Ruthenian Language
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Ruthenian Language
Old Ruthenian
(?) ?[1][2]
ruska(ja) mova
Native toPolish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (influenced Church Slavonic - language of administration of Grand Duchy of Lithuania until 1699)
ExtinctDeveloped into Belarusian, Ukrainian and Rusyn.
Language codes

Ruthenian or Old Ruthenian (also see other names) was the group of varieties of East Slavic spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later in the East Slavic territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The written form is also called Chancery Slavonic by Lithuanian and Western European linguists.[3]

Scholars do not agree whether Ruthenian was a separate language, or a Western dialect or set of dialects of Old East Slavic, but it is agreed[by whom?] that Ruthenian has a close relationship to it. Old East Slavic was the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus' (10th-13th centuries).[4] Dialects of Ruthenian slowly developed into modern Belarusian, Rusyn and Ukrainian languages.


A fragment from the 1588 codification of Lithuanian law, which regulated the official use of the "ruskiy" language[5]
Ruthenian Language Grammar, by Stepan Smal-Stotsky and Theodor Gartner
Ruthenian Bible Printed by Dr.Francysk Skaryna from the Glorious City of Polatsk

In modern texts, the language in question is sometimes called "Old Ukrainian" or "Old Belarusian" (Ukrainian: ?) and (Belarusian: ?).[] As Ruthenian was always in a kind of diglossic opposition to Church Slavonic, this vernacular language was and still is often called prosta(ja) mova (Cyrillic (?) ?), literally "simple speech".

Names in contemporary use

  • Ruthenian/Rusian (Old Belarusian? ) - by the contemporaries, but, generally, not in contemporary Russia.
    • (variant) Simple Ruthenian or simple talk (Old Belarusian (?) or ? , ? ?) - publisher Hryhorii Khodkevych (16th century).
  • Lithuanian (Russian: ?) - possibly, exclusive reference to it in the contemporary Russia. Also by Zizaniy (end of the 16th century), Pamva Berynda (1653).

Names in modern use for Ruthenian

  • (Old) Ruthenian - modern collective name, covering both Old Belarusian and Old Ukrainian languages, predominantly used by the 20th-century Lithuanian, also many Polish and English researchers.
  • (Old) West Russian, language or dialect (Russian: (?) ?, Russian: (?) ?) - chiefly by the supporters of the concept of the Proto-Russian phase, especially since the end of the 19th century, e.g., by Karskiy, Shakhmatov. Russian resource uses the term West Russian written language ( ? ?).
  • (Old) Belarusian (language) - in Belarus and by some Russian researchers. Also Kryzhanich. The denotation Belarusian (language) (Russian: (?)) when referring both to the 19th-century language and to the Medieval language had been used in works of the 19th-century Russian researchers Fyodor Buslayev, Ogonovskiy, Zhitetskiy, Sobolevskiy, Nedeshev, Vladimirov and Belarusian researchers, such as Karskiy.
  • Lithuanian-Russian (Russian: -?) - by 19th-century Russian researchers Keppen, archbishop Filaret, Sakharov, Karatayev.
  • Lithuanian-Slavonic (Russian: -?) - by 19th-century Russian researcher Baranovskiy.[6]
  • Chancery Slavonic - for the written form of Old Church Slavonic, influenced by various Ruthenian dialects and used in the chancery of Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[7]
  • Ruski - used by Norman Davies in Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (2011).[8]

Daniel Bun?i? suggested a periodization of the literary language into:[9]

  1. Early Ruthenian, dating from the separation of Lithuanian and Muscovite chancery languages (15th century) to the early 16th century
  2. High Ruthenian, from Francysk Skaryna (fl. 1517-25), to Ivan Uzhevych (Hramatyka slovenskaia, 1643, 1645)
  3. Late Ruthenian, from 1648 to the establishment of a new Ukrainian standard language at the end of the 18th century

George Shevelov gives a chronology for Ukrainian based on the character of contemporary written sources, ultimately reflecting socio-historical developments:[10][11] Proto-Ukrainian, up to the mid-11th century, Old Ukrainian, to the 14th c., Early Middle Ukrainian, to the mid-16th c., Middle Ukrainian, to the early 18th c., Late Middle Ukrainian, rest of the 18th c., and Modern Ukrainian.

East Slavic languages in 1389. Areas with different spoken dialects are shown in different colors. Territories using different written languages are delineated by dashed lines: the green line for the Ruthenian ("") and the orange line for the Old-Russian ("").
Linguistic, ethnographic, and political map of Eastern Europe by Casimir Delamarre, 1868
  Ruthenians and Ruthenian language

See also


  1. ^ ?. ?-. ? ? ? (? ) [Lingvonyms of the East Slavic Cultural Region (Historical Review)] (in Russian) // ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? [Research on Slavic Languages and Literature in Higher Education: Achievements and Prospects: Information and Abstracts of the International Scientific Conference]/ . ?. ?. ?, ?. ?. , ?. ?. . -- ?., 2003. -- ?. 150 -- 317 ?.
  2. ^ ? ? [The initial stage of the formation of the Russian national language], 1962, p. 221
  3. ^ e.g., Elana Goldberg Shohamy and Monica Barni, Linguistic Landscape in the City (Multilingual Matters, 2010: ISBN 1847692974), p. 139: "[The Grand Duchy of Lithuania] adopted as its official language the literary version of Ruthenian, written in Cyrillic and also known as Chancery Slavonic"; Virgil Krapauskas, Nationalism and Historiography: The Case of Nineteenth-Century Lithuanian Historicism (East European Monographs, 2000: ISBN 0880334576), p. 26: "By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Chancery Slavonic dominated the written state language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania"; Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction Of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (Yale University Press, 2004: ISBN 030010586X), p. 18: "Local recensions of Church Slavonic, introduced by Orthodox churchmen from more southerly lands, provided the basis for Chancery Slavonic, the court language of the Grand Duchy."
  4. ^ "Ukrainian Language".
  5. ^ "Statut Velikogo knyazhestva Litovskogo" ? [Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Section 4 Article 1)]. ? IX-XVIII . .. 1588. Archived from the original on 2018-06-29. Retrieved . ? - ? ? , ? , ? ? ? .
  6. ^ Cited in ?. ? ?- . -- ?., 1980.
  8. ^ Davies, Norman (2011). Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (reprint ed.). Penguin UK. p. lxxvii. ISBN 9780141960487. Retrieved . The principal languages employed are ruski (Old Belarusian), Latin and Polish.
  9. ^ Daniel Bun?i? (2015). "On the dialectal basis of the Ruthenian literary language". Welt der Slaven. 60 (2): 277. ISSN 0043-2520. Wikidata Q106315708.
  10. ^ George Shevelov (1979). A Historical Phonology of the Ukrainian Language. Historical Phonology of the Slavic Languages. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter. pp. 40-41. ISBN 3-533-02786-4. OL 22276820M. Wikidata Q105081119.
  11. ^ George Shevelov (2002). Leonid Uschkalow (ed.). A Historical Phonology of the Ukrainian Language (in Ukrainian). Translated by ; Andrii Danylenko. Kharkiv: Unknown. p. 54-55. ISBN 966-7021-62-9. OL 19736026M. Wikidata Q105081178.


  • Brogi Bercoff, Giovanna: "Plurilingualism in Eastern Slavic culture of the 17th century: The case of Simeon Polockij." In: Slaviaasopis pro slovanskou filologii, vol. 64. p. 3-14.
  • Danylenko, Andrii: "'Prostaja mova', 'Kitab', and Polissian Standard". In: Die Welt der Slaven LI (2006), no. 1, p. 80-115.
  • Danylenko, Andrii: "On the Name(s) of the prostaja mova in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth", In: Studia Slavica Hung., 51/1-2 (2006),p. 97-121
  • Dingley, Jim [James]. "The two versions of the Gramatyka Slovenskaja of Ivan U?evi?.' In: The Journal of Byelorussian Studies, 2.4 (year VIII), p. 369-384.
  • Frick, David A. "'Foolish Rus': On Polish civilization, Ruthenian self-hatred, and Kasijan Sakovy?." In: Harvard Ukrainian studies 18.3/4 (1994), p. 210-248.
  • Martel, Antoine. La langue polonaise dans les pays ruthènes: Ukraine et Russie Blanche 1569/1667. Lille 1938.
  • Moser, Michael: "Mittelruthenisch (Mittelweißrussisch und Mittelukrainisch): Ein Überblick." In: Studia Slavica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 50 (2005), no. 1-2, p. 125-142.
  • Mozer [= Moser], Micha?l'. "?to takoe 'prostaja mova'?". In: Studia Slavica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 47.3/4 (2002), p. 221-260.
  • Pivtorak, Hryhorij. "Do pytannja pro ukrajins'ko-bilorus'ku vzajemodiju donacional'noho periodu (dosjahnennja, zavdannja i perspektyvy doslid?en')". In: Movoznavstvo 1978.3 (69), p. 31-40.
  • Pugh, Stefan M.: Testament to Ruthenian. A Linguistic Analysis of the Smotryc'kyj Variant. Cambridge 1996 (= Harvard Series of Ukrainian Studies).
  • Shevelov, George Y. "Belorussian versus Ukrainian: Delimitation of texts before A.D. 1569". In: The Journal of Byelorussian Studies 3.2 (year 10), p. 145-156.
  • Stang, Christian: Die westrussische Kanzleisprache des Grossfürstentums Litauen. Oslo 1935 (= Skrifter utgitt av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo, Historisk-filosofisk Klasse 1935,2).
  • Strumins'kyj, Bohdan. "The language question in the Ukrainian lands before the nineteenth century". In: Aspects of the Slavic language question. Ed. Riccardo Picchio, Harvey Goldblatt. New Haven 1984, vol. 2, p. 9-47.

External links

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