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Rusyn /ˈruːsɨn/ (Rusyn: русиньска бесїда or русиньскый язык), also known in English as Ruthene UK /rʊˈθiːn/US /ruːˈθiːn/ (sometimes Ruthenian), is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Eastern Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; some Ukrainian scholars treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian. Each categorisation has controversial political implications.

русиньский язык, русиньска бесїдаrusyn’skyj jazyk, rusyn’ska besjida
Region Vojvodina

Minority language:

Native speakers
620,000 (2000–2006)
Census population: 70,000. These are numbers from national official bureaus for statistics:

  • Slovakia – 33,482
  • Serbia – 15,626
  • Ukraine – 6,725
  • Poland – 10,000
  • Croatia – 2,337
  • Hungary – 1,113
  • Czech Republic – 777
Language family

  • Balto-Slavic
    • Slavic
      • East Slavic
        • Rusyn
Language codes
ISO 639-3 rue
Glottolog rusy1239
Linguasphere 53-AAA-ec < 53-AAA-e
(varieties: 53-AAA-eca to 53-AAA-ecc)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols.Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbolsinstead of Unicode characters.

Geographical distribution

Ethnic map of Austria-Hungary

Ethnic map of Austria-Hungary; Ukrainians (“Ruthenians”) are light green, in the upper right corner.

Official usage of Pannonian Rusyn language in Vojvodina, Serbia

Official usage of Pannonian Rusyn language in Vojvodina, Serbia.

Rusyn, or, specifically, Carpatho-Rusyn, is a vernacular spoken in the Transcarpathian Region of Ukraine; northeastern Slovakia; inVojvodina, Serbia; southeastern Poland, where the Rusyn dialect is generally known as Łemkowski, after the characteristic word лем/lem (meaning “only”, “but” and “like”); Hungary (where the people and language are called Ruszin) and; northern Maramureș,Romania, where the people are called Ruteni and the language Ruteană.


The classification and identification of the Rusyn language is historically and politically problematic. Prior to World War I, Rusyns were recognized as the Ruthenes of Galicia within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand had planned to recognize them as one of the ten states of a planned United States of Greater Austria before his assassination. After the war, Austria-Hungary was partitioned, and Ruthenia was appended to the new Czechoslovak state as its easternmost province. With the advent of World War II, Ruthenia declared its independence, lasting one day, until its annexation by Hungary. After the war, the Ruthenes of Czechoslovakia, occupied by Hungary, were annexed by Ukraine, which proceeded with an anti-ethnic assimilation program. Poland did the same, using internal exile to move all Rusyns from the southern homelands to western areas conquered from Germany, and immersed in Polish.

Scholars with the former Institute of Slavic and Balkan Studies in Moscow (now the Institute of Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) formally re-acknowledged Rusyn as a separate language in 1992, and trained specialists to study the language. These studies were financially supported by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Ukrainian politicians do not recognise Rusyns as a separate ethnicity, regardless of Rusyn self-identification. Ukraine officially considers Rusyn a dialect of Ukrainian, related to the Hutsul dialect of Ukrainian. However, many Hutsuls also identify as ethnic Rusyns.

Attempts to standardise variants of Rusyn have been unsuccessful. Rusyns live in four countries, and efforts are hampered because Rusyns living outside the traditional home region often do not speak the language fluently. Different orthographies have been developed (in most cases using variants of the Cyrillic script), and a number of different grammatical standards exist, based on regional dialects.

It is not possible to estimate accurately the number of fluent speakers of Rusyn; however, their number is estimated at almost a million, primarily living in Ukraine and Slovakia.

Serbia has recognized Rusyn, more precisely Pannonian Rusyn in Vojvodina, Serbia as an official minority language. Since 1995, Rusyn has been recognized as a minority language inSlovakia, enjoying the status of an official language in municipalities where more than 20 percent of the inhabitants speak Rusyn.

Rusyn is listed as a protected language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Romania.

Grammars and codification

The Rusyn dialect was codified as a language in Vojvodina region of Yugoslavia in 1923 and in Slovakia in 1995. Early grammars include Dmytrij Vyslockij’s (Дмитрий Вислоцкий) Карпаторусский букварь (Karpatorusskij bukvar’) Vanja Hunjanky (1931) and Metodyj Trochanovskij’s Буквар. Перша книжечка для народных школ. (Bukvar. Perša knyžečka dlja narodnŷch škol.) (1935).


The Carpatho Rusyn language can be divided as follows:

Name Language area Annotation
Hutsul In the mountainous part of Suceava County and Maramureș County in Romania and the extreme southern parts of the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (province) of Ukraine (as well as in parts of the Chernivtsi andTranscarpathian Oblasts), and on the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains.
Boyko Northern side of the Carpathian Mountains in the Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk Oblasts of Ukraine. It can also be heard across the border in the Subcarpathian Voivodship (province) of Poland
Lemko Outside Ukraine in the Prešov Region of Slovakia along the southern side of the Carpathian Mountains. It was formerly spoken on the northern side of the same mountains, in what is now southeastern Poland, prior to Operation Vistula – now used in several diaspora communities scattered in northern Poland Being revived; in Poland it has the status of an ethnic minority language. A newspaper, Karpatska Rus’ has been published in this dialect since 1939.
Dolinian Rusyn Transcarpathian Oblast of Ukraine.
Subcarpathian Rusyn
Pryashiv Rusyn The Prešov Region (in Rusyn: “Пряшів” Pryashiv) of Slovakia, as well as by some émigré communities, primarily in the United States of America.
Pannonian Rusyn Northwestern Serbia and eastern Croatia One of the official languages of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

Boiko, Hutsul, Lemko and Dolinian are identified (and for the same speakers) as Ukrainian dialects since most of their speakers identify themselves as Ukrainians.[citation needed]


Letters and symbols of the Carpatho-Rusyn alphabet
Capital Small Name Translit. Pronunciation Notes
А а a a /a/
Б б бы b /b/
В в вы v /v/
Г г гы h /ɦ/
Ґ ґ ґы g /ɡ/
Д д ды d /d/
Е е e e /e/
Є є є je /je/
Ё ё ё jo /jo/ not present in Pannonian Rusyn
Ж ж жы ž /ʒ/
З з зы z /z/
И и и y /ɪ/
І і i i /i/ not present in Pannonian Rusyn
Ы ы ы y /ɨ/
Ї ї ї ji /ji/
Й й йы j /j/
К к кы k /k/
Л л лы l /l/
М м мы m /m/
Н н ны n /n/
О о o o /o/
П п пы p /p/
Р р ры r /r/
С с сы s /s/
Т т ты t /t/
У у у u /u/
Ф ф фы f /f/
Х х хы x, ch, h /x/
Ц ц цы c /t͡s/
Ч ч чы č /t͡ʃ/
Ш ш шы š /ʃ/
Щ щ щы šč /ʃt͡ʃ/
Ю ю ю ju /ju/
Я я я ja /ja/
Ь ь мнягкый знак (ірь) /ʲ/ marks preceding consonant’s palatalization
Ъ ъ твердый знак (ір) not present in Pannonian Rusyn

Until World War II, the letter Ѣ ѣ (їть) was used, and was pronounced /ji/ or /i/.


  • Karpatska Rus’
  • Русинська бесіда
  • Народны новинкы
  • Podkarpatská Rus – Подкарпатська Русь (“”)
  • Amerikansky Russky Viestnik
  • Lemko (Philadelphia, USA) †
  • Руснаци у Швеце – Rusnaci u Svece

Published - August 2014

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