Belarusian language

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Belarusian (also Belarusian)

Spoken in

BelarusBelarus Belarus , Ukraine , Russia , Poland (in the vicinity of Białystok ), Latvia , Lithuania
speaker 7.9 million (2009)
Official status
Official language in BelarusBelarus Belarus
At local level:
Recognized minority /
regional language in
UkraineUkraine Ukraine Lithuania Russia
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3



The Belarusian language , outdated Belarusian (newer names Belarusian or Belarusian ; own name беларуская мова belaruskaja mowa ), is an East Slavic language , the number of speakers is given very differently and varies between about 2.5 and about 7.9 million native speakers . The majority of native speakers live in Belarus , where Russian is one of the two official languages . A minority live in Russia and the Białystok area in Poland . The Belarusian language is derived from the Ruthenian language and is written using a variant of the Cyrillic script .


Alongside Russian and Ukrainian, Belarusian is one of the three still-living East Slavic languages that developed in the Middle Ages from a common predecessor language of Rus , Old East Slavonic . The direct predecessor of the Belarusian language was the Ruthenian language , which was spoken from the 15th to 18th centuries in the East Slavic areas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the aristocratic republic of Poland-Lithuania .

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

From the 14th century the developed at the court Lithuanian Grand Duke in Vilnius own, on the Ruthenian (the forerunner of the Byelorussian) based firm language , was the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

With the expansion of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the entire west of the former Kievan Rus , it also took on Ukrainian elements. After the Lithuanian personal union with Poland , it came under very strong Polish influence . (For more details, see Ruthenian language .) After the smashing of the Polish-Lithuanian state (1795), this written language became more and more out of use.

However, as early as the first half of the 19th century, the first literary works were written in a new Belarusian written language based on the north-eastern dialects of Belarusian (the first work is an anonymous translation of the Aeneid between 1812 and 1830 , Eneida nawywarat “Aeneis turned around").

20th century

It was only after the revolution of 1905 that books and newspapers could legally be printed. From 1903 to 1911 the important work Belorussy was published in Warsaw . Jazyk belorusskowo naroda by Jauchim Karski, in which the written language was codified. The magazine Nascha Niwa (“Our Corridor”) , published from 1906 onwards, also played an important role during this period .

In 1917 the first attempt to found their own Belarusian state failed , after which most Belarusians lived in the Soviet Republic of Belarus , a smaller number in Poland. In the Soviet Union , Belarusian was able to develop freely until the end of the 1920s, after which it came under significant pressure from Russian again. In 1933 an approach to Russian was forced through an orthographic reform, and vocabulary and grammar have since been under Russian influence. The same fate befell Belarusian in the Polish territories that were annexed to the Soviet Union in 1939.

It was not until perestroika that the written Belarusian language was revived, which was declared the state language of the Soviet Republic of Belarus in January 1990. The brief bloom that followed, known as “rebirth” ( Adradschenne in Belarusian ), ended when President Lukashenka introduced Russian as another official language in 1994/95. There were also efforts to reintroduce the traditional spelling, which was abolished in 1933 ( known as Taraschkewiza, Taraškievica, тарашкевіца , or as the "classic variant" after its developer Branislaŭ Tarashkewitsch ). Since then, two systems have in fact been competing, namely the Taraškievica (preferred by emigrants and active Belarusian speakers ) and the Soviet Narkomauka (наркомаўка, still the official standard to this day).

At present, written Belarusian is spoken by only a small intellectual class in the cities. Belarusian dialects are widespread in the country as well as a transitional form between Belarusian and Russian, which is pejoratively referred to as Trassjanka (“cattle feed”); most of the city's population speaks Russian. Belorussian is only weakly anchored in the education system. In the summer of 2003, against strong resistance from students and teachers, the only grammar school with the Belarusian language of instruction was closed. The prognosis is rather bleak, many Belarusians fear that a complete absorption of Belarusian in Russian can hardly be prevented. The situation of the Belarusian language in Belarus is similar to the situation of the Irish language in the Republic of Ireland . Also has come up with a motion that the West Pole Maltese to their own language to expand will result in a further fragmentation. However, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, a stronger promotion of the Belarusian language can be observed, whereby a certain substantive rapprochement between the state leadership and the often oppositional intellectuals can be observed.

Font and spelling

Today's written Belarusian language is written in Cyrillic , cf. the following table:

Letter Transliteration German transcription
А а A a A a
Б б B b B b
В в V v W w
Г г H h H h
Ґ ґ (currently not part of the official orthography) G g G g
Д д D d D d
Е е E e E e (at the beginning of each word, depending on the vowels and after ь depending)
Ё ё Ë ë Yo yo
Ж ж Ž ž Sch sch (soft, such as in J ournal)
З з Z z S s (as in S aft)
І і I i I i
Й й J j J j
К к K k K k
Л л L l L l
М м M m M m
Н н N n N n
О о O o O o
П п P p P p
Р р R r R r
С с S s S s (between vowels ss)
Т т T t T t
У у U u U u
Ў ў Ŭ ŭ U u
Ф ф F f F f
Х х Ch ch Ch ch
Ц ц C c Z z
Ч ч Č č Tsch Tsch
Ш ш Š š Sh sh
Ы ы Y y Y y
Ь ь ʼ - (before vowels j)
Э э Ė ė E e
Ю ю Ju ju Ju ju
Я я Yes / Yes Yes / Yes

The letter inventory corresponds roughly to that of Russian and Ukrainian. Typically Belarusian is the letter ў, which occurs only in this language (except in Dungan in Kyrgyzstan and in Yupik of the Chukchi Peninsula ), and the trema is mandatory when spelling ë (unlike in Russian). Belarusian lacks the Russian letters и, щ and ъ (it also has і and ў). Compared to Ukrainian, it lacks the letters ї and є (instead it has ы, э, ë and ў).

The spelling of Belarusian is phonetic, which means that it is largely based on the pronunciation. This also means that, unlike in Russian, the unstressed o is replaced by the a, which corresponds more to the pronunciation. This creates a clear difference between the typeface and Russian and Ukrainian, cf. For example, Belarusian вада "water" versus Russian вода - the words are pronounced the same.

The letter combinations дж and дз are sometimes treated as separate units, since they only denote one sound. In these cases they follow in the alphabet as separate letters after д.

One problem with Belarusian orthography is that both the sound h and the sound g are represented by the letter г. Until 1933 a separate letter ґ was used for g (as in Ukrainian), its reintroduction is being considered.

The spelling of Belarusian in Latin script ( Łacinka ) is based on the Polish orthography, but also has special characters with diacritics ( š, č etc.) and uses (unlike Polish) the letter v instead of w . A phonetic spelling is also characteristic for them ("water" then means vada ).


The grammar of Belarusian is not much different from that of other Slavic languages. In detail, the following can be said:

  • The nouns have three genera (masculine, feminine, neuter), which in turn are divided into animate and inanimate. There are six cases and two numbers , singular and plural . It is noticeable that the declension of nouns is more balanced than in Russian or Czech, for example, which can be explained by the fact that the standard Belarusian language emerged from the vernacular in the 19th century and there is no direct continuity with Old Belarusian.
  • The adjectives have lost the predicative forms known from other Slavic languages ​​(so-called short forms).
  • The verb has four tenses up, next to the present tense , past tense and future tense also rare in Slavic languages pluperfect , also the characteristic of the Slavic languages category of aspect . The system of participles and adverbial participles is less developed than in other Slavic languages.


The Belarusian vocabulary is made up of different layers. In addition to the Slavic hereditary vocabulary and some influences from Church Slavonic , borrowings from Polish are characteristic, which, on the other hand, are largely lacking in Russian. Compare, for example, Belarusian дзякаваць (Dsjakawaz) “thank” to Russian благодарить (Blagodarit) and Polish dziękować , Belarusian цікавы (Zikawy) “interesting”, like Polish ciekawy , and Polish linguists (their own) tried to use Polish ciekawy etc. in the interwar period Forming words on the basis of dialect words, but from 1933 the technical vocabulary was specifically Russified.

Language comparison

(Беларуская мова (Belaruskaja mowa))
(Українська мова (Ukrajinska mowa))
(Русский язык (Russki jasyk))
(Български език (Balgarski esik))
(Српски језик)
(Język polski)
Вітаю / Witaju Вітаю / Witaju Здравствуйте / Sdrawstwujte Здравейте / Sdrawejte Здраво / Zdravo Witam Hello; Good day
Прывітанне / Prywitanne Привіт / Prywit Привет / Priwet Здравей / Sdrawej Ћао / Ćao Cześć Hello
Так / Tak
Не / Ne
Так / Tak
Ні / Ni
Да / Da
Нет / Net
Да / Da
Не / Ne
Да / Da
Не / Ne
Дзякуй / Dsyakuj Дякую / Djakuju Спасибо / Spassibo Благодаря ви / Blagodarja wi Хвала / Hvala Dziękuję thank you
Спадар (Пан) / Spadar (Pan)
Спадарыня (Пані) / Spadarynja (Pani)
Спадарычна / Spadarychna
Пан / Pan
Пані / Pani
Панна / Panna
Господин / Gospodin
Госпожа / Gosposcha
Господин / Gospodin
Госпожа / Gosposcha
Госпожица / Gosposchiza
Господин / Gospodin
Госпођа / Gospođa
Госпођица / Gospođica
Выдатна / Wydatna; файна / fajna Відмінно / Widminno; файно / fajno Отлично / Otlitschno отличен / Otlitschen Одлично / Odlično Fajnie Excellent; fine; Well

See also


  • Hermann Bieder : The Belarusian . In: P. Rehder (Ed.): Introduction to the Slavic languages . Darmstadt 1998, ISBN 3-534-13647-0 , pp. 110-125.
  • Mark Brüggemann: The Belarusian and Russian languages ​​in their relationship to Belarusian society and nation. Ideological-programmatic standpoints of political actors and intellectuals 1994–2010 . Oldenburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-8142-2304-9 .
  • Mark Brüggemann: Indispensable Russian, dispensable Belarusian? Russophone on the history and use of language in Belarus . In: S. Kempgen et al. (Ed.): German contributions to the 15th International Slavist Congress Minsk 2013 . Munich etc., pp. 89-98.
  • Mark Brüggemann: Between following Russia and independence: On the language policy in Belarus . In: Europa ethnica , 3–4 (2014), pp. 88–94.
  • Claudia Hurtig: Belarusian grammar in tables and exercises. Hramatyka belaruskai mowy u tablizach i Praktykavannjach . Munich 2003, ISBN 3-87690-850-7 .
  • Holger Knauf: Belarusian (Belarus). Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 145 ). 1st edition. Reise Know-How Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2001, ISBN 3-89416-552-9 .
  • Ulrich Steltner, Alice Bartsch (Ed.): German-Belarusian phrasebook: grammar / conversation book / dictionaries . Inst. For Slavic Studies at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena 2006. ISBN 3-9805226-9-5
  • Inna Kalita (Калита И. В. Современная Беларусь): Jazyky i nacional'naja identičnost '- языки и национальная идентичность. Ústí nad Labem 2010, ISBN 978-80-7414-324-3 , pp. 112-190
  • Mikalaj Kur'janka: German-Belarusian dictionary. Vyd. Zmicer Kolas, Minsk 2006, ISBN 985-6783-25-9 .
  • Siarhiej Aliaksandraŭ, Halina Mycyk (Сяргей Аляксандраў, Галіна Мыцык): Гавары са мной па-беларуску. Variant, Moscow 2008, ISBN 978-5-903360-13-0 , ( PDF ); Language course for Russian-speaking students based on the "classical" orthography

Web links

There are also two Belarusian versions next to each other in Wikipedia :

Wiktionary: Belarusian  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations



Individual evidence

  1. Recommendations on the spelling of Belarus in German-language texts. As of July 2020, press release of the German-Belarusian History Commission on, PDF (638 KB).
  2. "Belarusian" written with an "s", derived from the Kievan Rus . See Felix Ackermann : “The Republic of Belarus is more than Belarus. And their independence begins with the name of the country ” , NZZ, January 11, 2020.
  3. Lebsanft, Franz / Wingender, Monika: European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages . A handbook on the language policy of the Council of Europe. De Gruyter: 2012, p. 401; doi: [1] .
  4. Marc Stegherr, Kerstin Liesem: The media in Eastern Europe: media systems in the transformation process . Springer, 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-17482-2 , pp. 362 .
  5. ^ Regional movements and regionalisms in European spaces since the middle of the 19th century . Verlag Herder-Inst., Marburg 2003, ISBN 3-87969-306-4 , p. 155 .
  6. Hienadź Cychun: Belarusian . In: Lexicon of the Languages ​​of the European East . Wieser, Klagenfurt 2002, ISBN 978-3-85129-510-8 ( ( memento of October 11, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF; accessed on February 2, 2013]).
  7. Рой Медведев: Непрерывное развитие языков: их влияние друг на друга и конкуренция . In: Наука и жизнь . No. 3 , 2006.