Луганський національний університет імені Тараса Шевченка

Ukrainian writing in the Slavic context

The Faculty of Ukrainian Philology and Social Communications celebrates the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture.

Ukrainians, along with other Slavs, annually celebrate the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture annually on May 24, the same day that the church honors the memory of Equal Apostles Cyril and Methodius, who through their enlightenment activities brought the Slavic world the word of God in a language that they understand. It is known that the Solun brothers, at the request of the Moravian prince Rostislav and at the behest of the Byzantine emperor Michael III, arrive in Great Moravia around 863, where they organize a Slavic Christian church with their students and translate liturgical books from Greek and partially Latin into Slavic . A great merit of these associates is the acquisition of Slavic (868) Church status with the permission of Pope Adrian II. From this time, Slavic writing and language began to spread in the territory of the Slavic states.

“The Golden Age” of Old Slavonic writing falls on the reign of the Bulgarian king Simeon (893–927) and is associated with the educational activities of the disciples of Cyril and Methodius.

In connection with the official adoption of Christianity by Kyiv in 988, the Slavic alphabets Glagolitic and Cyrillic, as well as the Church Slavonic language in its ancient Ukrainian (ancient Kyiv) version began to spread actively on the lands of Kievan Rus, reaching also Belarusians and Russians. Subsequently, as you know, the Glagolitic becomes obsolete and gives way to the Cyrillic alphabet, which becomes the dominant graphic system in Ukraine-Russia. The most famous attraction of this period is the famous Ostromir Gospel (1057), in which under the Old Bulgarian background you can find many features of the then lively spoken Ukrainian language.

Over the period of its existence in Ukraine, the Slavic Cyrillic alphabet undergoes significant changes: firstly, it is the letter that is simplified: from the statutory to semi-statutory and, finally, to cursive; secondly, the number of graphic characters is reduced due to the discrepancy of some of them with the sound composition of the Ukrainian language. The development of typography also influenced the further reform of the Cyrillic alphabet, which resulted in the emergence of the so-called civilian font – ,, citizenˮ. This font was first used in printing by Metropolitan of Kyiv Petro Mohyla and was finally introduced in Russia by Peter I in 1708-1710 for printing secular publications during the first reform of Russian writing. So, the harbinger of these changes was the famous Ukrainian church, political and educational figure and reformer, organizer and founder of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy Petro Mohyla. In addition, these changes influenced the reform of other Slavic graphic systems that used the Cyrillic alphabet.

The Ukrainian graphic system, based on the converted Cyrillic alphabet, in the future becomes a factor of national unity and self-identification of Ukrainians, despite various alphabet wars in Galicia in the 19th century, to sketches of an unnecessary tag for us, to the spread of ideas by Russian chauvinists that the Ukrainian language is it’s a “spoiled” polonized version of one of the dialects of the so-called “common Russian language”. etc. Our Ukrainian writing, both in the past and in the present, of course, is a proof and indicator of a self-sufficient and highly intellectual national culture, and therefore we hope and believe that in the future it will continue to develop in pan-Slavic and European civilizational directions.

Anatolii Nairulin, Associate Professor, Department of Ukrainian Philology
and General Linguistics of the FIPSC

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