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The East Slavic languages constitute one of the three regional subgroups of
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
. These languages are currently spoken natively throughout
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical reg ...

Eastern Europe
and extend eastwards to
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
and the
Russian Far East The Russian Far East ( rus, Дальний Восток России, r=Dal'niy Vostok Rossii, p=ˈdalʲnʲɪj vɐˈstok rɐˈsʲiɪ) is a region in . It is the easternmost part of and the n continent; and is administered as part of the , w ...

Russian Far East
; while being also spoken as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
in many regions of
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
and
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
. Speakers of East Slavic languages far out-number the West Slavic and South Slavic language families. The existing East Slavic languages are
Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
; Rusyn is considered to be either a separate language or a dialect of Ukrainian. The East Slavic languages descend from a common predecessor,
Old East Slavic Old East Slavic (traditionally also: Old Russian, be, старажытнаруская мова; russian: древнерусский язык; uk, давньоруська мова) was a language used during the 10th–15th centuries by East ...
, the language of the medieval
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
(9th to 13th centuries). All these languages use the
Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolic, Uralic languages, Uralic, Caucas ...
, but with particular modifications.
Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
used to have
Latin alphabetsThe tables below summarize and compare the letter inventory of some of the Latin-script alphabet A Latin-script alphabet (Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet) is an alphabet that uses Letter (alphabet), letters of the Latin script. The 21-letter arc ...

Latin alphabets
, and now Rusyn uses Latin in some regions.


Classification


Differentiation

The East Slavic territory exhibits a linguistic continuum with many transitional dialects. Between Belarusian and Ukrainian there is the Polesian dialect, which shares features from both languages. East Polesian is a transitional
variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
between Belarusian and Ukrainian on one hand, and between South Russian and Ukrainian on the other hand. At the same time, Belarusian and
Southern Russian Southern Russian is one of the main groups of Russian dialects. Territory * The territory of the ''primary formation'' (i.e. that consists of "Old" Russia of the 16th century before Eastern conquests by Ivan IV Ivan IV Vasilyevich ( rus, И ...
form a continuous area, making it virtually impossible to draw a line between the two languages.
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
or Middle Russian (with its Moscow sub-dialect), the transitional step between the North and the South, became a base for the Russian literary standard.
Northern Russian The northern Russian dialects make up one of the main groups of the Russian dialects Russian dialects are spoken variants of the Russian language Russian (, Romanization of Russian, tr. ''russkiy yazyk'') is an East Slavic languages, East Sla ...
with its predecessor, the
Old Novgorod dialectOld Novgorod dialect (russian: древненовгородский диалект, translit=drevnenovgorodskiy dialekt; also translated as Old Novgorodian or Ancient Novgorod dialect) is a term introduced by Andrey Zaliznyak to describe the dialect ...
, has many original and archaic features. Due to the influence of the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
over many centuries, Belarusian and Ukrainian have been influenced in several respects by
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
, a
West Slavic language The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group. They include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Kashubian, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian. The languages are spoken across a continuous region encompassing the Czech Republic ...
/ lechitic. Ruthenian, the mixed Belarusian-Ukrainian literary language with a
Church Slavonic Church Slavonic (''црькъвьнословѣньскъ ѩзыкъ'', ''crĭkŭvĭnoslověnĭskŭ językŭ'', literally "Church-Slavonic language"), also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic or New Church Slavic, is the conservative ...
substratum In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
and
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
adstratum In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
, was, together with
Middle Polish Middle Polish ( pl, język średniopolski) is the period in the Polish language#History, history of the Polish language between the 16th and 18th centuries. It evolved from Old Polish language, Old Polish, and gave rise to Polish language, Modern P ...
, an official language in Belarus and Ukraine until the end of the 18th century.


Orthography


Phonology


Notes


History

When the common
Old East Slavic language : ''Cyrillic letters in this article are romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for s ...
became separated from the ancient Slavic tongue common to all Slavs is difficult to ascertain, though in the 12th century the common language of Rus' is still referred to in contemporary writing as Slavic. Therefore, a crucial differentiation has to be made between the history of the East Slavic ''dialects'' and that of the ''literary languages'' employed by the Eastern Slavs. Although most ancient texts betray the dialect their author or scribe spoke, it is also clearly visible that they tried to write in a language different from their dialects and to avoid those mistakes that enable us nowadays to locate them. In both cases one has to keep in mind that the history of the East Slavic languages is of course a history of written
text Text may refer to: Written word * Text (literary theory) In literary theory, a text is any object that can be "read", whether this object is a work of literature, a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block, or styles of clothin ...

text
s. We do not know how the writers of the preserved texts would have spoken in everyday life.


Influence of Church Slavonic

After the conversion of the East Slavic region to Christianity the people used service books borrowed from
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
, which were written in
Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic () was the first Slavic literary language A literary language is the form of a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (S ...
. The Church Slavonic language was strictly used only in text, while the colloquial language of the
Bulgarians Bulgarians ( bg, българи, Bǎlgari, ) are a nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Le ...
was communicated in its spoken form. Throughout the Middle Ages (and in some way up to the present day) there existed a duality between the Church Slavonic language used as some kind of 'higher' register (not only) in religious texts and the popular tongue used as a 'lower' register for secular texts. It has been suggested to describe this situation as ''
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
'', although there do exist mixed texts where it is sometimes very hard to determine why a given author used a popular or a Church Slavonic form in a given context. Church Slavonic was a major factor in the evolution of modern Russian, where there still exists a "high stratum" of words that were imported from this language.


Current status

All of these languages are today separate in their own right. In the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
the official view was that the Belarusian ("White Russian"), Ukrainian ("Little Russian"), and Russian ("Great Russian") languages were dialects of one common "Russian" language (the common languages of Eastern Slavic countries). Over the course of the 20th century, "Great Russian" came to be known as Russian proper, "Little Russian" as Ukrainian and "White Russian" as Belarusian.


References


Further reading

* *


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:East Slavic Languages Slavic languages