The Cyrillic script (// sih-RIL-ik) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic, Turkic, Mongolic, Uralic, Caucasian and Iranic-speaking countries in Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, North Asia, and East Asia.
|Earliest variants exist c. 893 – c. 940|
Co-official script in:
|Languages||See Languages using Cyrillic|
|Old Permic script|
|ISO 15924||Cyrl, 220 , Cyrillic |
As of 2019[update], around 250 million people in Eurasia use Cyrillic as the official script for their national languages, with Russia accounting for about half of them. With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official script of the European Union, following the Latin and Greek alphabets.
The Early Cyrillic alphabet was developed during the 9th century AD at the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of tsar Simeon I the Great, probably by disciples of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, the two brothers who created the earlier Glagolitic script. The new script became the basis of alphabets used in various languages in Orthodox Church-dominated Eastern Europe, both Slavic and non-Slavic (such as Romanian). For centuries, Cyrillic was also used by Catholic and Muslim Slavs (see Bosnian Cyrillic).
Cyrillic is derived from the Greek uncial script, augmented by letters from the older Glagolitic alphabet, including some ligatures. These additional letters were used for Old Church Slavonic sounds not found in Greek. The script is named in honor of the Saint Cyril, one of the two Byzantine brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on. Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by the early disciples of Cyril and Methodius in the Preslav Literary School, the most important early literary and cultural centre of the First Bulgarian Empire and of all Slavs:
Unlike the Churchmen in Ohrid, Preslav scholars were much more dependent upon Greek models and quickly abandoned the Glagolitic scripts in favor of an adaptation of the Greek uncial to the needs of Slavic, which is now known as the Cyrillic alphabet.
The earliest datable Cyrillic inscriptions have been found in the area of Preslav. They have been found in the medieval city itself, and at nearby Patleina Monastery, both in present-day Shumen Province, in the Ravna Monastery and in the Varna Monastery.
With the orthographic reform of Saint Evtimiy of Tarnovo and other prominent representatives of the Tarnovo Literary School (14th and 15th centuries) such as Gregory Tsamblak or Constantine of Kostenets the school influenced Russian, Serbian, Wallachian and Moldavian medieval culture. That is famous in Russia as the second South-Slavic influence.
In the early 18th century, the Cyrillic script used in Russia was heavily reformed by Peter the Great, who had recently returned from his Grand Embassy in Western Europe. The new letterforms, called the Civil script, became closer to those of the Latin alphabet; several archaic letters were abolished and several letters were designed by Peter himself. Letters became distinguished between upper and lower case. West European typography culture was also adopted. The pre-reform forms of letters called 'Полуустав' were notably kept for use in Church Slavonic and are sometimes used in Russian even today, especially if one wants to give a text a 'Slavic' or 'archaic' feel.