Belarusian and Russian are two Slavic languages that, though they share the same root, are very different from each other.
Belarusian is the official language of the nation that today is called Belarus or the Republic of Belarus, which until 1991 was part of the USSR. To the north it borders Lithuania and Latvia, while to the east is shares borders with Russia and Ukraine, with Poland to the south and west.
The majority of the population are native Belarusians, who live with minority populations of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. The Belarusian language, as a Slavic language, shares many similarities with Russian and Ukrainian. Moreover, most Belarusians speak both languages: Belarusian and Russian were declared the official languages in the 1995 referendum.
The Belarusian alphabet, just like the nation itself, has experienced historical swings that have left their mark on the writing system and its culture:
* In the early days it was written using the Cyrillic alphabet.
* Under the strong influence of the Greek Orthodox Church, the language had the strong imprint of the liturgy.
* Then, during the sixteenth century, a Reform and a Counterreform stripped the religious elements from Belarusian writing. At this time, texts also started to appear written in the Latin alphabet.
* Then came the Russian invasion, which wiped out almost all Belarusian elements in its path; Polish took over as the main language.
* Since the nineteenth century, Belarusian written in the Latin alphabet began to resurface as the modern writing system emerged: a combination of the Polish, Russian and Belarusian systems.
As always, we emphasize the importance of using language professionals when translating into Belarusian, regardless of its similarity to other languages, since only professionals in that particular target language can transmit the content correctly.
If you have any questions about these languages, send us your consultation to Translation Services.