Belarusian language


History of the Belarusian language

The Belarusian language is one of the languages of the Eastern Slavs. Today it is one of the two official languages of the Republic of Belarus (the other one is Russian).
At the time of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Belarusian language began its self-formation with separation from the Old Slavonic language. The Belarusian alphabet is mostly Cyrillic alphabet with the apostrophe. The orthography is based on the principle " as you hear it, so it's spelled ", which significantly simplifies the rules of Belarusian spelling.
Today there are two official languages in Belarus, but more than the half of the population considers Belarusian as their native language. Far fewer people living in Belarus can say that they speak it with their family or friends. All in all, there are about 7 million people in the country who speak their native language. Having passed a very complex and controversial path, the Belarusian language remains alive in today's realities. There are schools and other children's institutions in the country where teaching is conducted in Belarusian language. Traveling along the roads of Belarus you can often see the signs written in the Belarusian language.


The variety of the dialects of the Belarusian language

It may come as a surprise to some that the Belarusian language is indeed very rich. While the literary language has about 250,000 to 500,000 words, the dialectal language has about two million words. Dialects and local accents are an important part of the Belarusian language. An interesting fact is that sometimes scientists record dialectal differences not only in neighboring villages, but even the dialects of different parts of the same village. It is considered that the main dialects of the Belarusian language are the Northeastern, Southwestern, and Middle Belarusian transitional dialects. Belarusian dialects differ in the pronunciation of certain types of letters. For example, the letters "a" or "d", "t". Linguists refer to these features as the pronunciation of "akanie", "dzekanie" and "tsekanie ".

In addition to the dialects mentioned above, there is also the so-called "trasyanka," a form of Belarusian spoken language that has a mixed morphology and word formation. However, these dialects don’t violate the unity and integrity of the national language.  


History and value of the Belarusian language

There are several stages in the history of Belarusian language development. When Belarusian lands were a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Old Belarusian language was recognized as the official language. At that time, it was used for official and private correspondence, court practice, literary works and for communication. At the same time, Francisc Skorina founded the book printing in Old Belarusian.


After the unification of the GDL with Poland and the creation of the state of Rzeczpospolita (1569), the Old Belarusian language lost its importance and gave place to the Polish. In 1696 Polish was recognized as an official language of Rzeczpospolita. During this period of time the Old Belarusian was spoken mostly among peasants.

The second stage of the Belarusian language formation and development began after the Rzeczpospolita disintegration. At that time Russian was the official state language in the Belarusian lands, but in the beginning of the 19th century the issue of the Belarusian language independence arose. The Belarusian intelligentsia, such as Vincent Dunin-Martsinkyevich, Alexander Rypinski and Jan Chechot, stood at the origins of the development of the literary language. In the second half of the 19th century has begun a revival of the national language. Famous poets and writers such as Frantishek Bogushevich, Maksim Bogdanovich, Jakub Kolas, and Janka Kupala wrote their works in that language.

After the October revolution of 1917 Belarusian was recognized as the state language, and was used in official documents, judicial sphere, and in education.


The population of our country is proud of their native language, but just few people speak it. It is for this reason that Belarusian is included in the UNESCO Atlas of Languages: the world community believes that our language is at the initial stage of extinction. At the same time, it is recognized as second only to Italian in melodic sound.

The Belarusian language is one of the most living languages. This is the main means of the  national culture of Belarus, which opens up to each of us a large and magical world of harmony and originality.

Our national language is filled with many epithets and characteristics. It is a spiritual acquisition of our people, which lives inside each of us. There is probably not a single Belarusian writer who hasn’t expressed their fascination with their native language. Janka Kupala, Jakub Kolos, Maksim Bogdanovich, Vasil Bykov, Vladimir Korotkevich and many other Belarusian writers played a great role in the formation of the Belarusian literary language. These authors have said many sincere words about the beauty and richness of the Belarusian language. Their works are imbued with love for it, concern for its fate, they describe all the charm and beauty of its nature, they convey the nuances of human feelings very subtly. 

The Belarusian language has preserved many Slavic elements and is therefore rightly considered to be the key to understanding other Slavic languages. It has a huge number of words that cannot be translated word for word and that’s what makes it unique, original and that’s the meaning of its existence.