Second-Oldest Known Document in Slovenian Found, Dating From 12th Century

By , 15 Jun 2022, 11:44 AM Made in Slovenia
The beginning of the second Freising manuscript The beginning of the second Freising manuscript Photo: Marjan Smerke, public domain

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STA, 14 June 2022 - A recently-found manuscript from the 12th century has turned out to be the second-oldest known document in Slovenian after the famous Freising Manuscripts. In a surprising twist, it was confirmed that the numerals from one to ten are written in the early Slovenian language, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported on Sunday.

Apart from the Freising Manuscripts, which date back to the period around 1000 AD, the early forms of Slovenian have so far been documented through geographical and personal names.

The analysis has confirmed that the recently-discovered Heiligenkreutz manuscript, which is kept at the monastery of the same name in Austria, can now join the company of these documents in what was a surprise for the local linguists in Austria.

It all started last year when a Polish scientific journal published an article on numerals from one to ten written in a Slavic language that had been found in the Latin manuscript.

Slovenian linguist Matej Šekli then confirmed that the language used was early Slovenian, which was typical for the area between the eastern Alps and the Danube river at the time.

Slovenian linguist Marko Snoj told TV Slovenija that "every such finding is surprising and delightful because you can see that Slovenian was indeed once quite a big European language". At the time of Protestantism, Slovenians were 14th in Europe with a Bible translated into their language and 9th with their own grammar.

A scribe who wrote down the numerals wrote three other manuscripts at the monastery as well as manuscripts at the Rein Abbey, which had close contacts with the Stična monastery in Slovenian lands. It is for this reason that they could have been written down by a Slovenian scribe from Stična, the public broadcaster said.

The Freising Manuscripts, kept at the Bavarian State Library in Germany, remain the oldest Slovenian language text and the first Latin-script text in any Slavic language.

Taking up nine pages of a larger Church codex written in Latin, they feature three complete liturgies written in the Slovenian as spoken at the time. Two texts are translations of Old High German Confession formulas and the third is a sermon on sin and penance.

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