Rusyn language

Rusyn, though by most outsiders considered one language and even having only one SIL code rue, is in fact the name of two independent languages spoken by Rusyns:

  1. Carpatho-Rusyn (also called Ruthenian)
  2. Pannonian-Rusyn (also called Rusnak)

Carpatho-Rusyn (Ruthenian)

The Rusyn language of the Carpathian Mountains is an East Slavic language (along with Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian) close to Ukrainian. It is spoken in the Transcarpathian Region of Ukraine, in eastern Slovakia, southern Poland (where it is often called łemkowski 'Lemko', from their characteristic word lem/лєм 'only'), and Hungary. In Ukraine, Rusyn is often called a dialect of Ukrainian, but speakers are frequently reported to consider themselves distinct from Ukrainians.

Attempts to standardize the language suffer from its being divided between four countries, so that in each of these countries there has been devised a separate orthography (in each case with Cyrillic letters) and grammatical standard, based on different Rusyn dialects. The cultural centres of Carpatho-Rusyn are Preov in Slovakia, Uzhhorod and Mukacheve in Ukraine, Krynica and Legnica in Poland, and Budapest in Hungary. Many very active Rusyns also live in Canada and the USA.

It is very difficult to count the speakers of Carpatho-Rusyn, but their number is sometimes estimated at almost a million, most of them in Ukraine and Slovakia. Rusyn has been recently recognized as a minority language in Slovakia, enjoying the status of official language in municipalities where more than 20% of the inhabitants speak Rusyn.

In the introduction to the book "Slavic languages," written in 1973, ten years before glasnost, Samuel Bernshtein writes about "western Ukrainians" and the "literary language" which they "until recently [i.e., 1973]" had.

Pannonian-Rusyn (Rusnak)

The Rusyn language spoken in the Pannonian plain, or more concretely in north-western Serbia and eastern Croatia (therefore also called Yugoslavo-Rusyn, Vojvodina-Rusyn or Bačka-Rusyn) is closer to West Slavic languages, to Slovak in particular. Oddly enough, it is considered a Ukrainian dialect by Ukrainians and a Slovak dialect by Slovaks, while in fact it should probably be called a microlanguage based on Eastern Slovak dialects with an East Slavic superstratum (namely, Russian Church Slavonic, Russian and [Old] Ruthenian). This mixture is due to the fact that these Rusyns emigrated to Bačka from Eastern Slovakia around the middle of the 19th century, but are Greek Catholics and therefore have close linguistic and cultural ties with Ukraine. Rusyn is one of the official languages of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

Rusyns themselves call their language (бачваньска) руска бешеда or (бачваньски) руски язик. Their cultural centre is Ruski Kerestur (Руски Керестур, Serbian Krstur). Although the number of Pannonian Rusyns is much lower than that of the Carpathian Rusyns (23,286 according to the Yugoslavian census of 1981), they were lucky to live in a multinational state that granted them certain minority rights as early as the 1970s, so that there is a completely Rusyn grammar-school in Ruski Kerestur (with some 250 schoolbooks printed so far for this school and elementary schools), a professorial chair for Rusyn studies at Novi Sad University, and regular television and radio programmes in Rusyn.

The language has been codified by Mikola Koči (Микола Кочиш) in Правопис руского язика ('Orthography of Rusyn', 1971) and Ґраматика руского язика ('Grammar of Rusyn', 1974) and is written with Cyrillic letters.


A new Slavic language is born. The Rusyn literary language in Slovakia. Ed. Paul Robert Magocsi. New York 1996.

Magocsi, Paul Robert. Let's speak Rusyn. Бісідуйме по-руськы. Englewood 1976.

Дуличенко, Александр Дмитриевич. Jugoslavo-Ruthenica. Роботи з рускей филолоґиї. Нови Сад 1995.

See also

External links

cs:Rusínština de:Ruthenische Sprache id:Bahasa Rusyn li:Rusyn no:Ruthensk sprk pl:Język rusiński ru:Русинский язык sk:Rusínčina


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