Old Novgorod dialect
Old Novgorod dialect (Russian: древненовгородский диалект, romanized: drevnenovgorodskiy dialekt; also translated as Old Novgorodian or Ancient Novgorod dialect) is a term introduced by Andrey Zaliznyak to describe the dialect found in the Old East Slavic birch bark writings ("berestyanaya gramota"). Dating from the 11th to 15th centuries, the letters were excavated in Novgorod and its surroundings.
For linguists, Old Novgorodian is particularly of interest in that it has retained some archaic features which were lost in other Slavic dialects, such as the absence of second palatalization. Furthermore, letters provide unique evidence of the Slavic vernacular, as opposed to the Church Slavonic which dominated the written literature of the period. Most of the letters feature everyday business and personal correspondence, instructions, complaints, news, reminders etc. Such widespread usage indicates a high level of literacy, including among women and children. For language history the notes are also valuable because they retain original spelling of the time as they were not copied, rewritten or edited by later scribes unlike copied chronicles where over the centuries spelling may have been changing from the changes in scribes' speech.
Today, the study of Novgorodian birch bark letters is an established scholarly field in Russian historical linguistics, with far-ranging historical and archaeological implications for the study of the Russian Middle Ages.