Belarusian - interesting facts


Belarusian is the native language of 7.6 million people (about 0.11% of the world's population), which places it 98th in the world regarding the number of native speakers.

Belarusian is the official language of Belarus. It is also an official/auxiliary language in five communes of the Podlaskie Voivodeship in Poland. In addition, it is recognized as a minority language in Russia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Lithuania.

Belarusian belongs to the group of East Slavic languages. Within this language group, it is most similar to Ukrainian. It is written almost exclusively in Cyrillic (see also curiosities), which was created at the end of the 9th century on the basis of the Greek alphabet.

Like the Russian and Ukrainian languages, Belarusian evolved from Old Russian. The literary variety of Belarusian (also called Old Belarusian) was formed between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Old Belarusian was the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (at the end of the 17th century it was replaced by Polish). The development of the modern Belarusian language took place in the middle of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, standards of this language were developed based on folk sounds. An important event was the publication of the first grammar of the Belarusian language by Bronisław Taraszkiewicz.

In addition to the standard Belarusian variety, there are two main groups of dialects: north-eastern and south-western. In addition to them, there are several transitional dialects.

The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus regulates the norms of the Belarusian language.


Belarusian Alphabet

The Belarusian alphabet, like the Russian one, is based on the Cyrillic script and contains 32 letters, six more than the English alphabet. This may initially seem challenging to an English speaker. However, there are similarities, with several letters pronounced similarly to their English counterparts, such as Б (B), Г (G), Д (D), and more.

One distinctive aspect of the Belarusian alphabet is its inclusion of unique letters not found in English, such as Ў (short U), Й (short I), and Ё (yo). These characters carry specific sounds that don't have a direct counterpart in English, which might require extra effort from English speakers to master.

Also, Belarusian uses accents on some vowels, such as Ё, Ю, and Я, to indicate pronunciation changes, a feature not commonly used in English. Lastly, soft and hard consonants, a fundamental feature of Slavic languages, including Belarusian, could also pose challenges to English speakers, as this phonetic nuance does not exist in English.


Interesting Belarusian sayings

here are six typical Belarusian sayings, along with their English translations or equivalents and an explanation of their cultural significance:

"Што па сабе, то ў людзей шукаю." — Translates to: "What I have in myself, I look for in others." It's equivalent to the English idiom "Birds of a feather flock together." This saying highlights the idea that we tend to see our own characteristics in others and gravitate towards those who are similar to us.

"Без працы не выловіш і рыбкі з калодзі." — Translates to: "Without work, you can't even pull a fish out of a pond." It's similar to the English saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch." It emphasizes the importance of hard work for achieving any kind of success.

"Не ўсякае мяко – на памашанае печыва." — Translates to: "Not all dough is for anointed baking." This means not everything is suited for its intended purpose, similar to the English phrase "Not all that glitters is gold."

"Вуснаў у зубы не дзме." — Translates to: "A moustache doesn't bite the teeth." This is similar to the English saying "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill." It suggests that one should not exaggerate problems.

"На безлюдзі і морака паня." — Translates to: "In a place where there are no people, even a scarecrow is a lady." This implies that in the absence of real options, even an unattractive choice can look appealing. It's reminiscent of the English saying "Beggars can't be choosers."

"Калі б знать, дзе паду, саломку б падсталіў." — Translates to: "If I knew where I would fall, I would lay down straw." This suggests that if we knew about future problems, we would take steps to prevent them, similar to the English idiom "Hindsight is 20/20."

These sayings are important because they encapsulate traditional wisdom and offer insights into the values and worldviews of the Belarusian people.


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Practical Belarusian Dictionary




yes да (da)
no не (nye)
please каліласка (kalilaska)
thank you дзякую (dzyakuyu)
I'm sorry выбачайце (vybachajtsye) 
good morning добрыдзень (dobrydzyenʹ)
good evening добрывечар (dobryvyechar)
goodbye допобачення (dopobachennya)
good night дабранач (dabranach)
hi прывітанне (pryvitannye)
how are you?  Як ты (Yakty?)
well добра (dobra)
My name is... Мяне завуць (Mianiezavuć)
I don't understand Не разумею (Nierazumieju)



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