Proto-Slavic, also Common Slavic, is the common ancestor of the Slavic languages, spoken around the 5th to 8th centuries AD. As with most other proto-languages, no attested writings have been found; the language has been reconstructed by applying the comparative method to all the attested Slavic languages as well as other Indo-European languages. However, a late form of this language as spoken in the region of Greek Macedonia, known as Old Church Slavonic, is attested from the 9th century AD.
The name "Proto-Slavic", by the definition of a proto-language, is the latest reconstructable common ancestor of all Slavic languages. Technically speaking, Proto-Slavic is purely a linguistic abstraction and admits no dialectal differentiation, since this would imply that a form was not ancestral to all of its descendants. When referring to the historical common language of the Slavs, the term Common Slavic is used, which generally includes a later stage than Proto-Slavic proper (up to the 10th century CE) where the language was dialectally differentiated yet still evolving in a unified fashion. During this period, the Slavic-speaking area expanded massively; yet sound changes still usually propagated throughout the entire area, although not always uniformly.
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“Men sometimes speak as if the study of the classics would at length make way for more modern and practical studies; but the adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man?... We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)