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I am a native American English speaker. To improve my SAT verbal score, I studied Latin. Is there an analogous ancient language for Russian?

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  • it's not a question about Russian language and does not help any one who is interested in studying Russian. – shabunc Aug 11 '20 at 9:08
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    @shabunc "does not help any one who is interested in studying Russian" - I have a reason to disagree. At least based on the premise of this question, there may exist a "shortcut" to studying Russian. The answer to this part of the question ("easily studied") is "No", but I'd prefer to see that question properly answered rather than closed. – Alexander Aug 11 '20 at 16:49
  • @Alexander like learning Latin is not a shortcut for mastering French, learning Church Slavonic is hardly a shortcut for Russian. It helps, that's for sure, but still it's not a question about Russian language. – shabunc Aug 11 '20 at 16:53
  • @shabunc Is there an appropriate forum for metalanguage questions? – sourcebug Aug 11 '20 at 17:54
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    the "analogous" for what ? :> 1. The Old Russian (Old Slavonic, the language of Ancient Rus' and dialects for these) 2. So called Old Church Slavonic 3. The Middle Greek and Latin.. of course too... 4. Well - Ancient "germanic" languages... Gothic f.e. 5. Probably some Turks and Ugro-Finnic languages... :> –  Пилум Aug 19 '20 at 16:38
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Yes.

Old Church Slavonic is such a language. It is the earliest Slavic language of which we have written records, beginning with the end of the 9th century AD, and Old Church Slavonic (OCS) is so old that it is very close to the late Proto-Slavic language, so it displays the state of the language from which all the modern Slavic languages descend, not only Russian. Studying OCS greatly improves understanding of the phonology, grammar, and lexicon of the modern Slavic languages. Most texts in OCS are religious, though.

Also, OSC had a tremendous impact on the Russian language. Lexical (words) and morphological (prefixes, suffixes) borrowings from OCS are abundant in Russian to such an extent that their number partially obscures the fact that Russian is an East Slavic language, making Russian look much like a South Slavic language, since OCS is South Slavic. Studying OCS will improve your understanding of the Russian vocabulary and its etymology. Naturally, the OCS grammar is more complicated than that of Russian, in a similar way as the Latin grammar is more complicated than the Spanish grammar.

Here is a good book for a start, Old Church Slavonic Grammar, 2001, by Horace G. Lunt.

In Russian Orthodox church, OCS in its modern, phonetically and morphologically Russified version is still used, it's called церковнославянский язык, Church Slavonic.

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