To celebrate the Day of Bulgarian Literacy we have assembled a list of fun facts about the Cyrillic alphabet, one of the “youngest” writing systems in widespread use around the world.
15 Fun Facts about the Cyrillic Alphabet
- The Cyrillic alphabet is used by more than 260 million people worldwide.
- The Cyrillic alphabet is used in over 50 languages. In addition to its use in slavic languages such as Bulgarian, Russian and Serbian, the Cyrillic alphabet is also used in non-slavic languages including Aleut, Kyrgyz and Tatar.
- The Cyrillic Alphabet is descended from Glagolitic, the alphabet devised by the saintly brothers Cyril and Methodius for use in their 862 C.E. Christian mission to the Great Moravian Empire.
- There were at least 41 letters in the Glagolitic alphabet, and 43 in early versions of Cyrillic. The modern Bulgarian alphabet has 30 letters.
- Saint Clement of Ohrid, a Bulgarian follower of Saints Cyril and Methodius, created Cyrillic as a refinement of the Glagolitic script.
- The Cyrillic alphabet received its name as an homage to Clement’s late teacher.
- The Bible transcribed in Old Church Slavonic was the first vernacular translation accepted for use in official church rituals.
- When Cyril and Methodius were expelled from Great Moravia, Tsar Boris I of Bulgaria offered them refuge and assistance for their work.
- With support from Tsar Boris I of Bulgaria, Clement of Ohrid established the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools, two important centers promoting Slavonic literacy.
- The oldest known Glagolitic/Cyrillic inscriptions were found on the walls and ceramic tiles of the Round Church in Veliki Preslav, Bulgaria, dating from the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Simeon the Great (893-927 C.E.).
- Cyrillic variatians carry different names in colloquial speech. Serbian vukovitsa is named for Vuk Karadzich, and Belorussian tarashkevitsa for Branislaw Tarashkyevich, who were both noted linguists in their countries.
- Bulgaria is the only EU nation using the Cyrillic alphabet.
- Cyrillic became an official EU alphabet upon the accession of Bulgaria in 2007.
- The Cyrillic transcription евро was added to Euro currency banknotes beginning in 2013.
- The Двор на кирилица is a unique sculpture garden and museum celebrating the Cyrillic alphabet located in Pliska, Bulgaria.
How Many Letters in the Bulgarian Cyrillic Alphabet?
The Bulgarian alphabet is a version of the Cyrillic alphabet used for writing in the Bulgarian language. The Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet lacked standardization well into the nineteenth century, with variations ranging in size from 28 to 44 letters.
In the 1870’s, the famous Bulgarian historian and philologist Marin Drinov proposed a 32 letter version of the Cyrillic alphabet that became the Bulgarian national standard until 1945. The orthographic reform of 1945 removed 2 letters from the alphabet, reducing the number to the 30 letters that make up the Bulgarian alphabet today.