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Church-Slavonic Elements as a Source of the Czech Biblical Style in the Period of the Czech National Revival (Unique Attempt of František Novotný from Luže)

Josef Bartoň


The article deals with linguistic aspects of a Czech Biblical text originating in the period of the beginning of the Czech National Revival which has until recently been entirely forgotten. The text is a Tetraevangelion written by a Catholic priest František Novotný from Luže (1768–1826), an almost forgotten contemporary and collaborator of the great representatives of the Czech National Revival Josef Dobrovský and Josef Jungmann. Novotný was an expert on Latin, Greek, Church Slavonic and old and new Czech (he was also the author of the early grammar of Czech that was published in Czech). His four Gospels in Czech, published in 1810–1811, belong to the “learning type” translations. It continues the Czech Biblical translation tradition (at the turn of the 19th century represented primarily by the translation of the New Testament and of the entire Bible by František Faustin Procházka, which followed mainly the baroque Catholic St Wenceslas Bible and the Kralice Bible of the Moravian brethren), but has many specific features. The article focuses on the phenomenon that manifested itself (during the author's research of Novotný's text lasting several years) as its main and most interesting trait, namely, a strong influence of the Church Slavonic Biblical text, which is an absolutely rare phenomenon at the beginning of the Czech National Revival. The author, confronting the previous Biblical translation tradition with Novotný’s, reveals a number of innovations that were materialised in Novotný's translation and whose origin in the Church Slavonic Bible is certain or at least very probable. The innovations concern various levels of linguistic description, mainly syntax and lexicon, but also word formation and morphology. The most interesting of Novotný’s novelties is his usage of the adjectival past participle ending with -(v)ší, since this category was introduced into literary Czech in the period of the Czech Revival. It is also important that Church Slavonic is, with high probability, the only source of the enrichment and “refreshment” of the Czech Biblical style that is written in another Slavonic language (Novotný seems not to use any living Slavonic languages).


DOI: 10.31168/2305-6754.2018.7.2.7


František Novotný from Luže; Czech National Revival; Czech Biblical translation; Czech Biblical style; Church Slavonic


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