The World Academy of Rusyn Culture has a good site on the language called Rusyn by its speakers and sometimes Ruthenian in English (or “western Ukrainian” by those who do not recognize it as a separate language):

The language territory where Carpatho-Rusyn dialects are spoken coincides with the historical territory of *Carpathian Rus’, which in terms of present-day boundaries is located within southeastern Poland (the *Lemko Region), northeastern Slovakia (the *Prešov Region), most of the *Transcarpathian oblast of Ukraine (*Subcarpathian Rus’), and a small corner of north-central Romania (the *Maramureş Region). Rusyn is also spoken in a few scattered communities in northeastern Hungary and among emigrants from Carpathian Rus’ who settled in the *Vojvodina and Srem regions of present-day Yugoslavia and far eastern Croatia and in the United States and Canada…

The difficulty in classifying Carpatho-Rusyn dialects stems largely from the fact that individual dialect territories experience an overlapping of numerous isoglosses. In other words, certain linguistic features typical of one area encroach into other areas; determining where to draw a boundary between these territories in the process of defining and classifying the dialects thus becomes difficult. Another difficulty in classification is related to the fact that the dialects have in the past and continue to be influenced by numerous sociolinguistic or extralinguistic factors from the larger world in which Rusyns live, whether in Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the United States, or Canada. When attempting a synchronic description of the language system of dialects and in classifying them, researchers must consider the larger linguistic and cultural worlds in which dialects function. The structure and function of the dialects must be described in connection with the languages with which they are in contact.

A nice find by Christopher Culver, who also posts about a projected Indogermanische Grammatik that was begun in 1968 by Kuryłowicz, “was subsequently continued by Watkins, Cowgill, and Mayrhofer, and is nowhere near completion… I wonder what the oldest perpetually unfinished project is in Indo-European linguistics.” So which will appear first, this or The Last Dangerous Visions?


  1. I think I also heard somewhere that Andy Warhol’s parents were in fact Rusyns from Slovakia. Some places in the literature they’re described as Slovaks or even Czechoslovakians, which is obviously less accurate.

  2. Watkins et al should publish what they have -I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to get hold of that book. Same goes for unpublished parts of Wackernagel’s Altindische Grammatik.
    BTW, have you come across any on-line materials on classical (15-17th cent) Ruthenian?

  3. If you google “ruthenian language” you’ll find whatever I turned up when doing this post.

  4. Here’s another one (a new language in between Belarusan, Polish and Rusyn). It’s called Svoja, tentatively:
    (On the bottom of the page you’ll find a sample of the language, a short story from Graham Greene translated into Svoja.)

  5. That sample of Svoja reads awfully like Russified Ukrainian. The divergence between nationality and ethnicity has long been observed, and yet, in each instance there is an attempt to make this somehow news-worthy: “An unprecendented find shakes the linguistic community! A creole discovered in a region between two other languages!”

  6. The Ruthenians are a Slavic group that neither the Russians nor the Ukrainians have been able to absorb. They seem to be very independent minded. They were part of Czechosloavia before World War II but were still unhappy in the union despite the fact that they shared a common Roman Catholic religion with the Czechs and Slovaks. The Ruthenians are given some credit along with the Poles and the Hungarians, for stopping the Mongol invasions of Europe in the 13th century but I don’ know all the details.
    The Romanian dialects of nearby Bucovina and northern Moldavia (in the Carpathians) are also interesting. They diverge quite a bit from standard Romanian and have even more Slavonic (especially Russian) influences. These Romanians, however, seem to share a common Carpathian regional culture with the Ruthenians.

  7. I can only regret that “Ruthenian” is used mostly in the narrow sense of “Carpatho-Ruthenian” to the detriment of a broader meaning, “related to, or originating in Rus’.” In other words, russky/rus’ky as used in the 19th century and earlier.
    LH, you must have disabled comments to the Gorgoniev post to stress its title, “That’s my language: keep out!”

  8. Wimbrel: “That sample of Svoja reads awfully like Russified Ukrainian.”
    Since I heard it spoken on a few occasions, I can share my subjective opinion on how it sounds. It sounds like normal Belarusan, but with strong Ukrainian accent and Polish intonations. Just my IMHO. 😉
    As for the identity, that’s exactly, the problem. Those people from Eastern Poland are something like Belarusans, but they can’t fully identify with the official language of Belarus (not speaking about the political system or society values).

  9. I covered Svoja here.
    Alexei: Dammit, I hate when I do that! (Sometimes when I’m publishing a post I accidentally hit “Close comments” instead of “Save.”) Thanks for alerting me — I was wondering why it hadn’t attracted any comments! In general, I only close comments on old posts that are getting spammed, so if you can’t comment on a new one, please do let me know.

  10. Sorry, I know this isn’t directly related to language, but would my (original) family name, Ruthino(w)ski, mean “from Ruthenia”? My grandfather emigrated from Poland to the US.

  11. Sure it’s language-related, and it’s an excellent question, but I’m afraid I don’t know. Anyone?

  12. Re: Ruthinowski
    It probably is a Polish habitational name related to Ruthenia. The eastern part of the Polish province of Galicia was also called “Rusyn” or “Ruthenia’ (a Latinized form) in former times. Most of the Ruthenians living there were absorbed by Polish settlers who came there in the 17th and 18th centuries. The area we generally speak of as Ruthenia today is in the western Ukraine stradling the borders of Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Since it was previously part of Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and even Hungary (1939-1944) permanent control by the Ukraine is by no means assured.

  13. Thank you for the information about the name Ruthinoski. I’ve always been curious because I can find no record of that name except for the two families that emigrated to Eastern Long Island (one with “w” and one without) Friends in Poland can find no record of the name.

  14. Daniel Downer says

    I believe my great grandfather was Ruthenian. He was dark skinned, had black hair, and immigrated to the US. His surname was something that sounded like “Kurakavish”. I know there is a Polish name that is similar “Kurkowicz”, but would this be a Ruthenian name?

  15. I know this is an old thread, but I’ve since been told by a distant family member that my family’s original name was Litwinowski, which somehow got changed from Litwinowski to Retvanowski to Ruthinowski/Ruthinoski, so the family is not likely to be Ruthenian after all.

    Thanks for all your help, though. It’s great to have a forum like this.

  16. Thanks for the follow-up!

  17. Since this thread I hadn’t previously seen has reopened, let me note that the U.S. Census Bureau classifies, or did, Rusyns as Russians. In We the People, the government atlas of US ethnicities, there is, iirc, some half-hearted defense of this “decision,” which obviously rather ought to be called “clueless bureaucratic guess.” (These are the same people who disallowed “Scotch-Irish” as a self-designation in the belief it connoted mixed heritage, thus greatly inflating the number of Irish-Americans in the South.)

  18. Wow, that’s unbelievably stupid.

  19. Here is useful list of all nationalities and ethnic groups mentioned in answers to the all-Russian census of 2002.

    Very democratic system, though it can be a bit difficult to decypher replies sometimes.

    For example, does anybody know who the hell are the Каран`ыныльо people?

    Or на бэйэенин?

    Or мых абдыр?

  20. Don’t know about the others, but the мых абдыр are the Rutuls.

  21. Thanks. Na beienin are the Negidals.

    But Karan’ynyl’yo are still a mystery

  22. Googling yields easy answers (but be sure to google “бэйенин” without the second э).

    Каран`ыныльо = коряки.
    На бэйенин = негидальцы, also see the link above.
    Мых абдыр = рутульцы.

  23. Found them at last. It’s one of the names used by Koryak people

    077. Коряки (алюторцы, алутальу, апокваямыло, апукинцы, войкыпало, воямпольцы, каменцы, карагинцы, караныныльо, нымыланы, олюторцы, чавчувены, чавчыв): 8743

  24. J. W. Brewer says is recent U.S. census ancestry data. “Carpatho Rusyn” is apparently now an acceptable answer (or category – I assume they aggregate a couple different synonyms and spelling variants into one line for reporting purposes), but the numbers are low enough that presumably a lot of people who could plausibly give that answer are slotted in elsewhere. More people (approx 3.2M) report “Scotch-Irish” than “Russian,” even though “Russian” may have a lot more false positives by slotting in people whose ancestors were understood in their place of origin to be something other-than-Russian. The largest such group, of course, is probably Ashkenazic-Americans, where the commendable American strong political taboo against the government officially keeping track of people’s religions leads to messy data because of the resultant inability to conceptualize Ashkenazim as an ethnic group that was and is distinct from “Poles,” “Russians,” “Lithuanians,” etc. both in the old country and in the U.S. (I used to have an Ashkenazic work colleague who told his kid “Austria” when the kid asked about country of ancestry for some school project, which seemed like such a random answer — i.e. the family did not sit around the dinner table basking in self-conscious Austrianness — that the next day at school he got muddled and thought he was of Australian descent, with some sort of hilarity ensuing.)

    The other night my older daughter asked me for some more complicated school project for a full list of all countries her ancestors had come from and I gave her a list which ended up (with a maximalist/splitting approach*) with thirteen entries, which I used as an opening to explain to her that her true ethnicity was basically “American” because nowhere in the Old World would such an assortment of people have come together and had common descendents.

    *Ambiguity because of some ancestors from parts of Europe where the national boundaries have moved around rather a lot over the last few centuries and also because of what to do with lines of ancestry where the first port of arrival in the New World was not the present-day U.S. but the relevant bit of family sojourned in Canada or Cuba for a generation or two before arriving in the Promised Land.

  25. Another interesting name is капучины.

    No, it has nothing to do with Cappuccino friars. It turns out that this is one of the names used by Bezhta people of Daghestan,

  26. A good one – идн. This is of course Yiddish word Yidn – Jews. Other names used by various Jewish groups include

    бани исроил, дживут бухари, джугут, иври, исроэл, яхуди, яхудои махали

    and даг-чуфут, джуфут, джухут

  27. Speaking of “Austrian,” I seem to recall that the same atlas regarded all people listing their ancestry as simply “Austrian” to be ethnically German, thereby inflating that figure too. J. W. Brewer’s comment suggests that the Census Bureau responded to criticism of that book, which is I think about 30 years old now.

  28. J. W. Brewer says

    One problem is that the underlying data is all self-reporting – two Ashkenazic-American families could have emigrated from the same shtetl in Hapsburg-ruled Galicia on the eve of WW1 and one set of grandchildren answers the question “Austrian” and another “Polish,” with both answers being not-implausible. But there’s no obvious better way to do it, other than develop of a sense of where the fuzziness is concentrated. (Presumably by contrast comparatively few people who tell the U.S. census their ancestry is “Norwegian” lack ancestors who fit the narrowest possible definition of Norwegianness anyone could argue for.)

  29. Grant Newsham has an interesting discussion of Rusyn at the Log; some excerpts:

    My mother was Rusyn. (Carpatho-Rusyn, Ruthenian, Lemko [in Poland]). Originating in a small village, Volica, up in today’s northeast Slovakia — though she grew up in coal country near Pittsburgh. Her first language was Rusyn — but I don’t think she really knew exactly what language it was until much later in life. They had no real sense of nationhood. She said she spoke ‘Russian’ — but referred to it as just ‘Kitchen Russian’ — or some inferior form of Russian. I think it did kind of bother her – thinking that she was a hillbilly of sorts and speaking uneducated Russian.

    However, the language is basically Ukrainian (with some differences) — so close that the Ukrainians don’t consider it, or the Rusyns, as distinct entities. After the communists were overthrown, the Slovak government allowed Rusyn nationality (and have set up some Rusyn-language schools [a cousin teaches at one]) and you’ll see signs in Rusyn, but the Ukrainians still do not. My grandfather was very clear that they were not Ukrainians.

    I grew up hearing Rusyn often — not least since that’s what all the aunts and uncles spoke — and my grandmother didn’t speak English. But as was the case back then, we weren’t encouraged or expected to learn the language — other than some words and nursery rhymes. However, one older cousin grew up with his grandparents and mother (in Chicago) and that was the language they spoke in the house until he was about 14 and moved away. So he spoke ‘Russian’ perfectly — for a 14 year old. In the late 70’s, after the Marines and starting with IBM, he set out to see where he came from. Got a plane ticket to Krakow and then drove south — to the village. He said that as he got farther south in Poland he could understand much of the language, and the farther he got the more he understood. And when he finally got to the village he understood it perfectly. […]

    Funny that I never heard my mother say ‘Rusyn’, Ruthenian’ or something that would have identified her as part of a particular group. Surprising since the ‘Rusky Club’ was right across the street. When asked, she would sometimes mention that her father was from ‘Medzilaborce’ and sometimes said he’d been in Franz Joseph’s Army, but really had no sense of nationality. Seemed that the aunts and uncles et al had more of a sense of being Greek Catholics.

  30. One of the most prominent appearances of Rusyn-Americans is in the film 1978 The Deer Hunter. Specifically, the film begins with the wedding day of one of the major characters, filmed at a Rusyn Orthodox church and featuring many members of the local community as extras (and with an actual Rusyn priest officiating). It’s quite a long scene, but it never drags* as it introduces the characters and their various relationships. However, in the story, the specific Slavic ethnicity of the characters is never stated. [Per Wikipedia: “They all belong to a tight-knit Slavic American community, although their precise ethnic affiliation (i. e. whether they are Russian Americans, Ukrainian Americans, Rusyn Americans, etc. or any combination thereof) is left open to interpretation.”] The closest The Deer Hunter comes to specifying the characters’ ethnicity further comes when Christopher Walken’s character, Nikanor Chevotarevich, is recuperating in a military hospital:

    Doctor: Uh-huh, Chevotarevich. Is that a Russian name?
    Nick: No. It’s American.

    * The movie never really drags at any point, despite running over three hours. Through much the penultimate act, however, I find myself wishing that Nick could be back on screen sooner. Robert De Niro as also a first-rate actor, but it is Walken whose performance most shines out.

  31. I remember liking that movie a lot; I should really see it again after all this time.

  32. J.W. Brewer says

    As I noted over at the Log, the wedding scene in the Deer Hunter was filmed at a “Russian” Orthodox cathedral (St. Theodosius, which is in Cleveland, not Western Pa. strictu sensu), but most of the founders of that particular congregation historically were Rusyns/Ruthenians as is indeed the case in quite a lot of U.S. “Russian” parishes of pre-WW1 historical origin — a lot more Eastern Slavs emigrated to the U.S. in those days from the Hapsburg lands whereas immigrants from Czarist lands were less likely to be Gentiles.

  33. Nick reconstructed to Nikanor is unexpected….

  34. I guess — but it is a guess: I do not know the histories of the word “Rusyn” and I guess many identities associated with it) — that calling Rusyns “Russian” is entirely correct.

    I guess there is an older set of macro-identities and a newer macro-identity centered in Moscow.

    Rusyn do belong to the former and the name directly refers to it.
    Tatarina Tatar person (1! and male…)
    Tatarskiy – the Tatar language.
    -in is one of many singulative suffixes for demonyms (often implies a mass sg. noun like Litva, Rus)
    -skij is one of many possessive suffixes for adjective (particularly common in names of langauges).

    (If -yn in Rusyn is the same, of course)

  35. calling Rusyns “Russian” is entirely correct

    As correct as calling the Dutch “Germans”.

  36. As correct as calling Germans outside the state of Germany Germans.

  37. I am serious. For one thing, it were Rusyns who described their langauge as “Russian” in the comment above.

  38. Their ideas of identity could be influenced by those in then imperial Russia (and thus represent not as much the old macro-identity as one of its iterations). But imposing on these people the modern ideal:

    There is a state of Russia, it is populated by Russians who speak Russian. And there is a state of Ukraine, it is populated by Ukrainians who speak Ukrainian. And there is a state of Belarus, it is …
    Ukrainians all have one Ukraianin culture. Russians all have an uniform Russian culture. Belarus people…
    How do we insert in the scheme various people referred to as Rusyn?

    …can be wrong. There is an objective problem here: these people simply may not identify with a Rusyn “ethnicity”. Also it is anachronistic when speaking about peoples and identities of the past when the modern macro-identity did not look like what it looks like today.

  39. Thank you for the information about the name Ruthinoski. I’ve always been curious because I can find no record of that name except for the two families that emigrated to Eastern Long Island (one with “w” and one without) Friends in Poland can find no record of the name.(mtwelles, comment, 16 September 2005, earlier in this thread)

    That comment prompted me to search for the family name Ruthinowski at Find a Grave (, where a photograph of the joint gravestone of Frances Elizabeth Ruthinowski (nee Stypulkowski) (1915-1988) and Joseph Ruthinowski (1908-1988), at Saint Isadore’s Cemetery in Riverhead, New York, can be seen ( and

    Scattered atop and around the gravestone are about sixteen small stones arranged in no pattern.

    I had thought that only Jews follow the custom of putting a small stone atop or near a gravestone after visiting the grave of a dead person (,the%20stone%20on%20your%20left%20hand%20is%20customary and many other websites).

    How widespread is the custom among non-Jews?

  40. They don’t speak Russian and they didn’t live in Russia. You seem to be operating entirely on the basis that “Rusyn” sounds like “Russian.”

  41. If this is the first you’ve heard of Rusyns, maybe you should read up on the topic before deciding what you think about it.

  42. @Languagehat, why are you telling it to me, and not to them (Rusyns)?

    Ruskij is THEIR adjective and Russian is THEIR English translation.

    I said it is not incorrect.

  43. And what the fuck it has to do with [modern state of] “Russia”?

  44. Because in English “Russian” means “pertaining to Russia.” Their idiosyncratic use of English is of no more importance than the fact that the Pennsylvania Dutch call themselves “Dutch” instead of “German.”

  45. Dmitry Pruss says

    Two years ago I was helping a Lemko family with their genealogical search and learned a lot about their fates in WWII. The surname was Gambal / Gambel and their descendants were left in the dark about the family roots, because connecting with the past revived the fears of re-starting the persecution of the past in the USSR where lack of incriminating details about the ancestors and relatives was so important for the personnel files. So the descendants knew they hailed from Poland, from Kotowo near Nowy Sącz, and suffered terrible persecution which was a tabu to talk about, and “connected the dots” imagining that the Gambals were Jewish.
    The villagers were Greco-Catholics of Labov parish; now they are usually called Lemkos, but in the US immigration and census records they were most commonly identified as Rusins. Military-age men were called up into the Red Army when the Germans retreated, because of a clear understanding that any Orthodox people “belonged to the USSR” and not to Poland. Once the Reich capitulated, the villagers were asked to voluntarily opt for Soviet citizenship as Ukrainians. They hesitated for so long that some villagers were finally forced to make this choice at a gunpoint. They were resettled in Eastern Ukraine and mistrusted and mistreated as Uniate Christians and potential Banderovites. Eventually, some of them made it back to Western Ukraine, where the nature and the customs were more familiar, while others scattered in the cities. In recent decades the idea of a distinct Lemko identity became decidedly unpopular with the Ukrainian government, but they can’t go back to the old villages in Poland either.

  46. How widespread is the custom among non-Jews?

    Good question. I’ve done it, but I’ve been Jewish-adjacent all my life, so I’m not a representative non-Jew.

  47. David Marjanović says

    How widespread is the custom among non-Jews?

    I’ve never seen it. But I haven’t been to a cemetery in Poland or thereabouts.

  48. It’s common at Jewish cemeteries all over, as far as I know. The old Jewish cemetery in Prague had such stones (and I added one to the grave of Rabbi Judah Löw ben Betzalel).

  49. J.W. Brewer says

    Not sure what “didn’t live in Russia” is supposed to mean. They lived in a westerly portion of the original Rus’ that eventually fell under variously Polish/Hungarian/Habsburg rule and did not fall under Muscovite rule until the 1940’s. Saying Rus’ is Rus’ and Russia (now restrictively meaning only a Moscow-or-Petersburg-centered polity) is Russia and never the twain shall meet seems unduly jargony. I think maybe it came up on an earlier thread that there isn’t really a good standard English demonym meaning “inhabitant of old Rus’ as distinguished from inhabitant of subsequent Russia” and there isn’t even a good standard adjective derived from Rus’ that contrasts with “Russian” — although “Rusyn” looks like it could be an aspirant to fill both holes if it didn’t unfortunately already have a narrower semantic scope.

  50. Not sure what “didn’t live in Russia” is supposed to mean.

    It means they didn’t live in Russia; I’m not sure what part of that is mysterious.

    They lived in a westerly portion of the original Rus’ that eventually fell under variously Polish/Hungarian/Habsburg rule

    In other words, not Russia. Which is not equivalent to Rus’; conflating the two is what Putin does.

  51. J.W. Brewer says

    Re the stones-on-graves thing I could not in a few minutes googling get a clear credible answer on whether it is really a “Jewish” custom or (at least until recently) a merely Ashkenazic custom. If the latter, the possibility of commonality with gentile custom in parts of Eastern Europe increases, just as what most Americans think of as “Jewish food” is primarily just Polish/Ukrainian food with pork eliminated from the recipes and various other tweaks to accommodate kosher restrictions.

  52. J.W. Brewer says

    Is the only referent of “Russia” the post-1991 polity with its current boundaries? Here’s a sentence from a 19th-century tourist guide: “The hotel charges in Vienna are higher than in most other German capitals.”* Are you willing to retroject modern borders and political identities to assert that Vienna was never a “German” city? Was the writer who said that a Bad Person for implicitly giving rhetorical support for the Anschluss over a half-century in advance?

    Many Ruthenians/Ukrainians and perhaps some Rusyns as well descend from inhabitants of the part of pre-Partitions Poland that was called in Latin the Palatinus Russiae. That wikipedia chooses to use “Ruthenian” to translate that toponym just means that some 20th-21st century Anglophones are trying to impose on the past an anachronistic set of labels and distinctions that fit their current political/cultural/historiographical priorities. Which is sometimes what scholars do, but it is still useful to recall e.g. that the actual “Byzantines” didn’t know they were Byzantines.

    *By “higher” they apparently meant as much as a florin and a half per night for a room at the classiest joints.

  53. @LH, but they meant something.

    Either we find words for translating their meaning, or we have to disagree with their meaning (which would be silly).

  54. @J.W. Brewer: As David Marjanović would remind us, up until 1866 (except during the Napoleonic period), there were various federations called “Deutschland” that included most of the “Austrian” territories of the Austrian Empire. Indeed, the Austrian Emperor was the nominal head of those federations.

  55. I never saw rocks put on graves in Ukrainian or Russian cemeteries, not that I visited a lot of them. And never heard about the custom. All-knowing Wiki goes as far as Ireland to find a similar custom.

  56. Is the only referent of “Russia” the post-1991 polity with its current boundaries? Here’s a sentence from a 19th-century tourist guide: “The hotel charges in Vienna are higher than in most other German capitals.”* Are you willing to retroject modern borders and political identities to assert that Vienna was never a “German” city? Was the writer who said that a Bad Person for implicitly giving rhetorical support for the Anschluss over a half-century in advance?

    For heaven’s sake, those are two entirely different things. “German” and “Italian” were commonly used for all areas speaking the respective languages or coming out of the respective imperial traditions, because there was no equivalent national state. Once there was, those words acquired specific national referents, just like “Dutch” or “Swedish.” There was no equivalent situation with Russia. Are you seriously maintaining that someone who doesn’t live within the boundaries of the Russian state will say “I live in Russia” and expect to be understood? Because that would be very silly.

  57. “Once there was, those words acquired specific national referents,”

    Swiss German, Low German…

  58. Those are linguistic terms. If someone says “I’m German,” they mean they’re from Germany.

  59. calling Rusyns “Russian” is entirely correct

    Yes, but only if you want to increase confusion. For better or worse “Russian” in modern English means someone having a direct connection to modern Russia. Thus, Kaliningrad is a Russian city. And Joseph Stalin is Russian you-know-who. And Kiev is not (yet?) a Russian city. If you wish, we can call them Transcarpathian Russians or as wikipedia calls them Carpatho-Russians.

    By the way, in Michener’s The Novel Pennsylvania Dutch are called “Germans”.

  60. If you wish, we can call them Transcarpathian Russians or as wikipedia calls them Carpatho-Russians.

    If you wish to buy into Putin’s narrative that anyone with any historical connection to any lands that have ever been considered Rus(sia) is Russian. I personally think that’s a bad idea. Rusyn is a good specific term, let’s keep it. Or Lemko, that’s good too.

  61. J.W. Brewer says

    But if an American says not “I’m German” but “I’m descended from [18th or 19th century] German immigrants,” I would not take that to necessarily mean that their ancestors lived within the current borders (post-“reunification”) of the Bundesrepublik. Their ancestors could well have been from a village near not-yet-Kaliningrad. Or near Vienna. Or from the Sudetenland.

    Stalin was of course born and raised outside the present-day boundaries of Russia, was not Russian in an ethnic sense, and did not as a child speak Russian as his mother tongue. But maybe he was “Russian” in the sense of being as an adult a successful immigrant to Russia? If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere etc.

  62. Honestly, I do not care about Putin’s idiology and that never helps anyway. Russian Empire 1.0 wanted to be the custodian of all Slavic people and that didn’t end well the first time round. In 1990s, when Russia couldn’t do anything about it, it still was very attached to the Serbian cause although Serbs are not Russians of any kind. But if Rusyns/Ruthenians/Lemko want to call themselves “Russian” I feel it is not my place to tell them otherwise.

  63. J.W. Brewer says

    @D.O.: In an attempt to revive that whole Pan-Slavic Big Brother rhetorical theme, earlier this month the Russian ambassador to Bulgaria chose the Bulgarian holiday of Liberation Day to explain that the current Russian “special operation” attempting to liberate the Ukrainians from, um, neo-Nazis and gay pride parades or whatever [?] was just like that time back in the 1870’s when Russian troops helped liberate the Bulgarians from Ottoman rule. This analogy was not well-received by its Bulgarian audience, the President of Bulgaria demanded a formal apology, etc etc.

  64. @LH, you can think anythign about Putin. He does many things, he pees for example.

    Constructing new identities is absolutely fine occupation as long as you do not start wars. But you can start a war because someone is like you, or you can start a war because someone is unlike you. Usually it is the latter. It happened though that:
    – Putin motivates the war with that Ukrainians have a lot to do Russians.
    – Nationalists in Ukraine say Ukrainians have nothing to do with Russians.
    – Anti-war protesters here object to the war because they think that Ukrainians do have to do with Russians (maybe you noticed, many protesters like Ovsyannikova have Ukrainian father and Russian mother or vice versa. It is not uncommon).

    Irrespectively of what you think about this complicated situation, it is a good idea to let Rusyns express what they want to express.

  65. Only once I talked with a Rusyn, and I am rather ashmed of this conversation. It was a very young Rusyn from Vojvodina, and when he learned that I am Russian he spoke about Putin and I said what I think about Putin and he asked why, and then for some 10 minutes I was explaining why (it was 2015).
    I was really drunk:) I do not think the boy wanted to be lectured about Putin…

  66. But if Rusyns/Ruthenians/Lemko want to call themselves “Russian” I feel it is not my place to tell them otherwise.

    Irrespectively of what you think about this complicated situation, it is a good idea to let Rusyns express what they want to express.

    Good lord, of course Rusyns can talk however they want to! I’m not talking to Rusyns, I’m talking to you, and saying Rusyns are not Russians and it’s silly for anyone but Rusyns to call them that, just as silly as calling the Pennsylvania Dutch “Dutch” because that’s what they call themselves. Is this really so hard to understand? And I’m not bringing in Putin as some kind of clinching argument, just pointing out that that kind of expansionist vocabulary has bad consequences in the real world. If you prefer Hitler, replace “Putin” with “Hitler.”

  67. I guess I was telling that he’s a spy and a liar and taught Russians to lie to each other and believe that lies will help Russia and I believe in the opposite, and yeas most of Crimeans wanted to join Russia but Ukrainians will hate us for decades and it is terrible, and also it led to the war which is terrible too.

  68. A good summary of the situation.

  69. @LH, yes, but he just thought “wow, a Russian guy! And I am a Rusyn guy. How do you start a conversation with a Russian? Putin!”.:((

  70. Ha!

  71. @LH I witnessed numerous debates between religious Russian евреи and other Russian евреи about Russian евреи who converted to Christianity. Are they евреи or not?

    As I understand, in 20s their ancestors were much more enthusiastic about Communism than religion. Then they turned to religion and some converted to Christianity (particularly a prominent group of educated Jewish people in Moscow, particularly some people aroun Александр Мень. It can be described as a movement and there are temples in Moscow that have a considerable share of Jewish parishioners, and there are priests too).

    In the 90s the general religious revival was revival for Judaism as well, and some people were insisting that Christian Jews are not Jews and that the secular usage is incorrect.

    Whatever you think of it, and whether you imagine a “Jew” based on religious definitions, or culturally as someone whose first choice for religion is Judaism or as people here as someone with a characteristic nose, hair, name, accent and connections, when you are translating such a debate to English it makes sense to translate the word еврей with the same English word each time. Even if this debate is unexpected for your readers and cathegories of speakers do not match their habitual cathegories.

    The same with Rusyns. I did not say “do not call Rusyn dialects “Rusyn” on Glottologue”.

    I said “Russian” as used by Rusyns is an entirely correct translation of ruskij. It is not a mistake. It is not like этруски – это русские (etrusci – eto russkiye “Etrusci are Russians” or “Etruski – they are Russians” depending on whether you translate eto “this” as a copula or a pronoun).

  72. I am quite hostile to any ideologies, nationalist or imperialist or whatever at the moment. Even anti-Putin.

    I say that it is fine to create new identities, but I am only interested in accurate description of those. Particularly, accurately describing identities of Rusyns (as perceived by themselves) makes a lot of sense.

    I do not know what they meant by calling the langauge “Russian” this is why “I guess”. But if it is what I think, they meant one of macro-identities associated with the word.

    They did not mean: “I speak the dialect of my village”.

  73. Those are linguistic terms.

    In colloqial English and Russian we do call speakers of Swiss German and Low German “Germans” and “немцы”, just like numerous German of East Europe and even Kazakhstan.
    We call their langauges “German” as well.

    If someone says “I’m German,” they mean they’re from Germany.

    And if a German from Kazakhstan means something else, then it is her idiosyncratic usage and saying that it is “entirely correct” is politically wrong?

  74. David Marjanović says

    If you call speakers of Swiss German “Germans”, they’ll probably abandon their neutrality and start a war on you.

  75. And yet:

    Liechtensteiners are Germanic[5] people native to Liechtenstein linked strictly with Swiss Germans and Swabians.[1][6] There were approximately 34,000 Germanic Liechtensteiners worldwide at the turn of the 21st century.[1]

    P.S. not sure what is meant by linked strictly…

    P.P.S. all right, I am not sure if “we” call them so. I think in Russian they are usually швейцарцы (and maybe немецкоязычные швейцарцы). Perhaps in English they normally are not Swiss Germans either. What I meant is that such usage exists not only as a “linguistic term”.

    P.P.P.S. and швейцар (<Schweizer) [uniformed] doorman

  76. In colloqial English and Russian we do call speakers of Swiss German and Low German “Germans” …

    Sorry, @drasvi, I think your intuitions on colloquial English are not reliable. Myself as a speaker of colloquial English (and having travelled through German-speaking parts of Switzerland), I’m very well aware that speakers of Swiss-German are not “Germans”. Equally Austrians are German-speaking, not “Germans”.

  77. @AntC, yes, I was wrong. I do not think there is a difference between Russian and English here.

    What I meant is that such usage is possible colloqually (as in the quitation above) and it is not a “term”. But I do not think it is common. At least I think when I contrast French speakers to German or Italian speakers I still call all of them швейцарцы.

  78. But there still are Germans and Koreans in Kazakhstan:-E)

  79. I witnessed numerous debates between religious Russian евреи and other Russian евреи about Russian евреи who converted to Christianity. Are they евреи or not?

    Good lord, that’s not for you and me to decide. Next you’ll be asking me to solve the Israel/Palestine conundrum.

    I said “Russian” as used by Rusyns is an entirely correct translation of ruskij. It is not a mistake.

    I realize you’ve got a whole philosophy of language and identity you’re applying and defending, but it is certainly not “an entirely correct translation of ruskij.” It is a mistake from the point of view of standard English, and none of your analogies and insistence will change that. Speakers of Russian often drop articles in English and substitute certain consonants for others; are those things not mistakes because a lot of people do them?

  80. The only Liechtensteiner I have met in my life thought herself German rather than Austrian, IIRC. It was on a pub crawl, though.

  81. @LH, no, “Are they евреи or not?” was not a question to you, it is a topic of those discussions.

    I only meant: whatever you think personally you still translate еврей with the same English word each time or else your English reader won’t understand your account of their debate.

  82. whole philosophy of language and identity
    I should have written about kittens instead, I suppose.

  83. Oh, come on. I’m not criticizing you for having a philosophy of language and identity — we all have one, whether we’re able to articulate it or not — just pointing out that you can’t expect everyone to share it, any more than you can expect the great mass of English-speakers to share the usage of a few Rusyns (and I remind you it’s not “the Rusyns” who call themselves Russians, just a certain percentage, maybe a small minority).

  84. Stu Clayton says


    I finally looked up what could be said in English for [die] beleidigte Leberwurst [spielen]. To my disappointment it’s merely “[get in a] huff”.

    I had hoped for something that can be spread on bread, like treacle or anchovy paste. I know all about huffs, but little about food products.

    American “liverwurst” should put anyone into a huff, so at least it can serve as an inedible mnemonic.

  85. J.W. Brewer says

    Note this interesting section from a recent article about attitudes toward the Putin-invading-Ukraine situation among the “Russian-American” parishioners of a “Russian” parish in Coaldale, Pennsylvania (you get one guess as to what the dominant local industry used to be …):

    ‘Birosik, and most of the people who worship at St. Mary’s, are the descendants of Russian immigrants – sort of. The borders have changed so often that it’s hard for them to pin down what country their ancestors were from.
    “One time they were Polish, then the next time they were from Ukraine, then they were Russian,” Birosik said. The men who founded St. Mary’s in 1909 came from throughout Eastern Europe.’

    I suspect that quite a lot of these ancestors would be retroactively taxonomized by those interested in such fine distinctions as having been “Ruthenian” or “Rusyn” rather than “[Great] Russian,” but a century later their American-born descendants nonetheless self-identify as “Russian.” Some of them know bits of half-remembered “Russian” they learned from parents or grandparents that might turn out not to be standard Russian and might even turn out from a standard taxonomic perspective to be some different East Slavic language. Life can be like that, and the level of generality of ethnic self-identification (on a micro- to macro- or splitter-v-lumper scale) may for a number of reasons play out differently in diaspora contexts than back in the Old Country where the Lower Slobbovians may feel insulted if you suggest they have anything in common with the Upper Slobbovians.

  86. Sure. It’s all very complicated, like everything human.

  87. Dmitry Pruss says

    With the Orthodox Christian Eastern Slavs, the older-era linguistic identity is complicated in an interesting way by the use of Slavonic as a liturgy / culture / official records language, which often resulted in conflating Slavonic with the “real / pure” language of an ethnic group. The earlier, the stronger may be the link. Contemporary Russian was still thought of as an extension of Slavonic until the early 1700s, and was deeply influenced by Kiev scholars, so much so that when Lomonosov reforms formally separated Slavonic from the new high register of Russian, even the word for G*d retained Ukrainian pronunciation. Generally, high-register Russian retained a huge swath of Slavonic, and contemporary Russian still does.
    Ukrainian and Belorussian were codified much later, and then it wasn’t thought to be proper to retain such vast layers of Slavonic. The dialects which weren’t codified continued to keep a degree of conflation to Slavonic which may have been understood as Russian in some broad sense. Generally, pro-Austrian leaders weren’t into it at all, understandably, but it wasn’t out of question.

  88. There might be a bit of a cultural difference between Russian and American views on ethnicity. Russians tend to care somewhat more about sanguis and Americans about solum.

  89. J.W. Brewer says

    Further to Dmitry P.’s point, the situation in the North American diaspora is further complicated because a given local Orthodox parish of East Slavic immigrants (and this could be more significant if it was the only one in town …) would end up being affiliated with one of a variety of different possible diocesan or supradiocesan structures, some of which historically took a more “lumper” approach toward these group-identity questions (including the jurisdiction with which the parish in the story I linked is affiliated) and others of which took a more “splitter” approach, such as the self-explanatory ACROD (American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, operating out of Johnstown, Pa. as a branch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, due to the vicissitudes of 20th century history). That could over time tend to enhance/reinforce either a lumper or splitter self-conception of ethnic identity by the US-born descendants of the immigrant founders of the particular local community.

    On the “Greek Catholic” side, splitterism has been strong enough that the “Ruthenian Catholics” and “Ukrainian Catholics” have to this day remained jurisdictionally separate in the U.S., based on separate ecclesial genealogies (traced back to the Union of Uzhgorod/Uzhhorod/Uzhorod v. the Union of Brest).

  90. Use of “Russian” as a translation of ruski is not necessary indicative of any attitude.

  91. No, it’s just wrong.

  92. Imagine a speaker of a dialect that descends from Old English and calls itself “English” comes to Russia and calls her language английский.

    And I tell her that it is a grammatical and orthographical mistake, because английский refers to BBC English.

    So maybe she should consider calling her language “anenglishman” because her people have an unique name for male speakers: “an English man”, say I. This way we distinguish it from английский Proper (BBC English).

  93. LH, you think it is wrong, I think it is right, but I am at least not surprised.

    I do expect from anyone who calls her langauge “English” to call it английский in Russian.

  94. Oh, by this point I’m basically just arguing for the sake of arguing — our positions have been well established and nobody’s going to change their mind. Придирчивый я человек, люблю спорить!

  95. No, I am not arguing (apart of sarcasm about “orthographical” mistake). I do not know what other word they could use. I understnad that you think it is “wrong”. I think it is expected.

    If you expected them to use a different word, than what is this word?

  96. Hmm, maybe you’re still not understanding me. I’m not saying they’re wrong; they’re using language in the way that is natural to them, and I wouldn’t “correct” them. I’m saying their usage is wrong from the viewpoint of most English speakers, just as the misuse or non-use of articles by native speakers of Slavic languages is wrong (in that sense). Everybody speaks the way that seems right to them, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us need to adopt their usage. It makes sense for Rusyns to call themselves “Russian” (if they do — we still don’t know how many do it), but it doesn’t make sense for the rest of us to do the same.

  97. I still do not understand what other word they should have used.

  98. John Cowan says

    As correct as calling Germans outside the state of Germany Germans.

    My mother was a German outside the state(s) of Germany for about 80% of her life, but she was unquestionably German. (In Alabama the Tuscaloosa.)

  99. Either Rusyn or Lemko works (or Ruthenian, I would imagine, although I’ve never met anyone who self-identified using that term). I did know somebody of that ethnicity who said that their family usually called themselves “Russian,” although they knew they were predominantly Lemko. I think that was partially because they participated in the Russian-American cultural activities that were available in their community. (Like how I know another family that are involved in Greek community activities around here, even though they are actually of Lebanese origin.)

  100. I still do not understand what other word they should have used.

    As Brett says, either Rusyn or Lemko works, and there are Rusyn who use each of those. As I keep repeating, we do not even know how many Rusyn actually say “Russian,” so I’m not sure why you’re treating it with such reverence.

  101. @LH, Brett, but we were speaking about people in the middle of 20th century or earlier, as I understand.

    LH: “(and I remind you it’s not “the Rusyns” who call themselves Russians, just a certain percentage, maybe a small minority).
    I spoke about very specific persons, “the Rusyns in question”.

    Then in JWB’s comment about people who came in 1909.

    The name “Rusyn” was not known in English. And I guess it was also not known to speakers as a glottonym.

  102. @JWB, the Lutheran Quarterly:
    The Ruthenians and Their Church, by Alexander E. Oberlander, Esq., p.103

    The one or Russian brotherhood, (Obschchestoo Russkikh Bratstv) looks to Moscow for its national inspiration, although perhaps not for its religion ; the second, the Russian National Union , ( Russky Narodny Sojus ), with over 12,500 members, is Ukrainian, seeking the restoration of a Little Russian and Lithuanian Nation ; and the third , the Russian Greek Catholic Union with over 25,000 members is the Urgro Russky, or Hungarian society, which sides more with the Russian or Muscophiles than with the Ukrainian party. Whenever a law suit starts in a Ruthenian church or among Ruthenians, it is well to ask to what societies the litigants belong and with this knowledge a proper diagnosis of the ailment can be made.

  103. Откуда — скаже кто — такая рознообразность, и зачѣм бы то от одного слова имя для цѣлого народа произойти имѣло? — Дивным то выдается, однак невозможным не есть. Я в том слабую только сторону природы человѣческой вижу, котора преимущественно у Славян домашнею есть, и которой слѣдуя, мы часто от одного слова прозвище людям, нашим другам даем. У Славян то тѣм легче статися може, понеже мы, если чуем якое слово от соплеменника нашого иначе изречено, или же слово у нас во все неупотребляемое, — или же слово нашой бесѣдѣ и духу ей со всѣм противное, так ним поражаемы бываем що или смѣемся в очи говорящому, — или — як то часто дѣеся, — от слова того, имя надаем произнесшому оно. Таким словом без сомнѣния есть слово “лем” 17). Оно не есть русское, но словацкое, и кромѣ Лемков ни один Русин его не употребляе. Оно должно было разити слух другого Русина, который з начала мог смѣятися з того слова (як дѣйствительно и нынѣ смѣеся), а на конец от того слова надал ему и прозвиско: “от то Лемко якïйсь!” Прозвиско такое надати он мог тѣм легче и борше, понеже, як то послѣ узрим, бесѣда Лемков испорчена, и для того в словѣ: “Лемко” еще и понятие испорченой русской бесѣды мѣстилося. “Лемко” про тое от не-руского “лем” должно означати Русина “лем” употребляющего, и неправильно рускии слова произносящого. Кажу всегда о надании прозвиска от слова “лем”, — и дѣйствительно так есть, понеже Русины-Лемки сами себе никогда не называют Лемками, только впрям Руснаками ; и даже не всѣ из них знают о том их прозвании, которое только у прочих Русинов есть в употреблении.
    17) Многии о словѣ “лем” ложное имѣют понятие, и даже не хотят собѣ дати вытолковати, що тое понятие ложне ; они уважают “лем” непотребным суфиксом до всякого слова Лемками додаваемым, без всякого значения. Однак словце сие рѣшительно значит : лише, ино, только.

    (I simplified orthography:
    -ъ > –
    ꙗ, ѧ > я
    є, е > е
    ô > о
    ï > и)

  104. J.W. Brewer says

    A lot of interesting stuff (including a rather old-timey prose style which veers back and forth between polemical and curious/compassionate) in that century-plus-old article by Oberlander that drasvi linked to. Broadly consistent with the high-level notion that lumper-v-splitter controversies in ethnic identification (self-identification or identification by outsiders) among speakers of East Slavic languages are usually driven (on all sides) by political agendas, especially when it comes to the sort of more hardcore splitterism that rejects nesting levels of generality (e.g. the sort in which the identity category “Austrian” is viewed contrastively as “not German” rather than being a subset of “German” the way that “Bavarian” is). I suspect this not unique to this specific situation …

  105. The Hutsuls (sometimes the spelling variant: Gutsuls; Ukrainian: Гуцули, romanized: Hutsuly; Russian: Гуцулы, romanized: Hutsuly; Polish: Hucuł, plural Huculi, Hucułowie; Romanian: huțul, plural huțuli; German: Huzul, plural Huzulen) are an ethnic group spanning parts of western Ukraine and Romania (i.e. parts of Bukovina and Maramureș). They have often been officially and administratively designated as a subgroup of Ukrainians[4] and are largely regarded as constituting a broader Ukrainian ethnos.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]
    Hutsul is either[clarification needed] considered to be a dialect of Western Ukrainian (with some Polish influences)[27][28][29][30] along with Pokuttia-Bukovina dialect and the dialects of the Lemkos and Boykos. Since the annexation of western Ukraine regions, including Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi oblast as well as Transcarpathia by the Soviet Union, compulsory education has been conducted only in standardized literary Ukrainian. In recent years there have been grassroots efforts to keep the traditional Hutsul dialect alive.

  106. Ah yes: “Sergei Parajanov’s 1965 film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Тіні забутих предків), which is based on the book by Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, portrays scenes of traditional Hutsul life.” That was a weird movie.

  107. Those are linguistic terms. If someone says “I’m German,” they mean they’re from Germany.
    Not necessarily. As has already mentioned obliquely here and there in this discussion, the word can also refer to ethnicity; so it would also be correct if said by an ethnic German from Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan, etc., even if he doesn’t have German citizenship and never lived in Germany, same as “Russian” can refer to ethnic Russians outside Russia. The point here is not about citizenship or country of birth / residence, but about ethnic identification; Swiss or Austrian German speakers don’t nowadays identify as Germans, that’s why it’s not correct to call them thus. With the Rusyns, my understanding from the discussion is that most of them nowadays don’t identify as Russian and that this self-designation goes back to a time when identities were more muddled and distinguishing themselves from Russians was less important.

  108. I don’t know much about this subject, but I have heard that the original Rus’ were a Scandinavian/Viking people from an area in Sweden today called Roslagen.

  109. With the Rusyns, my understanding from the discussion is that most of them nowadays don’t identify as Russian and that this self-designation goes back to a time when identities were more muddled and distinguishing themselves from Russians was less important.

    It seems to me more likely that “Russian” was simply the easiest way to render their native “russkii” into English, and need have nothing to do with Russia as such.

  110. “Russian langauge” does not mean “pertaining to Russia”:/

  111. I do not even know what you mean by Russia here. Surely not:

    – USSR, or else Uzbeks, Tatars, Kazakhs and Ukrainians are “Russian” but not Czechoslovak Rusyns.
    – RSFSR (without Ukraine but including Chechnya)
    – Great Russia, as opposed to Red, Black, Little and White Russias.

  112. I remind you that Rusyns do not speak Russian (unless they learn it like the rest of us).

  113. jack morava says
  114. LH, I disagree with connecting “Russian” to “Russia”.
    Possible referents (implied and reconstructed) of “kitchen Russian” are langauges.

  115. Trond Engen says

    I’m sure it’s mentioned somewhere above, but there was a time when the central region of “Russia” and the central elements of the “Russian” ethnos and “Russian” language were perceived to be found in what is now Belarus and Northern Ukraine. Muscovy was far off in the east, in the land of Finns and Tatars.

    Also, ethnic designations are (were) as much contrastive as absolute. The Rusyns may have been those people in the local context who most fit the designation, e.g. for being Eastern Orthodox Slavic speakers with ancient local roots.

    When politics changed and Muscovy grew into an empire that redefined “Russia” and “Russian” in the eyes of the wider world, that didn’t mean much locally, where the Rusyns still were Rusyns and went by that name and its corresponding designation in whichever language their changing rulers might prefer — until the day when the westward expansion of the empire happened to make them a frontier population and the old and new meanings of Rus coalesced.

    When the empire retracted far beyond the Dniepr, it took the ethno-political definition of “Russian” with it, and the Rusyns were definitely no longer included, but for those whose culturul roots as Rusyns are derived from another era, the designation they use in their new language may still essentially carry both the local contrastive and the geopolitical meaning.

  116. Stu Clayton says

    A terrier will seize a shoe and tear it into tatters. Especially a worn-out shoe.

  117. This one is new.

  118. Stu Clayton says

    Not any more. It gets old after a while.

  119. J.W. Brewer says

    In other news, the language (or language variety, or set of related dialects …) commonly known as Low German or Plattdütsch or Plattdeutsch is definitely NOT any kind of “German” whatsoever and anyone who suggests it is is Scientifically Wrong. Because “German” at least in English can only mean the specific standardized variety of Hochdeutsch that is taught to American students as a second language under that name.

  120. A terrier will seize a shoe and tear it into tatters.

    Why, just today our local paper had this under the “200 Years Ago” rubric:

    John Lamb respectfully informs the inhabitants of Northampton and vicinity that he has on hand and will keep constantly a great variety of sole, upper leather, calf skins, seal skins and Morocco. Also, ladies’, gentlemen’s and children’s shoes and boots of every description kept constantly on hand or manufactured at the shortest notice at his store, and warranted not to rip.

    (Emphasis added.) Buy your shoes at Lamb’s, and don’t fear the terrier!

  121. vey iz mir… 2 days ago I learned “russia”, but I did not read the second quote here:

    1818 Art Bk.-binding 45 Mark the paper into squares from point to point each way, and then lay it exactly on the russia. 1862 Burton Bk. Hunter i. 27 No one likes sheep’s clothing for his literature, even if he should not aspire to russia or morocco. 1876 Geo. Eliot Dan. Der. xxxvi, The scent of russia from the books.

  122. Thanks, I wasn’t familiar with that usage!

  123. Some could say that “the scent of russia from the books” is romantic, but it is a very brutal everyday reality of LH’s house…

  124. Trond Engen says

    The Pennsylvania Dutch keep the designation ‘Dutch’ in a meaning “from or pertaining to the political sphere and ethno-linguistic system designated by ‘Deutsch’ in German”, in spite of the fact that modern English ‘Dutch’ in other contexts has a (contrastively) different and more specific meaning.

    Also German ‘Sachsen’ and English ‘Saxons’, which from a specific meaning “from or pertaining to an ethno-political entity centered on the plains between the lower Elbe and the lower Rhine” now have meanings all over the place — literally all over the place — and groups who self-designate as Saxons do so with little regard to politcal implications.

    But there’s no way to take language out of the social context. The politcal implications of self-designating as ‘Saxon’ are none these days. Those of ‘Dutch’ are mild, because no imperial interests are at stake. Those of ‘Russian’ are potentially severe.

  125. So are the implications of Wahhabi in Russia: you can get killed for that.


    Вячеслав Чарский, защитивший одноименную кандидатскую диссертацию по русинскому языку в 2008 г., подробно рассказал об исследованной им проблеме лингвогенеза русинского языка Сербии и Хорватии и познакомил с собственными выводами. Так, основываясь на большом количестве источников, московский ученый пришел к однозначному заключению, что в основе языка русинов Сербии и Хорватии лежат два системных генетических компонента – требишовские и пряшевские восточнословацкие говоры. При этом на уровне контактем, отдельных лексических и грамматических вкраплений, в генезисе южнорусинского языка принимали определенное участие и карпаторусинские говоры словацких регионов Шариш и Земплин (хотя оно было весьма скромным и зачастую периферийным). Неожиданным результатом исследования стало обнаружение единичных связей южнорусинского языка со среднесловацкими говорами региона Гемер, что, однако, еще требует дальнейшего изучения. В. Чарский опроверг распространенные утверждения ряда исследователей о принадлежности языка сербских и хорватских русинов к украинскому языковому массиву. При этом он отметил, что литературный русинский язык Сербии и Хорватии, кодифицированный еще в 1923 г., обладает всеми статусными признаками, позволяющими считать его полноправным славянским языком: он является первым языком русинского народа на Балканах и одним из официальных языков сербского автономного края Воеводина, имеет свою литературную норму, богатую письменную и устную разностилевую и разножанровую традицию, активно используется в печатных и электронных СМИ, радио и телевидения и т.д., то есть его нельзя считать ни словацким/ украинским диалектом, ни региональным вариантом, ни микроязыком.

  127. Interesting, I didn’t know about that group.

  128. It is Pannonian Rusyn (apparently the language of that Rusyn guy that I met).

    In English: the text above is about someone’s dissertation trying to show that it is based on Slovak dialects.

  129. The problem is that people were not exactly illiterate.

  130. As I understand, the modern idea (perhaps inaccurate) is that in 12th century people in Moscow and to the east spoke the same thing that people in Kiev and in the land in question (Regnum Rusiae as WP calls it) did. And there was east to west population movement.

    The dialect of Novgorod was, conversely, highly divergent (but Slavic langauges were mutually intelligible).

    Now in 21st century Novgorod Russian is Russian (just a strange Russian: with one extra tense and strange phonology) and Rusyn is not.

    It makes sense to ask what it looked like in 1800.

    I do not know how village dialects were grouped together, but they lived in a diglossic situation. Around peasants there were towns, monasteries and, importantly churches. There were urban koines and speech of educated people. And literature in a range of things that included Church Slavonic.

  131. Back to Hutsuls:
    Валентина прилетела в Америку в ноябре восемьдесят первого. Ей было двадцать восемь лет, росту в ней было 165, весу 85 килограммов. Тогда она еще на фунты не мерилась. На ней была черная гуцульская куртка ручного тканья, с шерстяной вышивкой.
    –Людмила Улицкая, Веселые похороны

  132. Bellow def should have begun his novel “I am an American, Toronto born.” Just to mess with people’s sense of identity. “But it’s part of North America…”

  133. John Cowan says

    Why not? My mother, after all, was an American, Heringen-born.

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