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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
is within ethnic Belarusian circles, especially in the numerous
rural communities of Belarus, that the Belarusian language is less
threatened by Russian, its far more powerful close East Slavic
relative and neighbor.
Belarusian is also known as “Belorussian” and as “Byelorussian”.
Some people refer to it as translated “White
Russian”, but this is misleading since “White
Russian” typically refers to a historical group that opposed the Bolsheviks during the
Russian Civil War. For this reason, беларускій (biełaruskij) is sometimes referred to as “White
Ruthenian”. The name “Belarusian” has been fairly well established since the fragmentation of the Soviet Union
and the establishment of Belarus as an independent nation.
Most ethnic Belarusians
are descendants of three East Slavic tribes: the
Kryvich (крывічы), and the Radimich (радзiмiчы). Depending on their location, they have been rubbing shoulders mostly with
speakers of Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Rusyn and Ukrainian, and traditionally many Belarusians are proficient in those languages. Large
numbers of Belarusians live outside Belarus as well, especially in Russia, the
United States, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Canada, Brazil, Poland, Lithuania,
Estonia and Australia (in this order by number of diaspora size). Added to this
with roots in Belarus, most of whom now live in Israel and the Americas.
When for centuries
was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus’ and
Samogitia (Belarusan: Вялікае Княства Літоўскае, Рускае, Жамойцкае), Polish influences
were particularly strong, mostly because the nobility of Belarus considered itself Polish and gave the Polish language especially high prestige.
As a result, many Belarusians came to consider themselves Poles. The establishment
of the Soviet Union brought with it strong russification to Belarus, and many
abandoned their ancestral language for Russian, especially those that lived in
other parts of the Soviet Union. As a result, many people consider themselves
ethnically Belarusian but use Russian as their first language, and many of them
are not proficient in Belarusian. Both Belarusian and Russian are the official languages of Belarus. Russian tends
to dominate in the larger cities. Belarusian is often described as being a “home language”. It is strongly represented mostly in the rural regions of Western Belarus.
Belarusian has been
written for centuries. Traditionally, a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet
is used, under Polish and Lithuanian dominations also various Latin-based orthographies
(Łacinka). An Arabic-script-based orthography used to be used among Lipka Tatars that
replaced their Turkic language with Belarusian after settling in the Grand Duchy
of Lithuania, Rus’ and
Samogitia. The Cyrillic-based orthography of Belarusian tends toward being “phonetic” rather than phonemic; i.e. allophonic detail tends to be represented, such as ў (ŭ) for [w] as an allophone of syllable-final velarized /l/. Also, akanie, the allophonic representation of /o/ as [a] is orthographically considered,
as are allophonic representations of consonantal palatalization.
In 1933, grammatical
rules of the
standard variety of Belarusian came to be officially changed, but many Belarusians remained opposed to this new variety, which is referred to as Narkamauka.
The earlier Taraškievica variety (named after Branisłaŭ Taraškievič, the author of
a grammar of 1918 that sought to normalize the language) is currently regaining popularity.