Ruthenian language

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Ruthenian language
(руский языкъ)

Spoken in

Eastern Europe
speaker none ( language extinct )
Official status
Official language in Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Kingdom of Poland
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2

sla (other Slavic languages)

The Ruthenian language (Ruthenian руский языкъ ) was an East Slavic language spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , the Kingdom of Poland , Poland-Lithuania and Austria-Hungary . It is the predecessor of today's Belarusian and Ukrainian languages .


The Ruthenian language (Ruthenian: руский языкъ even русский языкъ , руська мова , ie Russian language, or.. Проста мова , ie simple language or slang..) Emerged from the Altostslawischen and is the forerunner of today's Ukrainian , Belarusian and Ruthenian . Therefore it is often (especially by the Eastern Slavs themselves) as "Old Belarusian" (Belarusian старабеларуская мова ) or "Old Ukrainian" (Ukrainian староукраїнська мова ), in Russian research mainly referred to as "West Russian засыский засыкий " засыкий засысноз . " The historical speakers of this language often called them prostaja mowa (literally "simple language", as a distinction from Church Slavonic ) or ruskaja mowa , which was rendered in Latin texts as lingua ruthenica . “Ruthenian” is therefore the most neutral term for this prenational language.

The history of Ruthenian begins in the 14th century, when the western part of the East Slavic language area fell to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , which was ruled by the Jagiellonians from 1386 in personal union with the Kingdom of Poland . The written language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was not Lithuanian (the first linguistic monuments of which date from the 16th century), but a Slavic language that had features that are characteristic of today's Belarusian and Ukrainian . In addition to documents and legal texts, religious writings were also created, so u. a. in a variant strongly influenced by Church Slavonic the translation of the Bible by Franzischak Skaryna (published in Prague 1517–1519) or the more popular language Gospels of Peressopnyzja (1556–1561). Above all, however, Ruthenian was the language of the extensive confessional polemics (the literary exchange of blows between Orthodox , Uniates , Catholics and Protestants ) in the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries.

The Prostaja mowa was in Cyrillic script written from the end of the 16th century was rarely the Latin alphabet in use. Furthermore, the Tatars resident in Belarus wrote Slavic texts in Arabic script ( Belarusian Arabic alphabet ) until the 19th century .

From the end of the 17th century, Ruthenian was replaced by Polish as the official court language in the Republic of Poland-Lithuania . The local upper classes initially used the Ruthenian language, but there was a Polonization of the language and culture in these upper classes. The Ruthenian language was only preserved by the less educated rural population. Ruthenian was used in some documents until the second half of the 18th century.

In Austria-Hungary it was still customary until its disintegration to refer to the East Slavic subjects of the monarchy, mainly Ukrainians, as " Ruthenians " and their language as "Ruthenian".


  • Daniel Bunčić: The Ruthenian written language in Ivan Uževyč with special consideration of the lexicon of his conversation book Rozmova / Besěda. With vocabulary and indices for his Ruthenian and Church Slavonic works. Munich 2006, ISBN 3-87690-932-5 .
  • Andrii Danylenko: "'Prostaja mova', 'Kitab', and Polissian Standard". In: The world of the Slaves. LI, No. 1, 2006, pp. 80-115.
  • Michael Moser: Middle Ruthenian (Middle Belarusian and Middle Ukrainian): An overview. In: Studia Slavica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. 50, No. 1-2, 2005, pp. 125-142.
  • Stefan M. Pugh: Testament to Ruthenian. A Linguistic Analysis of the Smotryc'kyj Variant . (= Harvard Series of Ukrainian Studies ). Cambridge 1996.
  • Christian Stang : The western Russian language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania . (= Skrifter utgitt av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo, Historisk-filosofisk class 1935,2 ). Oslo 1935.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. В. П. Гудкова, А. Г. Машковой, С. С. Скорвида (Red.): Ж. Некрашевич-Короткая. Лингвонимы восточнославянского культурного региона (историчесикий обзор) // Исследование славянских языков и литератур в высшей школе: достижения и перспективы: Информационные материалы и тезисы докладов международной научной конференции. Moscow 2003, p. 150. (PDF; 3.6 MB)
  2. Начальный этап формирования русского национального языка. Ленинград 1962, p. 221.
  3. А. И. Журавский: Деловая письменность в системе старобелорусского литературного языка // Восьменность венскочнослаевея. Moscow 1978, pp. 185-191.
  4. Н. Б. Мечковская: Социальная лингвистика: Пособие для студентов гуманит. вузов и учащихся лицеев. - 2-е изд., Испр. Аспект-Пресс, Moscow 2000, p. 106.
  5. С. Ф. Іванова, Я. Я. Іваноў, Н. Б. Мячкоўская: Языковая ситуация в Беларуси: этические коллизии двуязычия. ( Memento from May 27, 2012 in the web archive ) Сацыякультурная прастора мовы (сацыяльныя і культурныя аспекты вывусэння белар):. і рус. мовах. Веды, Minsk 1998.
  6. Лариса Пуцилева: Между Польским королевством и Российской империей: поиски национальной идентичности в белорусской поэзии // Contributi italiani al 14 congresso internazionale degli Slavisti: Ohrid, 10-16 settembre 2008 Firenze University Press, Firenze 2008, p 202. fupress. com (PDF; 3.1 MB) (Russian)
  7. Ольга Лазоркина: Дипломатическая деятельность канцелярии Великого княжества Литовского в XVII в. In: Журнал международного права и международных отношений. No. 1, 2008.
  8. Piotr Eberhardt, Jan Owsinski: Ethnic Groups and Population Changes in Twentieth-century Central-Eastern Europe: History, Data, Analysis. M. E. Sharpe, 2003, ISBN 0-7656-0665-8 , Google Print, p. 177.