Dr. Anna Plišková, PhD.
Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies, Prešov University, Prešov, Slovak Republic
Practical spheres of Rusyn language in Slovakia
The codification of the Rusyn language in Slovakia (1995) was the essential precondition for the introduction of the language into different official spheres. Before 1995, Rusyn dialects were not only the basic means of communication in the domestic sphere, (i.e. in the sphere of everyday life), but they were also used informally in the media, in literature, on stage and in the theatre, and in the religious sphere.
Prior to codification, Rusyn dialects were only used to a limited extent in the media, mostly in state radio programmes which supported the pro-Ukrainian policy (since 1945 the Ukrainian Studio of Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava, which began broadcasting from Prešov in 1948; since 1989 the Rusyn and Ukrainian Department of the Slovak Radio in Prešov; since 2002 The Main Department of National and Ethnic Broadcasting in Prešov, also broadcasting from Košice since 2003) and programming focused on folklore and village life (for example “Podorožuvanňa kumiv“, later „Besida kumiv“, which, due to the easily understood dialects, belonged to the most popular programs among Rusyns). In print media, the editorial office of the Ukrainian-language weekly Nove žytťa, (published since 1951 by the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Slovakia in Prešov, and since 1959 by The Central Committee of the Ukrainian Workers’ Cultural Association / Centraľnyj Komitet Kuľturnoho sojuzu ukrajinskych trďaščych in Prešov, and from 1990 to the present by the Association of the Rusyn – Ukrainians / Sojuz rusiniv-ukrajinciv in Prešov) led the section called “Na dijalekti” (“In dialect”) intermittently in the years 1965-1968, 1969-1970, and “it became completely systematic in the years 1973-1977” (Follrich, 1985). A page in the dialect called ‘Holos Rusyniv‘ (The Rusyns’ Voice), started to be published again as late as 1990 yet it only appeared for one year, until an independent weekly Narodny novinky, published in the Rusyn dialects according to the norms of redaction, began to be issued in Prešov in 1991.
Within the framework of literature, The Central Committee of the Cultural Association of the Ukrainian Workers in Prešov issued several books in dialect, especially personal collections of poetry by so-called national poets (Kolinčak, Kindja, Žak, Hvozda, Halčakova, etc.), collective anthologies (Zelenyj vunočok, červoni kvitočky / Green Chaplet, Red Flowers, 1965), Karpaty pisneju včarovani / The Carpathians spellbound by a song, 1974) and repertoire collections. Since 1991, the Rusínska obroda na Slovensku (Rusyn Revival in Slovakia) has been publishing literature only in Rusyn dialects, or in the interdialect while respecting the norm of the redaction, and since 1995, in the codified Rusyn language.
In the sphere of theatrical productions, Rusyn dialects were used even before the 1995 codification, though mainly at local or regional cultural events. For example, Rusyn appeared in the accompanying texts used by presenters, in the poetry of so-called national poets, in musicals and stage productions of amateur folklore collectives, in the rendition of national songs, but also at performances of amateur theatre groups. By the mid-1990s, due to public appeal, the professional Ukrainian National Theatre (1945) in Prešov made a significant shift from the use of Ukrainian, to the dialects of Rusyns; the theatre had already been renamed Teater Alexandra Duchnoviča (The Alexander Duchnovič Theatre) in 1990.
Prior to the codification in the mid 1990s, there was also a debate in the religious sphere about the need to use Rusyn dialects in pastoral care, mainly within the framework of the Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia. Thus, the first steps were taken in publishing church literature in the Rusyn language, in accordance with the established norms.
It is necessary to add that even after the codification of 1995, the dialects of Slovakia’s Rusyns have been employed in all of the above-mentioned spheres, and in every instance where people communicate verbally. As for written discourse, it is true that attempts to respect the literary norm can already be seen in all the above-mentioned areas. There is a definite link between the codification of the Rusyn language and the gradual expansion of its functional spheres in the school system and official spheres. This fact has had a positive impact on the national consciousness of the Rusyns, on raising their awareness of the uniqueness of their language, and the need to improve its literary aspect.
In the following sections, we will pay attention to the individual functional spheres of the Rusyn language in the Slovak Republic.
The Family Sphere (Sphere of Everyday Communication)
The Rusyn language (or more precisely, its dialects), has always been the primary means of communication among the majority of Rusyns, and this tradition has been maintained to a wide extent. Sadly, the strong wave of assimilation – among other factors, caused by the dissolution of the few Rusyn classes in Rusyn village schools where the language of instruction became the language of the majority nationality; then the integration of young Rusyns into urban Slovak schools, as well as the over 30-year-long negation of the language and ethnicity – has influenced the present forms of communication among Rusyns, especially amongst the young generation which nowadays, even in traditionally Rusyn villages, often prefers the Slovak language for day-to-day communications. We also need to clarify that it is primarily the influence of the family’s national identification that determines the language of everyday verbal communication among youngsters. Research in Slovakia after 1989 (Gajdoš et al, 2001, Lipinský, 2001) showed that the most frequently used language of communication in families where the parents declared Rusyn nationality at census time is the Rusyn language, or its dialects. Currently, the intensity of communication in the Rusyn language has been reduced by the shift:
- from home (house, flat) and family to public places
- from the oldest generation to the youngest generation
- from homogenous to heterogeneous marriages
Representatives of the Rusyn minority in Slovakia envision improving the situation - that is, keeping and increasing the numbers of users of the Rusyn language in the everyday sphere. Their hopes lie in the dynamic introduction of the mother Rusyn tongue at all school levels and in all the official spheres permitted by state legislation.
The Social Sphere (Official Contact Sphere)
Use of the Rusyn language as a minority language in the Slovak Republic is regulated by The Constitution of the Slovak Republic (1992) and international documents on the rights of ethnic minorities, such as The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1998) and The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (2001). A series of Slovak laws also drew on these, among them the Act on the use of languages of national minorities (Zákon o užívaní jazykov národnostných menšín) (1999), which regulates the use of a minority language in formal communications. According to this law, national minorities who, according to the results of the latest census represent at least 20% of the total population in a given community, may use their language for official purposes within such a community. For example, they are entitled to present written submissions in the minority language to state administrative bodies and territorial self-management bodies, and also to be answered in their mother tongue. Local government buildings are also authorized to be labelled in the relevant minority languages, all official application forms should be available in translated versions, legal proceedings may be held in one’s mother tongue, records may be maintained in the minority language, and streets and other geographical markers are to be designated in the minority language.
On the basis of our own investigation, supported also by the research results of The Institute of Social Sciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (Spoločenskovedný inštitút Slovenskej akadémie vied) (Gajdoš et al, 2001) we can state that active use of Rusyn as an official minority language is the only sphere of all those mentioned above that is currently of little or no interest. In other words, although effective European legislation favouring the wider use of minority languages in formal communications is in place, and also despite the fact that the number of villages inhabited by those of Rusyn nationality (who number at least 20% of residents) increased from 68 to 91 in the years 1991-2001, Rusyn is still not used sufficiently in the public sphere. The only notable Rusyn initiative in this field was the protest petition which originated after the National Council of the Slovak Republic N.191/1994 on denomination of communities in language of national minorities was adopted. In practical terms, the absence of a codified Rusyn language was then partly responsible for the fact that communities with a Rusyn population of over 20% received road signs with official names following Ukrainian orthographic rules. It is also important to note that the practical implementation of the law in question was supported by the Party of the Democratic Left (Strana demokratickej ľavice), which was in effect a reformed branch of the former Communist Party, represented by a pro-Ukrainian Member of Parliament. Sadly, not even since the 1995 codification of the Rusyn language has the so-called “road-sign law” been changed in favour of the Rusyn minority and their mother tongue. The most likely explanation rests with the financial costs involved – a factor that is also often used as a counter-argument to proposed changes. However, the most important factor may be the lack of consolidation, vigour, and often even chaotic actions of the Rusyn leaders themselves.
An analogous situation exists where the designation of public places is concerned (i.e. schools where the Rusyn language is taught). None of the current 11 schools has a plaque with its name in the Rusyn language. In fact, in the cases where there is a bilingual plaque on the school building, the text is in Slovak and in Ukrainian, even if the Ukrainian language is no longer taught there, and the Ukrainian minority does not reach 20% in the municipality. The situation is similar with regards to shops, restaurants, pubs, etc. On the other hand, municipal or local offices have predominantly monolingual designations. Signs are posted only in Slovak, with the exception of two municipalities, Medzilaborce and Čabalovce (Міджілабірї and Чабалівцї), where, on the initiative of local government leaders, the plaques are bilingual and include both the Slovak and Rusyn languages.
Where the official, public sphere is concerned, is does seem to be the case that the Rusyn language in its spoken form is utilized more frequently than written Rusyn. The minority language does serve as a tool for communication in local government meetings, especially in municipalities where the population and local government representatives are predominantly Rusyn-speaking. However, the minutes of these meetings are only recorded in Slovak. The obvious reason behind the discrepancy is a poor command of the Rusyn language in its Cyrillic graphic form. In 2005, the Prešov Region authorities began issuing some official information in Rusyn (i.e. announcements about the time and place of elections), and the same was done by other state executive bodies, such as the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic before the census. By law, the Rusyn language may also be used in written communication with the Office of the Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman). In mixed-language territories (i.e. in Humenné, Svidník, etc.) Rusyns also exercise their right to use their own language during court proceedings and lawsuits; it is mainly the older Rusyn generation which takes advantage of this right, since they often cannot speak Slovak without an interpreter.
The most dynamic sphere of the Rusyn language’s formal use after 1989 concerns church rites: weddings, baptisms, funerals and similar occasions. The move towards Rusyn as a language of religion is strongest in the Greek Catholic (Byzantine) parishes of north-east Slovakia, and owes its development in pastoral care to the members of the Circle of Rusyn Priests of the Prešov Greek Catholic Eparchy.
The strongest examples of the use of Rusyn in professional spheres within the Slovak Republic rest with communications between various Rusyn associations and institutions (Rusiňska obroda na Slovensku / Rusyn Revival in Slovakia, Združiňa inteligenciji Rusiniv Sloveňska / Fellowship of Rusyn Intelligentsia in Slovakia, the Rusyn and Narodny novinky newspapers , Spolok rusiňskych pisateľiv / Union of Rusyn Writers, Ruskyj klub 1923 / Russian Club 1923, Obščestvo A. Duchnoviča / Aleksander Dukhnovych Society, Obščestvo sv. Joanna Krestiteľa / The Society of St. John the Baptist, etc.), and in the international context, Rusyn is used among the member organizations of the World Congress of Rusyns (operating in the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Russia, the USA and Canada). All of the World Congress proceedings are held in Rusyn, and the paperwork of each national organization emphasizes the given regional norm of the Rusyn language. Since the variants of Rusyn are mutually intelligible to delegates from different countries, meetings in the international context most frequently employ the individual regional variants of Rusyn, or a form of interdialect. The minutes of a particular meeting are composed in the variant used by the person taking the notes. In practice until now, minutes of the World Congress meetings have always been taken in the standardized form of Rusyns in Slovakia.
Although the use of the Rusyn language in official spheres has made positive progress since codification in Slovakia, the situation could still be much-improved if only the leaders of Rusyn organizations paid more attention to this issue.
The Theatrical Sphere
The use of Rusyn in stage and theatre productions has a tradition rooted mostly in the activities of folklore groups and amateur village theatre troops, as well as professional collectives which have existed since the 1950s. In the past, the tradition of building a network of amateur folklore and theatre collectives in Rusyn villages was always maintained by ethnic Rusyn organizations. However, the custom was also dependent upon the local organization’s particular orientation – Russophile, Ukrainophile, or Rusynophile – and thus also determined the language of a given stage production.
The most significant progress in this sphere is linked with the Kuľturnyj sojuz ukrajinskych trudďaščych / Cultural Association of the Ukrainian Working Class in Prešov (hereafter KSUT, 1954) group, especially during the 1960s-1980s. The KSUT’s position of privilege and the subsidies it received from the Czechoslovak state were based on its importance as the dominant ethnic organization for the population of north-east Slovakia. The KSUT was founded with the aim of implementing the state’s pro-Ukrainian policy. At that time, KSUT was recording as many as “170 village national artistic collectives of different genres” (Kovač, 1991), mostly founded on its initiative, and formed according to its own ideas and the official state ideology.
To help organize its multiple activities, the KSUT created a special Vidďilenňa narodnoji chudožnoji samoďijaľnosti (Section of National Artistic Creativity), whose employees assisted in establishing the village collectives, and led them methodologically. Moreover, village and school theatre collectives were helped by professionals of The Ukrainian National Theatre, where, in the mid-1950s, a drama school was established in order to enhance the theatrical skills of members of the amateur collectives. Due to such attention, the amateur theatrical sphere in former Czechoslovakia reached a solid level, especially given the number of collectives, their repertoire quality, their leaders’ expertise, as well as the direction provided by talented members. In many respects, these artistic efforts were linked with elevating the population’s command of the Ukrainian language, which the state considered desirable given the official ‘Ukrainian’ designation for the population of eastern Slovakia (i.e. in the 1970s the language of instruction in as many as 58 elementary schools in north-east Slovakia was Ukrainian). “KSUT also carried out mass after-school work among the adult Rusyn population – during the 1950s-1960s it started over 200 Ukrainian language groups in villages” ( Kovač, 1999).
The conditions changed in the 1990s as a result of the shift in Slovakia’s political situation, the renewed national emancipation process of the Rusyns, and the elimination of the KSUT’s dominant position in eastern Slovakia which came as a consequence of the mass closure of schools teaching in Ukrainian, and the general wave of primary school closures in Rusyn villages. Furthermore, the reduced budget designated for ‘Ukrainian’ cultural development also meant the closure of many traditional KSUT collectives; some former clubs were reformed on the initiative of local governments, with the goal of establishing local Rusyn folklore groups that would utilize the regional dialect of Rusyn. The founding of the Rusiňska obroda (Rusyn Revival) in 1990 helped to propel this reform process. Use of the Rusyn language in the theatrical sphere – especially in mixed-ethnic territories – is also encouraged with the help of local, municipal and district culture centres, and since 1997 Rusyn has also been taught in selected primary schools.
Where the professional theatrical scene of Slovakia is concerned, the Rusyn language is represented by the world’s only professional Rusyn theatre, the Alexander Duchnovič Theatre in Prešov. The fact that the Rusyn language is used in the setting of a professional theatre illustrates that it is possible to stage not only regional plays, but also pieces recognized as world classics, and to express complex emotions and develop dramatic characters on stage, and to deliver the final product to an audience in Rusyn with no complications. This being said, the theatre’s leadership is often criticized for its lack of commitment to Rusyn linguistic culture, thus drawing criticism to a unique professional institution.
The Media Sphere
In Slovakia, the Rusyn language in media is currently represented by three printed secular periodicals (Rusyn, Narodny novinky, InfoRusyn), two ecclesiastical periodicals (Blahovistnik, Artos), two forms of electronic state media (Slovak Radio, Slovak Television) and three websites (www.rusynacademy.sk, www.rusin.sk, www.rusyn-rusnak.szm.sk).
Each of these mediums plays a significant role in relaying information to Rusyns in their mother tongue, in providing information about Rusyns to others, and most importantly, these media outlets have played an irreplaceable role in the ethnic self-identification process of the Rusyns.
Of the above-mentioned media outlets, the most prominent from the outset have been the printed periodicals Rusyn [published by: in 1990 Spoločnosť E.Varhola / The A. Warhol Society in Medzilaborce, in 1991 the Municipal Culture Centre in Medzilaborce, 1991- 2003 the Rusyňska Obroda / Rusyn Revival in Prešov, 2004 - 2005 by Rusyn i Narodny Novinky Citizen’s Association in Prešov, and since 2006 by the World Congress of Rusyns with its centre in Prešov] and Narodny Novinky [publishers: 1991 – 2003 Rusyn Revival / Rusyňska Obroda in Prešov, and since 2004 the Rusyn i Narodny Novinky Citizens’ Association in Prešov]. Between 1990 and 1995, Rusyn and Narodny Novinky were crucial in the process of forming a normative Rusyn language, and since 1995 these publications have been equally important in terms of introducing the codified Rusyn language form into the various spheres which this essay discusses. In order to help achieve reaching a wider audience, the editorial team has employed the entire spectrum of journalistic genres, making a concerted effort to compensate for the absence of specialized periodicals published in Rusyn.
The Rusyn i Narodny Novinky editors handled the absence of specialized periodicals in Slovakia (particularly literary and youth-orientated publications) by publishing quarterly appendices to the newspaper – a literary one, Pozdravliňa Rusyňiv / Greetings of Rusyns (1995-) and a youth supplement entitled Rusalkа (2000 – ). Although the editorial team now faces a very difficult financial situation – which results in the fact that the newspaper is presently issued on a monthly basis instead of as a weekly – both of the two supplements continue to be published, even if not as often as in earlier years. The newspaper Narodny Novinky aims to attract a Slovakia-wide readership, while focusing its coverage on events in the Prešov Region.
In contrast, the magazine Rusyn provides coverage of Rusyn-related issues from the entire Carpathian Region (Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Croatia), as well as from other territories inhabited by Rusyns (the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, the USA, and Canada). Besides covering stories related to the dominant theme of minority rights, the magazine addresses historical, linguistic, literary, cultural, and church matters. The nature of the published materials reveals the inherently educational character of the magazine, and illustrates the editorial office’s ambition to compensate for the absence of specialized educational magazines. The Rusyn magazine has been published bimonthly since it was founded, and – with the exception of a period of time between 1995- 1998 and again in 2004 – it continues to appear on a bimonthly basis.
In 2004, the Rusyn media sphere acquired a new printed monthly, InfoRusyn, published by the Rusyn Revival in Prešov. Although each new periodical in the Rusyn language should be considered a success of the post-1989 Rusyn revitalization process, unexpectedly, and in contrast to the basic mission of its publisher (to preserve the Rusyn nationality by means of the mother Rusyn tongue) as set in the Statute of the Rusyn Revival in Slovakia, some issues of InfoRusyn have been nearly 40% Slovak. Another surprise is the fact that the publisher – the initiator of Rusyn language codification in Slovakia – has not respected the normative rules of Rusyn orthography. Obviously, after more than 14 years on the scene, the first Rusyn organization in Slovakia, Rusyn Revival, started to divert from the aims and principles of its own revitalization program, which was formed at the beginning of the Rusyn renaissance process that began in 1990. Crucial topics like “the program” and “the leader,” were raised again for discussion by the Rusyn organization’s members in 2005 (Kaliňak, 2005).
Following codification, the Rusyn media sphere was enriched by two religious periodicals: Blahovistnik, misjačnik prijateľiv Vasiliaňiv na Sloveňsku / Blahovistnik, a monthly for Basilian supporters in Slovakia (1946, publisher: The Basilian Monastery in Krasnyj Brod), and the quarterly Artos (2005, published by The Society of St. John the Baptist / Obščestvo sv. Joanna Krestiteľa in Medzilaborce). Both publications contain theological, liturgical and historical articles. Blahovistnik publishes its articles in a non-standard form of Rusyn – and in Cyrillic as well as the Roman alphabet, as well as in Slovak. The articles issued by Artos are in the codified norm of the Rusyn language, both in Cyrillic and the Roman alphabet.
Two important state-run electronic media outlets also broadcast in Rusyn, Slovak Television and Slovak Radio; both institutions are obligated by law to broadcast programs in the languages of Slovakia’s ethnic minorities.
The Rusyn minority’s series airs as part of the Nationality-Ethnicity Program (Narodnostno-etnične vysylaňa) broadcast by Slovak Radio (hereafter SRo) on its 5th channel (Radio Patria), and is produced by The Main Department of National and Ethnic Broadcasting SRo in Košice (prior to 1991 the section was known as the Ukrainian Studio of Czechoslovak Radio, and it operated in Prešov until 2003). Independent Rusyn radio programs were not broadcast on SRo until 01/04/2002; beforehand, the management at SRo did not respect the legislation and failed to create an environment for Rusyn language implementation in accordance with the census results. A similar problem existed with regard to Slovak Television (STV), which, until the late 1990s, followed the example of SRo and broadcast only so-called ‘Rusyn-Ukrainian ethnic magazines,’ in which the Rusyn language had only a peripheral position.
A solution to the above-mentioned problems was only reached in 2001, after the Rusyn Revival sent an official complaint to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, detailing the violations of ethnic rights by Slovak State Radio. Thus, Rusyn pressure on the competent institutions, together with the positive results of the census (May 2001) resulted in a new organizational structure within the SRo as of 2002: the former large department was divided into two new and independent sections, one of which is the team charged with Rusyn programming.
At present, SRo broadcasts 13.5 hours a week in Rusyn. The programs are aimed at all age groups, and there is also a religious broadcast for Greek (Byzantine) Catholics and the Orthodox. Furthermore, once a month the SRo broadcasts a 30-minute journalistic Rusyňskyj narodnostnyj mahazin / Rusyn Ethnic Minority Magazine, and this program airs on a station heard throughout Slovakia.
However, the frequency of Slovak Television’s (STV) ethnic minority magazine has decreased steadily since its launch; while in 2003 STV aired a 30-minute journalism magazine once a month, in 2005 its airtime decreased to 30 minutes every other month. Moreover, the TV magazine is prepared by external journalists whose ability to speak the normative Rusyn language often varies – a fact which STV ignores. The cultural development and use of standardized Rusyn in Slovak state broadcasting remains an obvious gap for both SRo and STV, and the situation shows that neither institution is particularly concerned with ensuring that both their full-time and external employees achieve a good degree of language competence. Hence the frequent criticism by Rusyn linguists, who point to the fact that the media do not adhere to Rusyn orthoepic norms.
The literary sphere
For Slovakia’s Rusyns, the literary sphere is the only one in which continuity between the past and present has been maintained. The literary works of the Rusyns of Prjašivčina (Prešovsko / the Prešov region) have a long tradition, and this despite the fact that during certain periods they were hindered by a shortage of active writers, or by the pressures of assimilation. For example, this was precisely the case from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of the First World War – however, even then the literary tradition of the Rusyns did not vanish completely. The Rusyn literary scene was revived within the context of the newly-established Czechoslovak Republic (1918), and the new state presented a more favourable cultural, social and political situation (after WWI, Rusyns of the Prjašivčina region and Subcarpathian Rus found themselves within the borders of the new Czechoslovak state). In this fresh political climate, new opportunities surfaced, encouraging literary growth amongst the Prjašivčina Rusyns, and a series of works reflecting particular language orientations appeared (the revivalist “Carpatho-Russian,” also known as Rusyn, (Great) Russian, and Ukrainian). During the 1920s, the Rusyn orientation dominated the realm of poetry and other writings, while later in the 1930s the (Great) Russian language orientation gained strength and shared the literary space of the Prjašivčina region with Rusyn until the post-WWII period (ie. until the early 1950s). At roughly the same time, the Ukrainian language orientation began to take root in Subcarpathian Rus, where Ukrainian shared literary space with (Great) Russian; these developments also affected Prjašivčina. The totalitarian politics of the post-WWII era had a negative impact on cultural development in the region, especially since literary creativity, folklore and religious songs were considered reactionary. As a result, the quality of literature in (Great) Russian and Ukrainian declined, giving way to ideological influences and dogmatism. In Prjašivčina, literature written in Rusyn and drawing upon themes of Rusyn nationality was completely negated under the influence of Soviet politics.
A change favouring the Rusyn language orientation in Prjašivčina occurred only in the late 1960s, when the Ukrainian publishing house KSUT issued individual Rusyn-language works of national authors in Ukrainianized versions. However, it was not until after 1989 that literature of all genres (ballads, proverbs, short stories, anecdotes, songs, dialogues on historical themes, novels, etc.) in the Rusyn language started to be revived. This literary blossoming was possible due to significant state support paralleling the rebirth of Rusyn activities in Slovakia, and with increased publishing opportunities for authors thanks to the newly-founded Rusyn press (Rusyn, Narodny novinky) and the radio, and with the birth of publishing houses and organizations dedicated to promoting Rusyn culture and literature (ie. Rusyňska obroda / Rusyn Revival, the World Congress of Rusyns , Spolok rusyňskych pisateľiv, Rusyn і Narodny novinky).
The positive trends in Rusyn literary life continued even after an independent Slovak Republic was established in January 1993. After the Rusyn language codification of 1995 and its introduction into schools in 1997, the older and middle generation authors (A. Halgašová, N. Hvozda, A. Halčaková, J. Maťašovská, Š. Smolej, M. Polčová, E. Capcara, A. Vladyková, O. Kudzej), who had all published their works in the Narodny novinky literature supplement, Pozdravliňa Rusyňiv, and in the Rusyn magazine, were joined by a new generation of young authors. Inspired by the appearance of these new faces on the Rusyn literary scene, at the end of 2000 the Narodny novinky editorial office began to publish a quarterly for Rusyn children and youth called Rusalkа. The new periodical contained works of journalism, the poetic and prose works of the young authors, as well as Rusyn translations of literary works (mostly from Slovak). Thus, authors who had previously been writing in Ukrainian (Štefan Suchyj, Maria Maľcovská, Jurij Charitun, Mikolaj Kseňak), joined the canon of Rusyn authors and raised the professional level of Rusyn literature. These authors have won the approval of readers with the accessibility of their language, and the quality of their work is reflected in the fact that they have also been translated into other languages and published in Slovak and foreign periodicals. Thus far, the prestigious Literaturna premija Alexandra Duchnoviča (Literary Premium of A. Duchnovič), bestowed by the Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center in the USA for the best original Rusyn literature book, has been awarded to the three best contemporary Rusyn authors in Slovakia: M. Maľcovska (1999), Š. Suchyj (2000) and M. Kseňak (2003).
The Sphere of Religion
To understand the present position of the Rusyn language in the religious sphere requires at least minimal knowledge of the history of Rusyns. Their over 1000-year long existence in the Subcarpathian region was marked by the Eastern rite and the Church Slavonic liturgical language, which, in practice, was supplemented by the lexicon of local dialects when needed, and this localized form was also used for educational purposes in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the interwar period, the (Great) Russian language was preferred at all higher school levels, and was also used to teach specialized subjects. While such a solution seemed sufficient at the time because it suited the local inhabitants’ traditional ‘Russian’ spirit, the situation was not satisfactory for everyone. As we know, the temporary use of Russian during the interwar era only postponed the question of a standardized means of communication based on the local population’s living language – an issue that was finally tackled several decades later.
Although the incorporation of Subcarpathian Rus into the newly-established First Czechoslovak Republic gave Rusyns a great deal of hope for their future, these hopes were subsequently dashed by post-WWII developments in Czechoslovakia – namely by the installation of a communist government, the loss of Subcarpathian Rus to Ukraine, the new policy of Ukrainianization, and the Orthodox Church’s violent imposition on religious life in the region. During the 1950-1968 abolition of the Greek Catholic Church – which had been a source of key support for Rusyn ethnic activities in the past – the Rusyn population’s national consciousness suffered. New hope for the Rusyns arrived with the Greek Catholic Church’s renewal, however, there was also disappointment at the obvious tendencies of the church hierarchy to change the liturgical language from Church Slavonic to Slovak – a policy first introduced in Slovak villages and gradually also into Rusyn settlements. Although the majority of believers did not agree with this process, they could not oppose the decision of priests supported by the church establishment; in effect, they surrendered to the pressure of Slovakization in pastoral care since reading the Gospels, teaching religion, and practising the sacraments required a language more easily understandable than that of Church Slavonic. Taking into account the political and ethnic situation of the time (ie. declaring Rusyn nationality was forbidden, there was no codified Rusyn language, the policies of forced Ukrainianization and consecutively also Slovakization were underway in Rusyn schools), and the resulting greatly weakened national consciousness of Rusyns, it is not surprising that the Slovakization process progressed very quickly and the people’s resistance levels faded. Still, in the locations where the pressure of Rusyn believers on the church hierarchy was greater, the Church Slavonic liturgy was preserved in select Greek Catholic parishes. Although Slovak is employed in some places, the original liturgy is maintained in about 150 Greek Catholic villages.
It is important to note that the current circumstances owe much to the Rusyn-language pastoral care of Father František Krajňak, the former priest of Medzilaborce. On his initiative, already in the early 1980s, a collective of translators was formed and they began work on translations of the Catechism and Gospels and Readings for Sundays and Holidays of the Whole Year. Since there was not yet a codified Rusyn language, the translators created basic grammar rules for their own use and accepted the principle of using words from all of north-east Slovakia’s Rusyn dialects, with the Labirščina dialect used as the keystone. The first fruits of the translators’ efforts were Malyj grekokatolickyj katechizm pro rusyňski ďity (The Small Greek Catholic Catechism for Rusyn children) which appeared in samizdat in 1982, Apostoly (The First Readings) published in 1985, and in 1986, Evanhelija na neďiľi i svjata ciloho roku (Gospels for Sundays and Holidays of the Whole Year), which began to be used by priests as the development of pastoral care in the Rusyn language continued. These works received positive reactions from believers, thus the motivation for other translations. With the authorization of the Bishop’s office, the following appeared gradually: in 1992 the Malyj grekokatolickyj katechism pro rusynski dity (The Small Greek Catholic Catechism for Rusyn children), and Molitvennik svjatoho ružanca (The Rosary Prayer Book), Jevanhelija a Apostoly na neďiľi i svjata ciloho roku (Gospels and Readings for Sundays and Holidays of the Whole Year) in 1999, and Jevanhelije od sv. Joana (The Gospel According to St. John) in 2003.
Despite the popularity of the Rusyn translations with church-goers, the church hierarchy reacted by postponing granting of the imprimatur (official permission) for the use of the translated works until very late. The imprimatur on Gospels and Readings was only given in 1997 (ie. 11 years after the translation itself was completed). The reason for the delay may have rested with the fear that if the translations were used officially in the liturgy, the Rusyn language would be promoted to the level of a liturgical language, and that fact would then open the way to new requests for broadening the spheres of Rusyn language operation in pastoral work – most specifically in the catechetical and liturgical fields. In the end this happened anyhow, as the church hierarchy was forced to surrender to pressure from priests and believers alike.
A positive shift in the church hierarchy’s attitude towards Rusyn-language pastoral work happened after 1989, just as Rusyns began to address their various problems in the civil sphere. For example, after the 1995 codification of Rusyn and its gradual introduction into individual spheres of life, in 2002 then-Bishop Ján Hirka gave the imprimatur for the translation of The Gospel According to St. John, and in 2003 the new bishop of the Prešov Eparchy, Ján Babjak, appointed a new vicar for the Rusyn Greek Catholics, Basilian Peter Pavol Haľko. Haľko established a liturgical Rusyn section of the Eparchial Liturgical Committee and approved the renewal of the Rusyn church and cultural organization Obščestvo sv. Joanna Krestiteľa / The Union of St. John the Baptist (2004), whose members produced several other translations: Malyj trebnik / Small Euchologion; Akafist ku svjaščenomučnikovy Pavlovy Petrovy Gojdičovy / Akathist to Pavol Peter Gojdič; Moleben ku svjaščenomučiteľovy Vasiľovy Hopkovy / Moleben to Vasil Hopko; Krestna doroha / The Way of the Cross; Molitvennik / Book of Prayers; Radujte sja v Hospoďi, Vybrany liturgičny častky / The Selected Liturgical Parts; and Jevanhelije sv. Luky i sv.Marka, Jevanhelije od sv. Mafteja / The Gospels according to Luke, Mark and Matthew.
The various Rusyn translations available in Slovakia are currently used in pastoral work by 20 priests of the Prešov Greek Catholic Eparchy, all of whom belong to the so-called Circle of Rusyn Priests. However, given favourable structural conditions, there could be as many as 40 priests using the religious texts available in Rusyn. Perhaps this poses a question: why do so few priests use the translated texts? The answer: theology graduates possess a low-level of awareness concerning ethnic minorities, and their training lacks pastoral preparation for work in the mixed-ethnic regions of Slovakia, not to mention the church hierarchy’s generally poor attitude regarding the introduction of the Rusyn language into pastoral care. In practice, the probability of using the Rusyn language in those areas where Slovak-language pastoral work has already been introduced is low, especially given the dynamic assimilation process which is evident in these locations.
While Orthodox Church liturgies in Slovakia remain fundamentally Church Slavonic (according to historical tradition), the Slovak language is often used in pastoral care. In the opinion of some church representatives, an official introduction of the Rusyn language into church life and pastoral practice would be classified as a political step. Historical events illustrate that the Orthodox Church has already once been tied to a significant political course: the pro-Ukrainian movement. Meanwhile, its actual attitude towards Rusyns is not clear. In part, the Orthodox Church’s unclear stance towards Rusyns is accentuated by the fact that preference is given to the Slovak language in religious instruction and publications. However, some Orthodox priests of Rusyn origin accent the mother tongue in pastoral care, especially in homilies. Yet, the Orthodox Church has never officially taken interest in introducing the Rusyn language into pastoral practice, and so the situation differs greatly when compared to the approach of the Greek Catholic priests.
We can only try to predict the linguistic future of the Orthodox Church in Slovakia on the grounds of what has already been said: if the Orthodox Church does not accept the Rusyn language in pastoral care (which is a logical step given their contact with a predominantly Rusyn population), then the dying Church Slavonic language – difficult to understand for most believers, especially young ones – may not survive, and sooner or later there will be a complete shift to Slovak, as has already occurred in Orthodox-issued publications. Moreover, despite the fact that the Orthodox Church’s history during the communist period was tied to the pro-Ukrainian political course, if we consider the current situation on the ground, it is baseless to speak of a positive future for the Ukrainian language in pastoral care among the Rusyns of Slovakia. Rusyns would prefer to see both the Eastern-rite churches (along with the Slovak state, which officially recognizes 12 ethnic minorities and their mother tongues) acknowledge recent developments within the minority’s community, and to have the church structures act accordingly since a significant percentage of their believers are Rusyn. Furthermore, together with their respective theological faculties, official church structures should begin to reflect rationally not only upon the future of their own institutions, but also upon the viewpoint of the ethnic group that they have been called to serve from time immemorial.
The School Sphere
The Rusyn language was introduced into the education system of the Slovak Republic in the academic year 1997/98, when instruction began in the first year of primary school. Beforehand, pupils had not received any formal Rusyn language instruction in (Czecho)Slovakia. The earlier Rusyn – or in the traditional meaning, the ‘Russian’ – school system fell apart in 1953 through no fault of the Rusyns, but as a result of violent actions on the part of the Czechoslovak communist administration. The traditional ‘Russian’ schools were replaced by Ukrainian ones, but their numbers also saw a gradual yet significant decrease: “while in the academic year 1966/67 there were 58 Ukrainian schools with 5,154 pupils, in the 1985/86 academic year there were only 19 with 1343 pupils, and in 1996 only 10 schools with 700 pupils” (Vanat, 1992). The reason behind the dramatic decline in Ukrainian schools was the fact that the majority of Rusyns never accepted the Ukrainian language as their mother tongue, and so they preferred to attend schools where the language of instruction was Slovak. In the early 1990s, the renewed Rusyn movement – intent on stopping the Slovakization of Rusyns – set the revival of Rusyn schools as its primary goal. The schools are seen as “a guarantee of preserving and improving the ethnic and language identity of the Rusyns” (Magocsi, 1996).
It is important to note that since 1989, the representatives of the Rusyn movement have succeeded in taking major steps towards enabling children of Rusyn heritage to learn the Rusyn language formally. Since its founding in 1990, the Rusyn Revival demanded that Rusyn – rather than Ukrainian – be used as the language of instruction for grades one to four of the primary school level, as well as in nursery schools. Although in the beginning there was some possibility of cooperation with the (pro-Ukrainian) Association of Rusyns – Ukrainians, as they considered a “transition to teaching the Ukrainian or Russian language” (Stanovisko, 1999) in the higher stages of primary schools, these original proposals were gradually modified as the program of the Rusyn movement in Slovakia crystallized. This natural process in Slovakia, along with the Rusyn movement’s activities in the global context, came to demand that Rusyns be recognized as an independent ethnic minority (ie. separate from Ukrainians), and that a normative form of the Rusyn language be established. Thus, Rusyn language codification in Slovakia became the necessary precondition for the introduction of the Rusyn mother tongue into the education system of the Slovak Republic.
The practical introduction of the Rusyn language into Slovak schools was preceded by the appearance of two basic documents outlining the relevant concepts. Both documents were authored by Doc. PhDr. Vasiľ Jabur, CSc., authorized by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, and published by the State Pedagogical Institute of Bratislava (the detached branch in Prešov), in 1996.
1. Koncepcia vyučovania rusínskeho jazyka ako materinského na základných školách (The Concept of Teaching the Rusyn Language as the Mother Tongue in Primary Schools).
2. Koncepcia vzdelávania detí občanov Slovenskej republiky rusínskej národnosti (The Concept of Educating Children of Citizens of the Slovak Republic who are of Rusyn Nationality).
Following the appearance of Jabur’s initial publications on the subject, other necessary education documents were born in three stages: in the first phase Učebny osnovy rusyňskoho jazyka i literatury pro 1. – 4. klasu osnovnoj školy (OŠ) z navčaňom rusyňskoho jazyka / The Rusyn Language and Literature Curriculum for the 1st to 4th Class of Primary School with Rusyn as the Language of Instruction (1997) and Učebny osnovy pro 1. – 4. klasu osnovnoj školy z navčaňom rusyňskoho jazyka / The Curriculum for the 1st to 4th Class of Primary School with Rusyn as the Language of Instruction (1997); the second phase set the curriculum for the 5th to 9th grades of elementary school (2000); and the third stage outlined the curriculum for the 4-year gymnasia (secondary schools) using Rusyn as the language of instruction (2002).
The first document authored by Jabur (The Concept of Teaching the Rusyn Language as the Mother Tongue in Primary Schools) specifies the essentials of mastering the Rusyn language, the principles, aims and content of the education, the phases of mastering the language, and the number of necessary lessons. Jabur’s conception laid the foundation for teaching the Rusyn mother tongue in Slovak schools. The consistent application of the Rusyn language would help to maintain and even raise the level of ethnic awareness of Rusyns, but its use in schools was mainly intended to preserve and then develop the language of the ancestors, to ensure that literary Rusyn would gradually create a space for expanding the language’s functions in various spheres of life, and thus stimulate a natural return to its more frequent use, especially in family life and the literary sphere. If the circumstances were appropriate, this process could then halt the slowly disappearing primary literary language sources – namely, the lively Rusyn dialects of the older generations; this was indeed one of the main aims of the entire Rusyn revival movement after 1989, which largely pinned its hopes for the growth of Rusyn ethnic awareness on teaching the Rusyn language at all levels of the education system.
The introduction of the Rusyn mother tongue into the school system has been regulated by Jabur’s second conception (The Concept of Educating Children of Citizens of the Slovak Republic who are of Rusyn Nationality), which drew upon the basic principles of alternative education and on the social requirement of education in the mother tongue. This document stated that Rusyn as the language of instruction should be introduced at the nursery school level, provided that parents request such an approach. Although all the preconditions exist in north-east Slovakia, there is no official nursery school in Slovakia with Rusyn as the language of instruction; in many villages where the majority population is Rusyn-speaking, both Rusyn and Slovak are used as languages of instruction. The fact that Jabur’s suggestion has not been realized is the result of the parents and the institutions in question, neither of which pay proper attention to the problem, thus downplaying the importance of the language question. As a result, children of Rusyn parents (who are also citizens of Slovakia) are raised as they were prior to 1989, in nursery schools where the official teaching language is Slovak, or even Ukrainian – although even before 1989 Ukrainian was only the language of instruction at one nursery school located in Prešov. This situation should also be addressed by those who establish kindergartens (i.e. municipal offices, especially in villages where a majority of the population speaks Rusyn). The current circumstances obviously present unfavourable conditions for the training of nursery-school teachers who will work in the regions where Rusyn-speaking inhabitants dominate. Furthermore, although Jabur’s conception counted on the instructors’ preparation at one of the pedagogical schools in the Prešov Region, this aspect of the original aims has also not been achieved.
The original conception for language instruction has been realized more successfully in the primary school sphere. The outline for primary schools recommended creating classes (or possibly groups) at schools on the basis of the parents’ interest. Rusyn language would be taught as a subject using Rusyn as the language of instruction, and all the remaining subjects would be taught in Slovak in accordance with the proposed curriculum.
Before Rusyn language teaching was introduced into the school system, two surveys were conducted to determine the level of interest amongst parents. The first, in 1994, focussed on the interest in Rusyn education at the 2nd grade of primary school. The survey was conducted by Rusyn Revival representatives and the organization’s members. At that time, 251 pupils were interested in learning the Rusyn language. The second, more detailed survey, was conducted at the beginning of 1996 by the School Boards of Eastern Slovakia in the locations where, according to the 1991 census, the concentration of the Rusyn population was highest – in the districts of Bardejov, Humenné, Svidník, Prešov, Stará Ľubovňa, and Vranov nad Topľou.
The survey results showed that of the 57 primary schools polled in 47 villages and towns, 582 pupils were interested in learning the Rusyn language. The results meant that close cooperation between the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic and the school boards was needed in order to investigate the possibilities of introducing the Rusyn language into primary schools. On June 12, 1996, a conference organized in Bardejov focused on handling the organization and pedagogical problems of introducing the Rusyn language and literature into primary schools. Since the interest of villages and primary schools was uneven, the following criteria were adopted:
a) The subject of Rusyn language and literature was to be introduced only at the first stage of primary school as the school boards only prepared and issued textbooks for this level [The Primer of the Rusyn Language for the 2nd Class of Primary Schools / Bukvar rusyňskoho jazyja pro 2. klasu OŠ (by Jan Hrib), The Reader in Rusyn for the 2nd class of primary schools / Čitanka v rusyňskom jazyku pro 2. klasu osnovnych škol (by J.Hrib), The Rules of the Rusyn Orthography / Pravyla rusyňskoho pravopisu (Vasiľ Jabur), The Orthographic Dictionary of the Rusyn Language / Orfografičnyj slovnik rusyňskoho jazyka (Juraj Paňko et al.), and The Dictionary of Linguistic Rules / Slovnik lingvističnych termiňiv (J. Paňko)].
b) To create a class using the framework model, or an integrated 1st grade class with a minimum of 6 pupils.
c) At the end of August or at the beginning of September (1996), a methodical seminar should be organized for the teachers interested in teaching Rusyn language and literature.
Based on the adopted criteria and the above-mentioned surveys, as well as the approval of the basic school documents (the curricula and strategies), Rusyn language teaching could commence in 12 primary schools (in the Humenné district in Zboj, in the Medzilaborce district at primary schools in Komenského and Duchnovičova streets, in Svidník at the primary school Ulica 8. mája, at primary schools in Ladomirová and in Havaj, in the district of Stará Ľubovňa at the schools in Komenského, Levočská and Štúrova streets in Stará Ľubovňa, in Šarišské Dravce, in Čirč, and in the district of Vranov in Ruská Poruba). However, the practical application of Rusyn language instruction was less successful than the surveys had suggested: only during the academic year 1997/98 did Rusyn begin to be taught at four primary schools in two towns – Medzilaborce and Svidník – and this was actually the result of cultural and educational work done by numerous members of the Rusyn Revival in those regions. In the end, the involvement of Rusyn Revival members played a crucial role in arranging Rusyn language instruction in two other primary schools, not to mention the establishment of an institution within a university: the Institute of National Minority Studies and Foreign Languages of the Prešov University (hereafter PU) along with the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture (1999).
At present, Rusyn language and culture is taught optionally at nine primary schools (in the Medzilaborce district in the Komenského and Duchnovičova ulica locations in Medzilaborce, in Radvaň nad Laborcom, in the Svidník district at the church school of St. George (Sv. Juraja) and at the II. primary school on Ulica arm. gen. L. Svobodu street in Svidník, in Šarišský Štiavnik, in the Stropkov district in Kolbovce, in the Snina district in Staščin (Stakčín), Pčoliné and at the primary school located at Ulica 1. mája street in Snina). Rusyn language and culture is also taught at the gymnázium (high school) in Medzilaborce, and the subject is obligatory at one primary school (in Šarišský Štiavnik), and is also taught at the PU. The most serious problem concerning the teaching of Rusyn language and culture is the insufficient number of qualified educators in the field – the first PU graduates certified to teach the subject entered the workforce during the academic year of 2003/2004. In order to deal with the lack of qualified instructors, Rusyn language courses for primary and high school teachers have been organized during the summer holidays every other year; the organizational efforts are shared by the State Pedagogical Institute in Bratislava and the Methodological and Pedagogical Centre in Prešov.
The uniqueness of the existing structure of Rusyn language teaching rests with the fact that Rusyn as a mother tongue has only been taught – with one exception – as an optional subject, and therefore not all children belonging to the same class attend the course. This situation is the result of a decision made by the majority of parents, as, according to Jabur’s second concept, teaching the Rusyn language – even if it is the mother tongue of Rusyns – ought to be realized on an optional basis so that mistakes similar to the 1950s strong-arm introduction of the Ukrainian language (a memory which Rusyns retain to this day) would be avoided. Although the events of the 1950s involved forcing an incomprehensible language on the Rusyn population – in place of their mother tongue – the psychological aspect of providing an option now could play a significant role in the process of introducing Rusyn into the school system. Moreover, instruction of Rusyn has now been sealed in primary school documents and according to the current education schemes for primary schools, Rusyn language teaching is possible according to three variants:
1. as an optional subject, which will be taught so long as there are at least 6 pupils registered for the Rusyn language course; the lessons may then take place in groups of pupils from different classes,
2. as an obligatory subject taught in two lessons per week,
3. as an obligatory subject for the first two grades of elementary school with two lessons per week, and in the third and fourth grades with three lessons per week.
All three variants can be applied to grades five through nine, but in practice only the first one operates. Similarly, in the schemes for gymnáziá, only the first variant has been applied.
At the university level, the extended form of studies established at Prešov University in 1999 classified the subject as one of an ‘obligatory elective,’ which meant that when students chose to declare a focus in the area of Rusyn language and culture, the courses became obligatory for them, and the subject was an integral component of the state final exams; furthermore, students were also entitled to choose a thesis topic in the subject area. The situation became markedly different after the Rusyn Language and Literature bachelor study program received accreditation in 2005. The new program was first implemented by Prešov University during the academic year 2006/20007 in accredited combinations with other study programs (with Russian, German, English, and Slovak Language and Literature, History, Geography, Biology, Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Religion programs at both theological faculties in Prešov, the Greek Catholic and Orthodox), and within the framework of the Teaching Academic Subjects major. There are expectations that in the second phase the Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies at Prešov University will also ask for accreditation of Masters-level studies, which would enhance the training of qualified Rusyn language teachers.
To summarize, we can say that the introduction of Rusyn language and culture as a formal subject into the school system eight years ago was a result of the urgent necessity to end the process of Rusyn denationalization, as well as a reflection of interest shown by parents of school-aged children who wanted to see the mother tongue taught in Slovak schools. The difficult process started with great expectations and in our opinion it has the potential to succeed, but only if the Rusyns themselves, together with their leading cultural and social authorities, will consider the prospects rationally, just as they must reflect the entire ethnic minority’s future rationally. Based on the above-mentioned facts, we must state that the Rusyn mother tongue currently holds only a peripheral position in comparison with other school subjects. However, we think that its potential will be fulfilled once the practical attitudes towards learning the mother tongue change, and also once its status as an optional subject shifts to that of the mother tongue as an obligatory subject in schools located in regions where Rusyns compose at least 20% of the population. This objective can only be reached through systematic cultural and educational work with the parents of school-aged children, since – as Jabur’s second concept states – the transformation can only happen with the parents’ consent. Furthermore, we feel that better cooperation and a systematic approach by the ministries responsible for realizing the rights of ethnic minorities in Slovakia – namely, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education – would aid the situation. Meanwhile, there is an equal need for improved conceptual work and enhanced cooperation between the various ethnic Rusyn organizations as their operations often lack rational steps, and they have trouble distinguishing between the movement’s primary and secondary aims.
The expansion of the functional spheres of the Rusyn language in Slovakia is one of the highlights of the ethnic and cultural revitalization process of the Rusyns. Yet, after ten years of practical application, the weak points of the literary language have also been revealed. Besides the need for orthographic corrections, these weaknesses are connected with the requirements of establishing terminology for particular functional spheres (except for the religious sphere, where the problems of terminology are solved by a special linguistic and liturgical committee). Thus far, the Rusyn language in Slovakia has only codified linguistic terminology, which, as the practical application illustrates, also requires corrections. Codification of other terms will obviously be completed and stabilized after the 10-year assessment; since many terms have already been applied in every sphere, they will have to be evaluated and decisions made taking different regional variants of the Rusyn language into consideration. However, the language codifiers forewarned us of this situation back when the initial codification process was completed. The experts said that codification is just the beginning of a long process involving further language development – the literary language should be seen as a living organism which experiences a continuous process of changes. After a 10-year period of use, concrete changes in the regional norm of Slovakia were indeed registered in 2005 (Jabur, Plišková).
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