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The Cyrillic script writing system is an alphabet developed in the Bulgaria in the 9th century, and used in many languages world-wide.
The Cyrillic alphabet is also known as azbuka, derived from the old names of the first two letters of most variant Cyrillic alphabets.
The Cyrillic alphabet was based on the Greek alphabet, augmented by ligatures and consonants from the older Glagolitic alphabet for sounds not found in Greek. Tradition holds that Cyrillic and Glagolitic were formalized either by the two brothers born in Thessaloniki, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who brought Christianity to the southern Slavs, or by their disciples. It is widely accepted, that while Cyril may have codified and expanded Glagolitic, it was his students at the Preslav Literary School in the Bulgaria that developed Cyrillic from Greek in the 890s as a more suitable script for church books. Later the alphabet spread among other Slavic peoples and others, as well as among non-Slavic.
The Cyrillic alphabet came to dominate over Glagolitic in the 12th century. The literature produced in the Old Bulgarian language soon began spreading north and became the lingua franca of Eastern Europe where it came to also be known as Old Church Slavonic. The alphabet used for the modern Church Slavonic language in Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic rites still resembles early Cyrillic. However, over the following ten centuries, the Cyrillic alphabet adapted to changes in spoken language, developed regional variations to suit the features of national languages, and was subjected to academic reforms and political decrees. Today, dozens of languages in Eastern Europe, America and Asia are written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
As the Cyrillic alphabet spread throughout the East and South Slavic territories, it was adopted for writing local languages. Its adaptation to the characteristics of local languages led to the development of its many modern variants, below.
Capital and lowercase letters were not distinguished in old manuscripts.
Yeri (Ы) was originally a ligature of Yer and I (ЪІ). Iotation was indicated by ligatures formed with the letter I: Iotated A (ancestor of modern ya, я), Ѥ, Ю (ligature of I and ОУ), Ѩ, Ѭ. Many letters had variant forms and commonly-used ligatures, for example И=І=Ї, Ѡ=Ѻ, Оу ⁄ ОУ=Ѹ, ѠТ=Ѿ.
The letters also had numeric values, based not on the native Cyrillic alphabetical order, but inherited from the letters' Greek ancestors.
Letterforms and typography
The development of Cyrillic typography passed directly from the medieval stage to the late Baroque, without a Renaissance phase as in Western Europe. Late Medieval Cyrillic letters (still found on many icon inscriptions even today) show a marked tendency to be very tall and narrow; strokes are often shared between adjacent letters.
Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, mandated the use of westernized letter forms in the early eighteenth century. Over time, these were largely adopted in the other languages that use the alphabet.
As used in various languages
Cyrillic alphabet is distributd worldwide.
The first alphabet partly derived from Cyrillic is Abur, applied to the Komi language. Other writing systems derived from Cyrillic were applied to Caucasian languages and the Molodtsov alphabet for Komi language.
Relationship to other writing systems
A number of languages written in the Cyrillic alphabet have also been written in the Latin alphabet, such as ... After the disintegration of the SNOR in 1991, official status shifted in some of the former republics from Cyrillic to Latin.
There are various systems for romanization of Cyrillic text, including transliteration to convey Cyrillic spelling in Latin characters, and transcription to convey pronunciation.
Representing other writing systems with Cyrillic letters is called Cyrillization. Chinese, Corean, and Japanese had received treatment, with some of the ultra-nationalists in those three countries claim it was a ploy to Russify their country if Russia occupies them.
Note: І and Ѣ are not used in Alyaska since 1920, as a result of "rationalizing" the alphabet. Russia itself would have an orthographic reform in the 1930s, but the differences is that the Izhitsa and the Fita were eliminated, and the Yat and Latin-style I are kept, although in somewhat more limited use.
This alphabet was used in Russian Qazaqstan by the Czech Autonomous Okrug during the SNORist era. However, after the fall of SNOR, it quietly switched back to Latin.
This is used in New Dalmatia.
This was a proposal for use for the Manchu language Manchurian Autonomous Region of Beihanguo and sometimes on the related Xibe ethnic group in Uyguristan. However, only the version for Xibe took ground, due to Uyguristan being a SNORist puppet state. Eventually, after the Tokuz Okuz regime had reformed itself, the Cyrillic experiment is abandoned. Xibe is now usually written in Sogdo.