Rusyn language

Last updated
русиньскый язык; руски язик
rusîn'skyj 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]
Ukraine 6,725 [4]
Poland 10,000 [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 [13]
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/ ; [14] Carpathian Rusyn: русиньскый язык (rusîn'skyj jazyk), русиньска бесїда (rusîn'ska bes'ida); Pannonian Rusyn: руски язик (ruski jazik), руска бешеда (ruska bešeda)), [15] also known in English as Ruthene ( UK: /rʊˈθn/ , US: /rˈθn/ ; [16] sometimes Ruthenian), is an East Slavic language 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 [17] (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. [18] [19]

Geographical distribution

Pannonian Rusyn is spoken in Vojvodina in Serbia and part of Croatia.

Carpathian Rusyn is spoken in:


The classification and identification of Rusyn is historically and politically problematic. Before World War I, Rusyns were recognized as the Ukrainians of Galicia within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however in the Hungarian part they were recognized as Rusyns/Ruthenes. Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand had planned to recognize a Rusyn-majority area as one of the states of a planned United States of Greater Austria before his assassination.[ citation needed ] 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.

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 re-acknowledged Rusyn as a separate language in 1992, and trained specialists to study the language. [22] 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. [23] 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. [24]

Rusyn is listed as a protected language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Romania.

Grammars and codification

Early grammars include Dmytrij Vyslockij's (Дмитрий Вислоцкий) Карпаторусский букварь (Karpatorusskij bukvar') Vanja Hunjanky (1931) [25] , Metodyj Trochanovskij's Буквар. Перша книжечка для народных школ. (Bukvar. Perša knyžečka dlja narodnıx škol.) (1935). [26] [27] , and Ivan Harajda (1941) [28] . 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]. [31]


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.

Letters of the Carpathian Rusyn alphabets [32]
CapitalSmallNameTranslit. Pronunciation Notes
А аaa/a/
Б ббэb/b/
В ввэv/v/
Г ггэh/ɦ/
Ґ ґґэg/ɡ/
Д ддэd/d/
Е еee/e/
Є єєje/'e/je/
Ё ёёjo/'o/jo/not present in Lemko Rusyn or Pannonian Rusyn
Ж жжыž/ʒ/
З ззыz/z/
І іii/i/not present in Pannonian Rusyn
Ї їїji/'i/ji/not present in Lemko Rusyn
И ииî/ɪ/the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet places this letter directly after з, like the Ukrainian alphabet
Ы ыыy/ɨ/not present in Pannonian Rusyn
Й ййыj/j/
К ккыk/k/
Л ллыl/l/
М ммыm/m/
Н нныn/n/
О оoo/o/
П ппыp/p/
Р ррыr/r/
С ссыs/s/
Т ттыt/t/
У ууu/u/
Ф ффыf/f/
Х ххыch/x/
Ц ццыc/t͡s/
Ч ччыč/t͡ʃ/
Ш шшыš/ʃ/
Щ щщыšč/ʃt͡ʃ/
Ю ююju/'u/ju/
Я яяja/'a/ja/
Ь ьмягкый знак (ірь)'/ʲ/"Soft Sign": marks the preceding consonant as palatalized (soft)
Ъ ътвёрдый знак (ір)"Hard Sign": marks the preceding consonant as NOT palatalized (hard). Not present in Pannonian Rusyn

Until World War II, the letter Ѣ 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

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 Greek Catholic religious background.

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. In the Middle Ages it was part of Kievan Rus'. Before World War I most of this region was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the interwar period, it was part of the First and Second Czechoslovak Republic. During World War II, the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary once again. After the war, it was occupied by the USSR and became part of Soviet Ukraine.

Lemkos ethnic group

Lemkos are an ethnic group inhabiting Lemkivshchyna, a part of Transcarpathia.

Boykos ethnic group

Boykos, or simply Highlanders (verkhovyntsi) are a Ukrainian ethnographic 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, who are often regarded as a sub-group Ukrainian people and speak a Rusyn language, which is often considered as a dialect of the Ukrainian language. Boykos differ from their neighbors in dialect, dress, folk architecture, and customs.

Places inhabited by Rusyns

The contemporary administrative entities roughly corresponding the traditional territory of settlement of the Rusyns. Following areas have been included which still are or up to the World War II were inhabited by each of the Rusyn sub-ethnicities mentioned below:

Rusyns Ethnic group that speaks an Eastern Slavic language

Rusyns, sometimes referred to as Rusnaks, also known as Carpatho-Ruthenians or Carpatho-Russians, are an East Slavic people who speak the Rusyn language. They descend from an East Slavic population which 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 sub-group 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 Slovak highlander community of Gorals.

Yi (Cyrillic) Ukrainian letter

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Rusyns in Pannonia, or simply Rusyns, or Ruthenians, are a regional minority subgroup of the Rusyns, an Eastern Slavic peoples. They are located in the Central European region of Pannonia, which today covers almost all of Hungary, the southern-most parts of Slovakia, northeast Croatia, a tiny sliver portion of northeast Slovenia, and the northern-most part of Serbia (Vojvodina).

Hard sign Cyrillic letter

The letter Ъ of the Cyrillic script is known as er goljam 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 in the pre-reform Russian orthography, in Old East Slavic, and in Old Church Slavonic. Originally the yer denoted an ultra-short or reduced middle rounded vowel. It is one of two reduced vowels that are collectively known as the yers in Slavic philology.

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Metodyj Trochanovskij was a Lemko activist and teacher.

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Ukrainian dialects dialect of the Ukrainian language

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Polish census of 1921

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Pannonian Rusyn Dialect

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Further reading