Interslavic (Medžuslovjanski, Меджусловјански) is a zonal constructed language based on the Slavic languages. Its purpose is to facilitate communication between representatives of different Slavic nations, as well as to allow people who do not know any Slavic language to communicate with Slavs. It is written in both Latin and Cyrillic script.
Interslavic is a semi-artificial language since it is essentially a modern continuation of Old Church Slavonic, but also draws on the various improvised language forms Slavs have been using for centuries to communicate with Slavs of other nationalities. It was created in 2006 by Ondrej Rečnik, Gabriel Svoboda, Jan van Steenbergen, Igor Polyakov, Vojtěch Merunka and Steeven Radzikowski.
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic probably was the first literary Slavic language, created by the missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius. Some scholars believe that Old Church Slavonic was not exactly similar to any Slavic language of that time but was constructed. In any case, Cyril and Methodius created one or more writing systems which serve as a base for many contemporary Slavic languages — Glagolitic or Cyrillic. Church Slavonic is used as a liturgical language to this day by some Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches of the Slavic peoples.
Development of Interslavic
The first Interslavic grammar, Gramatíčno izkâzanje ob rúskom jezíku was written by the Croatian priest Juraj Križanić in 1665. Križanić is regarded as one of the earliest proponents of Pan-Slavism. He referred to the language as Ruski, but in reality it was mostly based on a mixture of the Russian edition of Church Slavonic and his own Ikavian Čakavian dialect of Serbo-Croatian. The language he created and used in his writing (his “Common Slavonic Language”) was a mixture of several Slavic languages and was devised to serve as a symbol of and even to promote Slavic unity.
It should be noted that Križanić was not the first who attempted writing in a language understandable to all Slavs. In 1583 another Croatian priest, Šime Budinić, had translated the Summa Doctrinae Christanae by Petrus Canisius into “Slovignsky”, in which he used both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets.
After Križanić, numerous other efforts have been made to create an umbrella language for the speakers of Slavic languages. Notable examples are Opšti Slovenski Jezik (1796) by a Serbian Stefan Stratimirovic, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Austrian Empire and Universalis Lingua Slavica by the Slovak attorney Ján Herke published in 1826.
Of special importance is the work of Matija Majar (1809–1892), a Slovenian Austroslavist who later converted to Pan-Slavism. In 1865 he published Uzajemni Pravopis Slavjanski (“Mutual Slavic Orthography”).
Other Pan-Slavic language projects were published in the same period by the Croatian Matija Ban, the Slovenes Radoslav Razlag and Božidar Raič, as well as the Macedonian Grigor Parlichev– all based on the idea of combining Old Church Slavonic with elements from the modern South Slavic languages.
In 1907 the Czech dialectologist Ignac Hošek (1852–1919) published a grammar of Neuslavisch, a proposal for a common literary language for all Slavs within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Five years later another Czech, Josef Konečný, published Slavina, a “Slavic Esperanto”, which however had very little in common with Esperanto, but instead was mostly based on Czech. Whereas these two projects were naturalistic, the same cannot be said about two other projects by Czech authors, Slovanština by Edmund Kolkop and Slavski jezik by Bohumil Holý.
During the 1950s the Czech poet and former Esperantist Ladislav Podmele (1920–2000), also known under his pseudonym Jiří Karen, worked for several years with a team of prominent interlinguists on an elaborate project, Mežduslavjanski jezik.
- Slovignsky (slouignisky iazik) (1583) by the Croatian priest Šime Budinić.
- Gramatíčno izkâzanje ob rúskom jezíku (1665) written by the Croatian priest Juraj Križanić.
- Opšti Slovenski Jezik (Општи Словенски Језик) (1796) by the Serbian Stefan Stratimirović, based mostly on Russian.
- An unnamed language from 1790 by the Slovene G. Sapelj.
- Opšteslovenski Jezik (1793) by the Slovene Blaž Kumerdej (1738-1805), based mostly on Slovene.
- Universalis Lingua Slavica – Universal Slavic language, also known as Vseslovanski jazyk is an early example of a zonal constructed language for Slavs. It was created and published by the Slovak Ján Herkeľ in 1826.
- Slava-Esperanto (1912) aka Slovina or Slavina created by Josef Konečný in Prague.
- Neposlava (Непослава) was created by Vsevolod Evgrafovich Cheshikhin in 1915 in Russia
- Slovan (1940), by the Czech Arnost Eman Žídek.
- Sveslav (Свеслав, Свесловенски језик) (1940), published by the Serbian Čedomir Djurdjević.
- Mežduslavjanski jezik (Inter-Slavic language). Work on this language was carried out by a group of Czechoslovak linguists in 1954-1958.
- Meždislav (1972), by Owe Bruno Fahlke from Germany.
- Slovio (from the Slavic word “slovo”) is a constructed language begun in 1999 by Mark Hučko.
Interslavic Language Today
In March 2006, the Slovianski project was started by a group of people from different countries, who felt the need for a simple and neutral Slavic language that the Slavs could understand without prior learning. The language they envisioned should be naturalistic and only consist of material existing in all or most Slavic languages, without any artificial additions.
In January 2010 a new language was published, Neoslavonic (“Novoslovienskij”, later “Novoslověnsky”) by the Czech Vojtěch Merunka, based on Old Church Slavonic grammar but using part of Slovianski’s vocabulary.
In 2011, Slovianski, Slovioski and Novoslověnsky merged into one common project under the name Interslavic (Medžuslovjanski). Slovianski grammar and dictionary were expanded to include all options of Neoslavonic as well, turning it into a more flexible language based on prototypes rather than fixed rules.
In the same year, the various simplified forms of Slovianski and Slovioski that were meant to meet the needs of beginners and non-Slavs, were reworked into a highly simplified form of Interslavic, Slovianto.
Interslavic language compared to Slavic languages
Words in Interslavic are based on comparison of the vocabulary of all modern Slavic languages. The English-Interslavic dictionary currently has over 15,000 words. It is an expanded version of the English-Slovianski word list with several inconsistencies eliminated. Every word on the list should be recognizable to the speakers of most, if not all, Slavic languages, and is given in both Latin and Cyrillic, separated by a dot.
To read the dictionary click here.