Ruthenian language
Overview
 
Ruthenian, or Old Ruthenian (see other names), is a term used for the varieties
Variety (linguistics)
In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself...

 of Eastern Slavonic spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 and later in the East Slavic territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Scholars do not agree whether Ruthenian was a separate language or a Western dialect(s) of Old East Slavic, but it is agreed that Ruthenian has a close genetic relationship with it.
Encyclopedia
Ruthenian, or Old Ruthenian (see other names), is a term used for the varieties
Variety (linguistics)
In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself...

 of Eastern Slavonic spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 and later in the East Slavic territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Scholars do not agree whether Ruthenian was a separate language or a Western dialect(s) of Old East Slavic, but it is agreed that Ruthenian has a close genetic relationship with it. Old East Slavic was the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus' (10th – 13th centuries). Ruthenian can be seen as a predecessor of modern Belarusian
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

, Rusyn
Rusyn language
Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

 and Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

. Indeed all these languages, from Old East Slavic to Rusyn, have been labelled as Ruthenian .

Nomenclature

In modern texts, the language in question is sometimes called "Old Belarusian" or starabiełaruskaja mova and "Old Ukrainian" or staroukrajinska mova . As Ruthenian was always in a kind of diglossic
Diglossia
In linguistics, diglossia refers to a situation in which two dialects or languages are used by a single language community. In addition to the community's everyday or vernacular language variety , a second, highly codified variety is used in certain situations such as literature, formal...

 opposition to Church Slavonic, this vernacular language was and still is often called prosta(ja) mova (Cyrillic
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 проста(я) мова, literally "simple language". Contemporary sources only rarely draw any distinction between the dialect of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 and the dialect of the Grand Principality of Vladimir
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

.
On the other hand there exists a school of thought that Old Belarusian and Old Ukrainian must be considered as separate historical languages.

Names in contemporary use
  • Ruthenian (Old Belarusian: руски езыкъ) — by the contemporaries, but, generally, not in contemporary Muscovy.
    • (variant) Simple Ruthenian or simple talk (Old Belarusian: простый руский (язык) or простая молва) — publisher Grigoriy Khodkevich (16th century).
  • Lithuanian — possibly, exclusive reference to it in the contemporary Muscovy. Also by Zizaniy (end 16th cent.), Pamva Berynda (1653).


Names in modern use
  • (Old) Ruthenian — modern collective name, covering both Old Belarusian and Old Ukrainian languages, predominantly used by the 20th cent. Lithuanian, also many Polish and English researchers.
  • (Old) West Russian, language or dialect — chiefly by the supporters of the concept of the Proto-Russian phase, esp. since the end of the 19th century, e.g., by Karskiy, Shakhmatov
    Aleksey Shakhmatov
    Aleksey Aleksandrovich Shakhmatov was an outstanding Russian philologist credited with laying foundations for the science of textology.-Biography:...

    .
  • (Old) Belarusian (language) — rarely in contemporary Muscovy. Also Kryzhanich
    Juraj Križanic
    Juraj Križanić , also known as Yuriy Krizhanich, was a Croatian Catholic missionary who is often regarded as the earliest recorded pan-Slavist and anti-Normanist.-Early life, education, and early missionary work:...

    . The denotation Belarusian (language) when referring both to the 19th century language and to the Medieval language had been used in works of the 19th cent. Russian researchers Fyodor Buslayev, Ogonovskiy, Zhitetskiy, Sobolevskiy, Nedeshev, Vladimirov and Belarusian nationalists, such as Karskiy.
  • Lithuanian-Russian — by 19 cent. Russian researchers Keppen, archbishop Filaret, Sakharov, Karatayev.
  • Lithuanian-Slavonic — by 19 cent. Russian researcher Baranovskiy.
  • Russian-Polish or even Polish dialect — Shtritter, Polish researcher Samuel Bogumił Linde, Polish writer Wisniewski. Notably, the definition had been used even when referencing to Skaryna’s translation of Bible.
  • Old Ukrainian or staroukrajinska mova .


Note that ISO/DIS 639-3 and SIL currently assigns the code rue for the language which is documented with native name "русин (rusyn)", that they simply named "Ruthenian" in English (and "ruthène" in French) instead "modern Ruthenian" (and "ruthène moderne" in French) : this code is now designated as the Rusyn language
Rusyn language
Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

.

Divergence between literary Ruthenian and literary Russian

As Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 gradually freed itself from the "Tatar yoke" in the 14th century, there were four princes that adopted the title of Grand Duke
Grand Duke
The title grand duke is used in Western Europe and particularly in Germanic countries for provincial sovereigns. Grand duke is of a protocolary rank below a king but higher than a sovereign duke. Grand duke is also the usual and established translation of grand prince in languages which do not...

. Two of them started to collect the East Slavic territories: one in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 and one in Halych
Halych
Halych is a historic city on the Dniester River in western Ukraine. The town gave its name to the historic province and kingdom of Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, of which it was the capital until the early 14th century, when the seat of the local princes was moved to Lviv...

. These activities resulted in two separate mainly East Slavic states, the Grand Duchy of Moscow
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

, which eventually evolved into the Russian Empire, and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, which covered roughly the territories of modern Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 and later united with Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

. Linguistically, both states continued to use the regional varieties of the literary language of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

, but due to the immense Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 influence in the west and to the Church Slavonic influence in the east, they gradually developed into two distinct literary languages: Ruthenian in Lithuania and the Commonwealth, and (Old) Russian in Muscovy. Both were usually called Ruskij (of Rus’) or Slovenskij (Slavonic); only when a differentiation between the literary language of Muscovy and the one of Lithuania was needed was the former called Moskovskij 'Muscovite' (and, rarely, the latter Lytvynskij 'Lithuanian').

This linguistic divergence is confirmed by the need for translators during the mid 17th century negotiations for the Treaty of Pereyaslav
Treaty of Pereyaslav
The Treaty of Pereyaslav is known in history more as the Council of Pereiaslav.Council of Pereyalslav was a meeting between the representative of the Russian Tsar, Prince Vasili Baturlin who presented a royal decree, and Bohdan Khmelnytsky as the leader of Cossack Hetmanate. During the council...

, between Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state...

, ruler of the Zaporozhian Host
Zaporozhian Host
The Zaporozhian Cossacks or simply Zaporozhians were Ukrainian Cossacks who lived beyond the rapids of the Dnieper river, the land also known as the Great Meadow in Central Ukraine...

, and the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n state.

Continuing Polish influence

Since the Union of Lublin
Union of Lublin
The Union of Lublin replaced the personal union of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with a real union and an elective monarchy, since Sigismund II Augustus, the last of the Jagiellons, remained childless after three marriages. In addition, the autonomy of Royal Prussia was...

 in 1569, the southern territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania came under direct administration by the Polish Crown, whereas the north retained some autonomy. It is possible that this resulted in differences concerning the status of Ruthenian as an official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 and the intensity of Polish influence on Ruthenian. However, in both parts of the Commonwealth inhabited by Eastern Slavs, Ruthenian remained a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

, and in both parts it was gradually replaced by Polish as a language of literature, religious polemic, and official documents.

New national languages

With the beginning of romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 at the turn of the 19th century, literary Belarusian and literary Ukrainian appeared, descendant from the popular spoken dialects and little-influenced by literary Ruthenian. Meanwhile, Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 retained a layer of Church Slavonic "high vocabulary", so that nowadays the most striking lexical differences between Russian on the one hand and Belarusian and Ukrainian on the other are the much greater share of Slavonicisms in the former and of Polonisms in the latter.

The split between literary Ruthenian and the successor literary languages can be seen at once in the newly-designed Belarusian
Belarusian alphabet
The Belarusian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script and is derived from the alphabet of the Old Church Slavonic language. The alphabet has existed in its modern form since 1918 and consists of thirty-two letters...

 and Ukrainian
Ukrainian alphabet
The Ukrainian alphabet is the set of letters used to write Ukrainian, the official language of Ukraine. It is one of the national variations of the Cyrillic script....

 orthographies
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

.

The interruption of the literary tradition was especially drastic in Belarusian: In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 had largely replaced Ruthenian as the language of administration and literature. After that Belarusian only survived as a rural spoken language with almost no written tradition until the mid-nineteenth century.

In contrast to the Belarusians and Eastern Ukrainians, the Western Ukrainians who came to live in Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 retained not only the name Ruthenian but also much more of the Church Slavonic and Polish elements of Ruthenian. For disambiguation, in English these Ukrainians are usually called by the native form of their name, Rusyns
Rusyns
Carpatho-Rusyns are a primarily diasporic ethnic group who speak an Eastern Slavic language, or Ukrainian dialect, known as Rusyn. Carpatho-Rusyns descend from a minority of Ruthenians who did not adopt the use of the ethnonym "Ukrainian" in the early twentieth century...

.

Thus, by 1800, the literary Ruthenian language had evolved into three modern literary languages. For their further development, see Belarusian language
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

, Rusyn language
Rusyn language
Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

, and Ukrainian language
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

.

See also

  • Ukrainian language
    Ukrainian language
    Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

  • Belarusian language
    Belarusian language
    The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

  • Rusyn language
    Rusyn language
    Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

  • East Slavic Languages

External links

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