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Rusyn: Language OR Dialect?

Hi, I study Ukrainian a lot and also have an interest in Slavic languages in general. I'm just wondering, according to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusyn_language#Classification) Ukrainians regard this language as a dialect of Ukrainian. So I'm just wondering, is Rusyn a language? Also if it is, how different is it from Ukrainian? Like, is it Spanish & Italian different?

April 16, 2016



Questions like this are very politicized. Mostly because some countries use them to endorse separatism and destabilize other countries or, on the contrary, to deny other countries' independence and sovereignty. Moreover, there is no a rigorously defined and widely accepted rule to tell a dialect form a language.


<< Moreover, there is no a rigorously defined and widely accepted rule to tell a dialect form a language. >

Max Weinreich is credited with the aphorism "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy". This is mostly true in Europe. However, there are many exceptions in the rest of the world (e.g. in the Americas the dominant languages _ English, Spanish and French - are shared with other sovereign countries).

Our language is, IMO, the most influential component of our identity. One of the greatest political minds of Central Europe, Tomáš Masaryk said Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.

With this in mind, I would say that if an ethnic group self-identifies as a people and describes their language as a language and not as a dialect of another language, others should accept that.

As you correctly stated, languages can be used to sow discord and division, but they also can serve as a great unifying force. It would be nice to have a natural inter-Slavic language that would unite all the Slavic people in the same way as let's say the English language unites several sovereign nations.


I haven't studied Rusyn yet, but it's on my list of languages I want to explore soon. From what I've read it is similar to Ukrainian, but distinct enough to be its own language. As for how distinct it is, I do not know but I would like to find out.


When you begin studying it, let me know :)


A "language" is just a popular dialect. The labeling of various dialects as "real languages" happens for political reasons. This is closely related to nationalism, and trying to deny speakers of minor dialects independence.


Thanks, do you know how similar the two languages are?


Nope, sorry, no idea :-)


The North Slavic languages form, I would argue, form a dialect continuum, which means everyone understands their immediate neighbors well, and the greater the distance, the lower is mutual intelligibility. The division between "Western" and "Eastern" Slavic languages is mostly along the lines of the script used.

Since most Rusyns live in Western UK, Southeastern PL and Eastern SK, their language is similar to the corresponding regional dialects of Ukrainian, Polish and Slovak.

Have a look at these bilingual signs in Medzilaborce, SK. Other than the script, the languages are quire similar.



I'm Polish and it sounds shockingly similar to my native language, I felt like Czech and Slovak, but they use Cyrillic. I'm not even sure about this right now.


Ukrainians consider Rusyn as its dialect because it is said to be originated from Ukrainian. But it was a long time ago and Rusyn is very independent today. It has also its own dialects which depends on where you live. Because of its origin it is similar to Ukrainian, but it's also similar to other Slavic languages (e.g.Slovak, Polish, Russian). But there are also many differences. The alphabet differs a bit and also the vocabulary differs a lot.


I would say language. Love this beautiful language, hope will have time to learn.

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