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  Wikipedia: Belarusian language

Wikipedia: Belarusian language
Belarusian language
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Belarusian is the language of Belarussian ethnicity. It is one of the three East Slavic languages and is spoken in and around Belarus.

It is also known as "Byelorussian", "Belarusan", "Belorussian", "Balarusian". The word "Byelorussian" is an adjective derived from the transliteration of the Russian name of the country (Byelorussia). It was in predominant use in English language earlier. The adjectives "Belarusian" and "Belarusan" and many other forms emerged in the 1990s by English-speaking people to denote something or somebody of or pertaining to present-day name of Belarus, its people and the language they speak, whereas in Russian and Belarusian no new forms of the adjective appeared in those days. Both "Belarusian" and "Byelorussian" are in most common use today.

Belarusian (Беларуская мова)
Spoken in:Belarus, Poland and 14 other countries
Total speakers: 10 Million
Ranking: -
  East Slavic
Official status
Official language of:Belarus
Regulated by:--
Language codes
ISO 639-1:be
ISO 639-2:bel


The modern Belarusian language has evolved considerably from its early roots, as the dialects of Ruthenian (East Slavic Orthodox) spoken in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. A standardized version of Ruthenian became the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and was official language until 1696.Belarusian was actually the language of the first printed Bible in Slavic languages — the achievement of Francysk Skaryna. The following century was the Belarusian golden age: there were active many schools, religious quarrels between Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants and Jews were fought using printing presses rather then violence. Many Belarusians were people of the Renaissance, educated at the univeristies of Western Europe or the Lithuanian university in Vilnius that opened in 1570.

After the series of wars known in Polish history as Deluge, the Belarusian population was halved, partly due to deaths, partly to the policy of deportations of the skilled cratftsman and work force to Russia by the occupying Russian army. In the process schools were closed, and the remaining educated people were attracted by Polish culture. By the 1696 the language of the upper classes of society switched to Polish, followed by a change of the official language. Belarussian was used both by peasants and by nobles wishing to express their sympathy toward common people.

The movement of return to the Belarusian language was important in the circle of friends of Adam Mickiewicz.

By the 16th century, the term "Ruthenian" referred to the language spoken in modern-day Ukraine and Belarus; a process of divergence that accelerated in the 17th century created a new division between the languages spoken in the south (Ukraine) and north (Belarus) of Ruthenian-speaking territory.

Like Ukraine, Belarus and the Belarusian language has been subject to heavy russification. Unlike Ukraine, the population of Belarus has historically lacked a strong nationalistic drive, and tends to identify itself as a close associate of Russia (if not considering themselves Russian outright). This lack of a strong ethnolinguistic identity, along with the popular association of Belarusian dialects as rural, peasant languages as opposed to Russian's modern/urban connotations, is seen by some as a threat that may lead to the eventual extinction of the Belarusian language in Belarus. One of the reasons for this situation was extermination of Belarusian middle class between 1917 and 1941 by communists. Only in Kuropaty (suburbs of Minsk) NKVD killed more than 100,000 people. Many thousands people were sent to concentation camps (Gulag) or resettled to Siberia.

Perhaps the largest centre of Belarusian cultural activity, in the Belarusian language, outside Belarus is in the Polish province of Bialystok, the home to a long-established Belarusian minority.


The Belarusian language was written not only in the Cyrillic alphabet (with several unique letters), but also in Lacinka (Latin script) and Arabica (Arabic script). Nowadays, the Arabic script is no longer used, but many people continue to write in Lacinka, although officially only the Cyrillic script is supported. More articles are here.

External links

Ethnologue report for Belarusian


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona