Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cyrillic Alphabet in photos

Do not let the Cyrillic Alphabet scare you!

Let's start with a little history. The Cyrillic Alphabet was invented by two brothers, Cyrill and Methody, also known as Methodius. In fact, they are credited for giving written language to the Slaves.

The Cyrillic Alphabet is the second script invented by the Bulgarians (Cyrill and Methodius). Although the writing system was developed in Bulgaria, the brothers were originally from Macedonia. This explains the similarities to the Greek Alphabet. In other forums and blogs, people seem to get really pissed off when this alphabet is called Russian alphabet. The people who get upset about this are usually Bulgarians.

In my food blog (link), I discuss the fight between the Spanish and French about who invented the Creme Brulee. The Arabs argue that they invented astronomy (actually, the did steal that knowledge from the Greeks). But come on people...we do not live in a bubble. We influence, change, copy and improve on many ideas. If we didn't do this, then we would still be living in caves. So lets not waste our time on trivialities. Trivial arguments are leaches, they drain our positive energy, waste time, and we are not any better off.

 The first writing system invented by the brothers is the Glagolitic, as mentioned in a previous post, Glagolitic is a more complex version of Cyrillic. Can we say that they are really two different writing systems? How different are they from each other? I have no idea.  

 Cyrillic became dominant due to its similarity to the Greek alphabet. At its height during the Soviet Union, Cyrillic was used to write not only Slavic languages such as Russian, Byelorussian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, etc., but also languages from other family like Mongolian, Uzbek, Kazakh, Azeri, Tajik, and so on. It is easy to see how many Cyrillic letters derived from Greek.

 The backward N which stands for /i/ comes from Greek eta η. Some of the letters (such as sibilants) were borrowed from Hebrew and Syriac alphabets.

Quick note: Ъ and Ь used to represent a very short high back vowel and a very short high front vowel, respectively. They are now silent but mark the quality of the consonant preceding it. Ь means that the previous consonant is palatalized, while Ъ means that the preceding consonant is not palatalized even in a palatalizing environment. (Palatalization is the tendency of vowels like [i] and [e] to push the tongue toward the front of the mouth while pronouncing a preceding consonant, causing the consonant to change a little, like [t] to become [ts], [s] to [š], etc).

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