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Glagolitic Records - Background

By Gordon McDaniel

© copyright 1996 by Gordon McDaniel; all rights reserved

With the LDS microfilming underway in Croatia, there is now a good-sized collection of material written in the Glagolitic alphabet which will definitely present problems for researchers. In case you're not up on it, Glagolitic was the alphabet that Cyril and Methodius actually invented (they *didn't* invent Cyrillic).

Glagolitic was the original Slavic alphabet invented by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius about 860. The word "glagolitic" (glagoljica in Croatian) comes from the old Slavic verb "glagoljati," which means "to speak."

It is generally believed that the word itself was formed from a nonsense syllable gol- which was repeated, to imitate the sound of speaking, much as the word "barbarian" was invented by the Greeks to describe languages unfamiliar to them (others sounded like "bar-bar....").

After Methodius died in 885 (Cyril died in Rome in 863), his disciples were kicked out of Moravia (which was centered on the Pannonian plain). Some went to Bulgaria, where Cyrillic was actually devised. Others went to the Croatian coast, where they remained and continued using Glagolitic.

During the middle ages, and up to the early 19th century on some islands, Croatian Catholic priests who did not know Latin continued to write in Croatian using the Glagolitic alphabet. They were called glagoljasi.