Church Slavonic Language - Recensions

Recensions

Various Church Slavonic recensions were used as a liturgical and literary language in all Orthodox countries north of the Mediterranean region during the Middle Ages, even in places where the local population was not Slavic (especially in Romania). In recent centuries, however, Church Slavonic was fully replaced by local languages in the non-Slavic countries. Even in some of the Slavic Orthodox countries, the modern national language is now used for liturgical purposes to a greater or lesser extent. Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church, which contains around half of all Orthodox believers, still holds its liturgies almost entirely in Church Slavonic. However, there exist parishes which use other languages (and the main problem here is the lack of good translations):

  • according to the decision of All-Russian Church Council of 1917-1918, service in Russian or Ukrainian can be permitted in individual parishes when approved by church authorities;
  • "ethnic" parishes in Russia use (entirely or in part) their languages: Chuvash, Mordvinic, Mari, Tatar (for Keräşens), Sakha (Yakut) etc.;
  • autonomous parts of the Russian Orthodox Church prepare and partly use translations to the languages of the local population, as Ukrainian, Belarusian, Romanian (in Moldova), Japanese, Chinese;
  • parishes in the diaspora, including ones of Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia often use local languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch etc.

Nowadays, Church Slavonic language (also known as New Church Slavonic, the name proposed by F. V. Mareš) is actually a set of at least four different dialects (recensions), with essential distinctions between them in dictionary, spelling (even in writing systems), phonetics etc. The most widespread recension, Russian, has, in order, several local sub-dialects with slightly different pronunciation.

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