov (name of a city) -- Rostov
  • меря -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <меря> (collective) the Merians (a Finnish tribe, in the region of Jaroslavl and Rostov, along the Volga river) -- the Merians
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • Бѣлѣ-озерѣ -- proper noun; neuter locative singular of <Бѣло Ѥзєро> Belo-ozero, Beloozero (literally 'White Lake', name of a lake and the surrounding region) -- Belo-ozero
  • весь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <весь> (collective) the Ves, Vepsians (a Finnish tribe between Lakes Ladoga and Belo-ozero) -- the Ves
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • Муромѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Муромъ> Murom (name of a city) -- Murom
  • мурома -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <мурома> the Muroma (a Finnish tribe inhabiting the region along the Oka river) -- the Muroma
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • тѣми -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine instrumental plural of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- these
  • всѣми -- adjective; masculine instrumental plural of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all (of)
  • обладаше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <обладати, -даѭ, -даѥши> (freq. w. instr.) rule, rule (over), lead, reign -- ruled over
  • Рюрикъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Рюрикъ> Rjurik, Ryurik, Rurik, Hroerekr (Scandinavian name) -- Rjurik

14 - И бяста у него .в. мужа, не племени его, но боярина, и та испросистася ко Царюгороду с родомъ своимъ.
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • бяста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there were
  • у -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- with
  • него -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- him
  • в -- number; <в> two -- two
  • мужа -- noun; masculine nominative dual of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • племени -- noun; neuter genitive singular of <плємѧ> seed; sprout, shoot; generation; breed, species, type; tribe, group -- of... tribe
  • его -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but rather
  • боярина -- noun; masculine nominative dual of <боӏаринъ> noble, aristocrat, bojar, boyar -- bojars
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • та -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative dual of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- they
  • испросистася -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <испросити, -жѫ, -сиши> seek, search (for); gain by asking + pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- were sought (to go)
  • ко -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • Царюгороду -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Цѣсарь Градъ> Byzantium, Constantinople (literally 'the Emperor's City') -- Byzantium
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • родомъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <родъ> race, kind, sort; generation; birth -- clan
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their

15 - И поидоста по Днѣпру, и идуче мимо и узрѣста на горѣ градокъ; и упрошаста и рѣста, "чий се градокъ?"
  • И -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • поидоста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- they went
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- along
  • Днѣпру -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Днѣпръ> Dnieper, (Russ.) Dnepr, (Belor.) Dnjapro, (Ukr.) Dnipro, (classical) Danapris (name of a river flowing into the Black Sea) -- the Dnieper
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • идуче -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- (while) going # Note the use of the plural in the participle rather than the dual, as consistently used in the finite verb forms in this passage. This hints at the transfer of the masculine plural participial form into a fixed gerund, lacking grammatical agreement.
  • мимо -- adverb; <мимо> past, by -- by
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • узрѣста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <ѹзрѣти, -зрѫ, -зриши> look at, behold; see -- they caught sight of
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • горѣ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <гора> mountain -- a hill
  • градокъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъкъ> town, city, walled enclosure -- a city
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • упрошаста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <ѹпросити, -шѫ, -сиши> ask, interrogate, question -- they asked
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • рѣста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • чий -- interrogative adjective; masculine nominative singular of <чьи, чьѥ, чьӏа> whose, of whom -- Whose
  • се -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter nominative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this # Possibly to be understood as a fully-vocalized form of the masculine nominative singular form сь.
  • градокъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъкъ> town, city, walled enclosure -- city

16 - Они же рѣша, "была суть .г. братья, Кий, Щекъ, Хоривъ, иже сдѣлаша градокось, и изгибоша, и мы сѣдимъ, платяче дань родомъ ихъ козаромъ".
  • Они -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- replied
  • была -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- There were
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- ... # Note the agreement with the logical number of the subject, three (hence plural), rather than the grammatical number (singular), which is determined by братья
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three
  • братья -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <братьӏа> (collective) brothers, brethren -- brothers
  • Кий -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Къӏи> Kyi, Kii (legendary founder of Kiev) -- Kyi
  • Щекъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Щєкъ> Shchek, Shek (brother of Kyi) -- Shchek
  • Хоривъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Хоривъ> Khoriv, Xoriv (brother of Kyi) -- Khoriv
  • иже -- relative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <ижє> who, which -- who
  • сдѣлаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <съдѣлати, -аѭ, -аѥши> found, establish; work, build -- founded
  • градокось -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъкъ> town, city, walled enclosure + demonstrative adjective; masculine accusative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this city # Note that the phrase градокъ сь is pronounced as a unit. In such a situation, the final jer of сь is word-final and weak, and the final jer of the accusative градокъ now precedes a weak jer, and so is fully vocalized as -о-.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • изгибоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <изгъӏбати, -баѭ -блѭ, -баѥши -блѥши> perish, be destroyed -- they perished
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • мы -- pronoun; nominative plural of <азъ> I -- we
  • сѣдимъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- remain
  • платяче -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <платити, -штѫ, -тиши> loose, free, set free, pay -- paying
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • родомъ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <родъ> race, kind, sort; generation; birth -- clans
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <*и> he -- their
  • козаромъ -- adjective; masculine dative plural of <козаринъ> Khazar, of the Khazars (a Turkic tribe located along the Volga) -- Khazar

17 - Асколдъ же и Диръ остаста въ градѣ сємь, и многи варяги съвокуписта, и начаста владѣти Польскою землею, Рюрику же княжащу в Новѣгородѣ.
  • Асколдъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Асколдъ, Осколдъ> Askold, Askuldr (Scandinavian name) -- Askold
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • Диръ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Диръ> Dir (Scandinavian name) -- Dir
  • остаста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <остати, останѫ, останєши> stay behind, remain -- remained
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • градѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- city
  • сємь -- demonstrative adjective; masculine locative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • многи -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <мъногъ> much, many -- many
  • варяги -- adjective used as substantive; masculine accusative plural of <варѧгъ> Varangian, of the Varangian tribe (name of a particular group of Scandinavians); bodyguard (of Viking descent, often applied to members of the Byzantine Emperor's personal guard) -- Varangians # See prior note on the lack of palatalization of the velar consonant
  • съвокуписта -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <съвъкѹпити, -плѭ, -пиши> lead together, collect, gather -- they brought together
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • начаста -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist of <начѧти, -чьнѫ, -чьнєши> begin -- they began
  • владѣти -- verb; infinitive of <владѣти, -дѣѭ, -дѣѥши> (freq. w. instr.) rule, rule over, hold power (over) -- to rule
  • Польскою -- adjective; feminine instrumental singular of <польскъ> Poljan, Polian, Poljanian, Polianian, of the Poljan tribe (a Slavic tribe living along the Dnieper) -- Poljanian
  • землею -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the... land
  • Рюрику -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Рюрикъ> Rjurik, Ryurik, Rurik, Hroerekr (Scandinavian name) -- Rjurik
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • княжащу -- participle; masculine dative singular of <кнѧжити, -жѫ, -жиши> rule, be king, have power -- (with)... ruling # Note the use of the dative absolute (here with Рюрику) to describe an action attendant on the main clause, but grammatically independent of it
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • Новѣгородѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Новъ Градъ> Novgorod (literally 'Newtown') -- Novogord

Lesson Text

10 - И изъбрашаяся .г. братья с роды своими, и пояша по собѣ всю русь, и придоша; старѣйший, Рюрикъ, сѣде Новѣгородѣ, а другий, Синеусъ, на Бѣлѣ-озерѣ, а третий Изборьстѣ, Труворъ. 11 - И отъ тѣхъ варягъ прозвася Руская зємля, новугородьци, ти суть людье новогородьци отъ рода въряжьска, преже бобѣша словѣни. 12 - По двою же лѣту Синєусъ умре и братъ его Труворъ; и прия власть Рюрикъ и раздая мужємъ своимъ грады, овому Полотескъ, овому Ростовъ, другому Бѣло-озєро. 13 - И по тѣмъ городомъ суть находици варязи, а перьвии насєльници в Новѣгородѣ словѣне, въ Полотьстѣ кривичи, в Ростовѣ меря, в Бѣлѣ-озерѣ весь, в Муромѣ мурома, и тѣми всѣми обладаше Рюрикъ. 14 - И бяста у него .в. мужа, не племени его, но боярина, и та испросистася ко Царюгороду с родомъ своимъ. 15 - И поидоста по Днѣпру, и идуче мимо и узрѣста на горѣ градокъ; и упрошаста и рѣста, "чий се градокъ?" 16 - Они же рѣша, "была суть .г. братья, Кий, Щекъ, Хоривъ, иже сдѣлаша градокось, и изгибоша, и мы сѣдимъ, платяче дань родомъ ихъ козаромъ". 17 - Асколдъ же и Диръ остаста въ градѣ сємь, и многи варяги съвокуписта, и начаста владѣти Польскою землею, Рюрику же княжащу в Новѣгородѣ.

Translation

10 Three brothers were chosen with their clans, and they took after them all the Rus, and they came: the oldest, Rjurik, settled in Novgorod; but the second, Sineus, in Belo-ozero; and the third, Truvor, in Izborsk. 11 And on account of these Varangians it is called the Russian land; the Novgorodians, they are the Novgorodian people from the Varangian clan, for before they were the Slovenes. 12 But after two years Sineus died, as well as his brother Truvor; so Rjurik assumed power and distributed cities to his men, to one Polotsk, to another Rostov, and to yet another Belo-ozero. 13 And in those cities the Varangians are invaders, as the first inhabitants in Novgorod (were) the Slovenes, in Polotsk the Krivitchians, in Rostov the Merians, in Belo-ozero the Ves, in Murom the Muroma, and Rjurik ruled over all of these. 14 And with him there were two men, not of his tribe, but rather bojars, and they were sought (to go) to Byzantium with their clan. 15 And they went along the Dnieper, and while going by they caught sight of a city on a hill; and they asked and said: "Whose city is this?" 16 And they replied: "There were three brothers, Kyi, Shchek, and Khoriv, who founded this city; and they perished, and we remain, paying tribute to their Khazar clans." 17 Askold and Dir remained in this city, and they brought together many Varangians, and they began to rule the Poljanian land, with Rjurik ruling in Novgorod.

Grammar

6 Palatalization & Retraction

Though the Slavic languages share a common ancestry with other Indo-European languages such as English, Latin, Sanskrit, and Old Irish, the Slavic family has undergone certain sound shifts that distinguish it from other branches of the family tree. One of the most pervasive of these shifts, and the one that perhaps contributes most forcefully to the consonant sequences that so strike the ear as distinguishing Slavic languages from all others, is palatalization. This palatalization in fact occurred in three distinct waves, and a basic understanding of these various shifts will aid the reader in understanding the history of the language family and the vast scholarly literature.

In addition we find that in certain environments, certain sounds underwent a different process called retraction. The Slavic languages share features of this process with their Indo-Iranian cousins. In the following subsections we will look more closely at the particular phonological shifts involved and the environments in which they occurred. These shifts play an important role in distinguishing the various conjugation classes of the present tense and in the formation of the past tenses.

6.1 Background: Important Vowel Shifts

In the most basic sense, all of the various waves of palatalization can be traced back to the influence of front vowels and yod. A mild acquaintance with certain aspects of the evolution of the vowels, and particularly the diphthongs, will assist in understanding the process of palatalization.

In the passage from the surmised language of the once semi-homogeneous culture of the Indo-Europeans -- termed Proto-Indo-European (PIE) -- to the common tongue spoken by the Slavic community as a whole -- termed Common Slavic (CS) or Proto-Slavic (PSl) -- before its eventual dissolution into several distinct regional varieties, front vowels tended to remain front vowels, and back vowels tended to remain back. The vowels did not necessarily remain the same: for example PIE *a and *o, both back vowels, merged into CS *a. Thus the backness remained intact, though PIE *o lost its roundness.

Moreover, Common Slavic adopted a tendency toward open syllables. That is, where a vowel was followed by a sequence of consonants, all of those consonants tended to be assigned to the following syllable. Such is not the case in other Indo-European (IE) languages: for example, Latin incertus 'undetermined' divides into syllables as in-cer-tus, so that the consonant cluster -rt- is split between syllables. But the Old Russian term мужьство 'manliness' divides as му-жь-ство, assigning the entire cluster -stv- to the following syllable. When a syllable-final consonant cluster consisted of a nasal followed by non-nasal consonant, the preceding syllable was opened instead by nasalizing the preceding vowel. Thus corresponding to Latin pons 'bridge' (with genitive pontis, syllabically pon-tis) we find OCS пѫть [pǫ-tĭ] 'way', with nasalization of the o in the first syllable. This nasalization was subsequently lost in the East Slavic dialects, including Old Russian: путь 'way'.

The final major tendency which concerns us is monophthongization. This denotes a shift whereby the PIE diphthongs -- consisting of any of the three basic vowels PIE *e, *a, *o (both long and short variants) followed by the PIE semivowels *i, *u -- were simplified in Common Slavic into the individual vowels, or monophthongs, *i, *ě, *u. Such monophthongization occurred when the original diphthongs were followed by a consonant. A diphthong in such a position is termed tautosyllabic, i.e. both elements of the diphthong remained within the same syllable. However when a vowel followed the diphthong, the rule of open syllables dictated that the final semivowel of the diphthong be reanalyzed as the initial consonant of the following syllable:

  • PIE *ai-a > CS *a-ja > OR а-ӏа;
  • PIE *ou-o > CS *o-vo > OR о-во.

Diphthongs in this position are termed heterosyllabic, i.e. the elements of the diphthong when reanalyzed straddle a syllable boundary. Heterosyllabic diphthongs were thus analyzed into their constituent parts and escaped the process of monophthongization. For example the PIE root *ei- 'go' gives Greek ei-mi, but OR и-ти via monophthongization. Similarly PIE *h2ous- gives Latin auris and OR ухо, both 'ear'. But PIE *nou-os yields Latin novus and OR новъ, since the diphthong *-ou- finds itself in heterosyllabic position.

6.2 Palatalization of Velars

The palatalization of velar consonants denotes a process of mutative palatalization. That is, over time velar consonants in certain contexts changed their point of articulation from the velum to the hard palate to such a degree that the result was in effect a new consonant. This shift occurred in those environments in which the velar sounds were in close proximity to front vowels or yod; for example, if a front vowel followed a velar consonant, the speaker's tongue would naturally anticipate the upcoming vowel and thereby push the point of articulation of the velar consonant forward in the mouth. This shift occurred over time throughout Common Slavic as a whole, and we may isolate the effects of three distinct phases.

6.2.1 First Palatalization

The First Palatalization affected the Common Slavic velar consonants *к, *г, *х [*k, *g, *x] that found themselves immediately preceding a yod or an inherited PIE front vowel. The result in this context was *ч, *ж, *ш [*č, *ž, *š], respectively. In general these inherited PIE front vowels remained CS front vowels (here and elsewhere in these lessons, a colon following a vowel denotes the corresponding long vowel):

PIE   CS   OR
*i   *ĭ   ь
*e   *e   є
*eN   *ę   я
*i:   *i   и
*ei   *i   и
*e:   *ě   ѣ

(Note: For the most part these lessons will employ a romanized transcription for phonetic sequences representing a putative stage of Common Slavic. But on occasion we will state some phonetic principles pertaining to Common Slavic in terms of the Cyrillic alphabet for pedagogical reasons: this will help the reader more readily identify the phonetic sequences involved in actual Old Russian sources. Though this is somewhat anachronistic, if we take the viewpoint that OCS and Old Russian represent a very late stage of Common Slavic, then the practice will not seem too out of place.)

Thus the conditioning environment remains visible in the resulting form. But when the velars underwent this change before a PIE *e: (long-e), which normally changed to CS *ě, this *ě lost its front quality and was "backed" to я or а. For example, PIE *leg-e:-ti: > CS *ležěti > *ležjati > OR лєжати 'to lie down, recline' (cf. Schmalstieg, 1995).

Additionally the First Palatalization affected certain consonant clusters, shifting both members of the cluster. In particular, PIE *sk shifted to CS *šč, written in Old Russian as щ; and PIE *zg shifted to CS *žd. For example: PIE *tresk-e:-ti: > CS *treščěti > *treščjati > OR трєщати 'to crack'.

6.2.2 Second Palatalization

The Second Palatalization occurred as a result of monophthongization in Common Slavic. Recall the First Palatalization shifted velars that already preceded front vowels held over from PIE. But there were also back vowels inherited from PIE, and some of these formed the first member of diphthongs. As outlined above, tautosyllabic diphthongs underwent monophthongization. This produced in many instances front vowels -- specifically [*i] and [*ě] -- in positions where prior there had been a back vowel. Velars before these new front vowels therefore became subject to palatalization. The results of this new, second palatalization differed from the first: Common Slavic *к, *г, *х [*k, *g, *x] shifted to *ц, *з, *с [*c, *z, *s], respectively. Consider the following examples.

Change   PIE   CS   OR   English   Comparanda
*k > *c   *kaina:   *cěna   цѣна   price   Gk poine:
*g > *z   *bogoi   *bodzi   бози   gods   Skt bhaga-
*x > *s   *snusai   *snŭxě   сносѣ   (to the) daughter-in-law   OE snoru, Lat nurus

Note in the last row that the PIE *s preceding the final *-ai first passes to CS *x according to the phenomenon of retraction (Section 6.5 below), and this *x, as it stands before CS *ě, is therefore subject to second palatalization.

This phase of palatalization may also be thought of as an assibilation. In this phase the original PIE sequence *sk underwent a shift to CS *ст [*st]. We see this for example in the reflex of the nominative masculine plural *-sk-oi encountered in adjectives such as OR кыєвьскъ 'Kievan': nominative plural людиє кыєвьстии 'the Kievan people', where the first -и- provides the reflex of PIE *-oi as a result of monophthongization and the second derives from the long-form adjective.

6.2.3 Third Palatalization

Finally we come to the Third Palatalization. The above two palatalizations are regressive: that is, a front vowel influences the articulation of a preceding consonant. The Third Palatalization, by contrast, is progressive: a front vowel influences the articulation of a following velar consonant. Specifically, we find that the Common Slavic velar consonants *к, *г, *х [*k, *g, *x] shifted to *ц, *з, *с [*c, *z, *s], respectively, in the following environment: when preceded by the vowels *и, *ь, *ѧ [*i, *ĭ, *ę], but only if followed directly by a vowel.

Change   PIE   CS   OR   English   Comparanda
*k > *c   *ovika:   *ovĭca   овьца   sheep   Skt avika:
*g > *z   *stigha:   *stĭdza   стьза   trail   Gk stikhos, Got. staiga

Along with OR стьза 'trail', compare по-стиг-ну-ти 'reach', illustrating that the changes of the Third Palatalization do not occur when the velar consonant is followed directly by another consonant.

6.3 Softening Chart

Softening is a term used by many scholars interchangeably with palatalization. The above outline of the historical changes found among the Common Slavic vowels and velar consonants holds some important implications for the structure of Old Russian as we find it in the texts that have come down to us. In particular, we find that within the same paradigm a given nominal or verbal root may display different palatalized reflexes of the velar consonants depending on the particular historical evolution of that form. Thus the neuter noun иго 'yoke' retains the original velar г in the nominative singular, but in the locative singular we find the palatalized reflex in изѣ due to the fact that the PIE ending *-oi shifted to CS *-ѣ and induced Second Palatalization. Therefore, confronted with изѣ, one must undo the effects of palatalization to arrive at the form иго which one should search for in the dictionary. To assist with such reconstruction, the following chart provides a summary of the changes due to velar palatalization.

Early CS   1st Palat.   2nd Palat.   3rd Palat.
  ч   ц   ц
  ж   з   з
  ш   с   с
*ск   щ   ст    
*зг   жд        

Thus, when one encounters a form involving a consonant in one of the three right-hand columns, one might consult the dictionary replacing the consonant with the corresponding consonant in the leftmost column.

6.4 j-Palatalization

Though front vowels provided a common trigger for the palatalization of consonants, they were not the only trigger. In particular the glide -j-, the yod, plays an important role in the consonant changes that characterize Common Slavic in general, and Old Russian in particular. The changes engendered by the palatal glide -j- affected not only the velar consonants, where in fact the results were identical to those of the first palatalization of velars, but also numerous other consonants as well.

One should note particularly the result of j-palatalization in the sequences *tj and *dj, which give respectively ч and ж ([] and []). These differ notably from the results of j-palatalization within Old Church Slavonic, where they became щ (equivalently written шт in OCS) and жд respectively. Thus the j-palatalization of these particular sequences serves to distinguish generally South Slavic from East Slavic, and in particular Old Church Slavonic from Old Russian.

However numerous Old Russian texts show щ [št] and жд [žd], i.e. the Old Church Slavonic reflexes, precisely where we should expect the Old Russian reflexes ч [] and ж []. Scholars have interpreted variously such orthographic fluctuation. In some instances this may herald a "bookish" orthography, by which we mean scribal sensibilities of "correct" spelling that show a heavy influence from Old Church Slavonic norms. In other instances this may simply mark either orthographic or linguistic "flexibility": either a stage, or school, of orthographic practice which simply viewed щ and ч, say, as interchangable graphemes (perhaps restricted only to certain words); or a graphic representation of an allowable variation in pronunciation within Eastern Slavic itself, perhaps with regional distinctions. In these lessons we will tend to write, say, ч where texts might also exhibit щ or шт; this is to highlight the presumably native East Slavic forms when possible or advisable. But the reader should keep in mind the possibility of variant spellings which show a more OCS-like orthography.

The following chart provides a list of the major effects of j-palatalization and some corresponding examples. The changes are grouped roughly by point of articulation of the consonants involved, though one should take care to note that, for example, though *m is a resonant, it has been grouped with other labial phonemes since the shift it undergoes bears greater similarity to that of other labials than to that of other resonants.

Articulation   Shift   Early CS   Late CS   Old Russian   OCS   Meaning
Dental   *tj > ч   *sve:t-j-a:   *světja   свѣча   свѣшта   candle
    *dj > ж   *vid-j-om   *vidjǫ   вижу   виждѫ   I see
                         
Labial   *pj > пл҄   *kup-j-om   *kupjǫ   купл҄ю   кѹпл҄ѭ   I buy
    *bj > бл҄   *ljub-j-om   *ljubjǫ   любл҄ю   любл҄ѭ   I love
    *mj > мл҄   *zem-j-a:   *zemja   зємл҄я   зємл҄ӏа   land
    *vj > вл҄   *sta:v-j-om   *stavjǫ   ставл҄ю   ставл҄ѭ   I put
                         
Sibilant   *sj > ш   *nos-j-om   *nosjǫ   ношу   ношѭ   I carry
    *zj > ж   *voz-j-om   *vozjǫ   вожу   вожѭ   I transport
                         
    *stj > щ   *či:st-j-om   *čistjǫ   чищу   чиштѫ   I cleanse
    *zdj > жд   *prei-gva:zd-ja:-te:j   *prigvazdjati   пригваждати   пригваждати   to nail
                         
Velar   *kj > ч   *pla:k-j-onti   *plakjǫtĭ   плачуть   плачѫтъ   they weep
    *gj > ж   *dvi:g-j-onti   *dvigjǫtĭ   движуть   движѫтъ   they move
    *xj > ш   *sux-j-om   *suxjǫ   сушу   сѹшѫ   I dry
                         
    *skj > щ   *plesk-j-om   *pleskjǫ   плєщу   плєштѫ   I knock
                         
Resonant   *nj > н҄   *vel-j-om   *veljǫ   вєл҄ю   вєл҄ѭ   I command
    *rj > р҄   *bor-j-om   *borjǫ   бор҄ю   бор҄ѭ   I fight
    *lj > л҄   *kol-j-om   *koljǫ   кол҄ю   кол҄ѭ   I cleave

In the examples above concerning shifts such as *stj > щ one should note that the symbol щ represents phonetic [šč] in Old Russian, while it represents phonetic [št] in Old Church Slavonic. Thus many OCS forms written in the table above, such as чьштѫ, can alternately be written чьщѫ, so that the consonant sequences look formally identical between the two languages. Thus the orthographic similarity of the reflexes of this phonological shift obscures some of the phonological details. Moreover we note that forms such as бор҄ю may variously be written as бор҄у or борю.

6.5 Retraction

Proto-Indo-European *-s- was involved in a sequence of changes markedly different from the process of palatalization we have been discussing up to now. When preceded by Proto-Slavic *r, *u, *k or *i, and simultaneously followed by a vowel or a sonant, Proto-Slavic *-s- shifted to *-š- before front vowels and to *-x- elsewhere.

After   PIE   CS   OR   English   Comparanda
*r   *per-sid-l-a:   *prěsĭdla   прѣшьла   passed   Lat. sedeo:, Got. sitan
    *per-sod-i:-te:y   *prěsoditi   прѣходити   to pass   Lat. sedeo:, Got. sitan
*u   *aus-es-es   *usese   ушєсє   ear (gen. sg.)   Lat. auris, Got. auso
    *aus-os   *uso   ухо   ear (nom. sg.)   Lat. auris, Got. auso
*k   *re:k-s-nt   *rěksę   рѣша   they said   Skt. racayati
    *re:k-s-om   *rěksŭ   рѣхъ   I said   Skt. racayati
*i   *nok'-ey-si   *nosisi   носиши   you carry   Gk. e:nenkon
    *loisa:   *lěsa   лѣха   garden bed   Lat. li:ra, Ger. Geleise

Because of the conditioning environment, with a preceding *r, *u, *k, or *i, scholars have come to call this phonetic shift the ruki rule. As the above chart shows, we can think of the ruki rule as applying to *-s- before vowels and sonants, unless in an environment suitable for regressive palatalization. Slavic shares this sound shift most notably with the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family.

7 Reduced Vowels and Full Vocalism

The term reduced vowel typically denotes a vowel whose articulation is in some sense weak: of short duration, with lips lax, with little movement of the tongue, or any combination of these. Such were the characteristics of the jers ъ and ь in early Slavic. Contrary to their typical use in Modern Russian as mere orthographic markers of the hardness or softness of the preceding consonant, the jers in early Slavic languages were indeed vowels with a pronunciation of their own. The back jer ъ and the front jer ь were, on their own, phonetically distinct; of course by their reduced nature the distinction could be blurred in the context of other consonants and vowels, and so we do find some confusion between the jers in certain texts.

As proper vowels, the jers are as consequential to the proper articulation and understanding of words as any other vowel. In this context it is curious that at times scribes omitted jers in certain words in certain manuscripts. It seems that in East Slavic in particular, in particular contrast to South Slavic, the omission of jers in the earliest manuscripts was largely due to scribal shorthand: jers were only dropped when the resulting consonant cluster was phonetically impossible in the language at the time (Gribble, 1989). The resulting consonant-consonant cluster would naturally be understood by the native speaker as consonant-vowel-consonant, and the proper jer would be inserted in reading without the necessity of a graphic representation. We discuss this in greater detail in the Introduction to Lesson 10.

In other words and manuscripts we find full vowels (i.e. non-jers) where we should expect jers. Which full vowel we find, and in place of which jer, was determined by the jer's type: strong or weak. We now turn to a discussion of this feature.

7.1 Strong and Weak Jers

One important distinction between jers is that between strong and weak. Either jer may be strong or weak: the distinction is one of placement relative to other elements of the word. We say a jer is weak if it falls at the end of a word or if it precedes a syllable with a full vowel. A strong jer is one which immediately precedes a syllable with a weak jer. In practical terms we may define a simple algorithm for determining which jers are strong and which weak in a given word: we find the weak jer nearest the end of the word, and then we alternate between strong and weak as we move backward through the word, starting over with weak every time we cross over a syllable with a full vowel. As an example, let us take the past passive participle отъкръвєнъ 'open'. The following table labels the strong and weak jers by syllable.

Syllable   о   тъ   кръ   вє   нъ
Jer   --   strong   weak   --   weak

According to the algorithm, we start at the right-most jer: this occurs at word-end, and so is weak. Moving left, we must skip over a full vowel; the next jer we meet is therefore weak. And the jer immediately to the left of that is strong. Moving left we hit another full vowel, and then we have finished the word.

We must be careful to realize that the labels strong and weak applied to jers are labels tied to the surface form under discussion, not to some canonical dictionary form of the word. For example, consider the nominative singular form of the city name смольньскъ 'Smolensk':

Syllable   смо   ль   нь   скъ
Jer   --   weak   strong   weak

Compare this to the genitive singular form смольньска of the same word:

Syllable   смо   ль   нь   ска
Jer   --   strong   weak   --

We see that in one and the same word, a given jer may be strong or weak depending on the particular surface form.

This alternation becomes important given another feature of the historical evolution of Russian phonology: in later manuscripts, weak jers were often dropped and strong jers were promoted to full vowels. When promoted to full vowels, the front jer was promoted to the front vowel є, the back jer ъ to the back vowel о. We see in the example of Smolensk that such promotion in the nominative singular would potentially yield смолнєск. But in the genitive singular, the same procedure yields смолєнска. Moreover, other forms such as the locative singular смольньскѣ would have the same pattern of strong and weak jers as the genitive: the locative would become смолєнскѣ. Such reinforcement of a particular pattern of strong and weak jers throughout the rest of the paradigm likely stimulated the replacement of the nominative stem with the stem encountered in the bulk of other forms, and that led to the modern form of the name Смоленск.

The determination of strong and weak jers ties itself to the phonological word, that is to any phrasal unit pronounced together as a word. Thus in isolation the word дьнь 'day' shows a strong jer in the first syllable, and so we also expect to find the є-vocalism in that particular form of the word: дєнь. But when accompanied by a following deictic in the phrase дьнь сь 'this day', the phrase was evidently pronounced as an unbroken unit. As such the second syllable, rather than the first, finds itself with the strong jer: дьньсь becomes дьнєсь or днес 'today'.

7.2 Tense Jers

We have noted that Old Russian, like Old Church Slavonic, had special symbols for many full vowels with a preceding yod: ӏа, ѥ, ю. However no special symbol existed for a jer with a preceding yod. In particular it turns out that instances abound where the front jer preceded by a yod, јь, is written и. One of the most common examples is the nominative singular masculine of the relative pronoun: ижє 'he who', reflecting an underlying jĭže. The same is true of the accusative singular masculine pronominal form и, reflecting jĭ; the corresponding nominative form [*jĭ] is unattested.

We say a jer is tense when followed by yod, j. Speakers often heard tense jers as a corresponding full vowel: a tense front jer ĭj became i, a tense back jer ŭj became y. We find this reflected in the spelling: instead of добръи [dobrŭjĭ] 'the good one' we often find the spelling добрыи [dobryjĭ]; and for гостьи [gostĭjĭ] 'of the guests' we find гостии [gostijĭ].

Note that tense position can span word boundaries. Thus we find молихы и [molixy jĭ] 'I asked him' for expected молихъ и [molixŭ jĭ]; also заѹшахѹти и [zaušaxuti jĭ] 'they beat him' for заѹшахѹть и [zaušaxutĭ jĭ]. Moreover, sometimes the fact that a jer may be strong can be reflected instead of the fact that it is tense. For example, in больнъи [bolĭnŭjĭ] 'the sick one' the ъ, though tense, is also strong, and so we find больнои [bolĭnoi]. Similarly for костьи [kostĭjĭ] 'of the bones' we find костєи [kostejĭ], where the strong jer ь has been promoted to the corresponding full vowel є even though in tense position.

7.3 Pleophony

The above discussion of historical phonology has centered on changes common to Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian, and for the most part to the Slavic language family as a whole. We now take a moment to discuss a feature truly indicative of the Eastern Slavic subgroup of the Slavic family: pleophony (Russ. polnoglasie, Ger. Vollaut), also known as full vocalism. This concerns the treatment of resonant diphthongs -- that is, diphthongs composed of a vowel followed by a resonant, particularly r or l -- when between consonants. In this discussion we let C, or more traditionally T, denote any consonant, and we let R denote the resonants r or l.

Common Slavic inherited numerous words fitting the pattern ToRT: that is, some consonant, followed by the resonant diphthong *o plus *r or *l, followed in turn by some other consonant. For example, we find in many Slavic languages reflexes of a Proto-Slavic word *gordŭ, etymologically related to Gothic garda 'enclosure, pen' and ultimately to English garden. The reflex of this Common Slavic term in OCS is градъ [gradŭ], displaying the general tendency in South Slavic to reverse the order of the elements of the diphthong: ToRT becomes TRoT, hence CS *gordŭ becomes *grodŭ and this yields OCS градъ.

The motivation behind the shift in the order of elements is once again the rule of open syllables: resonants such as r and l have the ability to function either as consonants or as vowels. We see this in the English word little: the first l functions as a consonant preceding the vowel i of the first syllable lit-; the second l, however, serves as the vowel of the second syllable -tle. The final -e is silent: the last syllable is phonetically [tl]. In Common Slavic, sequences of the form VR, where V represents a vowel, were diphthongs in the same sense as those formed with the semi-vowels i and u. At that stage of the language, a sequence of the form ToRTV would have been interpreted as ToR-TV, and since oR was a diphthong, this fit the pattern of open syllables: TV-TV. But as the resonant element of the diphthong came to be interpreted in its consonantal function, the sequence ToR-TV conformed to the pattern TVT-TV and the initial syllable became closed. In the effort to re-open the closed syllable, various branches of Slavic applied various sound changes, and as we have seen above the tendency in South Slavic was to reverse the order of resonant and vowel in the first syllable: ToR-TV gave way to TRo-TV.

East Slavic, by contrast, took a different tack. Rather than reverse the order of elements, in East Slavic we find the introduction of an anaptyctic vowel between the resonant and the following consonant. This vowel generally took on the quality of the vowel of the preceding syllable. Thus ToRT gave way to ToRoT in East Slavic. As a result, whereas CS *gordŭ yielded градъ in Old Church Slavonic, in Old Russian we find instead городъ 'city'. This process is termed pleophony, a term created to translate the Russian term polnoglasie. This feature provides one of the clearest distinctions between the development of East Slavic and that of the rest of the Slavic family. The same change applied to syllables with an e-vocalism, where TeRT yields TeReT:

CS   OCS   OR   Meaning   Comparanda
*gordŭ   градъ   городъ   city   Goth. garda
*golva   глава   голова   head   Lat. calva
*bermę   брѣмѧ   бєрємя   burden   Skt. bhariman-
*vermę   врѣмѧ   вєрємя   time   Skt. vartman-

Given this steadfast mark of the East Slavic dialect, what then are we to make of forms such as врємя 'time' so frequently encountered in Old Russian texts? Traditionally scholars generally assume that these show the extent of the influence of Old Church Slavonic on the early Russian literary language: врємя was borrowed into Old Russian via Old Church Slavonic. This occurs with a great many roots, and so the Old Russian texts that have survived to modern times show a language employing borrowed terms like врємѧ alongside their native counterparts like вєрємя. By the same token, we may alternately conjecture that the shift of ToRT to ToRoT within East Slavic had not yet permeated the entire East Slavic speaking community during the period of the the earliest Old Russian texts. From this point of view, scribes may have admitted forms such as врємя on the basis that such forms reflected a common alternate regional pronunciation of ToRoT forms.

8 Personal Pronouns
8.1 First and Second Person Pronouns

The first and second person pronouns of Old Russian show forms for all numbers and for all cases except the vocative. The nominative forms, as a general rule, appear less frequently than the oblique case forms. Given that the verbal morphology usually makes clear the person and number, the nominative forms of the personal pronouns are mostly redundant. Old Russian therefore employs them primarily when particular emphasis is needed, for example to highlight a change in subject. In contrast to some languages such as Spanish or German, which distinguish second person pronouns based on the perceived social status of the person addressed relative to the person speaking (e.g. Sp. tu vs. usted, Ger. du vs. Sie), Old Russian uses the same second person pronoun regardless of social considerations. Use of singular, dual, or plural refers only to number and marks no recognition of social status. The table below lists the forms of the first person pronoun азъ 'I' and the second person pronoun ты 'thou, you'.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   азъ, я   вѣ   мы           ты   ва   вы
A   мя   на   ны           тя   ва   вы
G   мєнє   наю   насъ           тєбє, тобє   ваю   васъ
L   мєнѣ   наю   насъ           тєбѣ, тобѣ   ваю   васъ
D   мєнѣ (ми)   нама (на)   намъ (на, ны)           тєбѣ, тобѣ (ти)   вама (ва)   вамъ (ва, вы)
I   мъною   нама   нами           тобою   вама   вами
V                                

The forms in parentheses are the enclitic, or unstressed, forms. These forms typically follow a stressed word, often the first in their clause. In particular the enclitic forms never stand as the first word in a clause, and they typically do not occur after prepositions. Take for example the following statement by Olga in the story of Olga's Revenge: люба ми єсть рѣчь ваша 'Your proposal is pleasing to me.'

Though there is a general tendency in Old Russian to prefer using the genitive in place of the accusative for animate (more specifically male human) direct objects, this tendency is more pronounced with the personal pronouns. We very frequently find the genitive forms used in place of the accusative.

8.2 Reflexive Pronoun

Old Russian uses a special pronoun when the entity in an oblique case refers back to the subject. This is the reflexive pronoun сєбє, which plays a role akin to the English suffix -self in words such as himself, herself, itself, etc. In an English statement such as I was asking myself..., the direct object of the verb asking is the same as the subject, and we mark that reflexivity in part by using -self. In English the entity to which we append -self depends on the person of the subject: I was asking myself..., You were asking yourself..., She was asking herself..., etc. Typically Old Russian uses the same reflexive pronoun сєбє for all persons. Moreover, in English we mark that the reflexive refers to a plural subject by appending -selves rather than -self: They were asking themselves.... Old Russian, by contrast, uses the same, morphologically singular, pronoun сєбє to refer back to subjects of any number: singular, dual, or plural. The following table lists the forms.

    Sg./Du./Pl.
N    
A   ся
G   сєбє
L   сєбѣ, собѣ
D   сєбѣ, собѣ (си)
I   сєбою
V    

Naturally the reflexive pronoun exhibits no nominative or vocative case forms: pronouns in general do not display vocative forms, and the nominative is filled by the nominative form of the pronoun for the proper person, first, second, or third, or by the noun itself. Moreover we find the enclitic form си for the dative, and as with other pronouns the genitive form often appears where an accusative would be expected.

8.3 Third Person Pronoun

Old Russian contains a number of pronouns which can serve to mark the third person. However all except one have some sort of deictic force (that is, they point to something) and are more or less proximal or distal (that is, they point to something relatively close to, or far from, the speaker). The one pronoun which has no special deictic force is 'he'. As it happens, this pronoun does not occur in the nominative, hence the asterisk showing that the form does not occur in extant texts, but rather that it is reconstructed. As we have seen above, the nominative of pronouns is only used for emphasis. Thus when the utterance calls for a nominative pronominal form, Old Russian often employs the nominative of one of the many deictic pronouns available: тъ 'that one', онъ 'that one over there' (distal), or less frequently сь 'this one' (proximal).

The basic stem of the third person pronoun is *j-. When followed by the proper nominative masculine ending -ĭ, this yields *jĭ, which in Cyrillic is written as . The masculine accusative form does occur, and it is identical to the nominative form: и. The reader must take care to distinguish this from the conjunction и 'and'. Consider the phrase пожьжє и "She burned it", taken from the story of Olga's Revenge, where и here refers to the masculine noun градъ 'city' in the accusative singular. The following table gives the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.      
A   и   ѥ   ю
G   єго   єго   єѣ, єя
L   ємь   ємь   єи
D   єму   єму   єи
I   имь   имь   єю
V            
             
N Du.      
A   я   и   и
G   єю   єю   єю
L   єю   єю   єю
D   има   има   има
I   има   има   има
V            
             
N Pl.       *ѣ, *я
A   ѣ, я   я   ѣ, я
G   ихъ   ихъ   ихъ
L   ихъ   ихъ   ихъ
D   имъ   имъ   имъ
I   ими   ими   ими
V            

The nominative forms of this pronoun do occur in composition. In particular they occur as the final elements of the long-form adjectives. Moreover, when followed by the enclitic conjunction жє 'and', the resulting forms ижє, єжє, яжє, etc., function as relative pronouns. The first element is declined in accordance with the grammatical necessities of the clause in which it occurs, while the appended conjunction remains invariable. Thus ижє 'he who' (nominative) or ижє 'he whom' (accusative), єгожє 'he of whom' or 'it of which' (genitive), єѣжє 'she of whom' (genitive), єюжє 'the two of whom' (genitive), имъжє 'those to whom' (dative), etc.

While the genitive of the masculine pronoun, єго, often replaces the accusative и, this does not typically occur for the neuter and feminine genders. Thus we typically find accusatives ѥ 'it' and ю 'her', and єго 'of it' and єѣ 'of her' retain their genitive function.

One special point worth noting is the form these pronouns take when following prepositions. Certain prepositions contained a historical final *-n which in most environments was lost. For example въ 'in(to)', from *ŭn < *on: compare OCS ѫтрь 'inside' from *on-trĭ-, relative of Latin inter. When followed by the masculine accusative singular pronoun, this resulted in a sequence *vŭn jĭ 'into it'. Apparently the same tendency toward open syllables found in the rest of the Slavic languages applied here, and the word boundaries were re-analyzed as *vŭ njĭ > *vŭ n'ĭ. This yields in Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic въ н҄ь. In this way the pronoun developed a prothetic n when following a preposition. This n- subsequently extended to other cases, e.g. *vŭn jemĭ 'in it' became въ н҄ємь. And finally this spread to other prepositions, even those without a historical final *-n. The result is that in Old Russian, as in Old Church Slavonic, the third person pronoun receives a prothetic n- following any preposition: for example, отъ н҄єго 'out of it'.

9 The Present System

The present system, that is those forms which derive from the present tense stem, comprises: the present tense, the imperfect, the imperative, the present participles active and passive, and the infinitive. We have already seen in Section 4 the basic formation of the present tense and the imperfect. In the following we examine the basic formation of the remaining elements of the present system.

9.1 The Imperative

The Old Russian present tense form of verbs refers to actions viewed as actually ongoing at the time of utterance, or viewed as actually about to happen in the near future. The imperfect similarly denotes actual actions, though ones which occurred prior to the moment of utterance. The imperative, by contrast, denotes not actual actions, but potential or desired actions. Properly speaking, we say that the imperative is a different mood. The present and imperfect forms we have seen, denoting actions viewed as real, are said to be in the indicative mood.

The imperative, then, is a separate mood. Specifically, the imperative denotes commands: actions which, by definition, have not occurred. Thus where несеши is 'you are carrying', the imperative неси is the direct command 'carry!' Similarly, where несеть is 'he is carrying', the imperative неси is 'let him carry!'

The forms of the imperative derive ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European optative, a mood signifying wish or desire. The marker of the PIE optative is *-oi-. As this passed into Proto-Slavic, the diphthong *-oi- became the monophthong CS *-ě-. But as this process completed, any velar consonants preceding this *-ě- were subject to second palatalization. Thus for example the verb рєчи 'to speak', with present stem рек-, shows the following second person dual imperative: CS *rek-oi-ta > Old Russian рьцѣта 'Speak, you (two)!' When in final position, this original *-oi- monophthongized as . Hence the second person singular imperative: *rek-oi > Old Russian рьци 'Speak!' The suffix *-oi- also appears as -и- in a palatal environment, i.e. when following -j- or another palatal consonant.

The following chart provides an example of the imperative forms for verbs from each present class. Note that the stem of the verb знати 'to know' is znaj-, ending with the palatal glide -j-. In this environment the reflex of PIE *-oi- becomes -и-. Moreover note that verbs of Class V often show a special ending, , in the second and third person singular imperative. This ending is typically accompanied by palatalization of the preceding consonant. In addition, we see that the reflex of PIE *-oi- in the Class V verb дати 'to give' is -и- throughout the paradigm, though there is no palatal environment.

Class   I   II   III   IV   V
Infinitive   нєсти   двигнути   знати   любити   дати
Meaning   carry   move   know   love   give
Stem   nes-   dvign-   znaj-   ljub-i-   dad-
                     
Imperative                    
1 Sg.   -   -   -   -   -
2   нєси   двигни   знаи   любл҄и   дажь
3   нєси   двигни   знаи   любл҄и   дажь
                     
1 Du.   нєсѣвѣ   двигнѣвѣ   знаивѣ   любл҄ивѣ   дадивѣ
2   нєсѣта   двигнѣта   знаита   любл҄ита   дадита
3   -   -   -   -   -
                     
1 Pl.   нєсѣмъ   двигнѣмъ   знаимъ   любл҄имъ   дадимъ
2   нєсѣтє   двигнѣтє   знаитє   любл҄итє   дадитє
3   -   -   -   -   -

Note that the Old Russian imperative lacks a first person singular form. Likewise it lacks forms for the third person dual and plural. In circumstances which call for such forms, Old Russian typically employs the particle да 'so that' together with the appropriate form of the present tense.

9.2 Participles & the Infinitive

The present active participle make take one of two stems, -уч- or -яч-, which is added to the present tense stem of the verb. The determination of which stem is employed with a given verb may be most easily divined by comparison with the third person plural present tense form of the verb: if the vowel of the ending is -у-, then so too is the vowel of the present active participle stem; if the third person plural shows a form in -я-, then the participle likewise shows -я- in the stem. For example, нєсти 'to carry' has third person plural present нєсуть; the participle stem is therefore нєсуч-. By contrast the verb глаголати 'to speak' has third person plural глаголять, and so the participle shows the same vocalism: глаголяч-.

One should note, however, that the influence of Old Church Slavonic shows itself strongly in the participles, and texts often exhibit the OCS form of the present active participle. Thus where the native Old Russian stem would be -уч-, we frequently find the OCS form -ѫшт-; likewise in place of -яч- we frequently find the OCS form -ѧшт-. Thus Old Russian texts frequently employ нєсѫшт- where нєсуч- is expected, and глаголѩшт- for expected глаголяч-.

Moreover the masculine nominative singular form is special: or , the latter in palatal environments. This form may be applied to any verb. The following chart provides an example for each of the present tense classes outlined in Section 4.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Masc. G Sg.
I   нєсти   carry   нєс-уть   нєс-а   нєс-уч-а
II   двигнути   move   двигн-уть   двигн-а   двигн-уч-а
III   знати   know   зна-ють   зна-я   зна-юч-а
IV   любити   love   любл-ять   любл-я   любл-яч-а
V   дати   give   дадять   дад-а   дад-уч-а

The full declension of the present active participles is discussed in Section 26.

The present passive participle is formed by means of the suffix -мъ applied to the present tense stem. This suffix is preceded by a vowel, either -о-, -є-, or -и- depending on the class of the verb. For example нєсти 'to carry' has present passive participle нєсомъ 'being carried', while глаголати 'to speak' has present passive participle глаголємъ 'being spoken'. The details of the formation are discussed in Section 32. The declension follows that of o/a-stem adjectives, as outlined in Section 12 of the following lesson.

The ending -ти characterizes the infinitive. The form of the infinitive is invariable. The final consonant of verbal roots ending in a consonant, such as the root вєд- 'lead' or рєк- 'say', often undergoes a shift when preceding the -т- of the infinitive ending: вєсти 'to lead', рєчи 'to say'.

10 Conjunctions & Particles

Many of the Old Russian texts recount historical narratives and discourse between various participants. The language employs numerous particles that serve to guide the reader or listener through the myriad shades of dependence, implication, and contrast that exist between clauses and the ideas they represent. Some particles stand independently and receive an accent of their own (proclitic), while others must generally follow an accented word (enclitic). The selection below highlights the most common conjunctions and particles, giving a sense of their English connotations and examples of their use.

  • а, али 'but, and': Proclitic. Contrasts two statements with one another, but with weaker adversative force than its cousin нъ listed below: И сѣдаша Къӏи на горѣ, идєжє нъӏнѣ убозъ Боричєвъ, а Щєкъ сѣдашє на горѣ, идєжє нъӏнѣ зовється Щєковица "And Kyi settled on the hill, where now (there is) Boris's Pass, but Shek settled on the hill, where now it's called Shekovica" (Primary Chronicle). Often able to be translated as 'and': єдиномѹ имя Къӏи, а другому Щєкъ, а трєтиєму Хоривъ "The name to one was Kyi, and to the second was Shek, and to the third was Khoriv".
  • ако, ӏако, яко, ѣко 'that, so that, how, when, since, as': Proclitic. In its most basic sense, this functions as a pointer to another clause. Often that clause represents a quotation, either direct or indirect. When the quotation is indirect, ако parallels English usage of that in collocations such as He said that he was going...: Ини жє, нє съвѣдѹщє, рѣша, яко Къӏи єсть пєрєвозьникъ бъӏлъ "And they, not knowing, said that Kyi had been a ferryman" (Primary Chronicle). But Old Russian may also introduce direct quotations with яко, a role which that does not fill in English. When the clause pointed to provides a goal or purpose, яко most closely resembles English so that. Often the clause introduced by яко serves to explain the main clause, and so яко may be rendered by English since, how, when.
  • ащє 'if, whether': Proclitic. This introduces a condition, serving to mark the beginning of the subordinate clause (the protasis, or clause setting up the hypothesis, in classical terminology): ащє ся въвадить вълкъ въ овьцѣ, то въӏносить вьсе стадо "If a wolf is introduced among the sheep, then he will carry off the whole flock" (Primary Chronicle).
  • бо 'for, because, since': Enclitic. This conjunction marks a transition between independent clauses and usually forms the second element of the clause in which it stands. The clause containing бо typically serves to explain the reason underlying the preceding statement: "...да поиди за къняжь нашь, за Малъ." Бѣ бо имя єму Малъ "'... marry our prince, Mal.' For his name was Mal" (Primary Chronicle).
  • да 'that, in order that': Proclitic. This conjunction introduces a clause stating a purpose, a final result, or a command. Consider the following example: да поиди, къняжє, съ нами въ дань, да и тъӏ добудєши и мъӏ "That you go (i.e. Go!), prince, with us after tribute, so that you too find reward as we" (Primary Chronicle). Here the first instance of да marks a command, while the second marks a clause denoting the purpose or result.
  • жє 'on the other hand, or, and': Enclitic. This conjunction marks a weak transition between clauses: Ольга жє бяшє Къӏєвѣ съ съӏнъмь своимь... "And Olga was in Kiev with her son..." (Primary Chronicle). Its frequent occurrence often means that it may be left untranslated. Following the third person pronoun 'he' it yields the relative pronoun ижє 'he who', and it frequently accompanies indefinite pronouns such as никъто 'no one'.
  • и 'and; even, too'; и... и 'both... and': Proclitic. The coordinating conjunction и provides the most ubiquitous method of joining parallel entities, whether they be clauses, phrases, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and so on. The conjunction serves to set the coordinated elements side by side, creating a narrative sequence. As such it stands between the coordinated elements, following the former, preceding the latter: И възъва я Ольга къ собѣ, и рєчє имъ... "And Olga summoned them to herself, and she said to them..." (Primary Chronicle). In this example the first instance of и joins the entire statement to the preceding statement in the narrative; the second instance of и joins one clause within the statement to the other. Frequently, however, the repetition of и before each of a sequence of parallel items has the force of English both... and. The particle и also has an adverbial use within a clause, akin to English even, too, or also: въринѹша я въ яму и съ лодиєю "they threw them into the pit with the boat too" (Primary Chronicle).
  • ли 'or; whether'; ли... ли 'either... or': Proclitic. This particle generally introduces an option, and for this reason a sequence of items (clauses, nouns, or otherwise), each preceded by ли, has the force of English either... or. When the conjunction introduces a single clause, it generally marks a question as with English if or whether in statements such as I don't know if you are going... or I don't know whether you are going.... Unlike English if and whether, but similar to яко above, ли can mark a direct question: добра ли въӏ чьсть? "Is the honor good for you?" (Primary Chronicle) As the reader can see, ли is not uniformly proclitic.
  • нє 'not'; нє... ни 'neither... nor': Proclitic. The particle нє provides simple negation in Old Russian, standing before the item it negates, and generally occurring only once in a clause. In a sequence of negated items, нє negates the first item, while ни precedes and negates all subsequent items: : нє ѣдємъ на конихъ, ни пѣши идємъ, нъ понєсѣтє нъӏ въ лодии "Neither will we ride on horses, nor will we go on foot, but carry us in the boat" (Primary Chronicle).
  • нъ 'but': Proclitic. This is the default adversative conjunction joining two clauses. It sets the clause in contrast to the preceding clause: нє ѣдємъ на конихъ, ни пѣши идємъ, нъ понєсѣтє нъӏ въ лодии "Neither will we ride on horses, nor will we go on foot, but carry us in the boat" (Primary Chronicle).
  • то 'then, so, thus': Proclitic. This forms the correlative to ащє 'if'. The particle stands at the beginning of the conclusion of a conditional statement (at the head of the main clause -- the apodosis in classical terminology, the then-clause in simpler terms): ащє ся въвадить вълкъ въ овьцѣ, то въӏносить вьсе стадо "If a wolf is introduced among the sheep, then he will carry off the whole flock" (Primary Chronicle).
  • ѥгда, єгда 'when, if': Proclitic. This stands that the head of a subordinate clause: Егда жє събъӏсться прорєчєниє сихъ, сънидє на зємлю... "When their prophecy was fulfilled, he came to the earth..." (Primary Chronicle).
  • ѥда, єда 'surely not': Proclitic. This particle introduces a question to which the expected response is negative, or a clause introducing an unintended or undesirable result: то присълитє мужа нарочитъӏ, да въ вєлицѣ чисти поидѹ за вашь кънязь, єда нє пустять мєнє людиє Къӏєвьстии "... then send me your best men, that I marry your prince in great honor, or surely the Kievan people will not permit me" (Primary Chronicle).

Old Russian Online

Lesson 3

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

III. External Influence on the Early Russian State

While the archaeological evidence provides us with some understanding of the breadth of cultures present in the surrounding region and the extent of the commercial networks tying them to one another, it necessarily provides incomplete information as to how the Eastern Slavs rose from this cultural milieu to obtain some measure of prominence in the 10th century AD. For this we turn to the literary record.

Our principal source for the emergence of the Eastern Slavs as a cultural and political entity distinguishing itself, often by force, from the neighboring tribes is the Russian Primary Chronicle, also known as the Nestorian Chronicle after its author, or as the Tale of Bygone Years. For the purposes of understanding the earliest period of the nascent Russian state, this text too presents numerous difficulties, not least of which is the fact that it was composed in the early 12th century, centuries removed from the earliest events of the Russian polity that it purports to record.

One of the signature events marked down in the Primary Chronicle is the episode narrating the Invitation to the Varangians. From the narrative it is clear that the author considers the Varangians to be a Scandinavian people. They had formerly resided for a time among the Eastern Slavs, demanding tribute. But the dissatisfied Slavs ousted the unwelcome lot and they were forced to return to their homeland across the Baltic. For a time the Slavs enjoyed their freedom from tribute, but the Chronicle tells that they soon began to fight amongst themselves. Ultimately the strife increased to such a point that they sought an external arbiter: they invited the Varangians back to rule over them once more and stamp out the tribal discord.

The Chronicle records these events under the year 862 AD. This marks what scholars take to be the first indications of a rising Russian state. The Chronicle describes how three brothers from among the Rus, which the text notes is a particular subgroup among the Varangians, heeded the call and came to take their place as princes of their own respective territories among the Eastern Slavs. Quickly two of the brothers died, and the surviving brother, Rjurik, gained control over their territories as well. This marks the beginning of the first ruling dynasty in Russian history. From this lone Scandinavian prince the first several generations of Russian princes draw their heritage. But as we see from the development of the Chronicle, within a couple generations the names of the rulers have dropped their Scandinavian appearance in favor of clearly Slavic names, beginning with Svjatoslav, son of Igor, in turn son of Rjurik.

One of the principal questions, therefore, surrounding the nascent Russian state is what exactly was the nature of the relation between the Scandinavians and the Eastern Slavs as the Rus came to rule over them. After the purported arrival of the Scandinavian princes, to what degree did these foreign-born nobles assimilate into the Eastern Slavic culture? When does the term Rus truly cease to apply solely to an imported gentry and begin to apply to a uniform culture of Eastern Slavs as distinct from other ethnicities in the region? In seeking to answer these questions, we must understand something of the mix of cultures surrounding the Eastern Slavs, as well as the particular interaction with the Scandinavians and the early use of the term Rus.

III.i Surrounding Peoples

The region between the Carpathians and the Urals during the 9th and 10th centuries was surely not inhabited only, nor even predominantly, by the Eastern Slavs. From the 7th century BC onward Greek and Latin sources speak of the Scythians, an Iranian people, above the northern shores of the Black Sea. They in turn yielded to the Sarmatians, another group arriving from the Iranian-speaking expanses of the Near East. By the 4th century AD we find that the Goths, a Germanic people, have moved into this region. But with the encroachment of the nomadic Huns driving in from the east, the Goths pushed west with disastrous consequences for the Roman Empire.

A similar story holds for the following centuries, with the Eurasian steppe proving as effective for the movement of peoples and invading armies as for the transport of fine silks and precious metals. The Huns in their turn were displaced by the Avars, a Turkic people who likewise swept in across the steppe. But by the 7th century this group too was pushed aside by the newly arrived Khazars. Their newly founded dominion, or khaganate, sat astride the northern shores of the Black and Caspian Seas. As such, Kiev found itself subject to Khazar influence, although it seems that this relationship showed more signs of mutual benefit through commerce than subjugation through strife. Though the Khazars were in origin a Turkic people, their seat of power Itil, at the mouth of the Volga on the Caspian shore, developed into a multicultural hub of regional trade. The ruling dynasty ultimately adopted Judaism as its official religion, in stark contrast to the wave of Christianity that emanated from Byzantium and ultimately engulfed early Russia.

Nor does the region become any more homogenous as we move northward. Spread throughout the forested regions of the north central plain we encounter numerous vestiges of Finno-Ugric tribes. Along the Kama river we find mentioned the Permians. Near the confluence of the Oka and Volga rivers early documents locate a tribe called the Meria. The Vesh, also a tribe of the Finno-Ugric family, inhabit the area surrounding the source of the Volga in the central Uplands. To the west, where the Baltic coast gradually begins to rise northward, sources place the Chud, probably to be identified with the Estonians. The many Finno-Ugric tribes left their impression on the Old Russian language and the placenames of the region.

III.ii Scandinavians

Scholars generally agree that, in this earliest period of the dawn of Russian history, no people had a more profound and enduring impact than the Scandinavians. However the nature and scope of that impact has incited virulent scholarly debate that has only recently begun to subside. We have already seen that the Scandinavians early injected themselves into the burgeoning trade that was rising throughout Eastern Europe and the Eurasian Steppe. Archaeological finds confirm beyond doubt the presence of Scandinavian traders as early as the beginning of the 9th century, if not before.

A sober reading of the archaeological evidence admits that the Scandinavians maintained an early and consistent presence within the Eastern European forested lands and their waterways. But they were clearly one among many different ethnicities taking advantage of the natural bounty of the region, together with the rising trade network in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Nevertheless artifacts and burial practices show that Scandinavians occupied an important place among these various ethnicities: often, if not themselves the founders, they were present close to the founding of many of the major trading outposts along the Baltic, the inland lakes, and the waterways. And their skill at mercantile enterprise greased the works of the nascent trading economy.

Where the true debate arises is in the prominence the Old Russian literary accounts afford the Scandinavians. In its most heated form, the debate for decades divided the scholarly community into "Normanist" and "anti-Normanist" camps: the former assigned to the Scandinavians a primary impetus for the formation of the emerging Russian state, while the latter largely rejected any notable influence whatsoever of Scandinavians on the Eastern Slavic peoples. In particular the debate surrounds the terms Rus (Rusĭ) and Varangian (Varjagi) and whether these terms should be taken to apply (solely) to Scandinavians or (also) to Slavs. The Old Russian Primary Chronicle recounts how the Rus and Varangians were Scandinavian people "from across the (Baltic) sea". Thus one of the principal documents on which scholars base their understanding of the early East Slavs makes a distinction between the Rus and Varangians, on the one hand, and the native East Slavic culture on the other. The implication is that, not only are the Rus a different people, but the are from a very different place.

But as the Old Russian narrative continues we see a shift in the use of the term Rus. Where in the initial invitation it clearly provided, from the perspective of the Slavic author, a differentiation between "us" and "them", its subsequent use blurs that distinction. As the story progresses, Rus seems to refer to groups which, although they certainly contained an element derived from that original Varangian influx, must also have contained members of local heritage. That is, the term Rus eventually applies to people who must be, and must always have been, Eastern Slavs.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following extract, together with those from Lessons 4-7, form one continuous narrative. The narrative stems from a particular self-contained episode within the Primary Chronicle. The particular edition of the text we follow here is reproduced in Charles E. Gribble's excellent collection Medieval Slavic Texts. Volume 1: Old and Middle Russian Texts (1973), pages 158-160.

The episode below recounts the events surrounding the death of the prince Igor, son of Rjurik, and at that time ruler of Kiev. We find that Igor's wife Olga, angered by the death of her husband, seeks to exact revenge. The passage contains a description of the journey of the Derevlians as they travel to the court of Olga. We find a brief description of some of the geographic features of the region. The events are listed under the year 945 AD in the chronicle. The excerpt below lists lines 1-38 from Gribble's text.

1 - В лѣто ,ѕ. у. н г.

  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- the year
  • ѕ -- number; <ѕ> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • у -- number; <у> four hundred -- four hundred
  • н -- number; <н> fifty -- fifty
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three

2-5 - В се же лѣто рекоша дружина игореви ѡтроци свѣньлъжи исодѣли сѧ суть ѡружьємъ и порты а мъӏ нази. поиди кнѧжє с нами в дань да и ты добудеши и мъӏ.
  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • се -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- year
  • рекоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • дружина -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- the retinue
  • игореви -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- to Igor
  • ѡтроци -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <отрокъ> boy, servant -- retainers
  • свѣньлъжи -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <свѣньлжь> of Sveinald, relating to Sveinald, Sveinald's -- Sveinald's
  • исодѣли -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <изодѣӏати сѧ, -одѣѭ сѧ, -одѣѥши сѧ> be dressed up, be adorned -- clothed
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- are
  • ѡружьємъ -- noun; neuter instrumental singular of <орѫжьє> weapon, sword -- with swords
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • порты -- noun; masculine instrumental plural of <пъртъӏ> (pl.) dress, clothes, garments -- garments
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • мъӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <азъ> I -- we
  • нази -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <нагъ> naked -- naked
  • поиди -- verb; 2nd person singular imperative of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- Go
  • кнѧжє -- noun; masculine vocative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • нами -- pronoun; instrumental plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- after
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- that
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • ты -- pronoun; nominative singular of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • добудеши -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <добъӏти, -бѫдѫ, -бѫдєши> get, attain -- obtain (it)
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- as
  • мъӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <азъ> I -- we

5-7 - послуша ихъ игорь. иде в дерева в дань и примъӏшлѧше къ первои дани насилѧше имъ и мужи єго.
  • послуша -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <послѹшати, -аѭ, -аѥши> hear, listen -- heeded
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <*и> he -- them
  • игорь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • иде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- he went
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • дерева -- proper noun; masculine accusative plural of <Дєрєвъӏ> Dereva (placename) -- Dereva
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- after
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • примъӏшлѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <примъӏслити, -шлѭ, -слиши> devise, contrive, invent; add to, increase -- he added
  • къ -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • первои -- adjective; feminine dative singular of <пръвъ> first -- the first
  • дани -- noun; feminine dative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • насилѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <насилити, -лѭ, -лиши> do violence to, force, oppress (w. dat.) -- oppressed
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • мужи -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his

7-11 - возьємавъ дань поиде въ градъ свои. идуще же ємѹ въспѧть размъӏсливъ рече дружинѣ своєи идѣте съ данью домови, а я возъвращю сѧ похожю и єще.
  • возьємавъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <възьмати, -ємл҄ѭ, -ємл҄ѥши> take, take up -- Having seized
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- the tribute
  • поиде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- he went
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • градъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- city
  • свои -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • идуще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- having come # Should be dative singular to agree with pronoun; here frozen as gerund.
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • ємѹ -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <*и> he -- ... # Together with the preceding participle, this should form a dative absolute. The construction is not absolute, however, since this pronoun refers to Igor, who is also the subject of the main clause.
  • въспѧть -- adverb; <въспѧть> back, toward the back, in reverse, in return -- back
  • размъӏсливъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <размъӏслити, -шлѭ, -слиши> think, consider -- (and) having changed (his) mind
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- he said
  • дружинѣ -- noun; feminine dative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- to... retinue
  • своєи -- adjective; feminine dative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • идѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- Go
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • данью -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <дань> tribute -- the tribute
  • домови -- noun; masculine dative singular of <домъ> house -- home
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • я -- pronoun; nominative singular of <азъ> I -- I
  • возъвращю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <възвратити, -штѫ, -тиши> give back; (refl.) come back -- I will turn back
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • похожю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <походити, -ждѫ, -диши> go, go around -- (and) will walk back
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- yet
  • єще -- adverb; <єщє> still -- again

11-13 - пусти дружину свою домови. съ маломъ же дружинъӏ возъврати сѧ желаӏа больша имѣньӏа.
  • пусти -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <пѹстити, -штѫ, -стиши> allow, let, free; send (away) -- He sent
  • дружину -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- retinue
  • свою -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • домови -- noun; masculine dative singular of <домъ> house -- home
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • маломъ -- adjective used as substantive; neuter instrumental singular of <малъ> small, young -- a small (part)
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- and
  • дружинъӏ -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- of (his) retinue
  • возъврати -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <възвратити, -штѫ, -тиши> give back; (refl.) come back -- he returned
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • желаӏа -- participle; masculine nominative singular of <жєлати, -лаѭ, -лаѥши> desire, want, wish for -- desiring
  • больша -- comparative adjective; neuter accusative plural of <бол҄ьи> bigger, more -- more
  • имѣньӏа -- noun; neuter accusative plural of <имѣньє> having, possession, property -- possessions

13-19 - слъӏшавше же деревлѧне ӏако ѡпѧть идеть. сдумавше со кнѧземъ своимъ маломъ, аще сѧ въвадить волкъ в овцѣ, то въӏносить все стадо, аще не ѹбьють єго. тако и се -- аще не ѹбьємъ єго, то все нъӏ погубить -- послаша к нему глаголюще, почто идеши ѡпѧть. поималъ єси всю дань.
  • слъӏшавше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <слъӏшати, -шѫ, -шиши> hear -- heard # With this and the following participle, note the frequent use of participles in Old Russian in place of a finite (conjugated) verb form.
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- that
  • ѡпѧть -- adverb; <опѧть> back -- back
  • идеть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- he (was) coming
  • сдумавше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <съдѹмати, -аѭ, -аѥши> deliberate, consider, take counsel -- (and) sought counsel
  • со -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • кнѧземъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their
  • маломъ -- proper noun; masculine instrumental singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- If
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- itself
  • въвадить -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <въвадити, -важдѫ, -вадиши> join; (refl.) introduce oneself, enter -- introduces
  • волкъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <влъкъ> wolf -- a wolf
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- among
  • овцѣ -- noun; feminine accusative plural of <овьца> sheep -- the sheep
  • то -- conjunction; <то> but, then, therefore -- then
  • въӏносить -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <въӏносити, -шѫ, -сиши> carry off, make off with -- make away with
  • все -- adjective; neuter accusative singular of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- the whole
  • стадо -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <стадо> herd -- flock
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- if
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • ѹбьють -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- they do... kill
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- it
  • тако -- adverb; <тако> thus, in this way -- So
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- also
  • се -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter nominative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- (with) this
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- if
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • ѹбьємъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- we do... kill
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- him
  • то -- conjunction; <то> but, then, therefore -- then
  • все -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all # Note the masculine plural ending instead of the expected or .
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • погубить -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <погѹбити, -блѭ, -биши> destroy -- will destroy
  • послаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- They sent
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • нему -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <*и> he -- him
  • глаголюще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- saying
  • почто -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for + interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- For what
  • идеши -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- do you return
  • ѡпѧть -- adverb; <опѧть> back -- ...
  • поималъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <поимати, -ѥмл҄ѭ, -ѥмл҄ѥши> take, take away -- taken
  • єси -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- you have
  • всю -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- the tribute

19-21 - и не послуша ихъ игорь. и въӏшедше изъ града изъкоръстѣнѧ деревлене ѹбиша игорѧ и дружину єго, бѣ бо ихъ мало.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- But
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • послуша -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <послѹшати, -аѭ, -аѥши> hear, listen -- did... heed
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <*и> he -- them
  • игорь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • въӏшедше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <вънити, -идѫ, -идєши> go into, enter -- having set forth
  • изъ -- preposition; <из> (w. gen.) from, out of -- from
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • изъкоръстѣнѧ -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Искоростѣнь> Iskorosten (name of a city) -- Iskorosten
  • деревлене -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • ѹбиша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- killed
  • игорѧ -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • дружину -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- retinue
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there were
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <*и> he -- of them
  • мало -- adjective used as substantive; neuter nominative singular of <малъ> small, young -- (just) a few

21-23 - и погребєнъ бъӏсть игорь. єсть могила єго ѹ искоръстѣнѧ града в деревѣхъ и до сего дне.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • погребєнъ -- past passive participle; masculine nominative singular of <погрєти, -грєбѫ, -грєбєши> bury -- buried # Note the use of the past passive participle in a true passive construction
  • бъӏсть -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • игорь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • могила -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <могъӏла> grave, tomb, burial mound -- grave # Note the use of -и- after a velar consonant where -ъӏ- is expected
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- near
  • искоръстѣнѧ -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Искоростѣнь> Iskorosten (name of a city) -- Iskorosten
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • деревѣхъ -- proper noun; masculine locative plural of <Дєрєвъӏ> Dereva (placename) -- Dereva
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- even
  • до -- preposition; <до> (w. gen.) to, up to; (with numerals) about -- up to
  • сего -- demonstrative adjective; masculine genitive singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • дне -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <дьнь> day -- day

23-26 - вольга же бѧше в києвѣ съ съӏнъмъ съ дѣтьскомъ свѧтославомъ и кормилець єго асмудъ. воєвода бѣ свѣнелдъ, тоже ѡтьць мистишинъ.
  • вольга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga # Note the insertion of в- before initial о-.
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • бѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • києвѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Къӏєвъ> Kiev, Kyiv (name of a city) -- Kiev
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • съӏнъмъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <съӏнъ> son -- (her) son
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- ...
  • дѣтьскомъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <дѣтьскъ> childish -- the child
  • свѧтославомъ -- proper noun; masculine instrumental singular of <Свѧтославъ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav # Note here and frequently elsewhere in the text the back jer in the instrumental singular ending, rather than the expected front jer : -омь. Such alternation is frequent both in Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic texts. One must be careful not to confuse such forms with the dative plural.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- as well as
  • кормилець -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <кръмильць> tutor, teacher, pedagogue -- tutor
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • асмудъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Асмудъ> Asmud, Asmund, Asmundr (Scandinavian name) -- Asmund
  • воєвода -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <воєвода> (military) commander, vojevoda -- (His) commander
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • свѣнелдъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Свѣньлдъ> Sveinald (Scandinavian name) -- Sveinald
  • тоже -- conjunction; <тожє> also, and -- ...
  • ѡтьць -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <отьць> father -- father
  • мистишинъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <мистишинъ> of Mistisha, relating to Mistisha, Mistisha's -- of Mistisha

26-29 - рѣша же деревлѧне, се кнѧзѧ ѹбихомъ рускаго. поимемъ жену єго вольгу за кнѧзь свои малъ и свѧтослава, и створимъ єму ӏако же хощемъ.
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • се -- interjection; <сє> lo, behold -- Lo!
  • кнѧзѧ -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- the... prince
  • ѹбихомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- We have killed
  • рускаго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <рѹсьскъ> Rus (Rus'), of the Rus, relating to the Rus, Rusian, Russian -- Russian
  • поимемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <поѩти, -имѫ, -имєши> take, seize -- (Let us) take # Either a present form used with imperative force, or поимемъ a variant spelling of поимѣмъ
  • жену -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <жєна> woman, wife -- wife
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • вольгу -- proper noun; feminine accusative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- for
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • свои -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- our # Note the use of the 3rd person reflexive pronominal adjective when the referent is 1st person
  • малъ -- proper noun; masculine accusative singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- as well as
  • свѧтослава -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Свѧтославъ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav # This is a second direct object of поимємъ, parallel to жену. Note the use of the genitive instead of the accusative for Свѧтослава, whereas we find the expected accusative form Малъ after за.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • створимъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <сътворити, -рѭ, -риши> do, make -- we will do
  • єму -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <*и> he -- with him
  • ӏако же -- conjunction; <ӏакожє> as, like, than, so as to -- as
  • хощемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- we wish

29-31 - и послаша деревлѧне лучьшиє мужи числомъ .к. въ лодьи к ользѣ.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • послаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • лучьшиє -- comparative adjective; masculine accusative plural of <лѹчьи, лѹчє, лѹчьши> better -- (their) best
  • мужи -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • числомъ -- noun; neuter instrumental singular of <число> number -- by number
  • к -- number; <к> twenty -- 20
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- a boat
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • ользѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga

31-35 - и присташа подъ боричєвъӏмъ в лодьи. бѣ бо тогда вода текущи въздолѣ горъӏ києвьскиӏа и на подольи не сѣдѧху людьє, но на горѣ. градъ же бѣ києвъ, идеже єсть нъӏнѣ дворъ гордѧтинъ и никифоровъ.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • присташа -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <пристати, -станѫ, -станєши> stand near; be near, be present; come, arrive -- they arrived
  • подъ -- preposition; <подъ> (w. acc.) under, below (object of motion); (w. instr.) under, below (location) -- below
  • боричєвъӏмъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine instrumental singular of <боричєвъ> of Boris, relating to Boris; (subst. m.) the Borichev (a trail between upper and lower reaches of Kiev) -- the Borichev
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- a boat
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- For
  • тогда -- adverb; <тогда> then -- at that time
  • вода -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <вода> water -- water
  • текущи -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <тєшти, тєкѫ, тєчєши> run, rush, flow; follow, pursue -- flowing
  • въздолѣ -- preposition; <въздолѣ> (w. gen.) below, at the bottom of -- at the foot
  • горъӏ -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <гора> mountain -- of the... hill
  • києвьскиӏа -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <кыѥвьскъ> of Kiev, of Kyiv, Kievan -- Kievan
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- at
  • подольи -- noun; neuter locative singular of <подольѥ> valley, vale; base, foundation -- the base
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • сѣдѧху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- had not settled
  • людьє -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the people
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • горѣ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <гора> mountain -- the hill
  • градъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- a city
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there was
  • києвъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Кыѥвъ> Kiev, Kyiv -- Kiev
  • идеже -- adverb; <идє> where; since; however + conjunction; <жє> and, but -- where
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • нъӏнѣ -- adverb; <нъӏн҄ӏа, нъӏнѣ> now -- now
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the court
  • гордѧтинъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <гордӏатинъ> of Gordjata, of Gordyata -- of Gordjata
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • никифоровъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <никифоровъ> of Nicephorus -- Nicephorus

35-38 - а дворъ кнѧжь бѧше в городѣ идеже єсть дворъ демьстиковъ за свѧтою богородицею надъ горою. дворъ теремъӏи, бѣ бо ту теремъ каменъ.
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the... court
  • кнѧжь -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <кънѧжь> of a prince, relating to a prince, princely -- prince's
  • бѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • городѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city # Note the alternation, within a few lines, between градъ and городъ.
  • идеже -- adverb; <идє> where; since; however + conjunction; <жє> and, but -- where
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the court
  • демьстиковъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <деместиковъ> of the domesticus, relating to the domesticus (originally within Byzantine tradition a term denoting the leader of certain guard units; later a term applied to certain civil and ecclesiastical posts, in particular to the choir leader) -- of the domesticus
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- behind
  • свѧтою -- adjective; feminine instrumental singular of <свѧтъ> holy, blessed -- the Holy
  • богородицею -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <богородица> mother of God -- Mother of God # Likely the title of a church.
  • надъ -- preposition; <надъ> (w. acc. or instr.) over, above -- above
  • горою -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <гора> mountain -- the hill
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- (It is) the... court
  • теремъӏи -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <трѣмьнъ> of a tower, relating to a tower, relating to a castle -- tower
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • ту -- adverb; <тѹ> there; then -- there
  • теремъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <трѣмъ> tower, castle; home, residence -- a tower
  • каменъ -- noun; masculine genitive plural of <камъӏ> stone, rock -- of stones

Lesson Text

1 - В лѣто ,ѕ. у. н г.

2-5 - В се же лѣто рекоша дружина игореви ѡтроци свѣньлъжи исодѣли сѧ суть ѡружьємъ и порты а мъӏ нази. поиди кнѧжє с нами в дань да и ты добудеши и мъӏ. 5-7 - послуша ихъ игорь. иде в дерева в дань и примъӏшлѧше къ первои дани насилѧше имъ и мужи єго. 7-11 - возьємавъ дань поиде въ градъ свои. идуще же ємѹ въспѧть размъӏсливъ рече дружинѣ своєи идѣте съ данью домови, а я возъвращю сѧ похожю и єще. 11-13 - пусти дружину свою домови. съ маломъ же дружинъӏ возъврати сѧ желаӏа больша имѣньӏа. 13-19 - слъӏшавше же деревлѧне ӏако ѡпѧть идеть. сдумавше со кнѧземъ своимъ маломъ, аще сѧ въвадить волкъ в овцѣ, то въӏносить все стадо, аще не ѹбьють єго. тако и се -- аще не ѹбьємъ єго, то все нъӏ погубить -- послаша к нему глаголюще, почто идеши ѡпѧть. поималъ єси всю дань. 19-21 - и не послуша ихъ игорь. и въӏшедше изъ града изъкоръстѣнѧ деревлене ѹбиша игорѧ и дружину єго, бѣ бо ихъ мало. 21-23 - и погребєнъ бъӏсть игорь. єсть могила єго ѹ искоръстѣнѧ града в деревѣхъ и до сего дне. 23-26 - вольга же бѧше в києвѣ съ съӏнъмъ съ дѣтьскомъ свѧтославомъ и кормилець єго асмудъ. воєвода бѣ свѣнелдъ, тоже ѡтьць мистишинъ. 26-29 - рѣша же деревлѧне, се кнѧзѧ ѹбихомъ рускаго. поимемъ жену єго вольгу за кнѧзь свои малъ и свѧтослава, и створимъ єму ӏако же хощемъ. 29-31 - и послаша деревлѧне лучьшиє мужи числомъ .к. въ лодьи к ользѣ. 31-35 - и присташа подъ боричєвъӏмъ в лодьи. бѣ бо тогда вода текущи въздолѣ горъӏ києвьскиӏа и на подольи не сѣдѧху людьє, но на горѣ. градъ же бѣ києвъ, идеже єсть нъӏнѣ дворъ гордѧтинъ и никифоровъ. 35-38 - а дворъ кнѧжь бѧше в городѣ идеже єсть дворъ демьстиковъ за свѧтою богородицею надъ горою. дворъ теремъӏи, бѣ бо ту теремъ каменъ.

Translation

1 In the year 6453.
2-4 In this year the retinue said to Igor, "Sveinald's retainers are clothed with swords and garments, but we are naked. Go, prince, with us after tribute, that you obtain (it) as we." 5-7 Igor heeded them: he went to Dereva after tribute, and he added to the first tribute. He and his men oppressed them. 7-11 Having seized the tribute, he returned to his city. Having come back (and) having changed his mind, he said to his retinue, "Go home with the tribute. But I will turn back (and) will walk back yet again." 11-13 He sent his retinue home and with a small (part) of his retinue he returned, desiring more possessions. 13-19 But the Derevlians heard that he (was) coming back, (and) sought counsel with their prince Mal, "If a wolf introduces itself among the sheep, then it will make away with the whole flock, if they do not kill it. So also (with) this: if we do not kill him, he will destroy us all." They sent to him, saying, "For what do you return? You have taken all the tribute." 19-21 But Igor did not heed them. And having set forth from the city Iskorosten, the Derevlians killed Igor and his retinue, for there were (just) a few of them. 21-23 And Igor was buried. His grave is near the city Iskorosten in Dereva even to this day. 23-26 But Olga was in Kiev with her son, the child Svjatoslav, as well as his tutor Asmund. His commander was Sveinald, father of Mistisha. 26-29 And the Derevlians said, "Lo! We have killed the Russian prince. (Let us) take his wife Olga for our prince Mal, as well as Svjatoslav, and we will do with him as we wish." 29-31 And the Derevlians sent their best men, 20 by number, in a boat to Olga. 31-35 And they arrived below the Borichev in the boat. For at that time there was water flowing at the foot of the Kievan hill and the people had not settled at the base, but rather on the hill. And there was a city, Kiev, where the court of Gordjata and Nicephorus now is. 35-38 But the prince's court was in the city, where the court of the domesticus is behind the Holy Mother of God above the hill. (It is) the tower court, for there was a tower of stones.

Grammar

11 i- and u-Stem Nouns

After the o, jo- and a, ja-declensions the next most numerous class of nouns is the i-stem declension. Not only does it contain a large number of very common words, but over time words from less well-represented declensions often had a tendency to adopt endings from the i-declension. The u-declension by contrast contains very few words; the words it does contain, however, often come from the inherited core vocabulary of the language.

11.1 i-Stem Nouns

The i-stem declension ultimately derives its name from its role as representing the reflexes of the original declension of short-*i-stem nouns in Proto-Indo-European. But by a lucky twist of fate, or of historical phonology, the name remains apropos due to the fact that appears in a large number of the declensional endings, and those endings which do not contain often contain -ь- [-ĭ-]: in particular we see this in the dative plural, where we found the historical thematic vowel in the twofold declension. Thus, in contrast to the twofold or o, jo-declension, the name of the i-declension serves as a useful mnemonic device. Less helpful is the alternate terminology employed by some scholars: the simple nominal declension.

For the most part the nouns of the i-declension are feminine, though some masculine nouns also belong to this declension. For example, гость 'guest' and господь 'lord' are masculine i-stems, while вьсь 'village' and кѹпѣль 'bath' are feminine. The feminine noun кость 'bone' and the masculine noun путь 'way, path' serve to illustrate the declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   кость   кости   кости           путь   пути   путьє
A   кость   кости   кости           путь   пути   пути
G   кости   костью   костьи           пути   путью   путьи
L   кости   костью   костьхъ           пути   путью   путьхъ
D   кости   костьма   костьмъ           пути   путьма   путьмъ
I   костью   костьма   костьми           путьмь   путьма   путьми
V   кости   кости   кости           пути   пути   путьє

As we have seen numerous times in other declensions, the rules pertaining to strong/weak and tense jers apply. For example the front jer in the instrumental singular костью [kostĭju] is tense, so we often find the sequence -ĭj- vocalized as -и-: костию. Moreover, in the instrumental singular путьмь, the first (penultimate) jer falls in strong position, so that we occasionally find this form written as путємь. Similarly for other forms throughout the paradigm.

One also encounters situations in which i-stem nouns adopt endings from the twofold declension: whereas господь 'lord' typically shows the form господи in both genitive and dative singular, we occasionally find twofold forms господа and господу, respectively.

11.2 u-Stem Nouns

The u-declension consists of a handful of nouns, exclusively masculine, which maintain reflexes of the original Proto-Indo-European *u-stem nominal inflection. For example, the following masculine nouns belong to the u-declension: домъ 'house', чинъ 'order', станъ 'camp'. In Indo-European terms, the inflectional endings of this declension broke down into two types: those forms showing stem-final *-u- and those showing stem-final *-oō(t) or *-eō(t). The former provides the zero-grade of the root, the latter the *o- and *e-grades, respectively. In the linguistic evolution of Common Slavic we find that tautosyllabic *oō and *eō yield *u, while in heterosyllabic position they yield *-ov-. The latter occurs in particular before endings beginning with a vowel. This distinction provides for the characteristic alternation between endings showing -у- and endings showing -ов- that runs through the u-declension paradigm.

The masculine noun сынъ 'son' serves to illustrate the inflectional pattern followed by u-stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   сынъ   сынъӏ   сыновє
A   сынъ   сынъӏ   сынъӏ
G   сыну   сынову   сыновъ
L   сыну   сынову   сынъхъ
D   сынови   сынъма   сынъмъ
I   сынъмь   сынъма   сынъми
V   сыну   сынъӏ   сыновє

In this declension we find one of the few instances in which Old Russian texts appear more conservative than those of Old Church Slavonic. In particular, as is typical of Old Russian declensions, we see the Proto-Indo-European thematic vowel appear in the dative plural: сын-ъ-мъ, where the penultimate -ъ- is the regular Common Slavic reflex of PIE short *-u-, and hence also in both Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian. But in this particular form, we never find this reflex; rather we always find OCS съӏномъ. We would expect such a form in both Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian, either by virtue of the fact that the penultimate back jer is in strong position and so would vocalize as -о-, or because, owing to the relatively small number of u-stem nouns, we might expect conflation with the endings of the much more common o-stem nouns. In Old Russian we do in fact find the dative plural съӏномъ alongside съӏнъмъ for just this reason (whichever of the two choices it happens to be); but in Old Church Slavonic, as it happens, the more archaic reflex never appears in the extant texts. This applies as well for the instrumental singular съӏнъмь: this archaic form appears in Old Russian, but never in Old Church Slavonic, which retains only the fully vocalized form съӏномь.

As the above discussion might lead one to believe, Old Russian texts commonly show u-stem nouns with forms inflected along the lines of o-stems: thus the u-stem домъ 'home' shows an o-stem dative singular дому alongside the normal u-stem dative домови. This process works in both directions, so that the proper name Ольгъ 'Oleg', an o-stem noun, shows dative singular Ольгови.

Moreover, in a palatalized environment the sequence -jov- often fronts to -jev-. Thus instead of *конови (unattested) as an alternate to the expected dative коню 'to the horse', we find конєви; similarly we find воробиєвє 'sparrows' for the nominative plural of воробии. In addition, we even find the -ов- suffix inserted as if part of the nominal stem before another full ending: e.g. dative plural сыновомъ 'to the sons'.

12 o- and a-Stem Adjectives

Adjectives in Old Russian fall broadly into two categories: definite and indefinite, sometimes called long-form and short-form, or compound and simple, respectively. The indefinite category is the more basic in the sense that its formation is simpler, while the definite category derives its forms from a process of composition. In the broadest terms, the indefinite adjectives employ the endings of o- and jo-stem nouns for masculine and neuter forms, while they employ the endings of a- and ja-stem nouns for feminine forms. By contrast, definite adjectives employ not only the endings of the indefinite adjectives just described, but they append to these corresponding forms of the third person pronoun .

This section treats the indefinite adjectives. As with the nouns whose endings they employ, the indefinite adjectives fall into two basic classes: hard and soft stems.

12.1 Hard Indefinite Adjectives

The hard indefinite adjectives, or hard simple twofold adjectives, take their masculine and neuter forms from the o-stem nominal paradigm as outlined in Section 3.1 and their feminine forms from the a-stem nominal paradigm as outlined in Section 3.2. The adjective добро 'good' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   добръ   добро   добра
A   добръ   добро   добру
G   добра   добра   добры
L   добрѣ   добрѣ   добрѣ
D   добру   добру   добрѣ
I   добромь   добромь   доброю
V   добръ   добро   добра
             
N Du.   добра   добрѣ   добрѣ
A   добра   добрѣ   добрѣ
G   добру   добру   добру
L   добру   добру   добру
D   доброма   доброма   добрама
I   доброма   доброма   добрама
V   добра   добрѣ   добрѣ
             
N Pl.   добри   добра   добры
A   добры   добра   добры
G   добръ   добръ   добръ
L   добрѣхъ   добрѣхъ   добрахъ
D   добромъ   добромъ   добрамъ
I   добры   добры   добрами
V   добри   добра   добры

As with the twofold nominal declension, palatalization of stem-final velars occurs in those positions where historically they followed a front vowel. For example the adjective вєликъ 'great' has masculine genitive singular вєлика, but locative singular вєлицѣ and nominative plural вєлици. Moreover, note that the vocative of adjectives always remains identical to the corresponding nominative form; there is no special vocative ending in the singular, unlike the twofold declension of nouns.

12.2 Soft Indefinite Adjectives

The soft indefinite adjectives, or soft simple twofold adjectives, by contrast, derive their masculine and neuter forms from the jo-stem nominal paradigm of Section 3.1 and their feminine forms from the ja-stem nominal paradigm of Section 3.2. The adjective син҄ь 'blue' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   син҄ь   син҄є   син҄я
A   син҄ь   син҄є   син҄ю
G   син҄я   син҄я   син҄ѣ
L   син҄и   син҄и   син҄и
D   син҄ю   син҄ю   син҄и
I   син҄ємь   син҄ємь   син҄єю
V   син҄ь   син҄є   син҄я
             
N Du.   син҄я   син҄и   син҄и
A   син҄я   син҄и   син҄и
G   син҄ю   син҄ю   син҄ю
L   син҄ю   син҄ю   син҄ю
D   син҄єма   син҄єма   син҄яма
I   син҄єма   син҄єма   син҄яма
V   син҄я   син҄и   син҄и
             
N Pl.   син҄и   син҄я   син҄ѣ
A   син҄ѣ   син҄я   син҄ѣ
G   син҄ь   син҄ь   син҄ь
L   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ   син҄яхъ
D   син҄ємъ   син҄ємъ   син҄ямъ
I   син҄и   син҄и   син҄ями
V   син҄и   син҄я   син҄ѣ

Some adjective stems end in a front glide, such as божи- [božĭj-] 'of god, divine'. In such instances the masculine nominative singular ending [-ĭ] combines with the glide to yield : божьи [božĭjĭ], or due to the tense position of the first jer, божии.

13 Pronominal Declension

The first introduction in this series to the more general paradigm of pronominal declension was with the third person pronoun 'he'. There we first encountered the surest marker of pronominal declension, namely the masculine and neuter genitive singular ending in -го. Old Russian contains a wide range of pronouns, all of which employ this genitive ending and many of the remaining features exhibited by the third person pronoun. Moreover several adjectives, both possessive and other, follow the pronominal declension rather than the twofold declension of nouns. Generally speaking, pronouns and adjectives exhibiting the pronominal declension fall into two categories: hard and soft, based largely on whether the genitive singular ending -го is preceded by the vowel -о- or -є-, respectively.

13.1 Hard Stem Pronominal Declension

The hard stem pronominal declension is characterized by a masculine and neuter genitive singular in -ого. The same declension also typically exhibits a genitive and locative plural in -ѣхъ for all genders. The distal deictic pronoun онъ 'that one there' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   онъ   оно   она
A   онъ   оно   ону
G   оного   оного   оноѣ, оноя
L   ономь   ономь   онои
D   оному   оному   онои
I   онѣмь   онѣмь   оною
V            
             
N Du.   она   онѣ   онѣ
A   она   онѣ   онѣ
G   оною   оною   оною
L   оною   оною   оною
D   онѣма   онѣма   онѣма
I   онѣма   онѣма   онѣма
V            
             
N Pl.   они   она   оны
A   оны   она   оны
G   онѣхъ   онѣхъ   онѣхъ
L   онѣхъ   онѣхъ   онѣхъ
D   онѣмъ   онѣмъ   онѣмъ
I   онѣми   онѣми   онѣми
V            

The common deictic pronoun тъ 'that one' also declines according to the hard stem pronominal declension, as well as the correlative demonstratives овъ... овъ 'this... that, the one... the other' and овъ... инъ 'this one here... that one there'. The adjective мъногъ 'much, many' follows the same declension, showing the effects of second palatalization in certain case forms, such as masculine dative plural мънозѣмъ and instrumental plural мънозѣми.

13.2 Soft Stem Pronominal Declension

A masculine and neuter genitive singular in -єго characterizes the soft stem pronominal declension. This declension also typically exhibits a genitive and locative plural in -ихъ for all genders. The proximal deictic pronoun сь 'this one here' illustrates the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   сь, сьи   сє, сьє   си, сия
A   сь   сє, сьє   сю, сью
G   сєго   сєго   сєѣ, сєя
L   сємь   сємь   сєи
D   сєму   сєму   сєи
I   симь   симь   сєю
V            
             
N Du.   сия   сии   сии
A   сия   сии   сии
G   сєю   сєю   сєю
L   сєю   сєю   сєю
D   сима   сима   сима
I   сима   сима   сима
V            
             
N Pl.   си, сии   си, ся   сиѣ
A   сиѣ   си, ся   сиѣ
G   сихъ   сихъ   сихъ
L   сихъ   сихъ   сихъ
D   симъ   симъ   симъ
I   сими   сими   сими
V            

We see in the above paradigm the introduction of a secondary form сьи. Phonetically this represents [sĭjĭ], and as usual the sequence -jĭ- is represented as -и-. Since the first jer, inasmuch as it precedes a yod, is tense, it may also be written as -и-, and so we frequently find the form сии. Alternately, since the first jer is strong, yet soft, we may find it vocalized as -є-: сєи. The same rules apply throughout the remainder of the paradigm, leading to a large list of possible variant forms.

In addition the personal possessive adjectives follow the above paradigm of the soft declension. The adjective мои 'my' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   мои   моє   моя
A   мои   моє   мою
G   моєго   моєго   моєѣ, моєя
L   моємь   моємь   моєи
D   моєму   моєму   моєи
I   моимь   моимь   моєю
V            
             
N Du.   моя   мои   мои
A   моя   мои   мои
G   моєю   моєю   моєю
L   моєю   моєю   моєю
D   моима   моима   моима
I   моима   моима   моима
V            
             
N Pl.   мои   моя   моѣ
A   моѣ   моя   моѣ
G   моихъ   моихъ   моихъ
L   моихъ   моихъ   моихъ
D   моимъ   моимъ   моимъ
I   моими   моими   моими
V            

We also find in the declension of possessive adjectives the introduction of plural endings proper to the hard pronominal declension, such as genitive and locative plural моѣхъ, as well as dative plural моѣмъ.

The remaining personal possessive adjectives follow the same declension: твои 'thy, your'; свои 'one's own'; нашь 'our'; вашь 'your'; and even the relative-interrogative possessive adjective чьи 'whose'.

13.3 Mixed Pronominal Declension

The extremely common adjective вьсь 'all, every, whole' displays a declensional paradigm which contains a mixture of elements from both the hard and soft pronominal declensions. The paradigm is as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   вьсь   вьсє   вься
A   вьсь   вьсє   вьсю
G   вьсєго   вьсєго   вьсєѣ, вьсєя
L   вьсємь   вьсємь   вьсєи
D   вьсєму   вьсєму   вьсєи
I   вьсѣмь   вьсѣмь   вьсєю
V            
             
N Du.   вься   вьси   вьси
A   вься   вьси   вьси
G   вьсєю   вьсєю   вьсєю
L   вьсєю   вьсєю   вьсєю
D   вьсѣма   вьсѣма   вьсѣма
I   вьсѣма   вьсѣма   вьсѣма
V            
             
N Pl.   вьси   вься   вьсѣ
A   вьсѣ   вься   вьсѣ
G   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ
L   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ
D   вьсѣмъ   вьсѣмъ   вьсѣмъ
I   вьсѣми   вьсѣми   вьсѣми
V            
14 The Aorist System

The term aorist denotes a past tense formation which, in contrast to the imperfect, serves to represent a completed past action, with no reference to the so-called internal structure of the action. By internal structure we mean such characteristics as the temporal duration of an action (i.e. whether or not it requires an extended period of time to occur) or its continuity (i.e. whether it is a single, continuous action that unfolds over an unbroken time interval; or whether it amounts to a sequence of repeated actions, each individual one being more or less instantaneous, and only the sequence as a whole requiring an extended time interval to occur). By saying that the aorist denotes a completed past action with no reference to internal structure, we are stipulating

  1. that, by virtue of being completed, both the beginning and end of the action have occurred, so that there is no possibility that the action may be viewed as potentially continuing up until the time of utterance; and
  2. that, by virtue of excluding reference to internal structure, the beginning and end of the action, and hence the middle as well, cannot be distinguished from one another.

These two stipulations combine to render the aorist an essentially point-like past tense, whereas the imperfect by contrast suggests an open-ended interval beginning in the past. In concrete terms, while the imperfect might have the connotation in English of a form like I was jogging, the aorist would be rendered by I jogged. In the former, the grammatical form itself highlights that the action took place over an interval of time; in the latter, there is no such reference: only the lexical content of the verb jog provides the connotation of an expanse of time, inasmuch as one generally finds it difficult to jog instantaneously.

Proto-Slavic inherited two types of aorist construction from Proto-Indo-European. In the first, the endings follow directly upon the verbal root, or upon the thematic vowel appended to the verbal root. Naturally this formation has received the name root aorist. In the second, the suffix *-s- intervenes between the root and thematic vowel. As this formation pervades Greek past tense formation, and as the *-s- appears as sigma in Greek, this formation has been termed the sigmatic aorist.

Within Proto-Slavic, however, we find the advent of a new aorist formation, aptly titled the new aorist, or the ox-aorist after its characteristic suffix. Though Old Church Slavonic retains both the root and sigmatic aorists alongside the new aorist, Old Russian has largely eliminated the earlier formations in favor of the later. We will nevertheless discuss briefly the two more archaic aorists, since those verbs which retain those forms still occur frequently in the Old Russian texts.

Construction of the aorist, regardless of the particular formation, begins with identification of the infinitive-aorist stem. We have already outlined in the discussion of the imperfect in Section 4.2 how one arrives at this stem. Briefly, one takes the infinitive, undoes any sound changes that resulted from the addition of the infinitive marker -ти, and then removes the -ти altogether. The remaining verbal stem serves as the stem for the construction of the aorist.

14.1 Asigmatic Aorist

The root aorist is often termed the asigmatic aorist, to distinguish it from its sigmatic cousin, or merely the simple aorist to highlight the fact that it has no distinguishing suffix. This formation has all but completely disappeared from Old Russian by the time the extant texts were written down, except in two situations:

  1. isolated remnants of the aorist of a pair of common verbs, and
  2. in the second and third person singular aorist of most verbs, where the root aorist forms seem to have replaced the etymologically expected forms in both the sigmatic and ox-aorist paradigms.

Of the true root aorists that survive into Old Russian, the most prevalent is that built to ити 'to go', with stem ид-. The root aorist paradigm of this verb is listed below.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
1   (идъ)   (идовѣ)   (идомъ)
2   идє   (идєта)   (идєтє)
3   идє   (идєта)   (иду)

In the chart above, those forms listed in parentheses do not occur in the Old Russian texts.

The second verb to exhibit a root aorist formation is рєчи 'to speak', with stem рєк-. Again, the root aorist forms occur only in the second and third person singular, and they are identical: рєчє, derived from CS *rekes in the second person, from *reket in the third.

14.2 Sigmatic Aorist

The sigmatic aorist derives its name from the addition of *-s- to the root preceding the thematic vowel. Though several verbs show conjugations following this pattern in Old Church Slavonic, only one such verb remains in Old Russian: рєчи 'to speak', with stem рєк-. The sigmatic aorist paradigm of this verb is as follows.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
1   рѣхъ   рѣховѣ   рѣхомъ
2   рєчє   рѣста   рѣстє
3   рєчє   рѣста   рѣша

Again we see the intrusion of the root aorist in the second and third person singular with the common form рєчє. But in the remaining forms we see the presence of the s-suffix. The first person singular рѣхъ follows via the ruki rule (cf. Section 6.5) from *re:k-s-om > *rěksŭ > рѣхъ, though the front environment prevents this retraction in the third person plural: *re:k-s-nt > *rěksę > рѣша. Note the lengthening of the root vowel that typically accompanies the addition of the sigmatic suffix. This lengthening occurred in the Proto-Indo-European period, so that its result in Old Russian is not a change in vowel quantity, but rather in vowel quality. In this instance we see the natural reflex PIE *e: > CS *ě of the long vowel, rather than of the expected short root vowel PIE *e > CS *e.

14.3 New Aorist

By far the most common aorist formation in Old Russian is the new aorist or ox-aorist. As with other aorist formations, construction of the new aorist begins with the infinitive-aorist stem. To this Old Russian adds a suffix which appears mostly as -ox-, but as -os- before endings beginning with a consonant, and as -ош- in the third person plural. The ox-suffix does not appear at all in the second and third person singular. To this suffix Old Russian then adds the endings encountered above in other aorist formations. Where the infinitive-aorist stem ends in a vowel, the -o- of the the ox-suffix does not appear. The verbs рєчи 'to speak', with infinitive-aorist stem рєк-, and знати 'to know', with infinitive-aorist stem зна-, serve to illustrate the paradigm.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   рєкохъ   рєкоховѣ   рєкохомъ           знахъ   знаховѣ   знахомъ
2   рєчє   рєкоста   рєкостє           зна   знаста   знастє
3   рєчє   рєкоста   рєкоша           зна   знаста   знаша

In the second and third person singular we once again note the retention of root aorist forms. We see that the ending of these forms does not appear when the stem ends in a vowel. We also see clearly that the infinitive-aorist stem, here рєк- for the verb рєчи, contains stem-final sounds in the form that precedes any sound changes that might occur upon adding the infinitive suffix -ти. Thus, for example, грє-ти 'to row', from *greb-ti, builds the aorist on the stem грєб-. The verb ити 'to go' also builds a new aorist, with stem ид-. The forms of these verbs are as follows.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   грєбохъ   грєбоховѣ   грєбохомъ           идохъ   идоховѣ   идохомъ
2   грєбє   грєбоста   грєбостє           идє   идоста   идостє
3   грєбє   грєбоста   грєбоша           идє   идоста   идоша

Certain anomalies, however, present themselves. For example, рєчи 'to speak' also shows signs of a stem рьк- alongside the more common рєк-: ркоша 'they said'. Similarly the verbs тєчи 'to run' and жєчи 'to burn' show stems тьк- and жьг-, respectively.

Moreover verbs whose stem derives from an etymological nasal, or -r-, among a handful of others, often show an ending -тъ in the second and third person singular. Athematic verbs, such as дати 'to give' and вѣдѣти 'to know', also show an alternate suffix -стъ in these forms, which in certain instances may derive originally from a stem-final followed by the -тъ suffix just mentioned. Consider the following examples.

Infinitive   Meaning   Stem   2nd/3rd Sg.   OCS
въз-я-ти   take   възя-   възятъ   възѧти
на-чя-ти   begin   начя-   начятъ   нацѧти
у-мєрє-ти   die   умрѣ-   умрѣтъ   ѹмрѣти
да-ти   give   да(д)-   дастъ   дати
вѣд-ѣ-ти   know   вѣд-   вѣстъ   вѣдѣти

Verbs with the -ну- suffix show two different aorist formations. In one formation, the ox-aorist is built from the stem including the ну-suffix. In the other formation, the ну-suffix itself is dropped and the ox-aorist is built directly to the remaining stem. The verb двиг-ну-ти 'to move' illustrates the forms.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   двигъ   двигоховѣ   двигохомъ           двигнухъ   двигнуховѣ   двигнухомъ
2   движє   двигоста   двигостє           двигну   двигнуста   двигнустє
3   движє   двигоста   двигоша           двигну   двигнуста   двигнуша

We find in the above paradigm another illustration of the fact that the -o- of the ox-suffix does not appear when the aorist stem ends in a vowel.

15 Genitive Objects & Negation

Old Russian shares with Old Church Slavonic some special uses of the genitive case that are somewhat unexpected when viewed in comparison to other ancient sister languages within the Indo-European family. These uses occur with sufficient frequency that they merit attention early in the study of Old Russian.

15.1 Genitive Objects

Old Russian shows the emergence of a special treatment of direct objects. Old Russian generally places the direct object of a transitive verb in the accusative, as do others of the ancient Indo-European languages. But when the direct object happens to be human and male -- i.e. a man -- Old Russian regularly puts the direct object in the genitive case. For example: убиша Игоря и дружину єго "They killed Igor and his retinue" (Primary Chronicle). Here we see that the aorist убиша 'they killed' takes the direct object дружину 'retinue' (from the feminine noun дружина) in the accusative as expected. But rather than employing the normal accusative Игорь of the proper noun Игорь 'Igor', we see that Old Russian places the male human direct object in the genitive case. The following example shows that Old Russian makes a clear distinction between women and men: поимѣмъ жєну єго Ольгу за кънязь свои Малъ, и Святослава... "Let us take his wife, Olga, for our prince, Mal, and Svjatoslav..." (Primary Chronicle). Here жєну (from жєна 'wife') and Ольгу (from Ольга 'Olga') show the distinct accusative singular appropriate to feminine nouns. But Святослава (from Святославъ 'Svjatoslav'), also the direct object of поимѣмъ 'let us take', clearly shows the genitive singular ending.

It seems that this tendency to distinguish direct objects that are men does not always extend to groups. In the previous example we saw that дружина 'retinue' retains the accusative, even though it clearly represents a group of men. But in such a situation we might argue that the noun represents a collection, and so not men per se. Consider however the following example: то присълитє мужа нарочитъӏ, да въ вєлицѣ чисти поиду за вашь кънязь "... then send me your best men, that I marry your prince in great honor" (Primary Chronicle). Here we clearly have direct reference to men, but the word мужа (from мужь 'man'), together with the adjective нарочитъӏ (from the adjective нарочитъ 'distinguished'), distinctly show the endings of the accusative plural.

15.2 Genitive with Negation

Another striking feature of Old Russian is the interaction of the genitive case with negation. In particular, the direct object of a transitive verb takes the genitive in the presence of negation. For example: и нє послуха ихъ Игорь "and Igor didn't listen to them", or slightly more literally "and Igor didn't hear them", emphasizing the fact that послуха expects a direct object (Primary Chronicle). Rather than the proper accusative plural ѣ or я (cf. OCS ѩ), we find the direct object in the genitive plural ихъ. Similarly нє вѣси закона "You don't know the law" (Primary Chronicle), where the proper accusative would be законъ 'law'.

Even more noteworthy is the extension of this trend to the actual subject of a sentence. Specifically, in the presence of negation the subject of the verb may take the genitive rather than the nominative. This typically occurs in statements concerning the existence of some quantity, or the lack thereof, where the verb is a copula like 'be'. For example: нынѣ у васъ нѣсть мєду ни скоры "Now there is neither honey nor wine in your possession" (Primary Chronicle). Here меду is the genitive singular, rather than the expected nominative of the u-stem noun медъ 'honey'. Likewise скоры is the genitive singular of the feminine noun скора 'fur'.

Old Russian Online

Lesson 4

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

III.iii Documentary Evidence for the Term 'Rus'

The internal evidence for the use of the term Rus is mixed at best: in the Primary Chronicle the term early refers clearly to foreign-born princes, only later to be applied to their descendants together with the people over which they ruled. The Novgorod Chronicle, another literary source for our knowledge of the early East Slavs, by contrast applies the term Rus consistently to the people in and around Kiev, relatively far to its south and removed from the original Baltic homeland of the imported Scandinavians. Because of this lack of clarity, scholars have also sought out the use of terms similar to Rus in works whose authors came from some of the surrounding cultures with which the Eastern Slavs had interaction.

III.iii.i The Annals of St. Bertin

Numerous historical documents actually employ terms which can plausibly be identified with the term Rus (Rusĭ) found in the Primary Chronicle. The earliest among these is the Annals of St. Bertin (Latin Annales Bertiniani), like the Primary Chronicle a written account of historical events organized by their year of occurrence. We find under the year 839 AD mention of an embassy sent by the Byzantine emperor Theophilus to the court of the emperor Louis the Pious in Ingelheim. The account (Waitz, 1883, p.19) states that

    Latin   English
    Misit etiam cum eis quosdam, qui se, id est gentem suam, Rhos vocari dicebant, quos rex illorum chacanus vocabulo ad se amicitiae, sicut asserebant, causa direxerat, petens per memoratam epistolam, quatenus benignitate imperatoris redeundi facultatem atque auxilium per imperium suum toto habere possent, quoniam itinera, per quae ad illum Constantinopolim venerant, inter barbaras et nimiae feritatis gentes inmanissimas habuerant, quibus eos, ne forte periculum inciderent, redire noluit. Quorum adventus causam imperator diligentius investigans, comperit, eos gentis esse Sueonum.   [Theophilus] sent with them certain men who called themselves, that is (called) their people, the Rhos; and whom, by their account, their king, or kagan in their terminology, sent to [Theophilus] in friendship. [Theophilus] requested in the previously mentioned letter that on account of the emperor's graciousness they be granted permission to return and an escort through his empire, since the roads by which they had arrived at Constantinople had fallen to the barbarians and exceedingly wild tribes, and by which (roads) he did not wish for them to return, lest they chance upon danger. The emperor, upon diligently investigating the reasons for their arrival, established that they were from the people of the Sueoni.

The passage demonstrates a link between the Rhos, or Rus, and the Sueoni, who were in fact Swedes. This falls in line with the account in the Primary Chronicle. In this period much of Western Europe still felt the sting of Viking Age and the pervasive fear of Viking attacks, many of which began with trickery and cunning as disguised Scandinavians arrived at unsuspecting villages (Coupland, 2003). Thus Louis the Pious would have been well advised to investigate the origin of these particular Scandinavians before offering any assistance. In addition it is worth noting that St. Bertin's account of the Rhos, dating to 839, precedes the Primary Chronicle's Invitation to the Varangians, which is recorded under the year 862.

III.iii.ii Liutprand of Cremona

Another early source comes from Liutprand of Cremona, writing in the 10th century. He writes of Russi who attacked Byzantium in 941 AD. Liutprand (Reuber, 1584, p.92) states that

    Latin   English
    Constantinopolitana urbs, quae prius Byzantium, nova nunc dicitur Roma, inter ferocissimas gentes est constituta.   The city Constantinople, formerly Byzantium, now called New Rome, is situated among the fiercest of peoples.
    Habet quippe ab Aquilone Hungaros, Pizenacos, Chazaros, Russios, quos alio nomine nos Nortmannos apellamus, atque Bulgaros nimium sibi vicinos   It has to the north the Hungarians, the Pizenaci, the Khazars, the Russii, whom by a different name we call Normans, and the Bulgars as close neighbors.

Later Liutprand expands on the relation between Russii and "Normans" (ibid., p. 144):

    Latin   English
    Gens quaedam est sub Aquilonis parte constituta, quam a qualitate corporis Graeci vocant Russos, nos vero a positione loci vocamus Nordmannos.   There is a certain people situated in a region of the North, which the Greeks call the Russii on account of their physical quality, but which we call Normans on account of their geographical location.
    Lingua quippe Teutonum Nord aquilo, man autem mas seu vir dicitur: unde & Nordmannos Aquilonares homines dicere possumus.   In the German language Nord (means) 'north', and man means 'male' or 'man': whence we are also able to call the Normans the 'Northern men'.
    Huius denique gentis rex Inger vocabulo erat, qui collectis mille & eo amplio navibus Constantinopolim venit.   And the king of this group went by the name Inger, who gathered a thousand and more ships and came to Constantinople.

The comment on the Greek reason for the name Russii relates to a play on words. Latin russus and russeus mean 'reddish', as does Greek rousios.

These passages from Liutprand's work make clear that he himself understood the term "Russii" as a particular name for Normans. But moreover, he shows that in this context the term Norman (literally Normanni) still carries its literal sense: north-men. This generally falls in line with the accounts of the Rus as Scandinavians, or Norsemen. But as Liutprand's account focuses on the situation in Byzantium, it is not altogether certain whether 'north' should be taken in the general sense of 'in the north of Europe', i.e. Scandinavia, or in the more specific sense of 'to the north of Byzantium'. This latter, in principle, would allow even the inhabitants of Kiev to be called "north-men" from the perspective of the Byzantines. However it is more likely that by this time Normanni in Latin had taken on the connotation of Normans or Norsemen specifically, given that their fame as raiders had already long been spreading throughout Europe.

III.iii.iii Ibn Fadlan

A handful of accounts also survive from the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds which mention a people likely to be associated with the Rus. One such account was written by Ibn Fadlan, a diplomat sent by the caliph of Baghdad on a mission to the Volga Bulgars. In recounting his travels he mentions the customs of a people, whom he calls Ru:siyyah, that he chanced upon in Atil (the Khazar city of Itil, located at the mouth of the Volga as it spills into the Caspian Sea). The following is an excerpt from his Risa:la, or 'writing' (Montgomery, 2000):

    I saw the Ru:siyyah when they had arrived on their trading expedition and had disembarked at the River Atil. I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs -- they are like palm trees, are fair and reddish, and do not wear the qurtaq or the caftan. The man wears a cloak with which he covers one half of his body, leaving one of his arms uncovered. Every one of them carries an axe, a sword and a dagger and is never without all of that which we have mentioned. Their swords are of the Frankish variety, with broad, ridged blades. Each man, from the tip of his toes to his neck, is covered in dark-green lines, pictures and suck like. Each woman has, on her breast, a small disc, tied <around her neck>, made of either iron, silver, copper or gold, in relation to her husband's financial and social worth. Each disc has a ring to which a dagger is attached, also lying on her breast.

The above passage, admittedly, does not provide sufficient information to decide whether the Ru:siyyah are to be understood as Scandinavians or as Slavs, or as some other unspecified people. It is not until later in the account that Ibn Fadlan describes the burial practices of this people, and here we find clear Scandinavian overtones (Montgomery, 2000):

    I was told that when their chieftains die, the least they do is to cremate them. I was very keen to verify this, when I learned of the death of one of their great men. They placed him in his grave (qabr) and erected a canopy over it for ten days, until they had finished making and sewing his <funeral garments>.
    In the case of a poor man they build a small boat, place him inside and burn it. In the case of a rich man, they gather together his possessions and divide them into three, one third for his family, one third to use for <his funeral> garments, and one third with which they purchase alcohol which they drink on the day when his slave-girl kills herself and is cremated together with her master. (They are addicted to alcohol, which they drink night and day. Sometimes one of them dies with the cup still in his hand.)

This provides evidence of burial practices common among the Scandinavians of the era. Moreover the account goes on to describe in detail the ship burial of a particularly important group member.

III.iii.iv Commentary

The documentary evidence leaves tantalizing traces of the interaction between the Rus and cultures spread across their trade routes. However we would do well to keep in mind Mongomery's (2000) warning:

    I am not convinced that by Ru:s/Ru:siyyah our text means either the Vikings or the Russians specifically. I am neither a Normanist nor an anti-Normanist. The Arabic sources in general quite simply do no afford us enough clarity. The tendency among scholars is to presume that different Arab authors mean the same thing when they apply the names Ru:s or Maju:s to the people they describe. After a perusal of the sources, this strikes me as a perilous presumption.

This displays well deserved caution, one which applies beyond the sources written from the perspective of the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds. It is not clear that all of the passages listed above truly are talking about the same people. On the one hand, it is not clear whether they distinguish Eastern Slavs from the Scandinavians that passed through their midst. On the other hand, it is not clear that the Eastern Slavs were sufficiently uniform amongst themselves to be distinguishable by cultural "outsiders" from Scandinavians often living in close quarters with them.

One point that does remain clear, however, is that the earliest East Slavic texts speak of an original distinction between the two peoples. A particular group of Scandinavians did evidently come to the East Slavic homeland and play an important role in the establishment of the early ruling class of the first dominant East Slavic cultural centers. But over the course of the succeeding century they seem to have blended with the indigenous Slavs to sufficient degree for the two cultures to form one distinct culture of Rus, with Old Russian and its spoken variants as the principal means of communication in the region.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following passage relates the arrival of the Derevlians in Olga's court. After an exchange of greetings, Olga sets the stage and exacts her revenge. The extract lists lines 38-70.

38-40 - и повѣдаша ѡльзѣ ӏако деревлѧне придоша. и возва є ѡльга к собѣ и рече имъ добри гостьє придоша.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повѣдаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <повѣдѣти, -вѣмь, -вѣси> announce, report, recount -- they announced
  • ѡльзѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- to Olga
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- that
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- had arrived # Note the use of the Old Russian aorist where English permits a pluperfect
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • возва -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <възвати, -зовѫ, -зовєши> call, summon -- summoned
  • є -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them # Note є where we expect я, OCS ѩ
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- before
  • собѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- her
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- to them
  • добри -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <добръ> good -- The welcome
  • гостьє -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <гость> guest -- guests
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- have arrived # Note the use of the Old Russian aorist where English permits a perfect. Compare with the previous usage of this same form.

40-41 - и рѣша деревлѧне придохомъ кнѧгине.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- replied
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • придохомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- We have arrived
  • кнѧгине -- noun; feminine vocative singular of <кънѧгъӏни> princess -- princess

41-42 - и рече имъ ѡльга, да глаголите что ради придосте сѣмо.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- to them
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- ...
  • глаголите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- Tell
  • что -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- what
  • ради -- postposition; <ради> (w. gen.) for, for the sake of, because of -- for # Governs что, though the genitive чесо is expected
  • придосте -- verb; 2nd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- have you come # Again an Old Russian aorist where English might employ a perfect
  • сѣмо -- adverb; <сѣмо> to here, here -- here

42-45 - рѣша же древлѧне посла нъӏ дерьвьска зємлѧ рькуще сице, мужа твоєго ѹбихомъ, бѧше бо мужь твои аки волкъ восхищаӏа и грабѧ.
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- responded
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • древлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • посла -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • дерьвьска -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • зємлѧ -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the nation
  • рькуще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- speaking # Note the shift to masculine plural, rather than feminine singular: either agreeing with the plurality of people represented by the term зємлѧ or another example of the genesis of the gerund.
  • сице -- adverb; <сицє> thus, so -- thus
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • твоєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <твои, твоє, твоӏа> thy, thine, your, of you (sg.) -- your
  • ѹбихомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- We have killed
  • бѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • мужь -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • твои -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <твои, твоє, твоӏа> thy, thine, your, of you (sg.) -- your
  • аки -- adverb; <акъӏ> as, like -- like # Note the appearance of -и- in place of -ъӏ-, which on historical grounds would be unexpected after a velar consonant
  • волкъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <влъкъ> wolf -- a wolf
  • восхищаӏа -- participle; masculine nominative singular of <въсхъӏтати, -таѭ, -таѥши> seize, snatch -- robbing
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • грабѧ -- participle; masculine nominative singular of <грабити, -блѭ, -биши> seize, snatch -- plundering

45-48 - а наши кнѧзи добри суть, иже распасли суть деревьску зємлю. да поиди за кнѧзь нашь за малъ. бѣ бо имѧ єму малъ кнѧзю дерьвьску.
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • наши -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • кнѧзи -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <кънѧзь> prince -- princes
  • добри -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <добръ> good -- good
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- are
  • иже -- relative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <ижє> who, which -- who
  • распасли -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <распасти, -сѫ, -сєши> pasture, feed -- cultivated
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- ... # Note the agreement with the logical number of the subject, three (hence plural), rather than the grammatical number (singular), which is determined by братья
  • деревьску -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • зємлю -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the land
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- ...
  • поиди -- verb; 2nd person singular imperative of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- Come (and marry) # A common idiomatic turn of phrase encountered in this text: жена (по)идеть за мужь 'a woman marries a man', more literally 'a woman goes after a man'.
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- ...
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • нашь -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- ...
  • малъ -- proper noun; masculine accusative singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- For
  • имѧ -- noun; neuter nominative singular of <имѧ> name -- (his) name
  • єму -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <*и> he -- his
  • малъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • кнѧзю -- noun; masculine dative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince # Dative agreeing with єму
  • дерьвьску -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- Derevlian

48-51 - рече же имъ ѡльга, люба ми єсть рѣчь ваша. ѹже мнѣ мужа своєго не крѣсити, но хочю въӏ почтити наутриӏа предъ людьми своими.
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- to them
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • люба -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <любъ> dear; pleasing; choice, chosen -- pleasing
  • ми -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- to me
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • рѣчь -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <рѣчь> speech -- proposal
  • ваша -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <вашь> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- Now (there is)
  • мнѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- for me
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • своєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- no (way)
  • крѣсити -- verb; infinitive of <крѣсити, -шѫ, -сиши> rouse, wake, raise -- to raise
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • хочю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- I want
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • почтити -- verb; infinitive of <почьстити, -штѫ, -стиши> cultivate, care for, honor -- to honor
  • наутриӏа -- noun; neuter genitive singular of <наѹтрьѥ> morning, morrow, tomorrow -- tomorrow # Note use of genitive to specify time
  • предъ -- preposition; <прѣдъ> (w. acc. or instr.) before, in front of -- before
  • людьми -- noun; masculine instrumental plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- people
  • своими -- adjective; masculine instrumental plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my

52-53 - а нъӏне идѣте в лодью свою и лѧзите в лодьӏ величающе сѧ. азъ ѹтро послю по въӏ.
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- ...
  • нъӏне -- adverb; <нъӏн҄ӏа, нъӏнѣ> now -- For now
  • идѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- go
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • лодью -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <лодья> boat -- boat
  • свою -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- your
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • лѧзите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <лєшти, лѧгѫ, лѧжєши> lie down, recline -- take your repose
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьӏ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat
  • величающе -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <вєличати, -чаѭ, -чаѥши> raise; (refl.) be raised, be exalted, be elated, be conceited -- exulting
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • азъ -- pronoun; nominative singular of <азъ> I -- I
  • ѹтро -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <ютро, ѹтро> dawn, daybreak; morning, morrow, tomorrow -- in the morning # Note accusative to specify (extent of) time
  • послю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- I will send
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you

53-56 - въӏ же рьцѣте не єдемъ на конѣхъ, ни пѣши идемъ, но понесѣте нъӏ в лодьѣ. и възнесуть въӏ в лодьи. и ѿпусти ӏа в лодью.
  • въӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- ...
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • рьцѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- say
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • єдемъ -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <ӏахати (ӏад-), -хаѭ, -хаѥши> be carried, ride, go -- We will... be carried
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • конѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <конь> horse -- horses
  • ни -- conjunction; <ни> and not, nor, no; (repeated) neither... nor -- nor
  • пѣши -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <пѣшь> on foot, foot-borne, standing -- on foot
  • идемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- will we go
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • понесѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <понєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport -- carry
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- on
  • лодьѣ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- a boat
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • възнесуть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <възнєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport, transfer -- they will carry
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- on
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • ѿпусти -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <отъпѹстити, -штѫ, -стиши> allow, let, free; send (away) -- she released
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • лодью -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

56-58 - ѡльга же повелѣ ископати ӏаму велику и глубоку на дворѣ теремьстѣмь внѣ града.
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- ordered
  • ископати -- verb; infinitive of <ископати, -паѭ, -паѥши> dig, dig out, excavate -- to be dug
  • ӏаму -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <ӏама> pit, hole -- a hole
  • велику -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- wide
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • глубоку -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <глѫбокъ> deep -- deep
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- in
  • дворѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the... court
  • теремьстѣмь -- adjective; masculine locative singular of <трѣмьнъ> of a tower, relating to a tower, relating to a castle -- tower
  • внѣ -- preposition; <внѣ> (w. gen.) outside (of) -- outside
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city

58-60 - и заѹтра волга сѣдѧщи в теремѣ посла по гости. и придоша к нимъ глаголюще, зоветь въӏ ѡльга на честь вєлику.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • заѹтра -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of + noun; neuter genitive singular of <ютро, ѹтро> dawn, daybreak; morning, morrow, tomorrow -- the next morning
  • волга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • сѣдѧщи -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- sitting
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • теремѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <трѣмъ> tower, castle; home, residence -- the tower
  • посла -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • гости -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <гость> guest -- the guests
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- they came
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • нимъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • глаголюще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- saying
  • зоветь -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <звати, зовѫ, зовєши> cry out; call, summon -- summons
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- for
  • честь -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <чьсть> honor, rank, reverence, feast, device, pattern -- a... honor
  • вєлику -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- great

60-62 - ѡни же рѣша не єдемъ на конихъ, ни на возѣхъ. понесѣте нъӏ в лодьи.
  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- responded
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • єдемъ -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <ӏахати (ӏад-), -хаѭ, -хаѥши> be carried, ride, go -- We will... be carried
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • конихъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <конь> horse -- horses # Note the change of declension between конихъ here and конѣхъ earlier, lines 53-56
  • ни -- conjunction; <ни> and not, nor, no; (repeated) neither... nor -- nor
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • возѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <возъ> chariot, wagon, cart -- carts
  • понесѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <понєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport -- Carry
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

62-64 - рѣша же киӏане, намъ неволѧ; кнѧзь нашь ѹбьєнъ. а кнѧгини наша хоче за вашь кнѧзь. и понесоша ӏа в лодьи.
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • киӏане -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <къӏӏанинъ> of Kiev, of Kyiv, Kievan -- The Kievans
  • намъ -- pronoun; dative plural of <азъ> I -- We (have) # Literally 'to us there is (need)'
  • неволѧ -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <нєволӏа> need, necessity -- need
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • нашь -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • ѹбьєнъ -- past passive participle; masculine nominative singular of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- (is) killed
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • кнѧгини -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <кънѧгъӏни> princess -- princess
  • наша -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • хоче -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- longs
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- after
  • вашь -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <вашь> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • понесоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <понєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport -- they carried
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

64-67 - ѡни же сѣдѧху в перегъбѣхъ в вєликихъ сустугахъ гордѧще сѧ, и принесоша ӏа на дворъ к ользѣ.
  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • сѣдѧху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- sat
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- on
  • перегъбѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <прѣгъбъ> (meaning unclear) a bending; a bending backward, vain glory, pomposity; a piece of cloth, decorative cloak with bejeweled clasp; cross-bench (of a Viking ship) -- on the cross-benches
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • вєликихъ -- adjective; feminine locative plural of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- great
  • сустугахъ -- noun; feminine locative plural of <сътѫга> (meaning unclear) a binding; clasp, buckle; fibula -- robes
  • гордѧще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <гръдити сѧ, -ждѫ, -диши> be haughty, be arrogant -- exalted with pride
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • принесоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <принєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> bring, carry -- they brought
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- into
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the court
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • ользѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga

67 - несъше вринуша є въ ӏаму и с лодьєю.
  • несъше -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <нєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> bring -- Having carried (them)
  • вринуша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <въринѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> thrust in; throw, throw in; cast away -- they cast
  • є -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them # Note є where we expect я, OCS ѩ
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- into
  • ӏаму -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <ӏама> pit, hole -- the pit
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- too
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • лодьєю -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

68-69 - приникъши ѡльга и рече имъ, добра ли въӏ чєсть.
  • приникъши -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <приникнѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> stoop to look, peer, look -- peered
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- to them
  • добра -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <добръ> good -- good (enough)
  • ли -- adverb; <ли> or; whether -- (Is)
  • въӏ -- pronoun; dative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- for you
  • чєсть -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <чьсть> honor, rank, reverence, feast, device, pattern -- (that) honor

69-70 - ѡни же рѣша, пущи нъӏ игоревъӏ смерти. и повелѣ засъӏпати ӏа живъӏ. и посъӏпаша ӏа.
  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- replied
  • пущи -- comparative adjective; neuter nominative singular of <пѹштий> more pitiable, more wretched -- worse
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; dative plural of <азъ> I -- to us (it's)
  • игоревъӏ -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <игорєвъ> of Igor, Igor's, relating to Igor -- Igor's
  • смерти -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <съмрьть> death -- than... death # Note the use of the genitive with comparison
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- she commanded
  • засъӏпати -- verb; infinitive of <засъӏпати, -плѭ, -плѥши> cover, cover over, hide, bury -- (that they) bury
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • живъӏ -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <живъ> alive, living -- alive
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • посъӏпаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посъӏпати, -плѭ, -плѥши> cover, cover over, hide, bury -- they covered
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them

Lesson Text

38-40 - и повѣдаша ѡльзѣ ӏако деревлѧне придоша. и возва є ѡльга к собѣ и рече имъ добри гостьє придоша. 40-41 - и рѣша деревлѧне придохомъ кнѧгине. 41-42 - и рече имъ ѡльга, да глаголите что ради придосте сѣмо. 42-45 - рѣша же древлѧне посла нъӏ дерьвьска зємлѧ рькуще сице, мужа твоєго ѹбихомъ, бѧше бо мужь твои аки волкъ восхищаӏа и грабѧ. 45-48 - а наши кнѧзи добри суть, иже распасли суть деревьску зємлю. да поиди за кнѧзь нашь за малъ. бѣ бо имѧ єму малъ кнѧзю дерьвьску. 48-51 - рече же имъ ѡльга, люба ми єсть рѣчь ваша. ѹже мнѣ мужа своєго не крѣсити, но хочю въӏ почтити наутриӏа предъ людьми своими. 52-53 - а нъӏне идѣте в лодью свою и лѧзите в лодьӏ величающе сѧ. азъ ѹтро послю по въӏ. 53-56 - въӏ же рьцѣте не єдемъ на конѣхъ, ни пѣши идемъ, но понесѣте нъӏ в лодьѣ. и възнесуть въӏ в лодьи. и ѿпусти ӏа в лодью. 56-58 - ѡльга же повелѣ ископати ӏаму велику и глубоку на дворѣ теремьстѣмь внѣ града. 58-60 - и заѹтра волга сѣдѧщи в теремѣ посла по гости. и придоша к нимъ глаголюще, зоветь въӏ ѡльга на честь вєлику. 60-62 - ѡни же рѣша не єдемъ на конихъ, ни на возѣхъ. понесѣте нъӏ в лодьи. 62-64 - рѣша же киӏане, намъ неволѧ; кнѧзь нашь ѹбьєнъ. а кнѧгини наша хоче за вашь кнѧзь. и понесоша ӏа в лодьи. 64-67 - ѡни же сѣдѧху в перегъбѣхъ в вєликихъ сустугахъ гордѧще сѧ, и принесоша ӏа на дворъ к ользѣ. 67 - несъше вринуша є въ ӏаму и с лодьєю. 68-69 - приникъши ѡльга и рече имъ, добра ли въӏ чєсть. 69-70 - ѡни же рѣша, пущи нъӏ игоревъӏ смерти. и повелѣ засъӏпати ӏа живъӏ. и посъӏпаша ӏа.

Translation

38-40 And they announced to Olga that the Derevlians had arrived. And Olga summoned them before her and said to them, "The welcome guests have arrived." 40-41 And the Derevlians replied, "We have arrived, princess." 41-42 And Olga bade them, "Tell: for what have you come here?" 42-45 And the Derevlians responded, "The nation of Dereva sent us, speaking thus: 'We have killed your husband, for your husband was like a wolf, robbing and plundering. 45-48 But our princes are good, who cultivated the land of Dereva. Come (and marry) our prince, Mal.'" For his name was Mal, the Derevlian prince. 48-51 And Olga said to them, "Your words are dear to me. Now (there is) no (way) for me to raise my husband. But I want to honor you tomorrow before my people. 52-53 For now go to your boat and take your repose in the boat, exulting. In the morning I will send for you. 53-56 But say this: 'We will not be carried on horses, nor will we go on foot, but carry us on a boat.' And they will carry you on the boat." And she released them to the boat. 56-58 But Olga ordered a hole to be dug wide and deep in the tower court outside of the city. 58-60 And the next morning, sitting in the tower, Olga sent for the guests. And they came to them, saying, "Olga summons you for a great honor." 60-62 And they responded, "We will not be carried on horses, nor on carts. Carry us in the boat." 62-64 The Kievans said, "We have need; our prince is killed. But our princess longs after your prince." And they carried them in the boat. 64-67 And they sat on the cross-benches (?) in great robes, exalted with pride. And they brought them into the court to Olga. 67 Having carried them, they cast them into the pit with the boat too. 68-69 Olga peered in and said to them, "Is that honor good (enough) for you?" 69-70 And they replied, "To us it's worse than Igor's death." And she commanded that (they) bury them alive. And they covered them.

Grammar

16 Consonant-Stem Nouns

Consonant-stem nouns form the "other" declension of Old Russian. Really the consonant-stem nouns descend from a wide variety of Indo-European formations. But within Common Slavic in general, and Old Russian in particular, these formations have coalesced into a fairly unified declensional type. Speaking generally, the Old Russian nouns of this declension show a nominative singular that can take one of a handful of shapes, each appearing more or less "strange" or "unique" from the viewpoint of the nominal declensions we have seen heretofore. This unique nominative singular is then stripped from the noun and replaced with a suffix that then persists throughout the remainder of the paradigm.

To this suffix Old Russian adds a specific set of endings which, though somewhat distinct from the declension types we have seen, remains consistent throughout all the individual consonant-stem declensions. Foremost among these endings is the genitive singular in , for which some scholars call these the e-declension. Such nomenclature is specific to Slavic studies and does not refer, in contrast to other declensions, to any thematic vowel dating to the Indo-European period. It does however recall the *-e- found in the PIE genitive singular ending *-es.

16.1 v-Stem Nouns

The v-declension in Indo-European terms should more properly be called the long-u-declension. This declension comprises a handful of exclusively feminine nouns whose inflectional type harkens back to that of nouns with a long-*u in Proto-Indo-European. In the nominative singular the final *-s of the regular inflection fell away in Common Slavic and the long-u evolved into Common Slavic *-y, hence Old Russian ы. In the remainder of the paradigm, however, where this long-*u preceded vowel-initial endings, the long-*u was reanalyzed as the sequence *-uu-, and hence *-uō(t) before the following vowel. This leaves a distinctive stem suffix -ъв- that permeates the paradigm of v-stem nouns. Examples of nouns belonging to this declension are свєкры 'mother-in-law', любы 'love', and смокы 'fig'. The forms of црькы 'church' illustrate the v-stem declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   црькы   црькъви   црькъвє
A   црькъвь   црькъви   црькъви
G   црькъвє   црькъву   црькъвъ
L   црькъвє   црькъву   црькъвахъ
D   црькъви   црькъвама   црькъвамъ
I   црькъвью   црькъвама   црькъвами
V   црькы   црькъви   црькъвє

In the locative, dative, and instrumental plural we see the influence of the a-declension with forms such as црькъвамъ. The same applies to the dative and instrumental dual forms. In particular we note that the v-declension forms an exception to the rule of thumb that the thematic vowel appears in the dative plural.

We also find the ending -ью in the instrumental singular, a form influenced both by the a-declension and by the feminines of the i-declension. Moreover the i-declension shows a strong influence on nouns of the v-declension, so that we also find forms such as genitive and locative singular црькъви alongside the expected црькъвє. In fact the influence of the i-stems is so pervasive in some nouns that the nominative singular itself has been reformed. An example of this is provided by кры 'blood', which properly belongs to the v-declension, but whose forms show a strong influence from the i-declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   кръвь   -   кръви
A   кръвь   -   кръви
G   кръвє, кръви   -   кръвьи, кръвъ, кръвы
L   кръви   -   кръвьхъ
D   кръви   -   кръвьмъ
I   кръвью   -   кръвьми
V   кръвь   -   кръви

Note that jers in tense position, such as in кръвьи and црькъвью, may be written with -и-: кръвии and црькъвию.

16.2 n-Stem Nouns

The n-stem declension contains the remnants of what was a very important class of nouns in the Indo-European parent language. In Proto-Indo-European many nouns of the core vocabulary showed *n-stem inflection; some seemed to alternate between *r-stem and *n-stem: English r-stem water corresponds to Hittite r-stem wadar with the same meaning; however the Hittite noun shows an n-stem in many oblique forms, such as genitive singular wedenas, which in turn corresponds to the n-stem preserved in Old Norse vatn 'water'.

As with the v-stem declension, the forms split between a unique form for the nominative singular and a relatively stable stem throughout the rest of the paradigm. For the n-stems, a nominative singular with -n- preceded by a long-*o in PIE resulted in Old Russian ; meanwhile a nominative singular with -n- preceded by long-*e in PIE resulted in a nasalized in Old Church Slavonic, but in Old Russian with the typical loss of nasalization. In the remainder of the paradigm, the sequence *-en- typically preceded a vowel, and so persisted unchanged. This yields the stem suffix -єн- characteristic of the n-declension. Examples from this declension include the masculine noun камы 'stone', as well as the neuter nouns врѣмя (вєрємя) 'time' and чисмя 'number'.

The masculine noun камъӏ 'stone', whose nominative derives from an original form with long-*o, and the neuter noun имя 'name', whose nominative harkens back to the long-*e grade, serve to illustrate the n-stem declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   камы   камєни   камєнє           имя   имєнѣ   имєна
A   камєнь   камєни   камєни           имєнь   имєнѣ   имєна
G   камєнє   камєну   камєнъ           имєнє   имєну   имєнъ
L   камєнє   камєну   камєньхъ           имєнє   имєну   имєньхъ
D   камєни   камєньма   камєньмъ           имєни   имєньма   имєньмъ
I   камєньмь   камєньма   камєньми           имєньмь   имєньма   имєны
V   камы   камєни   камєни           имя   имєнѣ   имєна

Note in this declension the reappearance of the ending -ьмь in the instrumental singular, as well as -ь- in the locative, dative, and instrumental plural where the v-declension employed -а-. In the paradigm for the neuter noun имя, however, we see the instrumental plural appears as имєн-ы, employing the ending familiar from the o-stems. We also find the expected ending for the plural nominative, accusative, and vocative of neuter nouns.

As with the v-stems, the i-stem declension strongly influenced the n-stem declension. As a result we also find forms such as камєни for the genitive singular камєнє. Occasionally we also find an innovative nominative singular камєнь based on the stem found throughout the rest of the paradigm and the nominative singular ending typical of i-stem nouns (a shape reinforced by its being the same as the accusative singular).

The common noun дьнь 'day' shows considerable influence both from the i-stem and the v-stem nouns. Consider its declension as illustrated below.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   дьнь   дьни   дьнє, дьньє
A   дьнь   дьни   дьни
G   дьнє, дьни   дьну, дьнью   дьнъ, дьновъ, дьньи
L   дьнє, дьни   дьну, дьнью   дьньхъ
D   дьни   дьньма   дьньмъ
I   дьньмь, дьнью   дьньма   дьньми
V   дьнь   дьни   дьни

We find in this paradigm the importing of the instrumental singular ending -ью from the feminine i-stems, while the nominative plural дьньє shows the influence of the masculine i-stems. Moreover we also see the genitive plural дьновъ formed by analogy with the u-stem nouns.

17 Compound Forms of Adjectives

The compound adjectives, also termed long-form or definite adjectives, exhibit endings which derive from a combination of the short-form, twofold endings and the endings of the third person pronoun [*jĭ]. At the most basic level, Old Russian simply appends the pronominal forms after the corresponding form of the simple adjective. But the result becomes a phonological unit, and so the resulting combination often undergoes phonetic changes obscuring to some degree the origin of the form.

We may illustrate the basic structure with the nominative and genitive singular forms of the adjective добръ 'good'. Here we treat the Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic forms in parallel. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • The indigenous Old Russian forms have typically undergone further simplification by the time of the Old Russian texts, making the underlying elements of the compound more difficult to identify;
  • At all early stages of Old Russian the Old Church Slavonic literary tradition exerted a strong influence on the writing, and so we still encounter OCS forms in the Old Russian texts.

With that in mind, consider the following table.

    Underlying Form   OCS   Old Russian
N Sg.            
Masc.   dobrŭ+jĭ   добръи   добрыи
Neut.   dobro+je   доброѥ   доброѥ
Fem.   dobra+ja   добрая   добрая
             
G            
Masc.   dobra+jego   добраѥго   доброго
Neut.   dobra+jego   добраѥго   доброго
Fem.   dobry+jeję   добръӏя   доброѩ

If w look at the OCS forms, we see from the masculine and neuter forms that the simple adjective forms and the corresponding pronominal forms sit side by side. However, given that the back jer is now in tense position in the masculine nominative form, we expect to find the variant добръӏи, which is actually the more typical form. Moreover, the feminine genitive form shows that elision of the initial elements of the pronominal forms often accompanies the composition of elements. In the Old Russian forms this tendency towards simplification has been extended. While even within OCS we find assimilation in the masculine and neuter genitive singular leading to forms such as добрааго and then contraction leading to добраго, Old Russian has greatly reduced this form in доброго. Here we find no trace of the twofold genitive singular ending . The resulting ending parallels the pronominal ending. The same holds for many of the other forms throughout the paradigm.

17.1 Hard Compound Adjectives

The hard stem compound adjectives derive, straightforwardly enough, from the composition of the hard stem simple adjective forms with the third person pronominal forms. Because of their greater transparency in terms of compositional analysis, as well as for their ubiquity in Old Russian texts, we first list for convenience the proper Old Church Slavonic forms of the adjective добръ 'good'.

OCS   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   добръӏи   доброѥ   добраӏа
A   добръӏи   доброѥ   добрѫѭ
G   добраѥго   добраѥго   добръӏѩ
L   добрѣѥмь   добрѣѥмь   добрѣи
D   добруѥму   добруѥму   добрѣи
I   добръӏимь   добръӏимь   добрѫѭ
V   добръӏи   добоѥ   добраӏа
             
N Du.   добраӏа   добрѣи   добрѣи
A   добраӏа   добрѣи   добрѣи
G   добрую   добрую   добрую
L   добрую   добрую   добрую
D   добръӏима   добръӏима   добръӏима
I   добръӏима   добръӏима   добръӏима
V   добраӏа   добрѣи   добрѣи
             
N Pl.   добрии   добраӏа   добръӏѩ
A   добръӏѩ   добраӏа   добръӏѩ
G   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ
L   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ
D   добръӏимъ   добръӏимъ   добръӏимъ
I   добръӏими   добръӏими   добръӏими
V   добрии   добраӏа   добръӏѩ

The proper Old Russian forms, listed below, show a greater tendency toward simplifying the junction between adjectival and pronominal endings.

ORuss   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   добрыи   доброѥ   добрая
A   добрыи   доброѥ   добрую
G   доброго   доброго   доброѩ
L   добромь   добромь   добрѣи
D   доброму   доброму   доброи
I   добрыимь   добрыимь   доброю
V   добрыи   добоѥ   добрая
             
N Du.   добрая   добрѣи   добрѣи
A   добрая   добрѣи   добрѣи
G   доброю   доброю   доброю
L   доброю   доброю   доброю
D   добрыима   добрыима   добрыима
I   добрыима   добрыима   добрыима
V   добрая   добрѣи   добрѣи
             
N Pl.   добрии   добрая   добрыѣ
A   добрыѣ   добрая   добрыѣ
G   добрыихъ   добрыихъ   добрыихъ
L   добрыихъ   добрыихъ   добрыихъ
D   добрыимъ   добрыимъ   добрыимъ
I   добрыими   добрыими   добрыими
V   добрии   добрая   добрыѣ

We find the greatest simplification, as compared to the OCS forms, in the singular oblique cases. As mentioned earlier we note the reformulation of the masculine and neuter genitive singular ending -а-єго as -ого, with an initial -о- otherwise unexpected from the combining elements -а- and -є-. Similarly we find the feminine genitive singular доброѩ contains о-vocalism where the OCS form does not. We find a similar situation in the dative, with masculine and neuter доброму, and feminine доброи.

Most of the remaining forms are subject to further contraction. For example we often find добръӏми for добръӏими in the instrumental plural, and likewise for other forms of similar shape in the dual and plural.

We also find the results of second palatalization in certain forms of the compound adjective where the stem ends in a velar consonant. The following table lists those forms of вєликъ 'great' which exhibit palatalization.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
L Sg.   вєлицѣмь   вєлицѣмь   вєлицѣи
D           вєлицѣи
             
N A V Du.       вєлицѣи   вєлицѣи
             
N Pl.   вєлиции        
17.2 Soft Compound Adjectives

The soft compound adjectives correspond to the composition of soft simple twofold adjectives with the corresponding pronominal forms. As above, we list first the Old Church Slavonic forms because of their transparency of composition and their frequent occurrence in the Old Russian texts. The adjective ништь 'poor' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

OCS   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   ништьи   ништєѥ   ништаӏа
A   ништьи   ништєѥ   ништѫѭ
G   ништаѥго   ништаѥго   ништѧѩ
L   ништиимь   ништиимь   ништии
D   ништюѥму   ништюѥму   ништии
I   ништиимь   ништиимь   ништѫѭ
V   ништьи   ништєѥ   ништаӏа
             
N Du.   ништаӏа   ништии   ништии
A   ништаӏа   ништии   ништии
G   ништюю   ништюю   ништюю
L   ништюю   ништюю   ништюю
D   ништиима   ништиима   ништиима
I   ништиима   ништиима   ништиима
V   ништаӏа   ништии   ништии
             
N Pl.   ништии   ништаӏа   ништѧѩ
A   ништѧѩ   ништаӏа   ништѧѩ
G   ништиихъ   ништиихъ   ништиихъ
L   ништиихъ   ништиихъ   ништиихъ
D   ништиимъ   ништиимъ   ништиимъ
I   ништиими   ништиими   ништиими
V   ништии   ништаӏа   ништѧѩ

The following chart list the proper Old Russian forms for the adjective син҄ь 'blue'.

ORuss   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   син҄ьи   син҄єѥ   син҄яя
A   син҄ьи   син҄єѥ   син҄юю
G   син҄ѥго   син҄ѥго   син҄ѥѣ
L   син҄ѥмь   син҄ѥмь   син҄ѥи
D   син҄ѥму   син҄ѥму   син҄ѥи
I   син҄имь   син҄имь   син҄ѥю
V   син҄ьи   син҄єѥ   син҄яя
             
N Du.   син҄яя   син҄ии   син҄ии
A   син҄яя   син҄ии   син҄ии
G   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю
L   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю
D   син҄има   син҄има   син҄има
I   син҄има   син҄има   син҄има
V   син҄яя   син҄ии   син҄ии
             
N Pl.   син҄ии   син҄яя   син҄ѣѣ
A   син҄ѣѣ   син҄яя   син҄ѣѣ
G   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ
L   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ
D   син҄имъ   син҄имъ   син҄имъ
I   син҄ими   син҄ими   син҄ими
V   син҄ии   син҄яя   син҄ѣѣ

We see in the soft stems the same tendency toward reduction as in the hard stems. In the soft stems, however, we tend to find є-vocalism where in the hard stems we found о-vocalism: e.g. masculine genitive singular син҄ѥго versus доброго.

18 The l-Participle

Old Russian, along with Old Church Slavonic and other Slavic languages, employs a particular past participle based on an l-suffix, a suffix with remnants in a handful of other Indo-European branches, Italic most notably among them. This participle, known variously as the l-participle, resultative participle, or the second past participle, does not enjoy as free a use as other past participle formations in Old Russian. Rather, this participle almost exclusively finds employ as the participial component of periphrastic, or compound, verbal formations of the past tense. As such, it exhibits only case endings of the nominative, in agreement with the subject of the periphrastic verb. These endings come from the twofold hard-stem adjective declension. The l-suffix is typically attached to the aorist-infinitive stem of the verb. The following table provides some examples.

Conjugation   Infinitive   Nom. Sg.   Meaning
I   нєс-ти   нєс-лъ, -ла, -ло   having carried
II   двиг-ну-ти   двиг-лъ, -ла, -ло   having moved
        двиг-ну-лъ, -ла, -ло    
III   зна-ти   зна-лъ, -ла, -ло   having known
IV   ход-и-ти   ходи-лъ, -ла, -ло   having gone
V   да-ти   да-лъ, -ла, -ло   having given

As depicted in the above chart, the l-participle of verbs containing the -ну- suffix can be built onto the stem including the suffix or directly onto the root without the suffix.

The resultative participle of ити 'to go' is built from the special stem шьд-: with regular loss of -д- before -л-, this yields шьлъ, шьла, шило. We see a similar sound change in other verbs with stems ending in a dental. For example у-вяд-ну-ти 'to fade' has resultative participle увялъ, etc.

One interesting feature of the Old Russian resultative participle is the use of endings other than when the nominative singular masculine is called for. This occurs particularly with the Birchbark Writs. In these documents we find the endings -лє, -лѣ, -ль, -лѧ, -ло in place of the expected -лъ. For example, we find in number 345 the form звало єсмь 'I called' for expected *зъвалъ єсмь.

19 Prefixes & Prepositions

Old Russian, like other Slavic languages in general, and like Old Church Slavonic in particular, employs numerous particles to color the meaning of clauses and phrases. Among these particles verbal prefixes and prepositions factor prominently. We discuss these two types of particles below.

19.1 Prefixes

Old Russian verbal prefixes form an indispensible part of the language. Frequently verbal prefixes double as prepositions, and their use in many ways parallels their use in English. In English verbal prefixes can at times dramatically change the meaning of a verb: compare the unprefixed stand with the prefixed understand. At other times the prefix only changes the original verb's sense slightly if at all: compare stretch to outstretch. The same situation obtains in Old Russian, where some prefixes substantially change the original verb's meaning, while others provide almost no perceptible distinction in sense.

However prefixes in Old Russian also serve in another role: to change the aspect of a verb. In particular, where an unprefixed verb is generally imperfective, the addition of (any) prefix will serve to make the new prefixed verb perfective. Debate surrounds the question as to what degree this had become systematized within the earliest stages of East Slavic, but we do see in the texts the beginning of what has become one of the hallmarks of Russian verbal inflection. We will discuss verbal aspect in somewhat more detail later in these lessons.

For the most part Old Russian displays the same set of verbal prefixes as that found in Old Church Slavonic. Moreover, these prefixes do typically correspond to self-standing prepositions. But there are some noteworthy differences. In particular, вы- is a specifically East and North Slavic prefix, perhaps borrowed from Gothic ut (cf. Eng. out), with the final -t dropping before following consonants. The preposition из often introduces the prepositional phrase which complements or completes the meaning of the associated verb with prefix вы-. And the particle въз- appears only as a prefix within East Slavic. Likewise пєрє- only assumes the role of a prefix in East Slavic.

The following table lists some of the most pervasive verbal prefixes, along with the basic sense each one imparts to the verb to which it is affixed. Finally the last two columns provide examples of these senses and an accompanying translation.

Prefix   Sense   Example   Meaning
вы-   out   въӏходити из...   to go out of
             
из-   out, thoroughly   изѣдати   to eat up, devour
             
въз-   (inception)   възлюбити   to fall in love
    (iteration, 're-')   въздати   to return, give back
             
за-   (inception)   зажєщи   to ignite, catch fire
             
на-   (accumulation)   насъӏтити сѧ   to eat one's fill
             
о-, об-   (pftv. of state change)   окамєнити   to turn to stone, petrify
             
пєрє-, прѣ-   through, over   прѣступити   to cross a threshold
    excessively (adj.)   прѣмъного   exceedingly much
             
по-   forth (direction)   поити   to set out
    (perfective)   почьстити   to honor
19.2 Prepositions

In the parent language Proto-Indo-European, what we now call prepositions functioned for the most part as self-standing adverbs that would color a sentence as a whole, but which would not be associated with any particular word in the sentence. It seems that the case system was robust enough to distinguish sufficiently the grammatical functions of the various substantives in a sentence. We still see this adverbial use of later prepositions in some of the most archaic documents of the language family, namely in the Homeric epics of Greece and the Vedas of India.

But as the various daughter languages evolved, we see that many of them began to simplify the case system, sometimes drastically. Slavic for its part preserves many of the cases reconstructed for PIE, though it does lose the ablative case for example. As cases fell away, the remaining cases ended up taking up the slack: for example not only does the Old Russian genitive denote possession, as the PIE genitive, but it can also denote the origin or source, a sense originally denoted by the ablative. As a given case came to denote a variety of different meanings, the adverbs served to pluck out from among the different choices the particular meaning intended. And as this became more frequent, and more necessary, the adverbs gravitated closer and closer to the nouns until, in Slavic, they came to stand directly before the noun as a preposition.

Old Russian prepositions often govern a variety of cases. Because of the development described above, the sense a preposition imparts often corresponds closely to the case governed: in fact it is the preposition-case unit that has meaning, and not the preposition alone within Old Russian. For example, the preposition въ can mean either 'in' or 'into'. But since the locative case naturally denotes the location, then въ only means 'in' when governing the locative. Likewise, since the accusative can denote the goal of directed motion, then въ only means 'into' when governing the accusative.

Of course any language is much more robust than any theoretical description, and this is particularly true of Old Russian. Hence we find some preposition-case combinations where it is not clear how the original meaning of the case would correspond naturally to the overall sense imparted. We must therefore learn the preposition-case combinations together by rote. The following chart provides a list of the most common prepositions in Old Russian texts, along with the cases they govern and the particular sense elicited in combination with each case. The last two columns provide examples together with translations.

Preposition   Case   Sense   Example   Meaning
въ   A   into (direction)   въ деревѣ   to Dereva
    L   in (place)   въ деревѣхъ   in Dereva
                 
до   G   until, up to   до сєго дьнє   up to this day
                 
за   A   for, after, behind (direction)   за кънязь   after the prince
    G   because of   за обычая   by (force of) habit
    I   after, behind (place)   за морємъ   across the sea
                 
из   G   from, out of, out from   из града   out from the city
                 
къ   D   to, toward   къ цѣсарю   to the emperor
                 
на   A   onto (direction)   на чьсть вєлику   for a great honor
    L   on (place)   на горѣ   on the hill
                 
надъ   A   over, above (direction)   надъ вєрхъ   over the top
    I   over, above (place)   надъ гробъмь єго   over his grave
                 
о, об   A   over, round, about (direction)   о зємлю   over the earth
    L   over, round, about (place)   о собѣ   by themselves
                 
отъ   G   from, out of (source)   отъ града   out from the city
    G   by, by means of (agent)   отъ Бога   by God
                 
по   A   below, through, for   по дань   in pursuit of tribute
    L   after, because of, for   по мужи своємь   for her husband
    D   on, about (direction, extent)   по странамъ   across the lands
                 
подъ   A   under (direction)   подъ кровъ мои   (enter) under my roof
    I   under (place)   подъ ногами вашими   under your feet
                 
при   L   near, at the time of   при вєчєрѣ   toward evening
                 
прѣдъ   A   before, in front of (direction)   прѣдъ Богъ   before God
    L   before, in front of (place)   пєрєдъ людьми   in the presence of good people
                 
съ   A   for the extent of   съ другую сторону   on the other side
    G   down from, away, off   съ Дону вєликаго   from the great Don
    I   with (association)   съ съӏнъмь своимь   with her son
                 
у   G   at (place)   у гроба   at the tomb
20 Adjective Use

We have seen that adjectives fall into two broad categories: definite and indefinite. This distinction has a clear morphological realization: the indefinite forms of the adjective take endings derived from the twofold nominal declension, while definite adjectives append to these twofold forms the corresponding forms of the third person pronoun . Old Russian in fact further refines the definite forms of the adjectives by blurring the boundary between nominal and pronominal endings.

But originally the distinction between definite and indefinite adjectives lies on another, perhaps more fundamental, level, one which becomes clearer upon comparison with other early remnants of the Slavic languages. In particular, the indefinite adjectives originally served to modify an as yet unspecified referent, whereas the definite adjectives modified specific referents. We may compare with English. The Old Church Slavonic phrase добръ мѫжь, employing an indefinite adjective form, most closely parallels the English phrase 'a good man'. By contrast the Old Church Slavonic phrase добръи мѫжь, employing a definite adjective form, most closely parallels the English phrase 'the good man'. In the simplest sense, the addition of the pronoun to the simple adjective forms serves the same function as the definite article the serves in English. The lack of the pronominal forms corresponds to the English use of the indefinite article a or an. More generally, compound adjectival forms generally modify nouns whose referents have already been introduced into the narrative at an earlier stage and are assumed known to the reader or listener: the compound adjectives point back to that previously introduced element.

However when we look closely at the situation in Old Russian, this distinction seems early to have started breaking down. In fact we find that the particular case form involved seems to play a role in the choice between definite and indefinite adjective forms: the definite adjective forms seem to be prevalent in the masculine and neuter instrumental singular, and in the genitive and locative of all genders (Schmalstieg 1996).

Modern Russian usage employs the long-form (definite) adjective in attributive position, the short-form (indefinite) in predicate position. We find this tendency already in place in Old Russian texts. For example we find in the Primary Chronicle: отроци Свѣньлжи изодѣлися сѹть... а мъӏ нази "Sveinald's retainers are clothed... but we (are) naked." In this example нази 'naked' is the short-form adjective, here used predicatively. But we also find such short-forms used attributively, as in the following example, also from the Primary Chronicle: тъӏ кънязь єси мудръ и съмъӏсльнъ "You are a wise and prudent prince". Here мудръ 'wise' and съмъӏсльнъ 'prudent' modify кънязь 'prince' attributively. Moreover we find instances of the long-form (definite) adjective used predicatively: кто посль живъӏи ѡстанѣть сѧ 'whoever will remain alive afterwards'. Here the long-form живъӏи of живъ 'alive' is predicate to кто 'whoever'.

Old Russian Online

Lesson 5

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

IV. The Path to Christianity in Early Russia

The second defining event of the early Russian state is the adoption of Christianity by prince Vladimir in 988 AD. In the simplest terms the fundamental reason for the singular importance of this event is that, as with the Southern Slavs before them, it is only with the arrival of Christianity that the Eastern Slavs enter the larger European historical record. The importation of Christianity brought with it a preoccupation with text, specifically with the text of the Bible, and this focus on the written word served to spur a culture of writing and bookish learning to a degree that had not yet been seen among the Eastern Slavs. The literary documents which provide us with a window into early East Slavic culture, and into the language which distinguished it, owe their very existence to this newfound interest in the written word.

But the second aspect of Christianity's adoption among the Rus that had dramatic repercussions for the rest of East Slavic history was how it occurred. Specifically the fact that Vladimir accepted the Christian teachings espoused by the clergy at Byzantium meant that the East Slavs remained politically aligned with Byzantium and focused on points east. This had the effect of putting up a sort of barrier between them and the rest of Western Europe, and so early Russia therefore neglected to take part in many of the cultural and religious movements that characterized the transition of Western Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the Modern Age.

Such a momentous decision obviously did not take place in a vacuum. We must therefore attempt to understand Vladimir's acceptance of the Byzantine recension in the context of the times.

IV.i The Historical Context

Already in the fourth century AD Christianity had found adherents north of the Black Sea. In particular the Goths had adopted Christianity, though they subscribed to the heretical teachings of Arius, who opposed the doctrine of Trinitarianism, whereby the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are supposed to be of the "same essence". But as the Huns invaded the region, the Goths were dislodged and a primary foothold of Christianity along the expanding steppe left with them. Following the Goths' departure numerous systems of belief, ranging from Islam, brought by Arabs to the shores of Greece, to paganism, brought by the Avars into Pannonia, began to vie for dominance in the reaches of Eastern Europe.

Christianity made its reentrance to Eastern Europe with the expansion of Charlemagne's empire in the late 8th century. It was Charlemagne who pushed out from his Frankish homeland and drove the Avars from their seat along the Danube. This reintroduced Christianity to the eastern frontier of Europe and opened a wave of Germanic missionary work. Moreover, Charlemagne legitimized his ascension by linking himself directly to the papal seat of power in Rome. This provided a model of imperial expansion and legitimation which numerous princes throughout Western Europe sought to emulate.

It was in this context that the princes of Moravia sent to Byzantium for missionaries. They had grown weary of encroachment by German-speaking missionaries who gave the liturgy in Latin. And so Constantine (later Cyril) and Methodius made their famous entrance into history in the middle of the 9th century by translating the liturgy into Old Church Slavonic in their various travels to Moravia.

Though the introduction of Byzantine Christianity to Moravia provided a strong bond between Byzantium and a large part of the Slavic world at the time, the Eastern Slavs for their part still let it be known that they were not immediately prone to being fast friends with the Byzantine Empire. Already in the early 9th century the Rus had pillaged the Byzantine city of Amastris. Byzantium subsequently militarized Cheronesus (Korsun) in the Crimea to protect its shipping routes in the Black Sea.

To add insult to injury, in 860 the Rus attacked Byzantium unexpectedly with 200 ships. As a consequence Byzantium struck an alliance with the Khazars in an effort to protect themselves from the Rus. But on a more conciliatory front, Byzantium sent a mission to convert the Rus to Christianity, with the hope of persuading them to a more friendly disposition toward the empire. Evidently this plan met with some success, as in 867 the Rus accepted a bishop.

But the strengthening of ties between Byzantium and the emerging Russian state only proceeded in fits and starts. Shortly thereafter, in 907, prince Oleg of Kiev attacked Byzantium to guarantee Rus trade rights with the empire. This was followed in 941 by a campaign led by Oleg's successor Igor, who also attacked Byzantium with a view to secure trade rights. Ultimately they were repulsed by the Greek fire, but undeterred Igor again led a force against Byzantium in 943. The emperor quickly agreed to reinstate the basic principles of the treaty struck after Oleg's original campaign, and Igor departed without entering the city.

Shortly after Igor's death at the hands of a regional tribe harried by his unceasing appetite for tribute, the Byzantine missions gained an unexpected convert. Sometime between 954-956 Igor's widow Olga, mother of Svjatoslav, is baptized in Byzantium. But upon assuming power Svjatoslav rejected Christianity and began a fierce offensive against neighboring kingdoms.

After defeating the Khazars to the southeast, Svjatoslav turns west in 968 at the behest of the Byzantine emperor to attack and defeat the Bulgarians along the Danube. He returns abruptly to Kiev as it falls under attack from the Pechenegs. Repulsing the Pecheneg onslaught, Svjatoslav decides he no longer wishes to remain in Kiev, and returns to Bulgaria to dethrone tsar Boris II and set up a capital at Pereiaslavets on the Danube. Svjatoslav's plans are thwarted when, in 971, the new Byzantine emperor defeats the Bulgarians, now allied with Svjatoslav, and reinstalls Boris II. Svjatoslav is forced to surrender and come to terms: he must cease his attacks on the Byzantine Empire, particularly in the Crimea, and must send military aid when requested. As Svjatoslav returns from Bulgaria to Kiev, he is attacked by the Pechenegs on the Dnieper. He is killed and his skull used by the Pecheneg leader as a drinking vessel. The Russian throne falls to Svjatoslav's son Jaropolk, who maintains power for less than a decade before being deposed by his brother Vladimir.

This is the sequence of events leading up to Vladimir's decision to convert to Christianity. The Primary Chronicle recounts the process by which he arrives at his decision. Briefly, Vladimir sends envoys to the centers of practice of the major religions: Islam, Judaism, Western Christianity, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The envoys are impressed with Byzantium's Church of St. Sophia, and their report convinces Vladimir to accept Eastern Christianity. Vladimir subsequently attacks Cheronesus in the Crimea, and in exchange for not attacking Byzantium in the same fashion, he wins the hand of Anna, the Byzantine emperor's daughter, in marriage.

The Primary Chronicle therefore portrays the decision as a wise comparison of the major religions of the surrounding regions, in which Vladimir bases his decision on the obvious superiority of Byzantine worship. But the Primary Chronicle leaves out some crucial details (Majeska, 2009):

  • Vladimir already knew all these faiths. For example the Khazars were Jews and Svjatoslav had recently defeated them; the Bulgars on the Volga practiced Islam.
  • Christianity was already gaining sway among the Varangians: Olga had been baptized, and some Christian Varangians in Kiev had been killed for refusing to take part in pagan sacrifice.

It seems plausible, therefore, that Vladimir's decision was informed not only by a sage comparison of faiths, but also by the political exigencies that often force the hand of forward-leaning leaders. In particular we can isolate at least four different factors surrounding Vladimir's conversion that likely pushed him toward Byzantium (Majeska 2009):

  1. Vladimir captured Kiev from his brother Jaropolk with the assistance of a Viking force; they were now demanding payment.
  2. In 988 Vladimir sent 6,000 warriors to assist the Byzantine emperor Basil II in putting down a rebellion with forces directly threatening Byzantium itself.
  3. German emperor Otto II had sought Anna's hand in marriage but was rebuked as being of insufficient prestige.
  4. Christianity was rapidly spreading across Northern and Eastern Europe as a means of attaining prestige among the Western European empires.

Vladimir would not have been immune to consideration of the obvious benefits. On the one hand, as a Christian Vladimir would gain respect throughout the other European empires. On the other hand, by marrying Anna, Vladimir would immediately gain higher status than Otto II. The drawback, of course, was that to marry Anna Vladimir would have to accept the Eastern Orthodoxy. But Vladimir had likely already decided to do this. So finally, in 989, Vladimir declared Eastern Christianity the national religion of the Rus.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The passage below describes how Olga, not content with the punishment exacted, seeks further retribution with Derevlian visitors. Having done all she can to the envoys of the Derevlians, she determines to visit destruction upon the Derevlians in their own land. She couches her answers to the Derevlians' inquiries in oblique references to hide her intents, and she once more exacts revenge on the unsuspecting nobles. The extract lists lines 71-101.

71-74 - пославши ѡльга къ деревлѧномъ рече имъ, да аще мѧ просити право, то пришлите мужа нарочитъӏ, да в велицѣ чти приду за вашь кнѧзь. єда не пѹстѧть мене людьє києвьстии.
  • пославши -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- having sent
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • къ -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • деревлѧномъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine dative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*и> he -- to them
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- ...
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- If
  • мѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <азъ> I -- me
  • просити -- verb; infinitive of <просити, -шѫ, -сиши> ask, demand -- to seek
  • право -- adjective; neuter nominative singular of <правъ> just, right, proper -- (it is) proper
  • то -- conjunction; <то> but, then, therefore -- then
  • пришлите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <присълати, -лѭ, -лѥши> send -- send
  • мужа -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • нарочитъӏ -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <нарочитъ> established, well established, noteworthy, notable, noble -- noteworthy
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- so that
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • велицѣ -- adjective; feminine locative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- the highest
  • чти -- noun; feminine locative singular of <чьсть> honor, rank, reverence, feast, device, pattern -- honor
  • приду -- verb; 1st person singular present of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- I go
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- to
  • вашь -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <вашь> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • єда -- adverb; <ѥда> if, if only, would that; that not, lest; unless, otherwise -- Otherwise
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • пѹстѧть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <пѹстити, -штѫ, -стиши> allow, let, free; send (away) -- will... release # Note the use of the present in what here must be construed either as a strict future tense or as a gnomic present (something generally true)
  • мене -- pronoun; genitive singular of <азъ> I -- me # Note genitive with negation; the preceding use of the pronoun, мѧ, shows the direct object (Olga) in the accusative
  • людьє -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the... people
  • києвьстии -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <кыѥвьскъ> of Kiev, of Kyiv, Kievan -- Kievan # Note the result -ст- of second palatalization of -ск-

74-77 - се слъӏшавше деревлѧне собраша сѧ лучьшиє мужи иже дерьжаху деревьску землю. и послаша по ню.
  • се -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • слъӏшавше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <слъӏшати, -шѫ, -шиши> hear -- When... heard # Note the translation of the participle as a full subordinate clause with temporal force
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • собраша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <събьрати, -бєрѫ, -бєрєши> collect, gather -- (there) gathered
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • лучьшиє -- comparative adjective; masculine nominative plural of <лѹчьи, лѹчє, лѹчьши> better -- the best
  • мужи -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • иже -- relative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <ижє> who, which -- who
  • дерьжаху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <дръжати, -жѫ, -жиши> hold, have power over, rule -- held power over
  • деревьску -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • землю -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the land
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • послаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- they sent (them)
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • ню -- pronoun; feminine accusative singular of <*и> he -- her

77-79 - деревлѧномъ же пришедъшимъ повелѣ ѡльга мовь створити рькуще сӏце, измъӏвше сѧ придите ко мнѣ.
  • деревлѧномъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine dative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • пришедъшимъ -- past participle; masculine dative plural of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- When... arrived # Dative absolute. Note the translation with a full subordinate clause providing temporal force.
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- ordered (them)
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • мовь -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <мовь> a washing, bath -- a bath
  • створити -- verb; infinitive of <сътворити, -рѭ, -риши> do, make -- to take
  • рькуще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- speaking # Note the shift to masculine plural, rather than feminine singular: either agreeing with the plurality of people represented by the term зємлѧ or another example of the genesis of the gerund.
  • сӏце -- adverb; <сицє> thus, so -- thus
  • измъӏвше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <измъӏти, -мъӏѭ, -мъӏѥши> bathe, wash -- (Once you) have washed # Note the use of a past participle to denote an action preceding the action denoted by the imperative.
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- yourselves
  • придите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- come
  • ко -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • мнѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- me

79-82 - ѡни же пережьгоша истопку и влѣзоша деревлѧне. начаша сѧ мъӏти и запроша ѡ нихъ истобъку.
  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • пережьгоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прѣжєшти, -жєгѫ, -жєжєши> burn -- they heated
  • истопку -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <истъбъка> tent, hut; bathhouse -- the bathhouse
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • влѣзоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <вълѣсти, -лѣзѫ, -лѣзєши> enter; descend (into) -- entered
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • начаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <начѧти, -чьнѫ, -чьнєши> begin -- They began
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • мъӏти -- verb; infinitive of <мъӏти, мъӏѭ, мъӏѥши> bathe, wash -- to bathe
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • запроша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <запрѣти, -прѫ, -прєши> close, shut -- they shut
  • ѡ -- preposition; <о (об)> (w. loc.) around; about, concerning; for; by; (w. instr.) at, by, along; (w. acc.) against -- around
  • нихъ -- pronoun; masculine locative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • истобъку -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <истъбъка> tent, hut; bathhouse -- the bathhouse

82-83 - и повелѣ зажечи ӏа ѿ двєрии. ту изгорѣша вси.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- she gave the command
  • зажечи -- verb; infinitive of <зажєшти, -жєгѫ, -жєжєши> set on fire, ignite, burn -- to burn
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <*и> he -- them
  • ѿ -- preposition; <отъ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- from
  • двєрии -- noun; feminine genitive plural of <двьрь> door, front door, entrance -- the doors
  • ту -- adverb; <тѹ> there; then -- There
  • изгорѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <изгорѣти, -рѭ, -риши> burn up -- they... perished (in the flames)
  • вси -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all

83-87 - и посла къ деревлѧномъ рькущи сице, се ѹже иду к вамъ. да пристроите медъӏ многи въ градѣ идеже ѹбисте мужа моєго, да плачю сѧ надъ гробомъ єго и створю тръӏзну мужю своєму.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • посла -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • къ -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • деревлѧномъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine dative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • рькущи -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- saying
  • сице -- adverb; <сицє> thus, so -- thus
  • се -- interjection; <сє> lo, behold -- Lo!
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- Now
  • иду -- verb; 1st person singular present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- I will go
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • вамъ -- pronoun; dative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- So
  • пристроите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <пристроити, -строѭ, -строиши> prepare, make ready, arrange -- make ready
  • медъӏ -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <мєдъ, мєдѹ> honey -- honey
  • многи -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <мъногъ> much, many -- great (quantities of)
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • градѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • идеже -- adverb; <идє> where; since; however + conjunction; <жє> and, but -- where
  • ѹбисте -- verb; 2nd person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- you killed
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • моєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <мои, моє, моӏа> my, mine -- my
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- so that
  • плачю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <плакати, плачѫ, -чєши> weep, mourn -- I may mourn
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • надъ -- preposition; <надъ> (w. acc. or instr.) over, above -- over
  • гробомъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <гробъ> grave, ditch -- grave
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • створю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <сътворити, -рѭ, -риши> do, make -- conduct
  • тръӏзну -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <тризна, тръӏзна> contest, prize; stadium; trench, track; funeral repast, commemoration of the dead -- a wake
  • мужю -- noun; masculine dative singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- for... husband
  • своєму -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my

87-88 - ѡни же то слъӏшавше съвезоша медъӏ многи зѣло. възвариша.
  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • то -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <тъ, то, та> that, that one -- this
  • слъӏшавше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <слъӏшати, -шѫ, -шиши> hear -- having heard
  • съвезоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <съвєсти, -зѫ, -зєши> bring together, collect, gather -- gathered
  • медъӏ -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <мєдъ, мєдѹ> honey -- honey
  • многи -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <мъногъ> much, many -- great (quantities of)
  • зѣло -- adverb; <зѣло> very -- exceedingly
  • възвариша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <възварити, -рѭ, -риши> cook -- They cooked (it)

88-90 - ѡльга же поимши малъӏ дружинъӏ, легъко идущи, приде къ гробу єго.
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • поимши -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <поѩти, -имѫ, -имєши> take, seize -- having gathered
  • малъӏ -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <малъ> small, young -- a small # For expected neuter accusative singular as substantive: мало дружинъӏ
  • дружинъӏ -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- retinue
  • легъко -- adverb; <льгъко> easily -- easily
  • идущи -- participle; 2nd person feminine nominative singular of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- going
  • приде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- arrived
  • къ -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- at
  • гробу -- noun; masculine dative singular of <гробъ> grave, ditch -- grave
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <*и> he -- his

90-92 - плака сѧ по мужи своємъ. и повелѣ людемъ своимъ съсути могилу вєлику, ӏако соспоша. и повелѣ тръӏзну творити.
  • плака -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <плакати, плачѫ, -чєши> weep, mourn -- She wept
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • мужи -- noun; masculine locative singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • своємъ -- adjective; masculine locative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- her
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- she ordered
  • людемъ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- people
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine dative plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- her
  • съсути -- verb; infinitive of <съсѹти, съсъпѫ, съсъпєши> collect, heap up -- to heap up
  • могилу -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <могъӏла> grave, tomb, burial mound -- burial mound
  • вєлику -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- a great
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- so that
  • соспоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <съсѹти, съсъпѫ, съсъпєши> collect, heap up -- they built (it) up
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- she ordered (them)
  • тръӏзну -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <тризна, тръӏзна> contest, prize; stadium; trench, track; funeral repast, commemoration of the dead -- a wake
  • творити -- verb; infinitive of <сътворити, -рѭ, -риши> do, make -- to conduct

92-94 - по семь сѣдоша деревлѧне пити. и повелѣ ѡльга ѡтрокомъ своимъ служити пред ними.
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • семь -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter locative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • сѣдоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- sat down
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • пити -- verb; infinitive of <пити, пиѭ, пиѥши> drink -- to drink
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- ordered
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • ѡтрокомъ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <отрокъ> boy, servant -- servants
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine dative plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- her
  • служити -- verb; infinitive of <слѹжити, -жѫ, -жиши> minister (to), serve -- to minister
  • пред -- preposition; <прѣдъ> (w. acc. or instr.) before, in front of -- before
  • ними -- pronoun; masculine instrumental plural of <*и> he -- them

94-96 - рѣша деревлѧне к ользѣ, кдѣ суть дружина наша, ихъ же послахомъ по тѧ.
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- aksed
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- ...
  • ользѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • кдѣ -- interrogative adverb; <къдє> where, when -- Where
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • дружина -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- retinue
  • наша -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • ихъ же -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <*и> he + conjunction; <жє> and, but -- which # Genitive object, plural with collective sense of дружина
  • послахомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- we sent
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • тѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you

96-97 - ѡна же рече, идуть по мнѣ съ дружиною мужа моєго.
  • ѡна -- demonstrative pronoun; feminine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- she
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • идуть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- They are coming
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • мнѣ -- pronoun; locative singular of <азъ> I -- me
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • дружиною -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- the retinue
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- of... husband
  • моєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <мои, моє, моӏа> my, mine -- my

97-98 - ӏако ѹпиша сѧ деревлѧне, повеле ѡтрокомъ своимъ пити на нѧ.
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- As
  • ѹпиша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <ѹпити сѧ, -пьѭ, -пьѥши> become inebriated, get drunk -- had become drunk
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of