Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

The Project

Language lists
Languages A–Z
Language Groups
Audio Files
Language information
Wish list

About Lowlands
Meet Lowlanders!
Project Team
Site map
Offline Resources
The Crypt
Language Tips
Members’ Links
Lowlands Shops
  · Canada
  · Deutschland
  · France
  · 日本 Japan
  · United Kingdom
  · United States
Recommended now!

What's new?

Please click here to leave an anniversary message (in any language you choose). You do not need to be a member of Lowlands-L to do so. In fact, we would be more than thrilled to receive messages from anyone.
Click here to read what others have written so far.

About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

Беларуская мова
Bjełaruskaja mova


It 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.

Language information: 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 Drygovich (дрыгавічы), 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 are numerous Jews with roots in Belarus, most of whom now live in Israel and the Americas.
     When for centuries Belarus 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 Belarusians 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.

Genealogy: Indo-European > Slavonic > Eastern

    Click to open the translation: [Belarusian]Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
Lowlands-L Online Shops: Canada · Deutschland · France · 日本 · UK · USA