Rusyn language

Last updated
русинськый язык; руски язик
rusîns'kyj jazyk; ruski jazik
Ethnicity Rusyns
Native speakers
623,500 (2000–2006) [1]
Census population: 70,000. These are numbers from national official bureaus for statistics:
Slovakia 33,482 [2]
Serbia 15,626 [3]
Poland 10,000 [4]
Ukraine 6,725 [5]
Croatia 2,337 [6]
Hungary 1,113 [7]
Czech Republic 777 [8]
Cyrillic script (Rusyn alphabets)
Latin script (Slovakia) [9]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 rue
Glottolog rusy1239
Linguasphere 53-AAA-ec < 53-AAA-e
(varieties: 53-AAA-eca to 53-AAA-ecc)
Idioma rusino.PNG
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Rusyn ( /ˈrsɪn/ ; [13] Carpathian Rusyn: русиньскый язык (rusîn'skyj jazyk), русиньска бесїда (rusîn'ska bes'ida); Pannonian Rusyn: руски язик (ruski jazik), руска бешеда (ruska bešeda)), [14] also known in English as Ruthene ( UK: /rʊˈθn/ , US: /rˈθn/ ; [15] sometimes Ruthenian) is an East Slavic lect spoken by the Rusyns of Eastern Europe.


There are several controversial theories about the nature of Rusyn as a language or dialect. Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian, as well as American and some Polish and Serbian linguists treat it as a distinct language [16] (with its own ISO 639-3 code), whereas other scholars (especially in Ukraine but also Poland, Serbia, and Romania) treat it as a Southwestern dialect of Ukrainian. [17] [18]

Geographical distribution

Pannonian Rusyn is spoken by the Pannonian Rusyns in Vojvodina in Serbia, and in a nearby part of Croatia.

Carpathian Rusyn is spoken in:


The classification and identification of the Rusyn language is historically and politically controversial.

Before World War I, Rusyn people were recognized as Ukrainians of Galicia within the Austro-Hungarian Empire; however, in the Hungarian part they were recognized as Rusyns/Ruthenes. After the war, the former Austria and Hungary was partitioned, and Carpathian Ruthenia was appended to the new Czechoslovak state as its easternmost province. With the advent of World War II, Carpatho-Ukraine declared its independence, lasting not even one day, until its occupation and annexation by Hungary. After the war, the region was annexed by the Soviet Union as part of the Ukrainian SSR, which proceeded with an anti-ethnic assimilation program. Poland did the same, using internal exile to move all Ukrainians from the southern homelands to western areas incorporated from Germany, and switch everyday language to Polish, and Ukrainian at school.

Official usage of Pannonian Rusyn in Vojvodina, Serbia. Vojvodina rusyn croatian czech map.png
Official usage of Pannonian Rusyn in Vojvodina, Serbia.

Scholars with the former Institute of Slavic and Balkan Studies in Moscow (now the Institute of Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) formally acknowledged Rusyn as a separate language in 1992, and trained specialists to study the language. [20] These studies were financially supported by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Ukrainian politicians do not recognise Rusyns as a separate ethnicity, regardless of Rusyn self-identification. Ukraine officially considers Rusyn a dialect of Ukrainian, related to the Hutsul dialect of Ukrainian.

It is not possible to estimate accurately the number of fluent speakers of Rusyn; however, their number is estimated in the tens of thousands.

Serbia has recognized Rusyn, more precisely Pannonian Rusyn, as an official minority language. [21] Since 1995, Rusyn has been recognized as a minority language in Slovakia, enjoying the status of an official language in municipalities where more than 20 percent of the inhabitants speak Rusyn. [22]

Rusyn is listed as a protected language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Poland (as Lemko), Serbia and Slovakia.

Grammars and codification

Early grammars include Dmytrij Vyslockij's (Дмитрий Вислоцкий) Карпаторусский букварь (Karpatorusskij bukvar') Vanja Hunjanky (1931), [23] Metodyj Trochanovskij's Буквар. Перша книжечка для народных школ. (Bukvar. Perša knyžečka dlja narodnıx škol.) (1935)., [24] [25] and Ivan Harajda (1941). [26] The archaic Harajda's grammar is currently promoted in the Rusyn Wikipedia, although part of the articles are written using other standards (see below).

Currently, there are three codified varieties of Rusyn:

Apart from these codified varieties, there are publications using a mixture of these standards (most notably in Hungary and in Transcarpathian Ukraine), as well as attempts to revitalize the pre-war etymological orthography with old Cyrillic letters (most notably ѣ, or yat'); the latter can be observed in multiple edits in the Rusyn Wikipedia, where various articles represent various codified varieties.



Labial Dental/
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡sʲ t͡ʃ
voiced d͡z d͡zʲ d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ (ʃʲ) x h
voiced v z ʒ (ʒʲ)
Rhotic r
Approximant lateral l
central ( w ) j

The [ w ] sound only exists within alteration of [ v ]. However, in the Lemko variety, the [ w ] sound also represents the non-palatalized L, as is the case with the Polish ł.

A soft consonant combination sound [ʃʲt͡ʃʲ] exists more among the northern and western dialects. In the eastern dialects the sound is recognized as [ʃʲʃʲ], including the area on which the standard dialect is based. It is noted that a combination sound like this one, could have evolved into a soft fricative sound [ʃʲ]. [29]


Front Central Back
Close i u
ɪ ɤ
Mid ɛ o
Open a

The Carpathian Rusyn alphabets

Each of the three Rusyn standard varieties has its own Cyrillic alphabet. The table below shows the alphabet of Slovakia (Prešov) Rusyn. The alphabet of the other Carpathian Rusyn standard, Lemko (Poland) Rusyn, differs from it only by lacking ё and ї. For the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet, see Pannonian Rusyn language § Writing system.

Romanization (transliteration) is given according to ALA-LC, [30] BGN/PCGN, [31] generic European,[ citation needed ] ISO/R9 1968 (IDS), [32] and ISO 9.

Letters of the Carpathian Rusyn alphabets [33]
CapitalSmallNameRomanized Pronunciation Notes
А аaaaaaa/a/
Б ббэbbbbb/b/
В ввэvvvvv/v/
Г ггэhhhhh/ɦ/
Ґ ґґэggggg/ɡ/
Д ддэddddd/d/
Е еeeeeee/ɛ/
Є єєi͡ejeje/'ejeê/je, ʲe/
Ё ёёëjojo/'oë/jo/not present in Lemko Rusyn or Pannonian Rusyn
Ж жжыz͡hžžžž/ʒ/
З ззыzzzzz/z/
І іiiIiIì/i/not present in Pannonian Rusyn
Ї їїïjiji/'iïï/ji/not present in Lemko Rusyn
И ииi/yyîII/ɪ/The Pannonian Rusyn alphabet places this letter directly after з, like the Ukrainian alphabet.
According to ALA–LC romanization, it is romanized i for Pannonian Rusyn and y otherwise.
Ы ыыŷyyy/ŷy/ɨ/not present in Pannonian Rusyn
Й ййыĭjjjj/j/
К ккыkkkkk/k/
Л ллыlllll/l/
М ммыmmmmm/m/
Н нныnnnnn/n/
О оoooooo/ɔ/
П ппыppppp/p/
Р ррыrrrrr/r/
С ссыsssss/s/
Т ттыttttt/t/
У ууuuuuu/u/
Ф ффыfffff/f/
Х ххыk͡hchchchh/x/
Ц ццыt͡scccc/t͡s/
Ч ччыchčččč/t͡ʃ/
Ш шшыshšššš/ʃ/
Щ щщыshchščščščŝ/ʃt͡ʃ/
Ю ююі͡ujuju/'ujuû/ju/
Я яяi͡ajaja/'ajaâ/ja/
Ь ьмнягкый знак (ірь)'/ʲ/"Soft Sign": marks the preceding consonant as palatalized (soft)
Ъ ътвердый знак (ір)""Hard Sign": marks the preceding consonant as NOT palatalized (hard). Not present in Pannonian Rusyn

In Ukraine, usage is found of the letters о̄ and ӯ. [34] [35] [36]

Until World War II, the letter ѣ (їть or yat') was used, and was pronounced /ji/ or /i/. This letter is still used in part of the articles in the Rusyn Wikipedia.

Number of letters and relationship to the Ukrainian alphabet

The Prešov Rusyn alphabet of Slovakia has 36 letters. It includes all the letters of the Ukrainian alphabet plus ё, ы, and ъ.

The Lemko Rusyn alphabet of Poland has 34 letters. It includes all the Ukrainian letters with the exception of ї, plus ы and ъ.

The Pannonian Rusyn alphabet has 32 letters, namely all the Ukrainian letters except і.

Alphabetical order

The Rusyn alphabets all place ь after я, as the Ukrainian alphabet did until 1990. The vast majority of Cyrillic alphabets place ь before э (if present), ю, and я.

The Lemko and Prešov Rusyn alphabets place ъ at the very end, while the vast majority of Cyrillic alphabets place it after щ. They also place ы before й, while the vast majority of Cyrillic alphabets place it after ш, щ (if present), and ъ (if present).

In the Prešov Rusyn alphabet, і and ї come before и, and likewise, і comes before и in the Lemko Rusyn alphabet (which doesn't have ї). In the Ukrainian alphabet, however, и precedes і and ї, and the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet (which doesn't have і) follows this precedent by placing и before ї.


See also

Related Research Articles

Ruthenia is an exonym, originally used in Medieval Latin as one of several designations for East Slavic and Eastern Orthodox regions, and most commonly as a designation for the lands of Rus'. During the early modern period, the term also acquired several specific meanings. The ancient land of Rus was ruled by the Rurik dynasty. The last of the Rurikids ruled as Tsars of all Rus/Russia until the 16th century.

Ruthenians Ethnic group

Ruthenians and Ruthenes are Latin exonyms formerly used in Western Europe for the ancestors of modern East Slavic peoples, especially the Rus' people with an Eastern Orthodox or Ruthenian Uniate Church religious background. The corresponding word in the Ukrainian language is "русини" (rusyny).

Carpathian Ruthenia Historical region located on the northeastern side of the Carpathian Mountains

Carpathian Ruthenia, Carpatho-Ukraine or Zakarpattia is a historic region in the border between Central and Eastern Europe, mostly located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast, with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia and Lemkivshchyna in Poland.


Lemkos are an ethnic group inhabiting a region known as Lemkivshchyna in Carpathian Ruthenia, an ethnographic region of the Carpathian Mountains and Foothills spanning Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland.


The Boykos, or simply Highlanders, are a ethnolinguistic group located in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Along with the neighboring Lemkos and Hutsuls, the Boykos are a sub-group of the Rusyns and speak a dialect of Rusyn language. However, at the official level within Ukraine, the Boykos and other Rusyns are regarded as a sub-group of ethnic Ukrainians, and the Rusyn language is regarded as part of a dialect continuum within Ukrainian. Boykos differ from their neighbors in dialect, dress, folk architecture, and customs.

Rusyns Ethnic group that speaks an Eastern Slavic language

Rusyns, or Rusnaks, are an East Slavic people who speak the Rusyn language. They have also been called Ruthenians, Carpatho-Ruthenians or, incorrectly, Carpatho-Russians. Rusyns descend from an East Slavic population that inhabited the northern regions of the Eastern Carpathians from the Early Middle Ages. Together with other East Slavs from neighboring regions, they were often labeled by the common exonym Ruthenians, or by the regionally more specific designation Carpathian Ruthenians, with subgroup designations such as Dolinyans, Boykos, Hutsuls and Lemkos. Unlike their neighbors to the east, who adopted the use of the ethnonym Ukrainians in the early 20th century, Rusyns kept and preserved their original name. As residents of northeastern regions of the Carpathian Mountains, Rusyns are closely connected to, and also sometimes associated with, other Slavic communities in the region, like the West Slavic highlander community of Gorals.

Yi (Cyrillic)

Yi is a letter of the Cyrillic script. Yi is derived from the Greek letter iota with diaeresis.

Hard sign

The letter Ъ of the Cyrillic script is known as er golyam in the Bulgarian alphabet, as the hard sign in the modern Russian and Rusyn alphabets, as the debelo jer in pre-reform Serbian orthography, and as ayirish belgisi in the Uzbek Cyrillic alphabet. The letter is called back yer or back jer and yor or jor in the pre-reform Russian orthography, in Old East Slavic, and in Old Church Slavonic.

Ukrainian Austrian internment

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Thalerhof internment camp

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Alexander Dukhnovych

Alexander Vasilyevich Dukhnovych was an Transcarpathian Ruthenian priest, poet, writer, pedagogue, and social activist of the Russophile orientation. He is considered as the awakener of the Rusyns.

Binczarowa Village in Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Binczarowa is a village in southern Poland. It is parallel to the stream known as Binczarce.

Languages of Serbia

Serbia has only one nationwide official language, which is Serbian. Other languages spoken in Serbia include Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Rusyn, Croatian, Bosnian, Romani, Albanian, Vlach, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Bunjevac, etc.

Carpatho-Rusyn Society

The Carpatho-Rusyn Society (C-RS) is a non-profit cultural organization located in the United States dedicated to promoting Carpatho-Rusyn culture and history. It was established in Pittsburgh in 1994 and is the largest exclusively Carpatho-Rusyn organization in North America with over 3,000 members.

Cyrillic alphabets Related alphabets based on Cyrillic scripts

Numerous Cyrillic alphabets are based on the Cyrillic script. The early Cyrillic alphabet was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 9th century AD at the Preslav Literary School by Saint Clement of Ohrid and Saint Naum and replaced the earlier Glagolitic script developed by the Byzantine theologians Cyril and Methodius. It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, past and present, in parts of Southeastern Europe and Northern Eurasia, especially those of Slavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian. As of 2011, around 252 million people in Eurasia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages. About half of them are in Russia. Cyrillic is one of the most-used writing systems in the world.

Ukrainian dialects

In the Ukrainian language there are 3 major dialectal groups according to territory: the southwestern group, the southeastern group and the northern group of dialects.

Low Beskids

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JCUKEN is the main Cyrillic keyboard layout for the Russian language in computers and typewriters. Earlier in Russia JIUKEN (ЙІУКЕН) layout was the main layout, but it was replaced by JCUKEN when the Russian alphabet reform of 1917 removed the letters Ѣ, І, Ѵ, and Ѳ. The letter Ъ had decreased in usage significantly after the reform.

Pannonian Rusyn Dialect

Pannonian Rusyn, or simply Rusyn, is an East Slavic language spoken by the Pannonian Rusyns, in north-western Serbia and eastern Croatia. Before the re-establishment of independent Serbian and Croatian states, in the 1990s, the area was part of the former federation of Yugoslavia. Pannonian Rusyn is one of the official languages of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. The Pannonian Rusyns themselves call their language Bačvan'ska ruska bešeda, or Bačvan'ski ruski jazik, both meaning "the Rusyn language of Bačka". Pannonian Rusyn has also sometimes been known as Yugoslavo-Ruthenian, Vojvodina-Ruthenian or Bačka-Ruthenian.


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Further reading