SASA - Department of Language and Literature
Institute for the Serbian Language - Old Slavonic Department
Conclusions adopted at the international academic conference held at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts [SASA],
15-17 October 2007, organised by the SASA Division for Language and Literature and the SASA Institute
for the Serbian Language
Standard for Old Slavic Script
Heinz Miklas, Johannes Reinhart (Austria); Rumjan Lazov, Anisava Miltenova (Bulgaria);
Stana Jankoska, Violeta Martinovska (Macedonia); Elena L. Aleksejeva, Viktor A. Baranov,
Anatolij A. Turilov (Russia); Dušnica Grbić, Jasmina Grković-Major, Gordana Jovanović,
Zoran Kostić, Katarina Mano-Zisi, Predrag Miodrag, Slobodan Pavlović, Viktor Savić, Gojko Subotić,Gordana Tomović,
Đorđe Trifunović, Brankica Čigoja, Novka Šokica, Irena Špadijer (Serbia); Father Josif
(Hilandar Monastery); Václav Čermák (Czech Republic);
Jelica Stojanović (Montenegro).
The Belgrade conference dealt with three fundamental issues:
Establishing the standard for the Old Church Slavonic Cyrillic script – more precisely, defining all of
its characters and their order – for small and capital letters as well as superimposed letters, diacritical
marks, ligatures and numerals;
Establishing alphabetical order;
Forwarding a joint recommendation to Unicode, on behalf of all institutions represented at the conference,
requesting registration of the Old Church Slavonic Cyrillic script as separate and independent from the
already represented modern Cyrillic.
On the last day of the conference, during a workshop marked by lively and productive discussion, the Belgrade
initiative was amended repeatedly. An agreement was finally reached, and can be viewed here:
Principles for Establishing a Standard).
Standard Established for Old Church Slavonic Cyrillic (See:
Standard for Old Slavic Script).
At the suggestion of B. A. Baranov, it was decided to divide characters into ‘basic’ and ‘functional’ forms.
Characters were accordingly classified as basic, functional, and glyph forms.
The basic inventory comprises forms that have been stable since the first preserved writings
and have existed throughout the history of the script. The basic forms are a constant within the written
tradition. This inventory is essentially supranational and is found as such in only the earliest writings;
it later takes on distinctive national forms or ‘recensions’ that can be distinguished from the wider tradition.
The functional inventory comprises necessary additions to the basic inventory, without which
it would be difficult or impossible to use the script normally. This set includes not-yet stable forms occurring
in the earliest writings, characters with soft signs, rarely occurring older letter forms, singularities of
lesser importance in certain editions, characters needed for transliterating Glagolitic, and characters needed
for phonological transcription (see Cyrillic-Glagolitic). The standard Old Church Slavonic script was
determined to have 49 basic and 46 functional characters (see
It was determined that each character (whether basic or functional) should have its own superimposed
(superscript) letter both with and without titlos.
A list was established of basic diacritical marks and titlos, while those remaining were transferred to the glyphs.
A list was established of basic punctuation and symbols, while those remaining were transferred to the glyphs.
No final position was reached as to whether ligatures should be included in the standard; the issue remains open.
Alphabetical Order Established for Old Church Slavonic Cyrillic, and used for all further examples.
Agreement on Proposal for Registration of Old Church Slavonic Script in Unicode..
Participants at the Belgrade conference agreed that the Old Church Slavonic script is not represented in Unicode.
To date, the closest script available is Građanica, which has too many gaps to be workable.
It was agreed that it is necessary to register the entire standard Old Church Slavonic script, with such font
extensions as are required for electronic document exchange, in order to functionally reproduce Old Church Slavonic.
It was agreed that registration should be independent of currently registration for reasons detailed in the
attached registration proposal.
Conclusions and attachments should be open to public review by experts who did not attend the Belgrade conference,
in order to ensure that the standard and accompanying proposals are the best possible.
The final proposal should be presented at the International Conference of Slavonic Studies in Ohrid, Macedonia, 2008,
in order to gain widespread support for its inclusion in Unicode
Regardless of the type of registration Unicode eventually implements, whether partial or complete, Slavonic scholars
must conform to the standard as proposed. In the event that insufficiencies are later noted in the standard script,
the Belgrade team will recommend further codes from the Private Use Area of Unicode. Such recommendations will also
be open to public discussion.
Due to time constraints, some of the issues under discussion remained unresolved, while others were not even
dealt with. Further public discussions should focus on the following:
Paragraph 1.3. of the Conclusions provides that “each character (whether basic or functional) shall have its
own superimposed letter, both with and without titlos”. Such a requirement necessitates a certain amount of
reconstruction. The resulting oddities (technical, logical and historical) of certain solutions should be
pointed out; although they are consistent with the system as conceived, it may have been better to exclude them
from the proposal: он многооко [many-eyed on], омега узвична [exclamatory omega],
хер паучасто [spider-legged her], омега глагољска [Glagolitic omega],
черв глагољско [Glagolitic cherv], шта глагољско [Glagolitic shta], and
perhaps all меке/умекшане [soft/softened] forms.
Among the standard small, uppercase and superimposed (superscript) letter, there are two completely reconstructed
forms: *слово меко [soft letter] (no. 42), for phonological transcription of the Old Church
Slavonic phoneme [s’], and *хер паучасто [spider-legged her] (no. 50),
primarily for transliteration from Glagolitic.
The issue of ligatures was not resolved. Opinion on the matter was divided. The Roman languages require a (small)
number of ligatures which are characteristic of their written tradition; such ligatures are listed in Unicode and
can be found in every font. In our case, the original proposal called for over 200 ligatures—and this was not the
total number. Should such a wealth of forms be neglected? (See
The topic of naming the characters was not broached, as various conventions are currently in use. It is not yet
established whether they should be written in the Old Church Slavonic script, or read according to publishing
conventions and customary usage, or whether a uniform usage should be put into place. The names of the characters
are therefore descriptive, for the most part. A larger problem arises with the names of the diacritical marks,
titlos, punctuation and symbols. Our expectation is that Slavonic scholars will exert themselves to resolve the
uncertainties remaining in the important project of establishing the standard for the Old Church Slavonic script.