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Old Church Slavonic: An Elementary Grammar Paperback – 4 Dec 2008

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Book Description

Old Church Slavonic, the language of the religious texts translated by Saints Cyril and Methodius for the use of the Slavonic-speaking people of Central Europe in the early Middle Ages, later to become the literary language of medieval Russia and other East European countries, is a basic component of Modern Standard Russian.

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A sufficient resource on the subject for undergraduate study in Russian language. 1 Jan. 2006
By Melinda G. Axel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Culver's review (above), while certainly reflecting an expert's perspective, does not take into consideration the needs of undergraduate students of Russian Language and literature. Russian authors and poets delight in puns, double- and triple entendre's, in verse- capping, humorous and subtle references to what we would think of as obscure language and writings. Indeed, Russian authors compete with each other to see whose wit is the most sublime. It is not unusual to see usage of syntax and expressions from Old Church Slavonic reflected in the works of Russian writers such as Pushkin, Gogol, and Pasternak.

Gardiner's "Old Church Slavonic" gives the non-native, but intelligent Russian speaker/reader sufficient grasp of Old Church Slavonic to 'get' some of these idiomatic witticisms that help to give Russian literature its richness and complexity.

In addition to non-native speakers, many undergraduate students of Russian are Eastern European immigrants who came to live in an English-speaking country in during childhood, and whose Russian, learned from their parents without the benefit of formal academic study, leaves them with a deficit of skills in their native language. It is quite understandable and commendable that such students should wish to acquire sufficient education in the language of their native country to appreciate the culture they came from, as well as the one in which they now reside. It can be argued that such study is essential to the complete growth and self-esteem of people who went through the immigrant experience as children, and are left with a certain sense of schism.

The works that Culver refers to in his review are also no doubt excellent, but they would likely be too complex for the under- graduate, or the student who is not exposed to the broader scope of linguistics, as opposed to studying a single language to gain an appreciation of a culture's literature, theater, opera, etc.

Since references in Old Church Slavonic are extremely scanty, I would have to give Gardiner's book 5 stars within its subject class.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Old Church Slavonic Grammar 18 May 2013
By J. Lemieux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gardiner is an easy-to-use and essential reference for every student of the Old Church Slavonic language to have at his or her side.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gardiner's Old Church Slavonic 12 Jun. 2013
By Richard S. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gardiner's "Old Church Slavonic" is one of the rare reference books for the grammar of the religious language not only of Russia but much of eastern Europe. Designer for the undergraduate with some basic knowledge of Russian, it serves the purpose for which it was intended. Probably not ideal for someone who is intensely interested in linguistics, it still is a good book for someone looking for an elementary introduction to the Slavonic grammar of the Orthodox Churches of Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, etc.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A rather sketchily written synchronic grammar 5 Sept. 2005
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
John Gardiner's OLD CHURCH SLAVONIC: An Elementary Grammar is one of the few resources in English for learning the earliest attested Slavonic language and, as it was published in 1984, the most recent (if one looks past the light updating of Lunt's grammar). Gardiner's grammar begins with a short introduction about the language's origins, its alphabets, and its texts. The grammar proper is divided into sections on phonology, morphology, and syntax. A collection of reading selections is found at the end of the book, containing Tsar Samuel's inscription, selections from Khrabr's defence of the Slavonic alphabet and the Life of Methodius, the alphabet prayer, part of St. Matthew's Gospel, and two prayers.

As as student of comparative Indo-European linguistics, I found the work unsuitable for my needs. The work seems mainly geared towards students of modern Slavonic languages who just want to go a few centuries back. Gardiner treats OCS in an entirely synchronic fashion and does not treat the development of Common Slavonic out of Proto-Indo-European. The book is very sketchily written, almost as it were mere lecture notes transformed into a book. The work consists mainly of tables of paradigms with little descriptive writings as in other OCS textbooks.

If you are looking for a primer on Old Church Slavonic in a wider Indo-European context, Gardiner's book isn't even worth looking at (except maybe the reading passages); just get Nandris' HANDBOOK OF OLD CHURCH SLAVONIC and Schmalstieg's OLD CHURCH SLAVIC GRAMMAR. However, if you are a student of Russian, Bulgarian, etc. just curious about the earlier form of the language, this (or Lunt's grammar) might be helpful.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Boring 30 Dec. 2012
By Lady Zhivago - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Its boring, even if the subject itself is not. Most of the students in the class, including myself were frustrated with the layout. This is important because when you are trying to memorize charts and things, a good layout makes it a lot easier. Felt like giving up at times.
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