Category Archives: Rusyn

More Rusyn

In Fall 2005 I wrote a post about Rusyn, that little-known Slavonic language of the Carpathians. Oddly, that post brings more visitors to this weblog through Google searches than any other. It seems that there is more interest in Rusyn out there than one might expect.

In addition to his Rusyn textbook from the 1970s, Paul R. Magocsi recently edited A New Slavic Language is Born: the Rusyn literary language of Slovakia (Columbia University Press, 1996). Though the process of Ukrainianization has already been carried out well-nigh to the end across the border, it’s a pleasure to see that in Slovakia the language has a chance of survival.

One thing I’m puzzled about, however, is how much continuity there is between old native speakers of Rusyn and the new proponents of a literary language. In his textbook, Magocsi writes that Rusyn was so dead in the Carpathians that the only reliable informants were elderly immigrants in the U.S. A historical grammar from the very first attestations through to the norms set down by those who would revitalize the language for literature is sorely needed.

Let’s speak Rusyn

Curious about the minority Slavonic language spoken along the Carpathian mountains in Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine I obtained a copy of Paul R. Magocsi’s Let’s Speak Rusyn (Prešov edition). How amusing what one can learn about the language just by considering its Rusyn title Бісідуйме по-руськы. For the verb ‘to speak’ Rusyn continues to use OCS бесѣдовати which, before it was muscled out in most places by говорити, was the customary term among Slavs, as in Byzantine emperor Michael III’s words to St Cyril before sending him to Moravia, солѹнѣне вьси чисто словѣньскъi бесѣдѹѭтъ ‘the inhabitants of Thessaloniki all speak perfect Slavonic.’ With its ending -уйме, it preserves the 1st person plural imperative of OCS (which in turn comes from the PIE optative). Among innovations, its reflex of yat as /i/ is striking.

The World Academy of Rusyn Culture has a fairly in-depth presentation of the Rusyn people.