First of all, thank you for reading this question. While checking some proposed restorations of Indo-European words, I noticed that for Slavic words the Old Church Slavonic is used. I've searched some information of this language and found out that it was artificially created on the basis of Thessaly dialect of local Slavs.

So the language was invented by two Greek monks on the basis of local population, that consisted not only of Slavs but slavicised Turkic Bulgars, Greeks and native Thracians, that according to some sources had a lot in common with Balts in terms of linguistics (the same is usually found between Baltic and Slavic languages).

The Old Church Slavonic was the first literary language of Slavs, that was purposed for religious texts translations and other liturgical purposes, so the language influenced all the Slavic languages. So could all the words with Indo-European roots just be calque and loanwords from Greek or Thraci? Of course the language consists not only of vocabulary, but also grammatics and other components, but I don't have much knowledge about it to compare myself.

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    The language was not ‘invented’ by Cyril and and Methodius. What they did was take a miscellany of sources based on different local Slavic dialects and standardise them into a more or less singular, coherent written language based on their own native dialect. That standardised language subsequently ended up becoming very influential, but it was no more artificial than any other standardised written language. There were Slavic languages that had evolved for centuries before Old Church Slavonic, and continued to do so after. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


The so-called Old Church Slavonic is actually very close to the reconstructed Proto-Slavic. To the extent that one can consider it to be a late form of Proto-Slavic. Another name of the language as spoken in 800-1000 AD is Late Common Slavic. In other words, Old Church Slavonic is the form of Slavic language at the time when it did not split into Slavic branches yet or was split but only a short time before.

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    A useful comparandum is Sanskrit, which diverged at least as far from Proto-Indo-Aryan as OCS diverged from Proto-Slavic. And yet, Sanskrit is often treated as synonymous with Proto-Indo-Aryan (or Old Indo-Aryan in general, including unattested varieties)
    – Tristan
    Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 8:47
  • 4
    I think that Old Church Slavonic is not so "very close" to Proto-Slavic. It is a language or dialect (of Slavic dialect continuum) standardized some centuries after Proto-Slavic started to diverge, and has some features specific to South Slavic (e.g. development of *el, *ol, *er, *or) and some features shared only with Bulgarian (e.g. development of *tj, *dj into [ʃt], [ʒd]).
    – Arfrever
    Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 12:23
  • This answer is rather ignorant of scholarship from the last thirty years or so, e.g. Andersen, Holzer, Vermeer, Olander. Due to the agreed relative chronology of sound changes, so much of what is viewed as typically Slavic, like the palatalizations of velars and reduction of vowels to yers, actually postdates Proto-Slavic. Old Church Slavonic was very close to a vague "Common Slavic", but that was still later than Proto-Slavic.
    – user41876
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:54

OCS is actually old Bulgarian, the term OCS didn't start getting used until the late 1890s. Before that scholars called it Old Bulgarian which answers your question. Kiril and Metodi were two Byzantines of Bulgarian origin which is why they were entrusted with this first step and they used the glagolythic alphabet. Their Bulgarian disciples Clement and Naum are actually the ones who conceived of the alphabet that is used these days. They did that with the financial and start support of King Boris of Bulgaria and they started their work in the Bulgarian cities of Pliska and Preslav.

  • What did Cyril and Methodius, or Clement and Naum, call the language? Commented Jun 12 at 10:06

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