History of the Belarusian Language
Belarusian is one of the languages of the Eastern Slavs. Today it is one of the two official languages of the Republic of Belarus (the second is Russian).
At the time of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Belarusian language began its independent formation with a separation from Old Slavic. The Belarusian alphabet is mainly Cyrillic alphabet with the apostrophe mark, while the orthography is based on the principle “both heard and written”, which greatly simplifies the rules of Belarusian spelling.
At present, there are two official languages in the country, but more than half of the population considers Belarusian their native language. Much fewer people living in Belarus can say that they speak it with their relatives or friends. In total, about 7 million people in the country speak their native language. Having passed a very difficult and controversial path, the Belarusian language remains alive in the modern realities. There are schools and other children’s institutions in the country, where the Belarusian language is taught. Traveling along the roads of Belarus, one can often find signs written in the Belarusian language.
Wealth of dialects of the Belarusian language
Perhaps, it will be a discovery for someone that the Belarusian language is really very rich. If the literary language has about 250 – 500 thousand words, the dialect language has about two million. An important component of the Belarusian language are dialects and local words. It is interesting that sometimes scientists record the dialectal differences not only in the neighboring villages, but even the dialects of different ends of one village. It is believed that the main dialects of the Belarusian language are the northeastern, southwestern and middle Belarusian transition languages. Belarusian dialects differ in pronunciation of certain types of letters. For example, the letters “a” or “e”, “t”. Linguists call these features pronunciation “acanyem”, “zekanem” and “tsekanem”.
Apart from the above mentioned dialects, there is also the so-called “trasyanka” – a form of Belarusian spoken language with mixed morphology and word formation. However, these dialects do not violate the unity and integrity of the national language.
History and value of the Belarusian language
There are several stages in the history of the Belarusian language development. During the period when Belarusian lands were located in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Old Belarusian was recognized as the official language. At that time, it was used for official and private correspondence, judicial practice, translation of literature and communication. At the same time, Francysk Skaryna founded book printing in the old Belarusian language.
After the merger of the GDL with Poland and the establishment of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569), the old Belarusian language lost its importance and yielded to Polish. And already in 1696 Polish was recognized as the official language of the Rzeczpospolita. During this period, Old Belarusian was mainly used among peasants.
After the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the second stage of formation and development of the Belarusian language began. At that time, Russian was the official state language on the Belarusian lands, but at the beginning of the XIX century the question of the Belarusian language independence was raised. Belarusian intelligentsia stands at the origins of the literary language development: Vincent Dunin-Martinkevich, Alexander Rypinski, Y. Chachot. In the second half of the 19th century, the national language started its real heyday. Famous poets and writers, such as F. Bogushevich, M. Bogdanovich, J. Kolas and J. Kupala, wrote their works in it.
After the October Revolution of 1917, the Belarusian language was recognized as the state language, and it began to be used in official documentation, court case, and educational sphere.
The people of our country are proud of their native language, but…
not many people talk on it. It is for this reason that Belarusian is featured in the UNESCO Atlas of Languages: the world community believes that our language is at the initial stage of extinction. At the same time, by its melodic sound, it is recognized as the second language after Italian.
The Belarusian language is one of the most living languages. It is the main means of national culture in Belarus, which opens a big and magical world of sound and identity to each of us.
Our national language is filled with many epithets and characteristics. It is the spiritual acquisition of our nation, which lives within each of us. Perhaps, there is not a single Belarusian writer who would not express his charm with his native language. A great role in the formation of the Belarusian literary language was played by Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolos, Maksim Bogdanovich, Vasil Bykov, Uladzimir Korotkevich and many other writers of Belarus. These authors have said many sincere words about the beauty and richness of the Belarusian language. Their works are imbued with love for him, concern for his fate, they describe the beauty and beauty of his nature of the Belarusian language, very subtly convey shades of human feelings.
The Belarusian language has kept in itself set of Slavic elements and consequently is fairly considered as key to understanding of other Slavic languages. It has a huge number of words that cannot be translated literally. This is its uniqueness, originality and meaning of existence.