Duality in a small country: what language is really spoken in Belarus?

09.11.2018

The French speak French, the Spaniards speak Spanish, the Germans speak German, and Belarusians speak ... What language do they speak in Belarus? Belarusian, of course. And also Russian and trasyanka ... Oh, let's see how it happened that there are not only two state languages, but also many dialects in small and adorable Belarus

Everyday life of the Belarusians is dominated by the Russian language. Russian is spoken in the capital, in all regional centers and major cities of the country. In smaller cities there is a mixture of Belarusian and Russian, the so-called trasyanka. Trasyanka is often used in speech and officials. Meanwhile official use of two languages sometimes creates the incident when something that is said or written does not meet either the norms of the Russian or the norms of the Belarusian language. Complicated, hah?

The other side of the coin is about lingual tolerance. There was no noticeable discrimination against members of national minorities in Belarus.

What languages in Belarus

What language did they speak in Belarus centuries ago...

The Belarusian language has its roots in the Old Slavonic and Old Russian languages, which were used by the inhabitants of the region in the VI-XIV centuries. Church formation was influenced by Church Slavonic and Polish, the dialects of the ancient Radimich, Dregovich and Krivichi.

Both state languages of Belarus are quite similar to each other and, despite a number of phonetic differences, can be understood by the speakers of any of them. The peculiarity of the Belarusian is a large number of preserved archaic Old Slavic words.

A piece of advice from VETLIVA: if you want to see the true Belarus and its history with your own eyes, go to one of the numerous history parks and ethno-cultural complexes, for example, Dudutki. Here you can taste the Belarusian national cuisine and home-brew, ride in the cart, see the oldest existing mill and buy many beautiful souvenirs.

Dudutki Museum near Minsk in Belarus

… and what language is spoken in Belarus now?

So technically we answered the question “What language is spoken in Belarus?”, but VETLIVA wouldn’t be VETLIVA if we stop right here. So check out this unusual facts (and statistics!) about languages in Belarus:

  • In secondary special and higher educational institutions of Belarus, up to 90% of the teaching volume is conducted in Russian;

  • In one form or another, the languages of its neighbors are used in Belarus: the Polish, the Ukrainian and the Lithuanian. The most widely used is Polish, mainly you can hear it in the Grodno and Brest regions, as well as in the west of Minsk. Until 1939 these territories were part of Poland. Although the Polish language is not official, but it is used in the media and schools are also open in Polish;

Facts about language situation in Belarus

  • Russian received the status of the state language of Belarus in the Referendum of 1995, when more than 83% of the population voted for it as an official;

  • Despite the fact that only 15% of the country's inhabitants consider themselves to be ethnic Russians, the Russian language is used in absolutely all spheres of life activity by more than 80% of the population;

  • The most popular newspapers and magazines are published in Russian, and out of 1,100 registered print publications, the absolute majority is published in two languages or only in Russian.

Do they speak Russian?

That is, as you can see, there are some difficulties with the preservation and use of Belarusian language. We have two national languages so speaking mixed languages is not so bad, because we really can understand the Polish and the Ukrainian.

Many organizations and even ordinary people are fighting for the preservation of the Belarusian language right now. In one of the shopping centers, for example, cashiers speak only Belarusian, which is astonishing. Sometimes you can hear ordinary young people talking in their first language. There are many events and festivals wh ere you can hear the Belarusian language.

VETLIVA recommends: do you want to make sure that Belarus is a multilingual country despite its size? Just spend a few days here on New Year's holidays! Accommodation and resorts are optional, just choose what you like and go on to explore the most hidden corners of the country.

Spend New Year's Eve and Christmas in Belarus

Languages in Belarus: part of history in day-to-day activities

Do you know about the hypothesis of linguistic relativity? It says that language determines thinking and culture in general. But what to do with Belarus and its dual language? In this regard, the Belarusians have no problems with the awareness of their own cultural affiliation. We can forget some words in Belarusian, but at the same time we remember Yakub Kolas and Yanka Kupala, basic facts from the history of Belarus, the location of the most important sights and the words of the hymn. Belarusian language is inside us anyway, and therefore the language will be with us forever.

And how do you feel about the predominance of the Russian language in Belarus? Write your thoughts on this subject in the comments! Put likes and share with friends what you have learned. Stay with VETLIVA to be in the know about the news of tourist Belarus!


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