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Practical spheres of Rusyn language in Slovakia (Przemyśl, 23.-27.5.2006)


A Significant Rusyn Linguist – the Honoured Guest

Preparation of the 3rd Congress of the Rusyn Language Has Started

In 2006, three more Rusyn textbooks were published

New Rusyn language textbooks

THE RUSYN LANGUAGE: Recent achievements and present challenges

The Rusyn language in the light of the first orthographic changes

Every language deserves support

Church Slavonic

Language question

Language of Carpatho-Rusyn


Dr. Anna Plišková, PhD.

Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies, Prešov University, Prešov, Slovak Republic


Practical spheres of Rusyn language in Slovakia


The history of European nationalities illustrates that language is one of the key elements supporting the foundation and continued existence of many national groups.  Language is not only an instrument of communication and thinking, but also the means by which spiritual traditions and the creations of past generations are preserved and passed on. It is language that has helped solve many problems in national, cultural and political life. Thus it is logical that both large nationalities and small ethnic groups are interested in expanding the sphere of their mother tongue’s use. Rusyns are a prime example because their efforts to find the most appropriate language medium -- which could be elevated to the level of a literary language -- are over 300 years old. The continuous attempts to solve this problem are evidence of the given ethnic group’s objective need to have their own literary language as well as a cultural tradition, which would, as the prominent Russian Slavist Nikita Iljič Tolstoj states, “bind man with his ‘little heritage’ and to some extent satisfy his nostalgia for the unfulfilled desire for the ancestors’ language” (Tolstoj, 1996).

            In connection with the newly introduced language question after 1989, the Carpathian Rusyns had to solve the matter of their national identity. Their current solution (dating to the late 1990s), can be considered the most objective and most natural since it is the result of the Rusyn population’s free will, rather than the result of political pressure exerted by large and superior countries, or Cold War regional alliance structures which among other things, dictated nationality policy.  After 1989, using the openness of the new political climate as their starting point, Rusyns identified with a local cultural and linguistic tradition known as “rusinism” (Rusynism), and decided to identify themselves by the traditional ethnonym “Rusyn” (Rusin / Ruthenian), the term most frequently used at the time of the national revival of the 19th century, and to create their own literary language – Rusyn.

            The codification of the language of Slovakia’s Rusyns in 1995, based on the two most prevalent local dialects – east Zemplín and west Zemplín – brought an end to the long-lasting dispute over which language should be the literary language of Rusyns.  Building upon the significant efforts of their predecessors to bring the Rusyn language back to life, only at the end of the 20th century did Rusyns manage to solve one of their most pressing problems -- one which had dragged on since the 17th century. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, Rusyns no longer contemplate which language to use for their cultural and educational needs because the codification of Rusyn has shifted them to another stage of thinking and activities: the focus is now on the quality of the language and the broadening of its functional spheres.





The past decade has seen an enormous growth worldwide of scholarly interest in the history and culture of Carpatho-Rusyns. Several talented young scholars of various national backgrounds, who accept the premise that Carpatho-Rusyns form a distinct people, have earned doctoral degrees at leading universities for Ph.D. dissertations in the fields of history, linguistics, literature, musicology, and sociology. Among these are Helena Duc’-Fajfer (Jagellonian University, Poland, 1997), Lenora Decarlo (Florida State University, USA, 1998), Alexander Teutsch (Heidelberg University, Germany, 2001), Eva Michna (Jagellonian University, Poland, 2001), Marc Stegherr (Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich, Germany, 2002), and Bogdan Horbal (University of Wrocław, Poland, 2005).

The latest to join the ranks of scholars whose dissertations is on a topic of Rusyn studies is Anna Plišková, who in November 2006 was awarded the Ph.D. degree from Slovak Academy of Sciences Institute for Slavic Studies in Bratislava, Slovakia. Dr. Plišková, who since 1999 teaches at Prešov University’s Department of Rusyn Language and Literature, was also holder of the Steven Chepa Fellowship in Rusyn Studies at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation, Списовный язык карпатьскых Русинів: проблемы становліня, кодіфікації, акцептації і сфер функціонуваня, was written under the direction of the distinguished Slavist, Professor Ján Dorul’a.

What makes Dr. Plišková’s work unique is the fact that it is the first dissertation written entirely in the Rusyn literary language. The appearance of her dissertation is not only a triumphant personal achievement, it is also a historic moment which reveals that the scholarly world recognizes the existence of Rusyns as a distinct Slavic people, and that the Rusyn language can be used for scholarly and scientific publications. Clearly Dr. Anna Plišková has shown to other young scholars that it is not only possible to undertake scholarly projects on Rusyn topics but also to publish the results of such research in the Rusyn language.

Prof. Dr. Paul Robert MAGOCSI, PhD.,

University of Toronto, Canada, 10. 1. 2007

A Significant Rusyn Linguist – the Honoured Guest


Assistant Professor PhDr. Vasiľ JABUR, CSc. (born in Stakčín), one of the first two academics (along with Assistant Professor PhDr. Juraj Paňko, CSc.) on the editorial team of Rusîn, Narodny Novînky Press and non-periodical press in Rusyn and to start academic work on the codification of Rusyn literary language in Slovakia, the second Head of the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture at the Rusyn Revival (after J. Paňko), a leading personality in the post-codification process in the theoretical development of the Rusyn normative language, who before, worked full-time at the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture of the Institute of National Minority Studies and Foreign Languages, University of Prešov, and now works part-time at the same department of the Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies, University of Prešov, a university teacher of Rusyn language celebrated  his 70th birthday on October 28th, 2006. We interviewed him to mark this occasion.

On January 27th, 2006; 11 years passed since the codification of Rusyn language in Slovakia, which is, to a large extent, an outcome of your endeavour. How would you assess the development of the codified Rusyn language from that time until now in the individual spheres of its functioning?

--... Although it is said that a language, like a living organism, forms and develops as it gets older; a much longer time than a whole human life is necessary for these processes.

... If it could be safely said that the Rusyn language in its codified form works in all the necessary spheres, where it could and should function, it would be a very happy situation. However, we have not yet got so far, a lot of time and effort is ahead of us before we can say that the normative form fully works everywhere it could and should; that the given spheres are served by such literary language, which its users like and want to use. I have expressed my opinion about the functioning of the Rusyn language in the individual spheres in press as well as in academic journals and other publications. In even more detail, you can read about the functioning of the Rusyn language in the particular spheres in the articles by PhDr. Anna Pliškova (visit our website, e.g. the article entitled Rusínsky jazyk po roku 1989 (The Rusyn Language after 1989) in the column JAZYK (LANGUAGE); the article Rusínsky jazyk v konfesionálnej sfére na Slovensku (The Rusyn Language in the Confessional Sphere in Slovakia) in the column CIRKEV (CHURCH), Rusínsky jazyk v školskom systéme na Slovensku (The Rusyn Language in the Educational System in Slovakia) in the column VZDELÁVANIE (EDUCATION), Основны сферы функціонованя кодіфікованого русиньского языка на Словенсьску (Basic Spheres of the Functioning of the Codified Rusyn Language in Slovakia) in the Rusyn version of the column ЯЗЫК (LANGUAGE) or in the publication entitled Русиньскый язык (The Rusyn Language; Opole, 2004) and others.

A short answer to this question could sound as follows: the normative form of the Rusyn language functions in an acceptable form in the educational sphere (textbooks and some further school texts), in periodical issues in the journalistic sphere, in non-periodical issues in the sphere of academic and belles-lettres literature and the confessional sphere. In other spheres, the functioning of the Rusyn language is only partially normative; although, officially, it is referred to as Rusyn.

● What do you think about the critical comments of some Rusyns on changes in Rusyn orthography, which came to pass on September 1st, 2005? There are some who declare that no changes were necessary, others think that those changes are no good and that some different changes should be made. What do you think of that?

– To answer this question is not easy. That is why I will start in a rather diplomatic way: every user of Rusyn, which is our national language, has the right to express their opinion about the normative form, as the literary language should be a perfect version of the national language. As we all know, every codified literary language (including Rusyn) must have at its disposal two communication forms – spoken (speech) and graphic (writing). As an author of norms of the graphic form of the Rusyn literary language, I cannot and do not want to prohibit anyone from expressing their opinions on these norms, especially if someone, with their critical comments, has an intention to help to improve the orthographic norms. I gladly accept comments expressed with such intention; as it is clear that the one uttering them cares about how we write.

However, there are also comments expressed with a different intention, with the aim to hurt, offend or ridicule not only me, as an author, but also my fellow countrymen from the Snina, Ulic and Ubla region, although they are in no way responsible for the norms. And to me this already seems to be a discriminatory viewpoint. I accept such comments with dignified silence and an ironic smile as these are expressed by people who make themselves linguists and write about the language, but have no clue about the theory...

One more fact regarding the new norms of the Rusyn orthography makes me angry. It does not concern any comments but a letter, a copy of which I have received from the Slovak Ministry of Education. To the Ministry, it had been sent by the heads of three Rusyn organisations and they declare that the authors did not have competent knowledge to write the orthographic rules. As far as I know, no one else, apart from me, has written any Rusyn orthographical rules, so how come I am all of the sudden incapable?! And who is to judge? An orthopaedist, a literary critic or an administrative worker...?

And now briefly on the matter of the necessity of the orthographic changes: an answer can be found in the following articles in Rusîn (No. 5 / 2005, p. 1 – 2), or in Narodny Novînky (No. 35 – 41 / 2005, p. 2). (Editor’s comment: also on our website in the column JAZYK (LANGUAGE) – the article entitled Rusínsky jazyk vo svetle prvých zmien pravidiel pravopisu – The Rusyn Language in View of the First Orthographic Changes.) To be completely honest, if it had been my decision, I would have delayed the changes a short while.

● Which issues concerning the present form of the codified Rusyn language do you find topical and necessary to deal with?

– There are a lot of problems to be solved shortly in the area of the Rusyn language, and we could divide them into several categories. I will briefly mention some of them:

1. As soon as possible, it is necessary to issue:

– a normative system description of the acoustic level of the language, containing phonetics, phonology and orthoepy (i.e. pronunciation rules, which should be kept in the spoken language, as well as the orthography in its written form);

– a normative system description of the grammatical level of the language, containing morphology and syntax of the Rusyn language;

– a normative system description of the lexical level of the Rusyn language.

2. To publish a Rusyn language textbook for students of Bachelor degree studies in Rusyn at least as a university textbook to function as fundamental study literature for individual linguistic subjects of the given accredited programme of studies.

3. Alongside the abovementioned textbook, to compile and publish a workbook for the particular linguistic disciplines.

4. The opportunity to reach the appropriate academic level in the Rusyn studies has been opened thanks to the successful accreditation of the given programme; which means another successful step in the endeavour to reach the desired goal in equalling other Slavonic languages in the educational process of well-qualified linguists. This opportunity should be applied in the best possible way, which means to assign qualified specialists from, at least, related fields to particular subjects until our young graduates have passed further academic preparation.

5. Based on the aforementioned, it is necessary to provide young academics and future university lecturers in the field of Rusyn studies with the opportunity of doctoral studies. Otherwise, the vacuum that will have arisen will cause a serious problem in providing experts for the language preparation of students.

6. It would be useful to start working on a Rusyn-Slovak and Slovak-Rusyn bilingual dictionary and on an abridged monolingual Rusyn dictionary, as well as on some other minor terminological dictionaries. A new orthographic school dictionary, the work on which is being finalised, will also be very useful.

7. Activities related to the so called Rusyn-wide phenomena should be accelerated in all levels of linguistics. Failing that, the development of individual variations of the Rusyn language is held back.

From what I have said can be seen that there is a lot to do, we just have to attract more young people, to prepare them for such work and to provide them with appropriate working conditions. Without enthusiastic and academically prepared young people, the work we started in 1995 will fade out.

● What are the prospects of the Rusyn language development in Slovakia and in the Rusyn-wide form for Rusyns in the whole world? Are there any prospects at all?

The literary Rusyn language has already been applied in practice:

a)     in journalism, especially in Narodny Novînky Press and the magazine Rusîn, on television and radio;

b)     in the confessional sphere (where a lot broader application has been expected);

c)      in the A. Dukhnovich Theatre, as the only professional Rusyn theatre in the world, which is an important means of spreading the Rusyn language;

d)     in the educational sphere (kindergartens, primary, secondary, high schools and university), which, from the very beginning of the Rusyn nationalist and language revival, we consider the most important one;

e)     in the belles-lettres literature, in all its genres, which should be a lot more courageous in developing our language and not to be afraid to reach into the treasured lexical fond of our dialects;

f)        at municipal offices in the towns and villages of the Prešov self-governing region; putting the law about the use of national minority languages in Slovakia into practice.


There are some other spheres and areas where the Rusyn language could be used; however, more courage and willingness are necessary. And in those areas where the language already functions, more emphasis should be placed on keeping the norms of the Rusyn literary language.

The direct answer would be: It depends on whether, to realise the abovementioned intentions, we will manage to prepare qualified people convinced about the worthiness of this work. That means that the crucial factor will lie in the highest possible number of educated people who are convinced about the fact that they belong to the Rusyn nationality and who will pass their confidence onto the following generation, using all the available opportunities to spread our cultural heritage and ethnic identity. It means that it only depends on us, Rusyns, whether the Rusyn language will live and develop also in the new millennium.


We wish our honoured guest good health and persistence in the work which is so useful for Rusyns.


Alexander ZOZUĽÁK thanked the honoured guest for the interview.

(Shortened and edited by A. Z., the complete interview entitled „Jubilujučij vyznamnyj rusîn´skyj lingvista“ can, in the Rusyn version, be found on our website in the column ЯЗЫК (LANGUAGE).

October 25th, 2006

Preparation of the 3rd Congress of the Rusyn Language Has Started


The 1st international Congress of the Rusyn Language was organised with the initiative of the World Congress of Rusyns and held on November 6th – 7th, 1992 in the Spa of Bardejov. The Rusyn Revival of CSFR (Czechoslovak Federal Republic) and the Carpathian-Rusyn Research Centre of the USA were the main organisers. The congress was also supported by the Swedish Academy of Stockholm, the Romanche League of Switzerland and the Academy of Dialects of Monaco. Its aim was to coordinate the initial work in forming the standard Rusyn language. The congress ran in two sections: academic/research and practical. In both, significant well-known Slavists, sociologists and historians talked about the experience of other nations with codification. Using the words of Professor Alexander Dulicenko from Estonia, twelve points of the Resolution from the 1st language congress made it evident that Rusyns can take a similar way to the one of almost forty-thousand strong nationality of Ret Romans, who, over fifty years, used six variations of standard language and all of them were also taught at schools. On their basis, in 1982, a common standard language rumantsch grischun was formed, and in 1996, became the fourth official language of Switzerland, alongside German, French and Italian. Standard Rusyn language should have formed analogically, on the basis of colloquial variations of the regions (states) where Rusyns live, each of them separately at the beginning; but, gradually on their bases, one common standard global Rusyn language should be formed. As the outcome of the congress and the work of linguists and journalists of the editorial office of Rusín and Ludove Noviny, the codification of standard Rusyn language of Slovakia was ceremonially announced on January 27th, 1995 in Bratislava; having its own orthographical rules, an orthographical dictionary, a dictionary of linguistic terminology and the first primer and reader.


On September 28th, 2006; the participants of the interregional Programme Committee of the 3rd Congress of the Rusyn Language were welcomed to the Institute of the Regional and National Minority Studies, University of Prešov by its Director Professor Štefan Šutaj, Dr.Sc (fourth from the left). In the picture, there are also: Dr. hab H. Fontanski, Mgr. M. Chomjak from Poland, Professor Michal Fejsa from Serbia and PhDr. A. Pliskova and Mgr. A. Blichova from Slovakia.

After the two-day meeting of the committee, which took place in the lounge of the A. Dukhnovich Students’ Hall of Residence, the participants had their picture taken in front of the building. Left to right: Assistant Professor V. Jabur, CSc., A. Pliskova, H. Fontanski’s wife Alica, M. Chomjak, H. Fontanski, PhDr. M. Malcovska, M. Fejsa, A. Blichova and Mgr. V. Padak, CSc.

Pictures: A. Z.


The 2nd Congress of the Rusyn Language was organised with the initiative of Prof. Dr. Paul Robert Magocsi, PhD. and thanks to the financial support of the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Centre of the USA (of which he has been the President) and held on April 16th – 17th, 1999 at the University of Prešov; also in connection with the foundation of the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture as a part of the Institute of National Minority Studies and Foreign Languages, the University of Prešov, as a research-educational institution. The congress, in the approved Resolution, confirmed the main principles established at the 1st congress, in relation to building the language; and each regional section (of Slovakia, Sub-Carpathia, Poland and Hungary) decided to take for its objective the broadening of spheres where particular variations of Rusyn function. The sphere of education was decided to be a priority. In the Resolution, the importance of newly established academic-educational institution for the further development of Rusyn language and culture was emphasised. Consequently, the International Council for Research and Exchange (IREX) appointed the University of Prešov the educational centre for academics dealing with the Rusyn studies.


Recently, the preparations of the 3rd International Congress of the Rusyn Language have started in Prešov, although the congress will be held in the next year in Krakow. Its preparatory phase – programme finalising – was dealt with by the Interregional Preparatory Committee, which held a meeting on September 28th – 29th, 2006 in the lounge of the Alexander Dukhnovich Students’ Hall of Residence. The meeting was organised by the World Congress of Rusyns and the financial support was arranged by Professor P. R. Magocsi. On the basis of functioning of particular variations of Rusyn and the significance of the educational sphere for the national life of Rusyns as such, the members of the Committee agreed that the following congress should, again, deal with two subjects: academic-theoretical and educational-practical. On the committee, there are academics and pedagogues from the countries where Rusyns live: Slovakia – Assistant Professor Vasil Jabur, CSc., PhDr. Anna Pliskova, Mgr. Alena Blichova, Mgr. Marek Gaj and Mgr. Stefan Suchy; Poland – Professor Henrik Fontanski, Mgr. Miroslava Chomjak; Serbia – Professor Michal Fejsa; Ukraine Mgr. Valerij Padak, CSc., Mgr. Michal Almasij; Hungary – Assistant Professor Michal Kapral, Assistant Professor Gergej Benedek (unfortunately, not all of them could come to the meeting; still, some of them sent their proposals). As there is, among the topics to be discussed at the following congress, the area of global Rusyn language standard; possibilities of Rusyn Cyrillic (which is not identical) convergence were proposed. The individual variations also use different linguistic terminology, in spite of the fact that the dictionary of linguistic terminology published in 1994 was an outcome of consensus of the interregional linguistic committee, and it was presented as one of the primary publications in relation to the codification of the variation of the Rusyn language spoken in Slovakia. It seems that some language problems, which have already been solved, will have to be dealt with again at the 3rd congress. The topic of functioning of Rusyn in the educational system of the particular countries will be new, though, and discussed especially by teachers of Rusyn of all key stages (kindergarten to universities). Its other aim will be to decide for steps to be taken to converge the major methodical-pedagogical documents on Rusyn language and literature, decide how to compile textbooks, choose teaching aids and study literature, teaching methodology and so on. The primary agenda of the proposed topics is based on the main objectives of the following congress, which is the process of convergence of Rusyn language variations and strengthening of the position of the Rusyn language. The fact that the members of the committee agreed with one voice to continue in the work of the interregional language section, which was in operation prior to the codification of the Rusyn language in Slovakia, can be considered an important outcome of the meeting of the Programme Committee.


PhDr. Anna PLISKOVA, a member of the Preparatory Committee and the main organiser of the aforementioned meeting

(Shortened and edited by A. Z.; the complete article entitled Začalî prîpravy 3. kongresu rusîn´skoho jazyka can, in the Rusyn version, be found on our website, in the columns LANGUAGE and CONGRESS – Events)

October 4th, 2006

In 2006, three more Rusyn textbooks were published


In August 2006, with the financial support of the Slovak Ministry of Education, Rusîn and Narodny Novînky published three new Rusyn textbooks for the second year of schools where Rusyn is the primary classroom language as well as schools where Rusyn is taught as a second language. In particular: BUKVAR´ (Primer) and ČÍTANKA (Reader) by the well-known author of Rusyn textbooks Jan Hrib and WORKBOOK by Mgr. Marek Gaj, a teacher of Rusyn at the Primary School in Radvan nad Laborcom. The first two were illustrated by Anna Gajova, a Rusyn academic painter.


New Rusyn language textbooks


During the summer holidays of 2005, new Rusyn language and literature textbooks were published. The first one was Jan Hrib´s Literary Education for the 9th grade of Rusyn Language Middle Schools“. It is 128 pages long.

Another textbook is Doc. PhDr. Vasil Jabur, CSc. and PhDr. Anna Pliskova´s “Rusyn Literature for the 4th grade of Rusyn Language Middle Schools“. Within its 96 pages, two themes are discussed: 1 Information on liguistics taking into consideration the creation and development of the Rusyn language; 2 The field of rhetorics and rhetoric style. The textbook also includes a review of the syllabuses between the 1st and 4th grades of Middle School.

The most important book is The Rusyn Language in the Mirror of New Orthographic Rules” for Rusyn Languge Elementary and Middle Schools by Doc. PhDr. Vasil Jabur, CSc. and PhDr. Anna Pliskova – published 10 years after the Rusyn language was codified. It is the outcome of several years´ discussion by the language committee of the Rusyn Language Department, Institute of National Minority Studies and Foreign Languages, University of Presov. The rules came into practice on September 1, 2005.


The textbooks (stock permitting) can be ordered at the editorial office of Rusyn and Lyudove Noviny Press, Duchnovicovo nam. 1, 080 01 Presov, or: for the price of 300 Sk.





The Rusyn language is considered one of the newest Slavic literary languages. Together with Russian, Belarusan, and Ukrainian, Rusyn is an East Slavic language that functions as the national language of Carpatho-Rusyns, a stateless people living within a historic territory called Carpathian Rus’.


Historic Carpathian Rus’ refers to lands within present-day southeastern Poland (the Lemko Region), northeastern Slovakia (the Prešov Region), far western Ukraine (the Transcarpathian oblast), and the north central Romania (Maramureş). There are also a few communities of Rusyn speakers in northeastern Hungary, northern Serbia (Vojvodina), and far northeastern Croatia (Srem). The number of Rusyn-speakers and/or persons who identify as Rusyns in the above-noted countries ranges from an official figure (according to recent census data, 2001-2002) of 90,500 to unofficial estimates that are as high as 890,000. 1


The current status and present challenges facing the Rusyn language are in part a function of the group’s complicated evolution as a stateless people living since the late eighteenth century in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and from 1918 to 1989 in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Soviet Union, and Romania. During this entire period Carpatho-Rusyns, regardless of the state in which they lived, struggled to find an appropriate literary language. The problem in one sense was straightforward: (1) to create a literary language based on the local Carpatho-Rusyn vernacular; or (2) to adopt a related and already codified Slavic language (Russian or Ukrainian). The debates about such choices came to be known as the language question (языковый вопрос), which,  in turn, was intimately related to another challenge, the nationality question. In other words, did Carpatho-Rusyns form a distinct nationality, or were they a branch of the Russian or Ukrainian nationalities?


Historical background

The secondary literature about the language question among Carpatho-Rusyns is quite extensive  and the problem need be discussed at any length here.2 It might be useful, however, to mention briefly the challenges faced during five chronological periods from the year 1848 to the present. I use 1848 as a starting point because it is from that year that some form of the Rusyn language became legally possible for use in the media, cultural life, education, and eventually governmental affairs. Debates among intellectual leaders  could and did continue as before, but after 1848 the language question took on a practical dimension. Since the governing authorities approved the view that local languages should be used as a medium in schools, it was necessary to decide on the specific form of the a literary language before textbooks could be published and teaching in schools could begin.


During the first period, 1848 to 1918, when all of Carpathian Rus’ was under the rule of Habsburg Austria-Hungary, two trends developed.3 The Rusyn intelligentsia generally favored the adoption of Russian as an appropriate literary language, although in practice publications and school instruction were conducted in the so-called traditional Carpatho-Rusyn language, that is, Russian mixed with varying degrees of Church Slavonic and Rusyn dialect. At the same time, the Hungarian government (during its short-lived tolerant phase toward national minorities) favored the use of local Rusyn vernacular as the basis for a distinct literary language. 4 


During the second period, lasting from 1919 to 1938, Carpatho-Rusyns found themselves within the borders of two countries: Czechoslovakia and Poland. This period proved to be the most productive  for Carpatho-Rusyn cultural life, and it was particularly complex period regarding the language question. In Czechoslovakia, where a portion of that country’s Carpatho-Rusyn inhabitants had their own autonomous province  called Subcarpathian Rus’, three languages were in competition for acceptance as the group’s literary standard: Russian, Ukrainian, and Subcarpathian Rusyn. In neighboring Poland, among Lemko Rusyns, the same three language orientations existed, although with lesser intensity than in Czechoslovakia. For their part, the Czechoslovak and Polish governments initially tried to remain neutral on language matters, but by the 1930s  both seemed to favor the Rusyn orientation.


The third period, 1939 to 1944, basically coincided with World War II. In the Rusyn-inhabited Lemko Region, at the time ruled by Nazi Germany, the Ukrainian orientation was officially favored. In Hungary, which annexed Subcarpathian Rus’, part of the Prešov Region from Slovakia, Maramureş from Romania, and the Vojvodina from Yugoslavia, the authorities rejected the Russian language, banned Ukrainian, and supported what was called the Uhro-Rusyn language. In effect, Rusyn vernacular was given official status as a literary language and was used in government documents, civic affairs, and for school instruction.5


The fourth period, which lasted from 1945 to 1989, coincided with the dominant presence of Soviet rule not only in Subcarpathian Rus’, which was annexed to Soviet Ukraine, but also through Communist proxies in neighboring countries Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania which ruled over smaller parts of Carpathian Rus’.  The Soviet regime proclaimed that it had resolved the nationality question.6 All Carpatho-Rusyns, regardless what  they called themselves, were  simply declared  to be of Ukrainian nationality. That being the case, Carpatho-Rusyns should have only one literary language to represent their nationality—Ukrainian. In practice, the Russian orientation also survived (and in Czechoslovakia even flourished until 1951), since Russian was the dominant language of prestige throughout the Soviet Union and was a required school subject in neighboring Communist-ruled countries where Rusyns also lived. On the other hand, the Rusyn language and nationality orientation were banned in all countries where Carpatho-Rusyns lived with one exception. That exception was Yugoslavia, which was Communist-ruled but soon outside the Soviet bloc. There Rusyns were recognized as a distinct nationality and their Vojvodinian (Bačka-Srem) variant of Rusyn was allowed to develop  into a distinct and sociologically complete literary language.


The fifth period began in 1989 and continues to the present. The Revolutions of the 1989 and the collapse of dictatorial Communist rule resulted in what has come to be known as the third Carpatho-Rusyn national revival. In all countries where Carpatho-Rusyns live, they have once again been allowed to identify as a distinct nationality. A portion of Carpatho-Rusyns decided to return to the nationality of their ancestors and in the new post-1989 political environment they have been permitted to publish materials in  the Rusyn language and to use the language in public discourse.


Achievements since 1989

In the wake of the political changes initiated by the Revolutions of 1989, what have been the achievements of Rusyns in the realm of language? In one sense, the decades-old language question did not go away. Rusyn speakers remained divided between those who favored the creation of a distinct literary language, those who favored Ukrainian, and still a few who favored Russian. The rest of this essay will look at the achievements and point out some of the challenges still faced by language planners who have not only created but who continue to develop the four variants of literary Rusyn.


The first challenge faced by the post-1989 language planners was to determine how to create a literary standard. Several options were possible: (1) adopt an earlier Rusyn standard, such as those used in the grammars of Ivan Haraida (1941), Ivan Pan’kevych (1922), or Avhustyn Voloshyn (1907 and 1927)7; (2) formulate a new standard based on the main dialects in one region, such as Subcarpathian Rus’, where the largest number of Rusyn speakers reside; or (3) create a koiné, or  single standard based on input from all regions where Rusyn is spoken. In fact, none of these options was chosen.


Instead, in November 1992 a representative group of writers, journalists, and scholars from all countries (except Romania) where Rusyns live—Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, and former Yugoslavia—met at what came to be known as the First Congress of the Rusyn Language. Together with Rusyn and non-Rusyn scholars from abroad, the language congress debated several theoretical options and adopted a practical methodology. At the suggestion of Professor Paul Robert Magocsi the so-called Romansch principle was adopted.  In other words, Rusyn language planners were called upon to follow the example of the Romansch people of Switzerland, who in the course of the twentieth century first codified five regional variants and then formulated a koiné, that is, an amalgamated standard intended to serve all regions.8 Analogously, Rusyns  would develop four regional variants (Subcarpathian, Prešov Region, Lemko Region, Vojvodina), all the while keeping in mind that they would eventually create a fifth variant, i. e., a koiné for all regions. The participants at the First Language Congress also accepted the principle that each  of the four variants should be based on the spoken vernacular of the given region.9


How has theory been transformed into practice? First, it should be mentioned that the  task faced by Rusyn language planners was made somewhat easier, since one of the projected regional variants, Vojvodinian (Bačka-Srem) Rusyn, already existed as a standard literary form used by the Rusyns of former Yugoslavia, today Serbia-Montenegro and Croatia.10 With regard to the other three regions, Rusyn language planners (not in all cases professional linguists) set out to publish rule-books, grammars, dictionaries, and school texts  as part of the standardization project.


The first of the new Rusyn variants to be standardized was in the Prešov Region of Slovakia. In January 1995, the Prešov Region literary standard was proclaimed to exist11 following the appearance of a rule-book by Vasyl’ Jabur, an orthographic dictionary, and a dictionary of grammatical terminology.12 Since that time a cycle of 26 textbooks has been published. They represent the Prešov Region standard to teach language and literature in classes 1 through 9 of elementary school and classes 1 through 4 of secondary (seredna) school. Most recently a revised edition of the standard rule-book has appeared.13

The second Rusyn variant to be standardized was for the Lemko Region in Poland. In the year 2000, a grammar of the Lemko language was published by Henryk Fontański and Mirosława Chomiak.14 The Fontański-Chomiak grammar  serves as the standard for a few other school textbooks as well as a Lemko-Polish dictionary by Jarosław Horoszczak that have also apeared.15


More complicated have been the efforts to create a standardized Subcarpathian variant for Rusyns in the Transcarpathian oblast of Ukraine. In 1994, a four-member language commission  representing the local Aleksander Dukhnovych Cultural Society  began work on a grammar that was expected to provide the basis for a standardized regional variant. Written primarily by Igor Kercha and Stefan Popovych (neither of whom were linguists by training), the Subcarpathian grammar was indeed published in 1999, but it was not accepted by a large number of authors in the region, including some members of the commission under whose name it was published.17 Consequently, other language publications in Subcarpathian Rus’, which include a few dictionaries and books designed for use in schools, have followed the “standard” of their given author or publisher.[xvii] In 2005, the priest Dymytrii Sydor published another grammar (written in Rusyn and English) intended not only for use by “the Rusyns of Ukraine” but also by those in “Central Europe and America.”18


Present challenges

When, in 1995, the codification of the Rusyn language  was proclaimed in Slovakia, its creators and supporters were wise to point out that their declaration was only the beginning of an on-going process. This makes eminent sense, since literary languages do not suddenly come into existence; rather, they are living entities which continually evolve and develop. What are some of the challenges that face the Rusyn language at the present? I would suggest that there are two kinds of challenges which are separate but related: those at the regional level, and those pertaining to the projected all-Rusyn koiné.


Not surprisingly, it is at the regional level that the Rusyn language has made its greatest advances since  the First Language Congress of 1992. In all four regions some form of a standard language is used in schools (from elementary to university level), in churches,19 in publications and the media, and in some cases in official government documents.


One of the principles accepted from the outset was to create regional variants on the basis of the local spoken vernacular. Since each region has several dialects, the regional literary variant by definition represents a form of language based on one or more dialects within the given region, that is, a kind of mini-regional koiné. For instance, the Prešov Region variant in Slovakia is based primarily on the “eastern” dialects of the Laborec valley, a decision which has caused displeasure among some writers from the central (Sharysh) and western (Spish) areas of the Prešov Region. Dialectal differentiation is one of the reasons why language planners in Subcarpathian Rus’ not have been able to agree on a standard regional literary variant. Disagreements persist among supporters of the eastern (Maramorosh), central, and western (Uzh) dialects.


Another problem concerns borrowings from other languages. Since, in principle, each literary variant is to be based on the spoken vernacular of a given region—which means, in effect, the present-day spoken vernacular—language planners have had to face the practical reality that spoken Rusyn, depending on region, has since World War II been heavily infiltrated by a high number of Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian, and Serbian borrowings. For instance, Rusyn readers in neighboring counties, when they pick up a Rusyn text published in Slovakia, often think they are reading the Slovak language written in the Cyrillic alphabet. What, for instance, should be done with  words like:  вызкум (Slovak: výskum), влак (vlak), обход (obchod), розлучка (rozlúčka), сполочность (spoločnost’), скусенность (skúsenost’), таёмник (tajomník), узнесіня (úznesenie)? Should such borrowings be left in individual Rusyn literary variants because they are part of the present-day spoken vernacular, or should they be replaced. And, if replaced, replaced by what: (1) international words (usually based on Latin or English and French derivatives); (2) older Rusyn/East Slavic words; or (3) newer East-Slavic sounding calques, which would then be taught in schools until they became part of a future Rusyn spoken vernacular?


Geographic terminology is also problematic and there are some basic methodological questions that still need to resolved. Should placenames outside Carpathian Rus’ be given Rusyn equivalents—Краків, Пряшів, Словакія—or should they be transliterated into the Rusyn Cyrillic alphabet according  to pronunciation in the original language—Кракув (Polish: Kraków), Прешов (Slovak: Prešov), Словеньско (Slovak: Slovensko)? Perhaps new Rusyn forms should be created, such as Новоє місто пуд Шатром instead of Шаторалйауйгей (Hungarian: Sátoraljaújhely), or Калный Потук instead of Шарошпатак  (Hungarian: Sárospatak).20


While much work has been undertaken on regional variants of literary Rusyn, less attention has been given to common concerns and the eventual creation of a koiné. The first Congress of the Rusyn language (1992) called upon future congresses to meet periodically to discuss issues related to a koiné. Only one other Rusyn language congress was held, in 1999, and while it did discuss a common problem (the need to produce a volume on the Rusyn language for the international Slavic Commission based in Opole, Poland),21 it did not address any specific linguistic issues pertaining to codification.


As a result, Rusyns do not use a common grammatical terminology, with some regions referring to часослово (Lemko variant, Prešov variant), others to глагол (Subcarpathia), or дієслово (Vojvodina) for the same part of speech—the verb. There is not even a common Rusyn alphabet with some letters not appearing in all variants (ы and i do not exist in Vojvodinian, ї does not exist in Lemko variant), other letters only in one region (ё in the Prešov variant; ō in one Subcarpathian dictionary; ± in one Subcarpathian grammar); and one letter in a different alphabetical order (ы follows и in the Lemko and Prešov variant, but after  щ in one Subcarpathian dictionary). Most problematic is the grapheme used to depict various vowels that replaced the phoneme o in newly-closed syllables. A classic example of this phenomenon exists in Subcarpathian dialects for the word that originally existed as конь, but has come to be pronounced as  кунь, кüнь, кінь, кынь. None of these variants predominates throughout the Subcarpathian dialectal areal. Actually, the problem of how to depict these various phonemes was addressed by Subcarpathian grammarians in the first half of the twentieth century and resolved by using only one grapheme, either ô (Avhustyn Voloshyn and Ivan Pan’kevych) or o (Ivan Haraida).22 Unfortunately, present-day Rusyn language planners in Subcarpathian Rus’ have tried “to re-invent the wheel”, so that virtually every grammar and dictionary has introduced one or more letters with symbols added—î, ō, á, ÿ, ü, ô—in an attempt to indicate different dialectal variants of pronunciation. The result for the reader is graphic chaos and semantic confusion. Just as linguists in Ukraine have called upon their countrymen to honor the letter ґ, which they have recently reintroduced into official Ukrainian orthography,23 so, too, might Rusyn language planners be well advised to render appropriate honor to the letter ô  and to re-introduce it into Rusyn orthography.


Another kind of semantic confusion concerns the ethnonym Rusyn itself. Traditionally, Carpatho-Rusyns described themselves with the formulation: Я руськый, or Я бісідую/говорю по-руськы. Moreover, every grammar of the Rusyn language that appeared before 1945 referred to the rus’kyi iazŷk. At present, two of the four variants of the Rusyn literary language preserve the historically correct adjectival form of the ethnonym: руски  (Vojvodinian) and руській (Lemko variant) to describe their own people. The two other variants (Prešov Region and Subcarpathian) use руськый as an adjective not to describe their own people  but rather to describe Great Russians. By contrast the Vojvodinian and Lemko Region variants correctly prefer differentiation, as in російскій язык; Росиян (Lemko Region) and русийски язык (Vojvodina).[xxiv] Perhaps a language is really in trouble when it cannot even decide on the appropriate ethnonym for the people it allegedly represents.


Let us not, however, overestimate the problems related to codifying the Rusyn language. In fact, Rusyn language planners, belletrists, and journalists have made enormous strides in the standardization process which, should not be forgotten, began only fifteen years ago. The codifiers are well aware that their work is not done. In fact, language codification is never done. Perhaps some of the concerns raised here may help Rusyn-language codifiers address these and other linguistic challenges that will continue to face them in the years to come.



1 Paul Robert Magocsi, Carpatho-Rusyns, 3rd rev. ed. (Ocala, Flo., 2004), p.3.

2 For the extensive literature on the language question see section of the bibliography in Paul Robert Magocsi, ed., Rusyn’skŷi jazŷk (Opole, 2004), pp.449-460.

3 For a useful introduction to the language question, see Pavel Robert Magochii, “Jazykovŷi vopros,” in ibid., pp. 85-112; and Aleksanndr D. Dulichenko and Paul Robert Magocsi, “Language Question,” in Paul Robert Magocsi and Ivan Pop, eds., Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture, 2nd rev. ed. (Toronto, 2005), pp. 276-281.

4 During the 1880s, the office of Hungary’s prime minister hired a young university graduate of Rusyn background, Laslov Chopei, to prepare several textbooks using the Rusyn vernacular that were to be used in elementary schools. In conjunction with this work Chopei prepared a Rusyn-Hungarian dictionary (20,000 words) that was given a prestigious award from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and was published at government expense: Rus’ko madiarskyi slovar’ (Budapest, 1883).

5 Initially, Hungarian policy was unclear. Local authorities rejected an elementary school Russian-language grammar published in 1939 by Georgii Gerovskii; then, in 1940, the administration issued a Russian-language grammar (with local Rusyn elements) that was prepared by a language commission headed by Vasylii Sulynchak and approved by the ministerial advisor for education, Iulii Maryna. Finally, in 1941 the government gave its full support to the Subcarpathian Academy of Sciences, which published a grammar based on the vernacular by Ivan Haraida, which set the standard for  what became a Rusyn literary language.

6 The Soviet conviction was based on a declaration made in 1924 at the Fifth Congress of the Comintern in Moscow and confirmed by the Communist party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine in December 1925, according to which the indigenous East Slavic population living in what at the time was Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia was considered ethnically and linguistically Ukrainian.

7 Yvan Haraida, Hrammatyka rus'koho iazíka (Uzhhorod, 1941); Ivan Pan’kevych, Hramatyka rus’koho iazŷka dlia shkôl serednykh y horozhans’kykh (Mukachevo, 1922), 3rd rev.ed. (Prague, 1936); Ágoston Volosin, Gyakorlati kisorosz (rutén) nyelvtan (Uzhhorod, 1907), 2nd rev. ed. (1920) and AvhustynVoloshyn, Praktychna hramatyka rus'koho iazŷka dlia narodnŷkh, horozhans’kykh y serednykh shkol (Uzhhorod, 1927).

8 A representative from the Chair of Romansch Language at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland  was present at the First Congress of Rusyn Language to share the experience of Romansch language planners.

9 For details on the First Congress of Rusyn Language together with the text of its resolutions, see Joshua A. Fishman and Paul Robert Magocsi, “Scholarly Seminar on the Codification of the Rusyn Language,” International Journal of the Sociology of Language, No. 104 (Berlin and New York, 1993), pp. 119-123.

10 The Vojvodinian variant of Rusyn was first codified in a 1923 grammar by Havriïl Kostel’nik. After World War II, the standard was based on several grammars and a rule-book (Pravopis ruskoho iazika,1971) by Mikola M. Kochish, and most recently on an authoritative grammar for gymnasium-level students (Grammatika ruskoho iazika, 2002) by Iuliian Ramach.

11 The proclamation of a literary standard took place at a formal event in Bratislava that included a scholarly conference. The  entire proceedings were  later published in English and Slovak in Paul Robert Magocsi, ed., A New Slavonic Language Is Born: The Rusyn Literary Language of Slovakia/Zrodil sa nový slovanský jazyk: rusínský spisovný jazyk na Slovensku (New York, 1996).

12 Vasyl’ Jabur and Iurii Pan’ko,  Pravyla rusyns’koho pravopysu (Prešov, 1994); Iurii Pan’ko ed., Orfografichnŷi slovnyk rusyns’koho iazŷka (Prešov, 1994); Iurii Pan’ko, Rusyn’sko-rus’ko-ukraïns’ko-pol’skŷi slovnyk lingvistychnykh terminiv (Prešov, 1994).

13 Vasyl’ Jabur and Anna Plïshkova, Rusyn’skŷi iazŷk u zerkalï novŷkh pravyl pro osnovnŷ i serednï shkolŷ z navchanёm rusyn’skoho iazŷka (Prešov, 2005).

14 Henryk Fontańskii and Mirosława Chomiak,  Gramatŷka lemkivskoho iazŷka (Katowice, 2000); second revised ed. (Warsaw, 2004).

15 Jarosław Horoszczak, Slovnyk lemkivsko-pol’skii, pol’ko-lemkivskii/Słownik  łemkowsko-polski, polsko-łemkowski (Warsaw, 2004). Among the other textbooks are Petro Murianka, A ia znam azbuku: lemkivskii bukvar (Warsaw and Legnica, 2003); Mirosława Chomiak, Lemkivskii iazŷk: osnovnyi kurs (Warsaw and Legnica, 2003); Mirosława Chomiak and Bogdan Matała, Język łemkowski z komputerem/Lemkivskii iazŷk z komputerom (Warsaw and Legnica, 2003).

16 Materyns’kŷi iazŷk: pysemnytsia rusyns’koho iazŷka, published simultaneously in (Mukachevo, 1999) and (Moscow, 1999). Aside  from  the main authors, Kercha and Popovych, the other members of the commission included Mykhailo Almashii and Vasyl’ Molnar.

17 Among these publications are the 7,000 word tri-lingual dictionary compiled by Mykhailo Almashii, Dymytrii Pop, and Dymytrii Sydor, Rusyns’ko-ukraiins’ko-rus’kŷi slovar’ (Uzhhorod, 2002); a primer by Slavko Slobodan [Igor’ Kercha], Betiars’kŷi bukvar (Uzhhorod, 2004); readers compiled by Igor’ Kercha, Uttsiuznyna: chytanka pro nedil’ni shkolŷ (Budapest, 2001), 2nd rev. ed. (Uzhhorod, 2002) and by Mykhayl Almashii, Zhyvoie slovo: chytanka dlia rusyns’koï nedil’noï shkolŷ (Uzhhorod, 2004); a grammar by Mykhayl Almashii and Mykhayl Molnar, Slovo za slovom: praktychna hramatyka rusyns’koho iazŷka dlia nedil’noï narodnoï shkolŷ (Uzhhorod, 2004); and a history by Pavel Robert Magochii, Nasha ottsiuznyna: istoryia karpats’kŷkh rusynüv (Uzhhorod, 2005).

18 Dymytrii Sydor, Hramatyka rusyns’koho iazŷka dlia rusynôv Ukraiynŷ, tsentral’noï Ievropy y Amerykŷ/Grammar of the Rusyn Language for the Rusyns of Ukraine, Central Europe and America (Uzhhorod, 1996-2005).

19 Of particular importance is the work of the Greek Catholic priest in Slovakia, Frantishek Krainiak, who prepared a Rusyn-language catechism in the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, Malŷi grekokatolyts’kŷi katekhizm pro rusyns’kŷ dity (Prešov, 1992); a book of gospel readings, Ievanheliia na nedili i svata tsiloho roku (Medzilaborce, 1999); and a translation of the Gospel of St. John, Ievanheliia od sviatoho Ioana (Medzilaborce, 2003), all of which are authorized for use  in the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov.

20 These were among several placenames which were suggested by Igor’ Kercha for use on maps in the history textbook, Nasha ottsiuznyna (see above note 17); the forms were rejected, however, by the publisher, Valerii Padiak.

21 At the Second Congrees of the Rusyn Language, held in May 1999 in conjunction with the opening of the Division (oddilennia) of Rusyn Language and Culture at the Prešov University,  a session took place to discuss the table of contents and methodological approach for what turned to be volume 14 in the series, Modern History of Slavonic Languages, sponsored by the University of Opole in Poland: Rusyn’skyi iazyk, ed. Paul Robert Magocsi (Opole, 2004). 

22 For references, see above, note 7. It is generally thought that the letter ô was  introduced into the Carpatho-Rusyn alphabet by the Galician-Ukrainian linguist and pedagogue, Ivan Pan’kevych, in his 1922 grammar. This is incorrect, since the ô was used already by Avhustyn Voloshyn in his Rusyn grammar from as early as 1907.

23 See the chapter entitled “Shanuimo literu ґ” (Let us  give honor to the letter g) in Vasyl’ V. Nimchuk, Problemy ukraïns’koho pravopysu XX-pocahtku XXI st. st. (Kiev, 2002), pp. 38-47.

24 A spirited, but ultimately inconclusive, debate on this  issue was conducted on the pagers of the Prešov Region’s Ruysn-language newspaper: Pavel Robert Magochii, “Ne treba balamutyty chytatelia,” Narodnŷ novynkŷ, October 30, 2002, p. 3; Mykhal Zarichniak, “Khto balamutyt’ chytatelia?,” ibid., January 22, 2003, p. 4;  Mykhail Dronov,  “ ‘Rosiiskŷi’ abo ‘rus’kŷi’?,” ibid., March 19, 2003, p. 4; Vasyl’ Iabur, “Ad: P. R. Magochi: Ne treba balamutyty chytatelia,”  ibid., April 2, 2003, p. 4; P. R. Magochii, “Mŷ Rusynŷ, a ne Rusŷ,” ibid., November 17, 2003, p. 2.

Prof. Paul Robert Magocsi, PhD.

The Rusyn language in the light of the first

orthographic changes


On January 27th, 1995 the ceremony of proclaiming the Rusyn language codified in Slovakia took place in Bratislava. The Rusyn language was formed on the basis of a Rusyn dialect. The standards for the Rusyns living in Slovakia were formed and after the codification Rusyn came to be a standardised codified literary language. The following publications were issued: Rusyn Orthography (by Rusinska obroda – Rusyn Revival, Presov; 1994) and Orthographic Dictionary of Rusyn (by Rusinska obroda – Rusyn Revival, Presov; 1994). The purpose of the above-mentioned publications was, by means of writing (graphics) and spelling (orthography), to introduce a systemic description of graphical means, by which the primary speech (i.e. acoustic form of language) is transcribed, which makes its written form. When codifying the Rusyn orthography, we had in mind the contemporary trends of modern linguistics as well as established orthographic principles of other Slavonic languages; especially the phonemic (phonological) principle, according to which an individual grapheme is assigned to each phoneme (or its acoustic realisation). We hope that the Rusyn Orthography issued in 1994 met its goal in forming the principal rules of Rusyn orthography in the field of graphical fixation of oral utterance, although they were surely not faultless and perfect.


It was clear that some of the rules would need changes, further completion, deeper elaboration or quite a different approach to some issues. That is why we asked all readers of various Rusyn texts, those who listen to Rusyn spoken word and all who respect and love the Rusyn language to give us their suggestions, ideas and specifications on the language issues. We were glad to accept them and considered as objectively as possible. We received over 50 such suggestions and we are very grateful for all of them. This shows that the language issues are important to us and that we not only care what we write but also how we write it. We have paid careful attention to the changes to make, as there were a lot of reasons to do so.


Considering the above-mentioned ideas, the language committee of the Department of Rusyn language and culture, Institute of National Minority Studies and Foreign Languages (recently renamed the Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies), University of Presov; decided to put several orthographic changes in practice. The complete list can be found in a lately issued volume entitled “The Rusyn language in the Mirror of New Orthographic Changes” (by Rusyn and Lyudove noviny press, Presov, 2005, accredited by the State Pedagogical Institute in Bratislava and the Slovak Ministry of Eduacation, which also provided a financial contribution). The book is available at the publisher’s for Sk 300.


About 30 changes have been made, which is rather a significant intervention into the existing orthography. Nevertheless, we hope that these changes will be accepted as favourably as the initially issued rules. For that, we would like to thank all the users of new orthographic rules in advance and we look forward to further reflections and suggestions towards improving the orthography of our Rusyn language.

Doc. PhDr. Vasil JABUR, CSc.


Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies,

University of Presov

Every language deserves support


On October 7th – 9th, 2005 an international conference entitled “Minority Languages in Member States of European Union” took place in Samorin (the Dunayska Streda region), the main organiser of which was the Organisation for Minority Languages in Slovakia (established in Samorin in 2004). The conference was supported by the following institutions: the European Organisation for Minority Languages with the residence in Dublin (Ireland, established in 1982), the Office of the Slovak Vice-Premier for the European Issues, Human Rights and Minorities, Forum – the Institute for Minority Research and the Stefan Nemeth-Samorinsky Musical School in Samorin. The objective of the conference was to discuss the present position of the minority languages spoken in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and the European Union. The actual (or intended) participants included representatives of organisations and institutions of 12 officially registered and recognised minorities in Slovakia. The Rusyn minoritiy was at the conference represented by: Aleksander Zozulyak, M. A. (the Rusyn and Lyudove Noviny press; the World Congress of Rusyns), PhDr. Anna Pliskova (Department of Rusyn Language and Culture, Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies, University of Presov), Ing. Jan Lipinsky (Association of Rusyn Intelligensia in Slovakia) and Assistant Professor PhDr. Vasil Choma, CSc. (Society of Rusyn Writers in Slovakia).


The conference was officially opened by the president of Organisation for Minority Languages in Slovakia Laszlo Ollos and the president of the European Federation for Minority Languages from Dublin Neasa Ni Chin. Both of them emphasised that the primary goal of the establishment and activity of the organisation is protection and development of minority languages in Slovakia and in the European Union. On the first day of the conference, language policy in the European Union member countries was discussed and special attention was paid to the Slovak Republic. Jan Figel, a member of the European Committee (in charge of educational, cultural and multilingual issues) opened this section with his speech on the need of the common European language policy; where the model of “1 + 2” in the school system appears to be the optimum solution; i.e. focus on teaching mother tongue and two other languages – the state and a foreign language. The Slovak Vice-Premier for the European Issues, Human Rights and Minorities Pal Csaky proclaimed the ratification of the European Chart of Regional and Minority Languages by the Slovak Republic a positive point. On the other hand, he drew attention to its vices while applying to practice, for as many as eight Slovak laws contradict the chart. He considers the initiative of the minorities as such to use their mother tongue on even a larger scale a very significant effort. Laszlo Nagy, the chairman of the Slovak National Council for Human Rights, Minorities and the Position of Women in Society talked about the topical issue of national minorities in Slovakia. He qualified the revival of the Rusyn nationality and introducing the Rusyn language as a mother tongue into educational system of Slovakia very positively. However, what he considers the most important aspect is that the minorities became a subject rather than an object suffering from national politics, as is the case of the Hungarian minority.


The theme of the second day of the conference concerned the use of minority languages in practice and presentation of educational programmes with focus on foreign languages. For the Rusyn minority, two presentations were particularly interesting: the one given by Assistant Professor PhDr. Anna Butasova, CSc., the head of the State Pedagogical Institute in Bratislava, who talked about teaching mother tongue at schools. She said she considered the academic approach to this issue as well as accenting literature before the language itself rather negative points. Moreover, she declared that mother tongue is disadvantaged due to teaching of foreign languages. Professor PhDr. Stefan Sutay, CSc., the head of the Department of History, Institute of Social Sciences, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Kosice, presented the development of language of Rusyns before and after 1989. He said that, according to the results of Rusyn revitalising process in Slovakia, special support of the Rusyn language is needed from the government, as Rusyns do not have their own country, from which such support could be expected.


Within the last part of the conference, there were two sections, each discussing one of the following issues: (1) position of national minorities in the V4 countries and (2) the legislation dealing with this position and the use of minority languages in V4. The general outcome of this part as well as the conference on the whole was the following statement: On behalf of sustaining minority languages, their use in public and especially in public offices must be allowed. This is crucial from the point of view of increasing prestige of minority languages as well as maximum realisation of civil law of the minority citizens. Although in accordance with Act No. 211/2000 Coll. dealing with free access to information, offices in the southern part of Slovakia provide information in Hungarian; these are of rather poor quality and they use ambiguous terminology. Concerning other minority languages (including Rusyn), the situation is similar or even worse. In spite of the fact that the Rusyn language is in oral communication widely used in those public offices where the number of Rusyn population is high, there are no official written documents in Rusyn (apart from the documentation of national organisations).


We hope that the outcomes of the international conference on the issue of minority languages appealing to protect each minority language will be contributive for minority languages in general as well as the language of Rusyn minority in Slovakia and that further inter-ethnical co-operation will help its preservation and broadening the spheres of its use.


PhDr. Anna Pliškova

Church Slavonic


A liturgical and literary language used by Carpatho-Rusyns and other adherents (mostly East Slavs) of the Byzantine Eastern rite. Church Slavonic was based on the South Slavic dialects of Macedonia familiar to the Byzantine missionaries *Constantine/Cyril and Methodius, who in the ninth century brought Christianity to the Slavs of *Greater Moravia. The earliest form of the written language, designated Old Church Slavonic, is found only in a few inscriptions and manuscripts derived from the southeastern Balkans (*Bulgarian Khanate) and dating from the tenth and early eleventh centuries. These used either the *Glagolitic or *Cyrillic alphabets.

Church Slavonic initially lacked a codified standard and several varieties developed over the large extent of territory where it was used. These varieties are frequently referred to as recensions or variants: the Bulgarian variant, Serbian variant, Russian variant, Ukrainian variant of Church Slavonic, and so forth. The variants were distinguished by the incorporation of vocabulary and grammatical forms from the vernacular speech of the author/copyist of a given manuscript. In the seventeenth century a Church Slavonic standard was established in a grammar (1619) by Meletii Smotryts’kyi; this standard was to influence the form of the language not only among the East Slavs (for whom the grammar was produced) but also among the South Slavs.

The first religious and secular literary works attested among the Carpatho-Rusyns were written in Church Slavonic using the traditional Cyrillic script, or kyrylytsia (see Literature; Literature, Early manuscripts). The Subcarpathian variant of Church Slavonic was also used in the first primers and grammars intended for Carpatho-Rusyns (see Language question). By the eighteenth century the Subcarpathian variant of Church Slavonic was called Slaveno-Rusyn; this language was generally based on the standard set by Smotryts’kyi, with the addition of some grammatical and lexical forms from spoken Carpatho-Rusyn.

With the onset of the national awakening in the mid-nineteenth century Church Slavonic was gradually replaced by either Rusyn vernacular or Russian in the writings of Rusyn authors. The change was only gradual, however. Church Slavonic elements continued to appear in Rusyn texts, giving rise to the term *iazŷchiie to describe the resultant mixed and uncodified literary language.

Church Slavonic is still actively used as a liturgical language in Rusyn churches, in religious publications, and in some cases in sermons. Because it is so closely related to the Eastern rite, which in turn is considered a primary badge of Rusyn self-identification, Church Slavonic and its traditional alphabet (kyrylytsa) have retained important symbolic value for the Rusyn national movement. In the post-1989 national revival, use of Church Slavonic as a liturgical language in Greek Catholic and Orthodox parishes is considered by both secular and religious leaders as essential in maintaining a Rusyn identity.

Bibliography: Riccardo Picchio, “Church Slavonic,” in A. M. Schenker and E. Stankiewicz, eds., The Slavic Literary Languages (New Haven, Conn., 1980), pp. 1-33; Alexander M. Schenker, The Dawn of Slavic (London and New Haven, Conn., 1995); Peter Žeňuch, “The Church Slavonic Language in the East Slovak Cultural Environment,” in Matúš Kučera, ed., Slovaks in the Central Danubian Region in the 6th to 11th Century (Bratislava, 2000), pp. 217-225.

Prof. Paul Robert

Language question


The language question among Carpatho-Rusyns, together with related ethnolinguistic and cultural matters, has a long history. The question has been dealt with at varying times in different ways; nevertheless, an adequate solution remains to be found. It should be clear from the outset that we are not dealing here with the “natural” spoken language (see Language), but rather with the written language of culture, education, etc.

The history of Rusyn literature seems to have begun in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, perhaps even earlier. At this time the first religious texts appeared in *Carpathian Rus’, although they were not written in the region itself (see Literature, Early manuscripts). The genre included prayerbooks, minei (monthly readings), prology (miscellanies and interpretive epistles), and gospels, as well as texts from other religious literature (the Mukachevo and Imstychovo fragments, the *Uzhhorod polustav), all written in the Russian variant of *Church Slavonic. In one of the oldest extant documents written in Carpathian Rus’ itself, from the Rusyn-Romanian border region at the *Hrushevo Monastery and dating from 1404, vernacular Rusyn linguistic elements (ses’, mlyn, ouryk) appear in the text. Such vernacular elements also appear in the sixteenth-century *Tereblia prolog and in a whole range of other religious texts.

Beginning in the early seventeenth century, a portion of the population in Carpathian Rus’ accepted the *Unia/Church Union with Rome, so that by the eighteenth century the Uniate or Greek Catholic Church had become the dominant religion in the region. Aside from texts in Church Slavonic several in Rusyn vernacular are also found in this period: religious-didactic tracts, tales, polemics, and collections of verse. An original work in Carpatho-Rusyn literature was the *Niagovo gospel, or postilla (literally: interpretive gospel). Its extant copies date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, although the paleography seems to be from the sixteenth century. The Niagovo postilla was written “in a language which the people speak so that the faithful poor might understand.” The same spirit infuses the Uhlia poucheniia (interpretive gospel) and the Skotars’ke and other gospel books, whose vocabulary is influenced by Polish. On the other hand, the linguistic peculiarities of the Ladomirov Ievanheliia (Gospel Book) suggest it was written in the Prešov Region (in either Sharysh or Zemplyn county). During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries several sbornyky (didactic miscellanies) containing prose in the vernacular appeared, including the Uhlia miscellany (the so-called Kliuch), the miscellany of S. Teslovych, the historical song “Pîsn’ ob obrazî klokochevskom,” the belletristic work Aleksandriia, the Huklyvyi Chronicle, and others.

Exceedingly important for the further use of the Rusyn vernacular language was the development of official *curia/chancery and other documents in which the spoken language was strongly reflected. Among such documents were those connected to the *urbarial reform of Empress *Maria Theresa during the second half of the eighteenth century. Other genres included the polemical writings by the Orthodox spokesperson Mikhaïl *Orosvygovs’kyi-Andrella and the correspondence of the first native-born Greek Catholic bishop, Mykhaïl Manuïl *Ol’shavs’kyi, both of whom used Rusyn vernacular strongly influenced by Church Slavonic. Especially popular were verses, including those by students, and practical manuals translated from Hungarian into vernacular Rusyn for use in farming (Pomoshchnyk u domovstvî, compiled by Nikolai Teodorovych) and home medical care (Vrach domashnii).

It was also during the eighteenth century that Arsenii *Kotsak completed several versions of his unpublished grammar (“Grammatika russkaia,” 1770s). Despite its title this work was in fact a grammar of the Church Slavonic language (as implied by the author’s subtitle, slavenskii ili russkii/Slavonic or Rusyn) and was closely modelled after the well-known grammar by Meletii Smotryts’kyi. Kotsak did, however, use the Rusyn vernacular language in his grammar, especially in the section on morphology. The Church Slavonic language, with varying degrees of vernacular Rusyn influence, was also used in the first published primers, beginning with the Bukvar iazyka slaven’ska (1699) attributed to Bishop Joseph *De Camelis, followed by Bishop Ivan *Bradach’s primer (1770), whose copies were confiscated and destroyed by order of the church, and by the unsigned Bukvar’ iazyka ruskaho by Ioann *Kutka, which appeared in 1797 and was later reprinted (1799, 1815, 1846).

The nineteenth century ushered in a new period in the evolution of a literary language for Carpathian Rus’. This period has also been called the era of enlightenment for Rusyns, because it was a time when the region produced its own intelligentsia, some of whom established successful careers in scholarship and civic life in the neighboring Austrian province of Galicia as well as in the Russian Empire. At home the Rusyn intelligentsia continued to use the Church Slavonic language; for Greek Catholic clergy educated in Latin, Church Slavonic became a kind of symbolic mark in defense of the Slavic character of their own people. Andrii *Bachyns’kyi introduced the formal study of Church Slavonic in schools during his reign as bishop (1773-1809) of the *Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo. The Church Slavonic language used at the time and referred to as Slaveno-Rusyn commonly employed an increasing number of vernacular elements. In fact, it is possible to speak of a Carpatho-Rusyn variant of Church Slavonic. This was the language used in the writings of Ioanykii *Bazylovych and Ioann Kutka. About the same time, the first bishop (1818-1841) of the newly created *Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov, Hryhorii *Tarkovych, introduced a new style into Carpatho-Rusyn literature. Strongly influenced by the eighteenth-century Russian writers Mikhail Lomonosov and Aleksandr Sumarokov, Tarkovych wrote an ode in Slaveno-Rusyn that included elements from the Rusyn vernacular.

It should be noted that the tendency to favor an antiquated book language for literary communication also worked in favor of Latin, which was actively used by the Rusyn intelligentsia during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For instance, Latin was used in the historical works about Subcarpathian Rus’ by Ioanykii Bazylovych, Mykhaïl *Luchkai, and Ioann *Pastelii, although Pastelii used vernacular Rusyn in his poems. Luchkai’s 1830 Slaveno-Rusyn grammar of Church Slavonic (with Rusyn vernacular elements) was published in Latin, as were some of the philosophical essays by his contemporary, Vasyl’ *Dovhovych. A native of *Maramorosh county, Dovhovych wrote verse in Rusyn vernacular as well as in Latin and Hungarian, although none of these works were published until the second half of the twentieth century. The tendency to write in vernacular Rusyn was not continued by subsequent writers. Hence the author of Rus’ko uhorskaia ïlï madiarska hrammatïka (1833), Ivan *Fogarashii-Berezhanyn, while noting the genetic relationship of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects with the spoken language of neighboring Galicia and other East Slavic dialects in southern Rus’ (Ukraine), wrote in Slaveno-Rusyn, i.e., the Carpatho-Rusyn variant of Church Slavonic.

During the era of the national awakening, which began with the Revolution of 1848 and continued during the second half of the nineteenth century, the language question might have been resolved by adopting one of the following options: (1) adaptation toward and eventual acceptance of the Galician variant of what was to become the Ukrainian literary language; or (2) the creation of a distinct literary language based on local Carpatho-Rusyn dialects. Neither of these options was chosen. Instead, the “national awakener of the Carpatho-Rusyns,” Aleksander *Dukhnovych (in contrast to his Slovak neighbors, who based their literary language on central Slovak dialects and thereby assured its further development), proposed using the Russian literary language. Dukhnovych published a short grammar of the Russian language (Sokrashchennaia grammatika pis’mennago russkago iazyka, 1853), most likely written with the assistance of a fellow Rusyn, Ioann *Rakovs’kyi. The Russophile orientation was also supported by Adol’f *Dobrians’kyi, Kyryl *Sabov (the author of another Russian grammar, 1865, as well as an anthology of Russian literature, 1868), and subsequently by the writers Aleksander *Pavlovych, Ievhenii *Fentsyk, Aleksander *Mytrak, Anatolii *Kralyts’kyi, Ivan *Sil’vai, and Iurii *Stavrovs’kyi-Popradov, among others. The first Rusyn cultural organizations, the *Prešov Literary Society (1850) and the *St. Basil the Great Society (1866), also supported the use of Russian in their publications.

At the same time, Dukhnovych, Pavlovych, and a few other authors were writing in Rusyn vernacular, thereby setting the foundations for an orientation that could have led to the creation of a separate Carpatho-Rusyn literary language. For instance, the popular play by Dukhnovych, Dobrodîtel’ prevŷshaet’ bohatstvo (Virtue is More Important Than Riches, 1850), was written in a language based on the Rusyn dialects of *Zemplyn county, while Pavlovych wrote a series of works in the Rusyn dialect of *Sharysh (*Makovytsia).

Generally, however, these two writers as well as their contemporaries wrote poetry, prose, and essays in a language that was oriented toward literary Russian, albeit with varying degrees of local Rusyn vernacular. The result was an uncodified literary language, which was later referred to as the “traditional Carpatho-Rusyn language” by its supporters and as the *iazŷchiie (macaronic jargon) by its detractors. This language, in its various forms, was used in the first newspapers and journals intended for Rusyns (*Vîstnyk Rusynov, *Svît, *Novyi svît, *Karpat, and the annual almanac *Mîsiatsoslov) as well as in the historical works of Andrii Baludians’kyi and Ivan *Dulishkovych.
The language question during this time was also reflected in the approach adopted by authors in their codification of lexical and grammatical norms. Hence, Aleksander *Mytrak’s large-scale Russian-Hungarian dictionary (1881) was oriented toward the Russian literary language, while Laslov *Chopei’s Rusyn-Hungarian dictionary (1883) and the several textbooks he translated from Hungarian were based on local Rusyn vernacular speech.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the magyarization of Rusyns increased in intensity, and the Hungarian government attempted to replace the traditional *Cyrillic alphabet with a Latin (Roman) alphabet using Hungarian orthography. A proposal to introduce the Latin (Roman) alphabet was issued in 1894; then, in 1916, the popular Rusyn-language newspaper *Nedîlia, published since 1898 in Budapest with support from the Hungarian government, began to appear in the Latin (Roman) alphabet as Negyilya. The Russophile orientation gradually declined, while among younger cultural activists (Avhustyn *Voloshyn, Iurii *Zhatkovych, Hiiador *Stryps’kyi) there arose the idea of writing in a vernacular-based language that was more accessible to the Rusyn populace. It was also during this time that on the northern slopes of the Carpathians a newspaper for Lemko Rusyns began to appear, *Lemko (1911-1913), which was written in the local Rusyn vernacular.

In 1919, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Rusyns living on the southern slopes of the Carpathians (in *Subcarpathian Rus’ and the *Prešov Region) were united with Czechoslovakia, while those on the northern slopes living in the *Lemko Region were incorporated into Poland without any special administrative or cultural rights. The language situation of this period proved to be most complex. The Russophile orientation was once again revived, in large part because of the arrival of émigrés from the Russian Empire and *Russophile activists from Galicia and Bukovina. A *Ukrainophile orientation also emerged, aided in large part by émigrés from the Dnieper Ukraine (Russian Empire) and especially Galicia. Each orientation had its own newspapers, journals, and cultural organizations, the most important of which were the Russophile *Dukhnovych Society and the Ukrainophile *Prosvita Society. Grammars written in the “traditional Carpatho-Rusyn” iazŷchiie, literary Russian, and literary Ukrainian (basically using the Galician variant of that language) appeared. Regardless of orientation, all of these grammars used the old orthography, retaining the iat (ѣ) and, in the case of Russophile publications, the final hard sign/iery (ъ).

Typical of this era was linguistic evolution, as evident in the writings of Avhustyn Voloshyn. In 1901 Voloshyn published what was essentially a Carpatho-Rusyn variant of the Russian literary language (Metodicheskaia grammatika ugro-russkogo literaturnogo iazyka dlia narodnykh shkol). By 1907, however, in a grammar published in Hungarian (Gyakorlati kisorosz/rutén nyelvtan), he was using almost exclusively the vernacular language from the eastern part of Subcarpathian Rus’. Then, in a grammar published in 1926 (Praktychna hramatyka rus’koho iazyka dlia narodnŷkh shkol), he employed the Ukrainian literary language, albeit written in the old etymological script. By contrast, Ivan *Pan’kevych, a postwar émigré from Galicia, used from the beginning the Galician variant of Ukrainian, which he codified in three editions of his Hramatyka rus’koho iazŷka (1922, 1927, 1936).
In response to the Ukrainophile orientation the Russophiles supported the introduction of the Russian language through use of a grammar for “middle-level educational institutions in Subcarpathian Rus’” (Grammatika russkago iazyka dlia srednikh uchebnykh zavedenii, 1924). This textbook, published over the name of the local Rusyn cultural activist Ievhenii *Sabov, was in fact authored by the Russian émigré, Aleksandr Grigor’ev (1874-1945). As early as 1919 the provincial administration in Subcarpathian Rus’, on the recommendation of Czech scholars, decreed what seemed to be a contradictory position regarding the language question. The local authorities rejected any proposals to create a separate Rusyn literary language and, following the recommendation of the Czech academics, considered the speech of the local inhabitants to be “indisputably Little Russian [nářečí maloruské, i.e., Ukrainian] dialects.” But the decree also stated that because Rusyns were allegedly Ukrainians, they were simultaneously “part of the Great Russian people”; hence, the Russian literary language was recommended for use in secondary schools. In practice, however, the local school administration recognized only the Galician variant of Ukrainian (according to the Pan’kevych standard). Not until 1936 was the Russian language (according to the Sabov grammar) recommended for use in schools. The 1936 government decision led to protests on the part of the local Ukrainophile orientation, but it was upheld following the results of a “language plebiscite” held a year later, in which the parents in 75 percent of Subcarpathian schools voted for the Sabov “Russian” grammar (the respondents probably confused russkii/Russian with rus’kyi/Rusyn) instead of the Pan’kevych “Ukrainian” grammar.

The phenomenon of language dualism in Subcarpathian Rus’ was clearly delineated in literary works, which were written either in Ukrainian (Vasyl’ *Grendzha-Dons’kyi, Iulii *Borshosh-Kum”iats’kyi, among others) or in Russian (Andrii *Karabelesh, Mykhaïl *Popovych, among others). By contrast, the third, Rusyn orientation remained weak. It had no grammar to compare with those of Pan’kevych and Sabov, and only a few authors wrote poetry, prose, and plays in a variant of Rusyn vernacular that was clearly neither literary Russian nor Ukrainian.

Throughout the entire Czechoslovak period (1919-1938) the official languages in Subcarpathian Rus’ were Czech and Carpatho-Rusyn (in effect, the iazŷchiie). The latter was created in the 1920s for use in signs on government buildings, documents, and for other public or official functions. In schools Russian, Ukrainian, and the “traditional Carpatho-Rusyn” were used as languages of instruction, depending on the national conviction of individual teachers. During the last months of Czechoslovak rule (October 1938-March 1939), when Subcarpathian Rus’ finally attained autonomy, the pro-Ukrainian government renamed the province *Carpatho-Ukraine and declared Ukrainian its official language.

In the neighboring Prešov Region of Slovakia during the interwar years, the “traditional Carpatho-Rusyn language” was taught in schools using a reader (1920) and primer (1921) by Ioann *Kyzak and a grammar (1920) by Aleksander Sedlak. A Ukrainian-language orientation for all intents and purposes did not exist among the Rusyns of eastern Slovakia at this time. In the Lemko Region ruled by Poland the government allowed instruction during the 1930s in the local Lemko-Rusyn vernacular using textbooks compiled by Metodii *Trokhanovskii (1933, 1934).

After 1939, in connection with annexation of Subcarpathian Rus’ by Hungary, the language situation changed. Aside from Hungarian, the new authorities began to promote the “Uhro-Rusyn language,” that is, the local vernacular. At the same time, the position of the Ukrainian and Russian languages was substantially weakened. It is useful to note that as early as 1907 Hiiador Stryps’kyi had proposed a “third” solution to Subcarpathia’s language question: the creation of a Uhro-Rusyn language, in other words, a distinct Carpatho-Rusyn literary language. Picking up on Stryps’kyi’s earlier proposal, a local Rusyn-born linguist, Ivan *Haraida, was appointed director of a newly created *Subcarpathian Scholarly Society. He proceeded to publish a grammar (Hrammatyka rus’koho iazŷka, 1941), whose purpose was “to establish standard grammatical forms used in the vernacular language so that it will be possible to publish books and newspapers for the people in an easily understandable language.” The author described the language of his grammar as a kind of “compromise on several issues that divide the opposing factions in our language question.” Haraida’s language became the standard for a wide variety of scholarly, literary, and children’s publications that appeared in Subcarpathian Rus’ during World War II. Although discouraged by the Hungarian regime, several authors, including a new generation of gymnasium students, continued to publish their literary works in Russian. Grammars by Georgii *Gerovskii for elementary schools (1939) and by Iulii *Maryna for gymnasia (1940) favored the Russophile orientation. It was Haraida’s version of literary Rusyn, however, that was most widely used in Subcarpathia’s school system.

After World War II, when Subcarpathian Rus’ was annexed to the Soviet Union as the Transcarpathian oblast of the Soviet Ukraine (1945), the Rusyn population was declared to be Ukrainian and the Ukrainian literary language, according to the Soviet norm, was introduced into schools and public life. In the neighboring Prešov Region, which remained within postwar Czechoslovakia, the Russian language according to the Soviet norm was initially used in schools, newspapers, and theatrical performances. In 1952, when the Prešov Region’s Rusyn population was declared by the Czechoslovak Communist government to be Ukrainian, the Russian language was replaced by Ukrainian as the language of culture and education. Owing to significant differences between local Rusyn dialects of the Prešov Region and literary Ukrainian (not to mention the involuntary administrative manner in which the population’s national orientation and language were changed), use of the new linguistic medium in the educational system and cultural organizations was fraught with difficulties. Somewhat later (1969), in an attempt to smooth the transition to Ukrainian, Ivan *Matsyns’kyi proposed a series of about 60 Rusyn “dialectal” elements which might be used in Ukrainian publications. The basic problem remained unresolved, however. The resultant language dualism in the Prešov Region, in which the Ukrainian literary language was being used alongside local Rusyn dialects, created a situation in which it was not uncommon in the 1950s and 1960s for a significant portion of the Rusyn population to reject Ukrainian and adopt for school instruction and general use literary Slovak (and a Slovak national identity).

The late 1980s and early 1990s marked a new phase in the language question in Subcarpathian Rus’/Transcarpathia, the Prešov Region, the Lemko Region (where a few thousand Lemko Rusyns returned following their deportation in 1945-1947), and in the scattered Rusyn communities in northeastern Hungary. This period witnessed a national revival, which included a call for a return to use of the ethnonym *Rusyn and for the creation of a distinct literary language. As a result, the language question once again became a controversial issue.

The so-called third way, that is, the creation of a Rusyn literary language on the basis of spoken dialects—an orientation that goes back to the beginning of the twentieth century—has since 1989 been steadily realized in the new political conditions of post-Communist Europe. In Transcarpathia, Rusyn-oriented cultural and civic organizations (*Society of Carpatho-Rusyns, the renewed Dukhnovych Society) have been established and Rusyn-language newspapers (*Podkarpats’ka Rus’) and a few almanacs/*kalendary have appeared. In Slovakia, the *Rusyn Renaissance Society publishes the weekly newspaper *Narodnŷ novynkŷ, the magazine *Rusyn, and a wide variety of literary, historical, and other publications. In Poland, the *Lemko Society produces the magazine *Besida, annual almanacs, and books. In Hungary, the *Organization of Rusyns published the magazine *Rusynskŷi zhŷvot in Rusyn. The ministeries of education in Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary have also adopted formal guidelines that allow for the teaching of Rusyn in elementary schools since the late 1990s. This activity has provoked a harsh negative reaction from that part of the intelligentsia (and in the case of Ukraine the government as well), which considers Rusyns to be a branch of Ukrainians.

Despite opposition and confrontation, the Rusyn movements in these various countries have achieved the first steps in codifying their literary language. In the Prešov Region a rule-book (1994), an orthographic dictionary (1994), a multi-language dictionary of linguistic terminology (1994)—all prepared by Vasyl’ *Iabur, Iurii *Pan’ko, or both—and a series of textbooks by Ian *Hryb have appeared. There was a brief discussion in the press about the possibility of using the Latin (Roman) instead of Cyrillic alphabet for Rusyn publications, but this idea was dropped. In 1995 an official ceremony took place in Bratislava announcing the codification of a Rusyn literary language in Slovakia on the basis of Zemplyn Rusyn dialects in both their western and eastern variants. In Ukraine’s Transcarpathia/Subcarpathian Rus’, the codified form as outlined in the grammar Materyns’kŷi iazŷk (1999) is based on the Southern Maramorosh dialects, balanced with elements from the Eastern Zemplyn, Uzh, Bereg, and Northern Maramorosh dialects (according to the classification of Gerovskii). In Poland, a grammar of literary Lemko was published by Henryk *Fontański and Myroslava *Khomiak, Gramatyka lemkivskoho iazŷka (2000). The Rusyns of Hungary do not yet have their own codified literary form, although Rusyn is taught in a few elementary schools. The initiators of these various codifications expressed at the first (1992) and second (1999) “congresses” of the Rusyn language the hope that after the above-mentioned variants are codified, used in practice, and gradually stabilized, steps can then be taken toward the creation of a single Carpatho-Rusyn literary standard.

As for the Rusyns living in Serbia (Vojvodina) and Croatia (eastern Slavonia), their literary language, known as Vojvodinian-Srem Rusyn, or South Slav Rusyn, continued to evolve in an independent manner. It had been codified as early as 1923 in the grammar of Havriïl *Kostel’nik and was subsequently modified in the rule-book (1971) and grammar (1974) of Mikola *Kochish. The norms of the Vojvodinian-Srem Rusyn language are stable and have been tested through wide-ranging functional use over a long period of time in education, the press, literary and scholarly publications, administration and government, and in radio and television.

The Carpatho-Rusyn literary language in the United States and Canada has traditionally appeared in several different variants. These reflect the specific spoken language that immigrants brought with them from the “old country” beginning in the 1880s. Until the 1950s, newspapers (such as the weekly *Amerikansky russky viestnik and daily *Den’), almanacs, and books appeared in some form of language that was understood by Rusyn immigrants. Some authors/editors used their native dialect; thus the newspaper *Karpatska Rus’ appeared in Lemko, the writings of Emilij *Kubek in the Sharysh Rusyn dialect. Other author/editors, such as Joseph *Hanulia or Michael *Roman, tried to write in Russian. Influenced by the English-language environment in which they were produced, many Rusyn-American publications gradually adopted the Latin (Roman) alphabet. By the end of the twentieth century the language question in North America had become moot, since virtually all publications intended for Rusyn immigrants and their descendants appeared in English.

Bibliography: Evmenii Sabov, “Ocherk literaturnoi dieiatel’nosti i obrazovaniia ugro-russkikh,” in idem, ed., Khristomatiia tserkovno-slavianskikh i ugro-russkikh literaturnykh pamiatnikov (Uzhhorod, 1893), pp. 183-210; Hiiador Stryps’kyi, “Z starshoï pys’mennosty Uhors’koï Rusy,” Zapysky Naukovoho tovarystva im. Shevchenka, CXVII-CXVIII (L’viv, 1901), pp. 179-195; Avhustyn Voloshyn, O pys’mennom iazŷtsî podkarpatskykh rusynov (Uzhhorod, 1921); Igor Iv. Gusnai, Iazykovyi vopros v Podkarpatskoi Rusi (Prešov, 1921); Ivan Pankevič, “Jazyková otázka v Podkarpatské Rusi,” in Josef Chmelář et al., Podkarpatská Rus (Prague, 1923), pp. 130-150; Evmenii I. Sabov, Russkii literaturnyi iazyk Podkarpatskoi Rusi i novaia grammatika russkago iazyka dlia srednikh uchebnykh zavedenii (Uzhhorod, 1925); N. Zorskii, Spor o iazykie v Podkarpatskoi Rusi i Cheshskaia akademiia nauk (Uzhhorod, 1926); Iuliian Revai, “Rus’kî hramatyky i slovarî na Pôdkarpatiu,” Uchytel’, X (Uzhhorod, 1929), pp. 2-12, 103-113, 151-168, 239-242; Konstantin Stripskii, “Iazyk literaturnoi traditsii Podkarpatskoi Rusi,” Karpatskii sviet, III, 9-10 (Uzhhorod, 1930), pp. 1083-1093; Vladimir A. Frantsev, “Iz istorii bor’by za russkii literaturnyi iazyk v Podkarpatskoi Rusi v polovinie XIX st.,” in Karpatorusskii sbornik (Uzhhorod, 1930), pp. 1-49 and separately (Prague, 1931); Georgij Gerovskij, “Literární jazyk Podkarpatské Rusi,” in Československá vlastivěda, Vol. III: Jazyk (Prague, 1934), pp. 480-517—Russian ed.: Iazyk Podkarpatskoi Rusi (Moscow, 1995); Za ridne slovo: polemika z rusofilamy (Mukachevo, 1937; repr. 1990); Antonín Hartl, “K jazykovým sporům na Podkarpatské Rusi,” Slovo a slovesnost, IV (Prague, 1938), pp. 160-173; František Tichý, Vývoj současného spisovného jazyka na Podkarpatské Rusi (Prague, 1938); Aleksander Bonkalo, “Rus’kyi lyteraturnŷi iazŷk,” Zoria/Hajnal, I, 1-2 (Uzhhorod, 1941), pp. 54-71; G.I. Gerovskii and V. Krainianitsa, eds., Razbor grammatiki ugro-russkogo iazyka (Uzhhorod, 1941); Ivan Pan’kevych, “Zakarpats’kyi dialektnyi variant ukraïns’koï literaturnoï movy XVII-XVIII vv.,” Slavia, XXVII, 2 (Prague, 1958), pp. 171-181; Mykola Shtets’, Literaturna mova ukraïntsiv Zakarpattia i Skhidnoï Slovachchyny (Bratislava, 1969); Charles E. Bidwell, The Language of Carpatho-Ruthenian Publications in America (Pittsburgh, 1971); Aleksandr D. Dulichenko, Slavianskie literaturnye mikroiazyki (Tallin, 1981); Paul R. Magocsi, “The Language Question Among the Subcarpathian Rusyns,” in Riccardo Picchio and Harvey Goldblatt, eds., Aspects of the Slavic Language Question, Vol. II: East Slavic (New Haven, 1984), pp. 65-86—Vojvodinian Rusyn ed.: Pavlo Magochi, “Pitanie iazika medzi podkarpatskima Rusinami,” Tvorchosts, X (Novi Sad, 1984), pp. 6-22; Mikuláš Štec, K otázke ‘rusínskeho’ spisovného jazyka (Prešov, 1991); Serhii Pan’ko, “Zhurnal ‘Rusyn’ i pytannia rusyns’koï literaturnoï movy,” Acta Academiae Paedagogicae Nyíregyháziensis, XIII/C (Nyíregyháza, 1992), pp. 257-266; B.K. Halas, ed., Ukraïns’ka mova na Zakarpatti u mynulomu i s’ohodni (Uzhhorod, 1993); István Udvari, Ruszin (kárpátukrán) hivatalos irásbeliség a XVII századi Magyarországon (Budapest, 1995); Mykola Shtets’, Ukraïns’ka mova v Slovachchyni: sotsiolinhvistychne ta interlinhvistychne doslidzhennia (Bratislava and Prešov, 1996); Aleksandr D. Dulichenko, “Predistoriia literaturnogo iazyka rusin Iugoslavii,” in Rusnatsi-Rusini, 1745-1995 (Belgrade and Novi Sad, 1996), pp. 21-40; Paul Robert Magocsi, ed., A New Slavic Language is Born: The Rusyn Literary Language of Slovakia/Zrodil sa nový slovanský jazyk: Rusínsky spisovný jazyk na Slovensku (New York, 1996); Vasil Jabur, “Das Rusinische in der Slowakei: zu Stand und Entwicklungsperspektiwen nach der Kodifikation,” in Baldur Panzer, ed., Die sprachliche Situation in der Slavia zehn Jahre nach der Wende (Frankfurt/Main, 2000), pp. 117-132.

Aleksandr D. Dulichenko
Prof. Paul Robert Magocsi, PhD.

Language of Carpatho-Rusyn


The language territory where Carpatho-Rusyn dialects are spoken coincides with the historical territory of *Carpathian Rus’, which in terms of present-day boundaries is located within southeastern Poland (the *Lemko Region), northeastern Slovakia (the *Prešov Region), most of the *Transcarpathian oblast of Ukraine (*Subcarpathian Rus’), and a small corner of north-central Romania (the *Maramureş Region). Rusyn is also spoken in a few scattered communities in northeastern Hungary and among emigrants from Carpathian Rus’ who settled in the *Vojvodina and Srem regions of present-day Yugoslavia and far eastern Croatia and in the United States and Canada. The language of these “immigrant” communities is described in separate subsections at the end of this entry.

The Rusyn language area of Carpathian Rus’ is characterized by dialectal differentiation. This owes in part to the fact that Rusyns never comprised the dominant ethnolinguistic element within a single or united political-administrative unit. Dialectal differentiation has also been the result of three additional factors: the internal migration of Rusyns within Carpathian Rus’; the scattered nature of settlements among territories that connect them with West Slavic (Polish and Slovak) and non-Slavic (Magyar and Romanian) populations; and limited communication or even isolation among Rusyns because of the largely hilly and mountainous terrain of the lands they inhabit.

Classification of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects

Initial attempts to describe and classify Rusyn dialects of the Carpathian region belong to the nineteenth century and are found in the writings of Mykhaïl *Luchkai, Iakiv *Holovats’kyi, Ievhenii *Sabov, and Volodymyr *Hnatiuk, among others. Systematic research began only toward the end of that century, when the linguistic-geographical method began to be applied in linguistics. This method made it possible to determine the center and periphery of defined dialectal units, the borders between individual dialects, and interference phenomena. In this connection the work of the Norwegian Slavist Olaf *Broch and the Galician-Ukrainian scholar Ivan *Verkhrats’kyi should be mentioned. Contemporary dialectology, for instance, accepts Verkhrats’kyi’s classification of Rusyn dialects in the Carpathian region according to those with a mobile stress and those with a fixed stress.

Research on Carpatho-Rusyn dialects intensified during the first half of the twentieth century. Dialectologists focussed not only on the description of linguistic structure, however, but also on the place of Carpathian dialects within the family of East Slavic languages, on their connection with other, mainly neighboring dialects and languages, and finally on the reciprocal ties among them. Most researchers placed Carpathian dialects into the southwest Ukrainian language group, together with dialects of Galicia, Bukovina, and other neighboring regions. But Nikolai Durnovo supported the position of the Moscow dialectological commission (1915), which, while emphasizing their affinity with west Ukrainian dialects, regarded them as a separate dialectal group. Georgii *Gerovskii, on the other hand, attempted to classify Carpathian dialects with Great Russian dialects on the basis of the presence of the archaic vowel ы and other Old Russian and Old Ukrainian archaisms. He divided the entire Rusyn speech area into eight basic dialect groups (Southern Maramorosh, Northern Maramorosh, Bereg, Uzh, Eastern Zemplyn, Western Zemplyn, Sharysh, and Spish). He also spoke of a few transitional dialects and the Verkhovyna (Boiko) dialects, which he considered to be of “foreign (Galician) origin.”

Ivan *Pan’kevych’s tripartite classification has long been generally accepted. In his well-known study, Ukraïns’ki hovory Pidkarpats’koï Rusy i sumezhnykh oblastei (1938), Pan’kevych divided Carpathian dialects south of the mountains into three groups: *Lemko (from the Tatra mountains to the Laborec River); *Boiko (from the Laborec to the Teresva River); and *Hutsul (east of the Teresva). This classification was eventually modified by other scholars, who demonstrated that the Boiko group actually comprised only a narrow belt of dialects in the Verkhovyna along the crest of the Carpathians. Most of the dialects of Subcarpathian Rus’ were therefore placed into a separate group called Central Transcarpathian, or simply Transcarpathian (zakarpats’ki) dialects. These dialects will be referred to here as Subcarpathian dialects. They stretch from the Shopurka and Teresva rivers in the east to the Uzh River in the west. From there to the Laborec lies a transitional belt of dialects of the Subcarpathian and Lemko type; from the Laborec westward stretches the region of Lemko dialects.

Hutsul dialects, which were formed as a result of colonization along the southern slopes of the mountains in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, are excluded by most researchers from the Carpathian dialects and placed instead in the so-called Hutsul-Pokuttia group. Although differentiated by a great number of phenomena not found in other Carpathian dialects, the Hutsul dialects are, because of their geographical location, often included in discussion of the larger body of Carpathian dialects. Fedir Zhylko, in his monograph Hovory ukraïns’koï movy (1958), divided Carpathian dialects into Boiko, Transcarpathian (i.e., Subcarpathian), and Lemko groups. But unlike Pan’kevych, Zhylko did not place Boiko and Transcarpathian (Subcarpathian) dialects into one group, since he recognized the significant differences between them.

From the second half of the twentieth century, intensive research on Carpathian dialects increasingly employed methods of recording individual dialectal phenomena for linguistic atlases. Such activity led to a highly detailed classification. This is particularly true of the study of Carpathian dialects in the territory of Ukraine and Slovakia. For instance, the data collected by Iosyp *Dzendzelivs’kyi for a three-volume atlas (1958, 1960, 1993) resulted in a detailed description and classification of dialects of the Transcarpathian region (Subcarpathian Rus’) of Ukraine mainly on the basis of lexicon. The work of Zuzanna *Hanudel’ (1981-1989, 1993) has similarly made possible a detailed classification of Rusyn dialects in the Prešov Region of eastern Slovakia.

The difficulty in classifying Carpatho-Rusyn dialects stems largely from the fact that individual dialect territories experience an overlapping of numerous isoglosses. In other words, certain linguistic features typical of one area encroach into other areas; determining where to draw a boundary between these territories in the process of defining and classifying the dialects thus becomes difficult. Another difficulty in classification is related to the fact that the dialects have in the past and continue to be influenced by numerous sociolinguistic or extralinguistic factors from the larger world in which Rusyns live, whether in Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the United States, or Canada. When attempting a synchronic description of the language system of dialects and in classifying them, researchers must consider the larger linguistic and cultural worlds in which dialects function. The structure and function of the dialects must be described in connection with the languages with which they are in contact.

A number of linguistic factors suggest it may be preferable to divide Carpatho-Rusyn dialects into two basic groups, which will be referred to here as Western, or Lemko Rusyn dialects, and Eastern, or Subcarpathian Rusyn dialects. These two groups are defined by specific isoglosses and dialectal phenomena as well as extralinguistic and sociolinguistic elements distinguishing one group from the other. The Western Rusyn group is composed of northern and southern Lemko dialects, with their several West Slavic elements (especially eastern Slovak and Polish). The Eastern Rusyn group is composed of the Subcarpathian and Boiko dialects, the latter more or less neighboring on Ukrainian. Both groups consist of smaller dialectal subgroups. The main isogloss between the Western and Eastern groups is defined by the placement of the stress. While in Lemko dialects the stress is constant, fixed on the penultimate syllable of the word, as in Polish or eastern Slovak, the stress in the Eastern group is free and movable, as in Ukrainian. Other phenomena (discussed below) likewise support the division of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects into these two large groups.

The border between the groups corresponds approximately to the Laborec and Solinka rivers. Between the Laborec and Cirocha on the southern slopes of the Carpathians and the Solinka and Osława rivers on the northern slopes lies a traditional belt of dialects, on one side of which are phenomena typical of Lemko dialects and on the other side features characteristic of dialects along the Uzh River.

Along the southern slopes of the Carpathians in Slovakia, Rusyn dialects widen out from the Laborec River westward roughly along an axis created by the towns Snina, Medzilaborce, Svidník, Bardejov, and Stará L’ubovňa as far as the Poprad River. The Lemko dialects continue into Poland on the northern slopes of the Carpathians, along the border with Slovakia from the river Solinka westward as far as the Poprad and Dunajec rivers. This ethnolinguistic territory was significantly disrupted with the deportation of Lemko Rusyns from the northern slopes of the Carpathians immediately after World War II.

The Eastern or Subcarpathian Rusyn dialects generally begin along the Uzh River, since between the Laborec and Uzh there is belt of transitional dialects of the Middle Carpathian-Lemko type. From the linguistic point of view, the territory of Ukraine’s Transcarpathian oblast (Subcarpathian Rus’), on which are situated the Middle Carpathian dialects, is the defining center of Rusyn linguistic territory. According to Dzendzelivs’kyi the Middle Carpathian dialects can be divided into four subgroups: Maramureş dialects (found between the Rika and Shopurka rivers); Borzhava dialects (found between the Rika and Larorytsia rivers); Verkhovyna dialects (found in the southeastern part of the Velykyi Bereznyi and Volovets’ districts and in the southwestern part of the Mizhhiria district), which are linked with neighboring Boiko dialects north of the Carpathians and with Lemko dialects to the west; and Uzh dialects (found between the Latorytsia and Uzh Rivers), in which Lemko and Boiko elements are present.

In analyzing Rusyn dialects it is particularly important to remember their location, specifically, that the majority of Western, or Lemko, dialects are situated in the territory of Slovakia and Poland while the majority of Eastern or Subcarpathian dialects are found within the territory of Ukraine’s Transcarpathian oblast.

Major markers of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects

Most research on Carpatho-Rusyn dialects has emphasized their genetic origins in East Slavic and specifically a Ukrainian language base. Among the linguistic features of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects which indicate their East Slavic connection is the pleophony or polnoglasie, which is apparent in a shift from the Proto-Slavic groups *tort, *tolt, *tert, *telt, to torot, tolot, teret, telet; for example, in words such as korova, holova, bereh, čelenkŷ. Also significant is a shift from the Proto-Slavic groups *dj, *tj, *kt’ to č, dž, or ž, as in medža, chodžu, svička, nič, peči or meža, chožu, syžu (in former *Maramorosh, *Uzh, and *Bereg counties, and also east of the Latorytsia River).

Perhaps the phoneme most characteristic of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects is the back vowel ы (in Latin transliteration designated as ŷ), which originates from various Proto-Slavic vowels and occurs in different positions: as a reflex of the Proto-Slavic *y, such as mŷ, vŷ, sŷn; as a reflex of the Proto-Slavic *ъ and *ь in the groups *ъjь and *ьjь, such as in dobrŷj, velykŷj, starŷj; as the reflex of *ъ in the prefixes *vъ-, *zъ-, *obъ-, *odъ-, such as in vŷšol, zŷšol, obŷšol, odŷšol; as a reflex of *ъ and *ь in the groups *trъt, *tlъt, *trьt, *tlьt; *tъrt, *tъtl, *tьrt, *tьlt, such as in drŷva, slŷza, blŷcha, chŷrbet, okŷršŷna; as a successor to the Proto-Slavic *y in velars, such as in rukŷ, nohŷ, chŷža; and as a reflex of i after š and ž, such as in žŷty, šŷty, šŷrokŷj.

Further common features include mutations for the Proto-Slavic nasals *ę>’a, ą>u, as in des’at’, š’atŷj, zub, budut’. Exceptions in some dialects occur in the mutation for ę, for instance, in piet’, and mn’eso in the Hutsul dialects; meso in the Lemko dialects, and certain others.
Among the morphological features which link Carpatho-Rusyn dialects with East Slavic languages are the ending -u in first person singular present tense verbs nesu, stoju, pyšu (but čitam, spivam, hram—more about this below); the ending -t’ in third person plural present tense verbs nesut’/nesut, pyšut’/pyšut, stojat’/stojat; the ending of present active verbal adjectives in -čyj/-čij, -ča/-čoje, as in spivajučij ftach, chraml’učyj zajac’, nechot’ača baba, kŷpjača voda, nevyd’ače d’ivča, as well as the ending of present active verbal adverbs in -čy/-či, as in chodyt plačuči, ide spivajuči, bih revučy; and the unification of case endings of nouns of all three genders in the dative, locative, and instrumental plurals, as in vovkam, vovkach, vovkamy; d’ivkam, d’ivkach, d’ivkamy; slovam, slovach, slovamy, and others.

Carpatho-Rusyn dialects have preserved a pan-Slavic and East Slavic lexical inheritance, including items characteristic of Ukrainian. But they have also absorbed a number of items from Slovak and Polish, as well as Hungarian, German, and Romanian, as a result of lengthy contact with these non-East Slavic and non-Slavic languages and cultures. Southern Lemko Rusyn dialects in the Prešov Region illustrate precisely this situation since they share with eastern Slovak or Slovak dialects in general nomenclature for things and phenomena which are well known or widespread in the Slavic world in historically recent times. The oldest Rusyn vocabulary from a Proto-Slavic base, however, is identical with Ukrainian, that is, with East Slavic lexicon.

One of the most typical syntactical properties of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects is the absence of the pronoun subject, including those instances when the verbal predicate is in the past tense: Robyl jem tam calŷj den’ (Ukrainian: Ja tam pracjuvav cilyj den’). Among other common syntactical features is the expression of possession by means of conjugated forms of the verb maty; Mam korovu; Mam dobru ženu (Ukrainian: U mene korova; U mene dobra žinka), as well as the use of constructions such as Bolyt’ n’a holova; Fkral mu kon’a (litarary Ukrainian: U mene bolyt’ holova; Vin u n’oho vkrav kon’a).

Another group of linguistic phenomena characteristic of all Carpatho-Rusyn dialects consists of certain elements of linguistic structure which within the East Slavic language family occur only in Ukrainian. These elements include: (1) the replacement of the Proto-Slavic o and e in new closed syllables most often with i, as in kin’, sil’, viz (other mutations, however, are known: u [iu], ü, ы, y, as in kun’, kiun’, kün’, spoza hŷr, and vezu—viuz, vüz, viz); (2) the reflex i for the Proto-Slavic ě (jat’), as in s’ino, l’ito; (3) the middle vowel y for the originally Proto-Slavic i, as in myska, vyty, robyty, prynesty.

To these phenomena may also be added a combination of hard (depalatalized) syllables de, te, ne, le, and soft (palatalized) syllables d’i, t’i, n’i, l’i (de, tebe, ned’il’a, let’ity, n’igda, pot’im, l’ito). These features have persisted in the Rusyn language in the Prešov Region in spite of centuries of isolation from Ukrainian and in spite of long-term contact with Slovak dialects and the Slovak literary language. This can be regarded as further proof of the well-known linguistic fact that a language’s most rigid characteristics are its phonological features, which are immutable and resist the influence of neighboring languages.

Western (Lemko) Rusyn dialects

The most characteristic features of Western or Lemko dialects are listed below:

(1) There is a fixed stress on the penultimate syllable of a word.
(2) Third person singular and plural present tense verb endings have a hard -t: chodyt, robyt, sydyt/chod’at, robjat, syd’at (in the Eastern group of dialects: chodyt’, robyt’, syd’at’).
(3) The ending -l is found in the masculine third person singular past tense verb: chodyl, robyl, spal (in the Eastern group the ending -v predominates: chodyv, robyv, spav).
(4) Verbs with the suffix -uva in the infinitive (kupuvaty, chosnuvaty) have forms of the suffix -iju- in their conjugation: kupiju, kupijuš, kupije, kupijut (in the Eastern group are forms with the suffix -uju-: kupuju, kupuješ).
(5) The nominative plural adjective has the ending -ŷ, as in starŷ babŷ, velykŷ lukŷ.
(6) The ending -om is found in instrumental singular feminine nouns, adjectives, and pronouns (from the Ondava River westward to the Rusyn ethnographic border just beyond the Poprad River): s tom dobrom susidom (along the Laborec River and further to the east this ending is -oû, as in s toû dobroû susidoû).
(7) The same forms are used for the locative and instrumental singular masculine and neuter adjectives and pronouns: o tŷm dobrŷm chlopovy/d’ivčatu and s tŷm dobrŷm chlopom/d’ivčatom.
(8) Dual forms of instrumental plural adjectives and pronouns are used in -ŷma: s tŷma dobrŷma chlopamy, babamy.
(9) The genitive singular feminine adjective has the form -oj: staroj babŷ, šumnoj d’ivkŷ (the Eastern group has non-contracted forms of the type staroji).
(10) The first person singular present tense of the verb uses the endings -u and -m. The ending -u in the first person is used in these instances:
a. after a present tense stem ending in a consonant in which there is no contraction: yty—ydu, nesty—nesu, vesty—vedu, vezty—vedu. Here, Rusyn dialects conform to literary Ukrainian: idu, nesu, vedu. This applies also to verbs with an infinitive stem ending in -y, hence without the intervocalic j: nosyty—nos’u, robyty—robju/robl’u, kosyty—kos’u;
b. after non-contracted verb stems with the groups -oja, -ija: stojaty—stoju, bojaty s’a—boju s’a, smijaty s’a—smiju s’a;
c. when the infinitive stem has the suffix -uva-/-ova-, which in the conjugation changes to -uj-: kupuvaty/kupovaty—kupuju/kupiju, študuvaty—študuju/štud’iju, holoduvaty—holoduju/holod’iju.
The ending -m, on the other hand, is used in the first person singular in those instances where the verbal stem ends in -a, and in which a contraction occurs in the group -aju-, -aje-: čitaty—čitam, čitaš, čitat; čitame, čitate; padaty—padam; sluchaty—slucham. The contraction in this group is typical for West and South Slavic languages. In contrast, literary Ukrainian and the other East Slavic languages have preserved the group -aje-: čytaju, padaju, sluchaju.
(11) The use of the ending -u and -m in the first person singular corresponds with the use of two parallel endings in the third person singular; these are -t’/-t and a zero ending:
a. the ending -t’/-t is used after contracted verb stems or after non-contracted verb stems if they do not have a group containing the intervocalic j: čitaty—čitat, padaty—padat, sluchaty—sluchat; syd’ity—sydyt’/sydyt, robyty—robyt’/robyt (Ukrainian: čytaty—čytaju, čytaje; padaty—padaju, padaje; sluchaty—sluchaje, sluchaje, because the contraction of the group -aje- does not occur, but sydity—sydyt’, robyty—robyt’, because the verb stems do not contain a group with the intervocalic j; the ending -t’/-t is also used after non-contracted verb stems with the groups -oja: stojaty—stojit’/stojit, bojaty s’a—bojit’ s’a/bojit s’a (cf. Ukrainian: stojit’, bojit’sja);
b. the zero ending is used when the stem ends in -e: nese, vede, plače. Compare the first person plural: nes-e-me, ved-e-me. The same ending is used in this instance in Ukrainian, as in nese, vede, plače.
(12) There are two analytic forms of imperfective future verbs:
a. a conjugated form of the auxiliary verb bŷty plus the infinitive of the main verb: budu chodyty, budu robyty, budu spaty (this form is characteristic largely of the dialects in the Laborec region);
b. a conjugated form of the auxiliary verb bŷty plus the l-participle: budu robyl, budu chodyl, budu spal (mainly west of the Laborec River).
(13) The epenthetical l is absent after labials: robju, spju, kupju (but zeml’a).
(14) The original i disappears in the imperative form: chod’, yd’/id’, rob, voz’.
(15) There is a second palatalization in nominative plural masculine nouns whose stems end in k, g, h, ch, and also other masculine nouns (proper nouns) from the original o-stem: borsug—borsudzy, vovcy, volosy, chrobacy, cerkivnycy, Rusnacy.
(16) The short (enclitic) form of the personal pronouns mi, t’i, si, mu, ji (as in daj mi, povidž ji, kupju t’i); n’a, t’a, sa/s’a, ho, ju/jej (as in vydyt n’a, čuje t’a, sluchat ho, bojit sa jej) is used. The enclitic in the dative for the pronoun ja is only in one form, mi (the long form as in the Ukrainian meni does not occur here), as in pryšol gu mi.
(17) The following pattern is found for numerical morphology: dvomy/dvome, tr’omy/tr’ome, štir’me/štirme, pjat’me, šest’me, devjat’me, des’at’me, used with masculine animate nouns: dvomy chlopy, tr’omy princove, pjat’me šandare. Numbers from five up, however, are also used in their basic form—that is, pjat’, šist’, devjat—with nouns in the genetive plural: pjat’ chlopiv.
Some researchers also include among the characteristic features of Western (Lemko) Rusyn dialects contracted forms of neuter adjectives, such as zelene lyst’a, which differs from the Eastern group with its non-contracted groups -oj, -oje, -oji. Contracted forms, however, are typical not only of Lemko dialects but also appear in the Eastern, Subcarpathian group, especially east of the Rika River and in the majority of Ukrainian dialects on Ukrainian territory, as well as in literary Ukrainian. Likewise, the suffix -me in the first person plural of present tense verbs (chodyme, robyme) appears in Eastern (Boiko, Middle Carpathian, Hutsul) Rusyn dialects, as well as in Western (Lemko) dialects.
Other features specific to Western (Lemko) Rusyn dialects include, for example, the palatal -t’ before i in infinitive endings (chodyt’i, robyt’i, spat’i); palatalization of the sibilants s and z before i originating from ě or before a<ę (š’ino, ž’il’a, boju š’a, š’atŷj); and depalatalization of soft dentals t,d, and n in such instances as pjat, ked, den. These phenomena are not characteristic of the entire Lemko region.
The lexicon of Western Rusyn dialects is perhaps most aptly represented in the speech of Rusyns in the Prešov Region. This lexicon is distinguished largely by the following characteristic features:
(1) Many words are shared with dialects belonging to the northeast Slovak dialectal region. This includes vocabulary from the Proto-Slavic lexical base; for instance, the names of cereal grains and other terms from the botanical world, the names of certain animals, and terms for various natural phenomena. The northeast Slovak žito is in Rusyn žŷto as opposed to southwest Slovak raž; other comparative examples of northeast Slovak/Rusyn/southwest Slovak include: sosna/sosna/borovica; pul’ka/pul’ka/moriak; borsuk/borsuk/jazvec; zachodit’/zachodyty/zapadat’; and zimná (voda)/zymna/studená.
(2) Words from the fields of economics, culture, technology, politics, and many other spheres of social life have penetrated into Rusyn from Slovak. All such lexical items, however, take on phonetic and morphological features of Rusyn dialects: Slovak vlak, Rusyn vlak, in contrast to Ukrainian pojizd. Likewise, all terms for specific types of trains are also borrowed from Slovak: in Slovak osobný vlak, nákladný vlak, rýchlik; in Rusyn osobnŷj vlak, nakladnŷj vlak, and richlyk. The equivalent terms in Ukrainian are pasažyrs’kyj, tovarnyj/vantažnyj, švydkyj/kurjerskyj pojizd.
The borrowing and adaptation of specific Slovak words in Rusyn is closely related to the analogous process of the borrowing and adaptation of entire constructions containing certain given words. The Slovak construction nastúpit’ do vlaku is in Rusyn nastupyty do vlaku, but in Ukrainian sisty u pojizd; the Slovak vystúpit’ z vlaku is in Rusyn vŷstupyty z vlaku, but in Ukrainian vyjty z pojizdu, and so on.
Many borrowings from Slovak also occur in the areas of administration, management, and the legal system. The Slovak občiansky preukaz is in Rusyn občanskŷj preukaz; but in Ukrainian pasport; Slovak vodičský preukaz/Rusyn vodyckŷj preukaz/Ukrainian prava vodija; Slovak daňový úrad/Rusyn dan’ovyj ur’ad/Ukrainian viddilennja zboru podatkiv; Slovak vedúci odboru/Rusyn veducŷj odboru/Ukrainian zavidujučyj viddilom; and so on.
(3) Many words from everyday life have also been integrated into the Rusyn vocabulary from Slovak, including terms for clothing, shoes, furniture, stores, and health. Thus in Slovak, Rusyn, and Ukrainian:
košel’a/košul’a/soročka; sako/sako/pidžak; vetrovka/vetrovka/štromivka/kurtka; chladnička/chladnyčka/cholodyl’nyk; holičstvo/holyčstvo/perukarn’a; mám chrípku/mam chrypku/u mene hryp; má hnačku/mat hnačku/u n’oho ponos.
(4) Rusyn borrowings from Slovak include not only individual lexical items, certain Slovak word-forming components have replaced original East Slavic word-forming components. For example, the suffix -aren’ (in Slovak the a is long, whereas in Rusyn dialects it is short) as in vynaren’, kolkaren’, ošiparen’ (several, however, preserve the suffix -aln’a, -arn’a: jedaln’a, elektrarn’a); the suffix -yčka/-ička in tlmočnyčka, čašnyčka, kadernyčka, dojička, and many others.
The lexical borrowings together with the word-forming processes just discussed bear witness to the close, natural, and long-term connection between Rusyns living in Slovakia and Slovak political, social, and cultural life. The absence of an analogous Ukrainian vocabulary and word-formation process in the lexical reserve of Rusyns in Slovakia testifies to the lack of any direct or lengthy contact with the social life in Ukraine or with the Ukrainian language.
Western Rusyn dialects from the Lemko Region in Poland have similarly absorbed words from Polish in the fields of economics, administration, politics, and so on, adapting these words according to the phonetic and morphological laws of the individual dialect. For example, the Polish pravo jazdy is in Rusyn pravo izdŷ. Other Polish/Rusyn examples are: urząd powiatowy/povitovyj urjad; proces sądowy/sudovyj proces; urząd podatkowy/podatkovŷj urjad; podatek bezpośredni/bezposerednij podatok; potentat finansowy/finansovŷj potentat; pociąg osobowy (towarowy, pośpieszny)/osobovŷj (tovarovŷj, pos’pišnŷj) potjah.
Currently, the most explicit features of Rusyn language development in the Prešov Region of eastern Slovakia and among Lemkos in Poland is the borrowing of Slovak and Polish terms connected with various aspects of modern life. But while this development draws the Rusyn lexicon closer to Slovak or Polish, it cannot be seen simply as the “slovakization” or “polonization” of Rusyn. Terminology borrowed from Slovak or from Polish undergoes a process of adaptation according to the phonological and morphological norms of the Rusyn language and thus is actually and strongly integrated into the Rusyn language system.
With regard to the syntax of Western (Lemko) Rusyn dialects, there are phenomena which differ from those found in Ukrainian; other phenomena are typologically similar or identical to West Slavic and partly South Slavic languages. Such phenomena include:
(1) sentences lacking a pronoun subject: Robyl jem tam calŷj den’;
(2) passive sentence structures with reflexive forms of the verbs: Strašn’i s’a tam stril’alo. Tota luka s’a mi t’aško kosyla;
(3) prepositional and non-prepositional constructions that correspond to analogous constructions in Slovak but are generally lacking in Ukrainian and East Slavic; for example, the Rusyn Nevid’il jem tam nyjakŷ ženy and Slovak Nevidel som tam nijaké ženy, in contrast to the Ukrainian Ja tam ne bačyv nijakych žinok; or Rusyn Nestarajut’ s’a o chudobnŷch/Slovak Nestarajú sa o chudobných/Ukrainian Vony ne piklujut’ pro bidnych;
(4) constructions with the dative commodi/incommodi or with the possessive dative: Mama jim napekla kolačiv; Fkraly mu kon’a; Žena mu porodyla chlopc’a;
(5) adverbial prepositional constructions identical to Slovak constructions but absent in Ukrainian: Rusyn Ydu do školŷ/Slovak Idem do školy/Ukrainian Ja idu v školu; Rusyn Stoju pry studn’i/Slovak Stojím pri studni/Ukrainian Ja stoju bil’a kolodc’a; Rusyn Ydu gu stolu/Slovak Idem k stolu/Ukrainian Ja idu do stola, and others;
(6) a clear difference between Western Rusyn dialects and Ukrainian or other East Slavic languages, especially in the area of syntactical semantics, as in the following examples:
a. In Rusyn dialects possession is expressed with a noun in the nominative indicating the possessor and the verb maty/mat’i in the proper conjugated form plus the accusative of the noun denoting the possessed item: Susid mat velyku zahorodu. This structure is also typical of Slovak: Sused má vel’kú záhradu. By contrast, in Ukrainian the most frequently used possessive construction is formed with the preposition u plus a genitive noun denoting the possessor and with the item possessed as a subject in the nominative (sometimes in the genitive if the verb is negated): U susida velykyj sad. U neji nema svojeji chaty.
b. For positive location and existence constructions Rusyn dialects customarily employ the verb jest (for instance: Jest dachto doma?), while negative sentences of this type use the forms nyt/n’it or nejest. In positive sentences the subject is in the nominative (see the previous example with dachto), while in negative sentences the subject is in the genitive: Ci to jest dajaka polehota, ci to nyt už inakšoj polehotŷ? Moho muža nit doma. Korunkŷ nejest.
c. In both groups of Lemko dialects, as in Slovak and Polish, reflexive forms of non-reflexive verbs are used in reciprocal meaning almost without restriction, as well as in those instances when the form of the pronoun s’a/sa, si can be substituted by the phrases jeden druhoho, jeden druhomu, and others: čuty s’a, vid’ity s’a, nenavyd’ity s’a, hladkaty s’a. The expression of reciprocity in literary Ukrainian and in the majority of Ukrainian dialects by means of the reflexive pronoun sja, is, in contrast to Rusyn dialects as well as to Slovak and Polish, considerably more limited. In literary Ukrainian reciprocity is expressed by means of the phrases odyn odnoho: (vony) čujut’, bačat’, nenavyd’at’, hlad’at’ odyn odnoho. This difference between Ukrainian, on the one hand, and Rusyn, Slovak and Polish, on the other, is still more marked in verbs with the pronoun in the dative. In the Western (Lemko) Rusyn dialects, as in Slovak, the use of verbs plus a dative construction for the expression of reciprocity is practically unrestricted: Rusyn pomahaty si, škodyty si, otpuščaty si, pris’ahaty si, šepkaty si, rozumyty si, nadavaty si/Slovak pomáhat’ si, škodit’ si, odpúšt’at’si, prisahat’ si, šuškat’ si, rozumiet’ si, nadávat’ si. In similar instances in literary Ukrainian and in Ukrainian dialects reciprocity is almost always expressed with the phrase odyn odnomu: vony pomahajut’, skod’at’, proščajut’ odyn odnomu.
(7) In compound constructions the same conjunctions are used in Rusyn as in Slovak and Polish: že, žebŷ, kebŷ, kyd’/ked: Neznal jem,  jich

že prydeš. Nepryšla bŷ’m, kebŷ jem toto znala. Ponahl’ajut s’a, žeb nezastyhnul doč. Eastern (Subcarpathian) Rusyn dialects.
The most marked difference between the Western and Eastern groups of Rusyn dialects is found in the placement of the stress. As mentioned above, in the Western (Lemko) group the stress is always fixed on the penultimate syllable, while in the dialects found east of the Laborec River the stress is mobile and changes in relation to the form of the word; for example: nohá—na nózi, nestý—nésu.
Phonological differences between the two Rusyn dialect groups other than those covered above, include the following:
(1) In Eastern (Subcarpathian) dialects, besides the reflexes i and y in place of the original o in new closed syllables, the reflexes u (iu), ü, ы, and y appear, as in kun’,kiun’, kün’, spoza hŷr; or vezu—viuz, vüz, viz. In the Western dialects the mutation i is found in such instances, and in northern Spish also ŷ (kin’, n’is, sŷl’).
(2) The palatal z’, s’, c’ appears in suffixes -z’k-, -s’k-, -c’k’, -ec’-, -yc’a-: berez’kyj, rus’kyj, brac’kyj, kupec’, udovyc’a.
(3) Alongside the phoneme e is its positional variant, a narrow e before soft consonants: chlopec’, den’, teper’, des’at’.
(4) There is a frequent transition of the original e, ь to y before syllables with soft consonants: dyn’, pyn’, otyc’, vyr’ba, zym’la.
(5) The phoneme o before i and u, and also before soft consonants, is pronounced like a narrow ô: rôzum, dôbri, na kôn’i, ôs’in’;
(6) The vowel ŷ is markedly labialized, especially after labials, and its pronunciation is close to o: bŷla, mŷ, vŷ, rŷba.
The morphology of the Eastern group of Rusyn dialects differs from the Western group particularly in the following ways:
(1) The ending of the instrumental singular of the feminine noun, adjective, adjectival pronoun, and numerals is -oû, as in z mojoû tret’oû dobroû kamaratkoû, in contrast to the ending -om in Western dialects: z mojom tret’om dobrom kamaratkom.
(2) Neuter nouns with the proto-Slavic suffix -at have the ending -y in the dative singular from the Cirocha River and further east (tel’aty), while in Western dialects in similar instances the suffix -atu/-at’u is used (as in malomu tel’atu). This phenomenon occurs under the influence of the o-stems.
(3) Imperfect future tense verbs are created from a conjugated form of the auxiliary verb bŷty and an infinitive of the main verb (budu robyty), while in Western dialects the typical Lemko type dominates, that is, a form of the verb bŷty plus an l-participle: budu robyl.
(4) The ending of the past tense is -v (pronounced as an û): chodyv, robyv, syd’iv, whereas in Western dialects an -l is found: chodyl, robyl, syd’il.
(5) The soft ending -t’ is found in the third person singular of the past tense verb (with minor exceptions): chodyt’, robyt’, sydyt’, as opposed to a hard -t in Western dialects: chodyt, robyt, sydyt.
(6) Mostly palatalized forms of masculine nominative plural nouns have stems ending h, k, ch: paribky, ptachy, sluhy, pauky, in place of the Western forms paribcy, ptasy, sluzy, paucy.
(7) Masculine nouns with the suffix -ar’ overwhelmingly employ the ending -y in the nominative plural: kon’ary, rŷbary, vol’ary, in contrast to the ending -e in Western dialects: kon’are, rŷbare, vol’are. (8) Non-contracted forms of neuter nouns exist in the nominative singular, such as syn’eje nebo.
(9) There are non-contracted forms of the genitive singular feminine adjective: do mojeji dobroji susidy, rather than the Western type: do mojoj dobroj susidŷ.
(10) There are differentiated forms of the locative and instrumental masculine and neuter singular adjectives and words functioning as adjectives, such as demonstrative pronouns: z tym dobrym/z tŷm dobrŷm—na tomu dobromu (as opposed to the Lemko form: z tŷm dobrŷm—na tŷm dobrŷm).
With regard to syntax, the Eastern (Subcarpathian) Rusyn dialects differ from the Western (Lemko) dialects in the following ways:
(1) Instead of the Western construction of the type mam jednoho sŷna to show possession, Eastern dialects more often use the construction u mene je jeden (odyn) sŷn; u našoho kuma je d’ivka.
(2) In Eastern dialects the so-called ablative genitive is found after verbs expressing alienation, divisiveness, and actions having a negative impact, followed by the preposition v (u): volŷ v n’oho zabere; gazdy u gazdu braly; v jennoji ûdovyc’i d’ivka pomerla. In Western (Lemko) dialects constructions with the prepositionless dative are used in these instances: vz’aly mu zeml’i; susidovy merla žena.
(3) In expressing movement toward a given thing or person Western dialects employ the preposition gu/ku (ydu gu kamaratovy), while in Eastern dialects the prepositions yd, id, ud, d are used with the dative or do with the genitive: dochodyt yd tomu ved’makovy; a vin prykladaû ucho yd zemly; pryjdeme d n’omu; idu do susida.
(4) In expressing movement to or into a given place, a construction with the preposition v/u plus the accusative is used in Eastern dialects (pišov u pole; ydu v selo; vernuv s’a v Chust), while in Western dialects constructions with the preposition do plus the genitive (ydu do Svydnyka; ponahl’at sa do školŷ; vošol do chŷžŷ), and na plus the accusative (pryšly na pole; yde na poštu) are found.
(5) In Eastern dialects a direct object after verbs, such as dumaty, zabŷty, hovoryty, spivaty, and znaty, is found in the accusative after the prepositions za and pro: dumav za zyml’u; a za volŷ zabŷv; spivaly za n’u; pro d’ivča ja dumaju; ja pro nyč ne znam; budu pro vas hovoryty. In contrast, Western dialects in these instances use the construction o plus the locative, which is typical for Slovak and Polish (ja o tŷm n’ič ne znam; bisiduvaly o n’i vel’o; ne rozmŷšl’al o tŷm), or the construction na plus the accusative after verbs dumaty and zabŷty, which is also characteristic of Slovak and its dialects (už na n’oho ne dumaj; ale ona na n’oho ne zabŷla);
(6) Eastern dialects commonly use constructions with the preposition čerez plus the accusative to express spatial, causal, and temporal ties: kun’ skočyv čerez štachetky; pereskočyly čerez kapuru; dvi noči ne spala čerez n’oho; lyšyla ho čerez chlopc’a molodoho; čerez rik prychod’at mama; mŷ pryjšly čerez dyn’ pozad vas. Instead of čerez in such constructions, Western dialects employ the preposition prez (preskočil prez pl’it; prez zymu ne bŷlo robotŷ) or pro and o plus the accusative (cylu n’ič pro n’oho ne spala; vernu sa o rik).
In the lexicon of both Eastern and Western Carpatho-Rusyn dialects there are many words characteristic of East Slavic languages as a whole, and in several instances words drawn from the Proto-Slavic base. Both Eastern and Western Rusyn groups have preserved old East Slavic terminology for the members of a family and relational ties, such as forms of otec: n’an’o, n’en’o, n’yn’o, n’an’ko, tato; “mother’s father” of “father’s father” with the words strŷko, strŷj, stryko. Both groups also share many common elements in mountain pasturing terminology. The Eastern group, however, includes several specific words distinct from Western dialects: bortyc’a, porylyc’a (in Northern Lemko dialects: krt’tic’a); drahanec’ (Northern Lemko: studn’a), žalyva (Western dialects: kopryva), korč (Western dialects: kr’ak), ožyc’a (in Western dialects most often: lŷžka), and others.
Most of the differences between the Western (Lemko) and Eastern (Subcarpathian) groups of Rusyn dialects lie in the lexicon connected with contemporary life. While Southern Lemko dialects in the Prešov Region have acquired contemporary lexicon from Slovak, and Northern Lemko dialects lexicon from Polish, Eastern (Subcarpathian) Rusyn dialects in Ukraine borrowed from Hungarian prior to World War I and from literary Ukrainian or from Russian during the Soviet era. Many borrowings from Hungarian are common for both Western and Eastern Rusyn dialects, i.e., laba from Hungarian láb (paw), betjar’ from betyár (rogue/rascal), chosen from haszon (benefit, adventage), birovaty from bír (to be able), byzovno from bizonyos (certain, sure), and so on. There are, however, many Hungarianisms which occur and are still in use only in Eastern (Subcarpathian) Rusyn dialects and are unknown in the Western (Lemko) group, i.e., bovt from Hungarian bolt (shop/store), darab from darab (piece), gorgoši from horgas (curved spine), legin’ from legény (lad), yppen from éppen (just now), faralovatysja from fárad (to get tired), šyjtalovaty from sétál (to walk), and many others. Among borrowings from Ukrainian are: pojizd (pasažyrs’kŷj, hruzovŷj, skorŷj), šofers’ki prava, zavidujučŷj udjilom, rišynja suda; and from Russian: voditel’skije prava, zevedujuščij otdelom, nalogovaja deklaracija, sest’ na pojezd, sojti s pojezda, konditerskaja, parykmacherskaja, rubaška, odežda, odevat’sja, razdevat’sja, and many others.

Population resettlement, which has resulted in the formation of linguistic islands or in dispersion has contributed to preservation of the basic features of the Rusyn language as it is spoken in its original homeland. At the same time, however, under the impact of new ethnic and linguistic surroundings, Rusyn speakers have gradually become distanced from the original language and have often developed autonomous language systems. Thus the disparate Rusyn dialects in northeastern Hungary have been and remain under the strong influence of Hungarian.

Rusyn speakers in Hungary have borrowed many words from Hungarian and adapted them to the phonological and morphological rules of their respective Rusyn dialect: šor, hordov, termeš, illat, katonak, vezer, fokšag, izer, borongataš, bizovno, ipen, legin’, ken, fumetezuvaty, and poharmadluvaty, among others.

With regard to the further development and study of the overall linguistic character of Rusyn dialects, several factors must be taken into consideration. Rusyn dialects are located on the periphery of East Slavic, and specifically Ukrainian, linguistic territory; they have, however, been sufficiently isolated from other Ukrainian dialects. Certain Rusyn dialects, moreover, especially those of the Western group in Slovakia and Poland, have not been affected by contemporary literary Ukrainian. Rusyn dialect speakers have traditionally lived in a territory, Carpathian Rus’, divided by various administrative and international borders. Finally, a high percentage of Rusyn speakers has lived and continues to live in contact with languages and dialects that are non-Ukrainian and even non-Slavic. While Carpatho-Rusyn dialects preserve in their structure a great number of general East Slavic (and specifically Ukrainian) archaic features, they have also acquired a whole series of new features under the influence of neighboring West Slavic languages and dialects. Certain phenomena typical of Rusyn dialects were also found in Old Ukrainian, but in the subsequent development of the Ukrainian language they were marginalized or replaced by other elements.

The autochthonous Carpatho-Rusyn language area remains a region of numerous dialects which, as one moves westward, have gradually lost their southwestern (Transcarpathian) Ukrainian elements and in many cases have replaced these with West Slavic elements, whether Slovak or Polish. Linguistic and extralinguistic factors reflect the specific location of Carpatho-Rusyn dialects, anchored as they are between two vast Slavic language groups—East and West—both of which have strongly influenced all spheres of Rusyn life.


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Prof. PhDr. Juraj VAŇKO, CSc.,