Another AI Translation Experiment: Old Church Slavonic

The early Cyrillic alphabet seems to be the basis for most modern Old Church Slavonic transcriptions. Many of the letters are identical or very similar to modern Cyrillic and there is discernable Greek influence, as well.

I first learned of Old Church Slavonic (OCS) when I encountered the work of Dr. Florin Curta on the Bogomils, about two years ago. I don’t recall what led me to investigate the Bogomils but my present intrigue about OCS and Slavic history is easy to explain. We help run an orphan ministry and have a daughter from Ukraine. We also currently sponsor a young Ukrainian who fled the war.

Regarding OCS and Slavic culture I know just enough from personal experience, my brief investigation of the Bogomils, and the broader Carolingian era to realize they occupy a unique and important place in church history. It appears Slavic Christianity is a somewhat distinct thread that develops within the timeframe of the Holy Roman and Byzantine “Empires.” Not surprisingly, the Slavic world adopted Christianity from the latter. If I know nothing more, I suspect this exceeds most in the modern, Western, English-speaking world. If Eastern Christianity in general tends to be obscure in the Western world, the history of Slavic Christianity is only more so, I assume.

In another post, I shared an experiment using a combination of AI (ChatGPT) and Google Translate to translate a 12th century Latin text. With a completely different alphabet, far fewer resources, and many more obscurities for a neophyte like myself, translating OCS seems to present a much greater challenge than Latin. Sometimes unique challenges present unique opportunities.

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