Yefim Karsky

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Karskiy, supposedly in c.1890s-1900s.

Yefim Fyodorovich Karskiy (Belarusian: Яўхім Фёдаравіч Карскі, Russian: Ефим Фёдорович Карский), Russian: Евфимий Феодорович Карский) (older name form); 1 January 1861 (20 December 1860) – 29 April 1931) was a Belarusian-Russian linguist-Slavist, ethnographer and paleographer, founder of =Belarusian linguistics, literary studies and paleography, a member of numerous scientific institutions, author of more than 100 works on linguistics, ethnography, paleography and others.

Karskiy was described by his contemporaries as extremely industrious, accurate, self-organised, and reserved in behaviour. He was acclaimed as a scientist of the highest integrity.[1] Karskiy's input into contemporary Slavistics, especially into the Belarusian branch, was immense. The first significant revisions of Karskiy's views on the development of the Church Slavonic and Russian languages were proposed much later, by Viktor Vinogradov. One of the best known works of Karskiy is Belarusians.


Karskiy's seminal seven-volume work Belarusians is considered to be the "Belarusian philology encyclopedia, unique by the extent and depth of the material",[2] "uncomparable to any other study of Slavonic people in exhaustiveness".[3] This work was the first to scientifically disprove the concept of the linguistic identity between the Russian and the Old Belarusian language, and from this argued for the existence of a distinct Belarusian nationality, presenting to a wider world the richness of the Belarusian traditional culture. This work "opened the eyes of Belarusians to see themselves as a real nation",[4] putting them (in the beginning of the 20th century) "unexpectedly at the head of all the Slavonic people in the scientific knowledge about their language"[5]

Karskiy's views of the ethnic history and areal of Belarusians were revised by V. K. Bandarchyk (c. 1998–1999). The significant amendments to the Karskiy's history of the oral folklore were made by A. S. Fyadosik (c. 1998) and others.

For his teaching and research activities, Karskiy was given the civil rank of "real state’s counsellor" (?). He was decorated with orders of St. Stanislaus III grade (1889) and II grade (1899), St. Anna III grade (1895) and II grade (1903), St. Vladimir IV grade (1911), various medals. In recognition of his research on the Belarusian ethnography, he was awarded the Great Golden Medal of the Russian Geographical Society (1894), the Golden Medals of Batyushkov of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1898, 1902), Minor Lomonosov Prize of Russian Academy of Sciences (1901), Batyushkov Academical Prize (1910), and Akhmatov Academical Prize (1913).

In 1964, a memorial for Karski was opened at the Lasha School.


Yefim Karskiy was born in Lasha (Grodno Uyezd of Grodno Governorate, now in Hrodna Voblast, to the family of teacher F. Novitskiy and Orthodox deacon’s daughter M. Novitskaya. Initially, he bore the family name of his mother, Novitskiy. With his family, he spent his childhood years in Navahradak (at Yatra and Byarozavyets) and Minsk (at Volma) regions of Belarus.


Belarusians, 1903

Karskiy was the author of at least 100 significant scientific works. Some of the major ones are listed below. It is worth noting that in case of the older publications, the actual dates of the publications may be different than the dates on the front pages.

  • Обзор звуков и форм белорусской речи. – Москва, 1886. – Известия Историко-филологического Института в Нежине, том X.
  • Грамматика древнего церковнославянского языка сравнительно с русским (курс средних учебных заведений). – Вильна, 1888–1900, Варшава, 1901–1916, Сергиев Посад, 1917.
  • К истории звуков и форм белорусской речи. – Варшава, 1893. – Магистерская диссертация.
  • К вопросу о разработке старого западнорусского наречия. – Вильна, 1893.
  • Что такое древнее западнорусское наречие?. – Труды Девятого археологического съезда в Вильне, 1893.
  • О языке так называемых литовских летописей. – Варшава, 1894.
  • Особенности письма и языка Мстиславова Евангелия. – Русск. Филолог. Вестн., 1895.
  • Образцы славянского кирилловского письма с Х по XVIII век. – Варшава, 1901.
  • Очерк славянской кирилловской палеографии. – Варшава, 1901.
  • Славянская кирилловская палеография. [S.l.], 1928.
Work re-published in: Карский Е. Ф. Славянская кирилловская палеография. Moscow, 1979.


  • Белорусcы. Т. I. Введение в изучение языка и народной словесности. – Варшава, 1903.
Work re-published: Белорусcы. Т. I. Введение в изучение языка и народной словесности. – Вильна, 1904.
  • Белорусcы. Т. II. Язык белорусского племени. В. 1. – [S.l.], 1908.
  • Белорусcы. Т. II. Язык белорусского племени. 2. Исторический очерк словообразования и словоизменения в белорусском наречии. – [S.l.], 1911.
  • Белорусcы. Т. II. Язык белорусского племени. 3. Очерки синтаксиса белорусского наречия. Дополнения и поправки. – [S.l.], 1912.
  • Белорусы. Т. III. Очерки словесности белорусского племени. 1. Народная поэзия. – Москва, 1916.
  • Белорусы. Т. III. Очерки словесности белорусского племени. 2. Старая западнорусская литература. – Петроград, 1921.
  • Белорусы. Т. III. Очерки словесности белорусского племени. 3. Художественная литература на народном наречии. – [S.l.], 1922.
Complete work re-published: Белорусы: Т. 1 – 3. – Москва, 1955–1956.


  1. ^ [KUC 2006] p.15,19—23. E.g., noted by A. Tsvikyevich.
  2. ^ M. S. Derzhavin, [Bulakh 2006] p. 10
  3. ^ Boris Lyapunov, [Bulakh 1981] p. 31
  4. ^ [YanuTsvir 2001] p. 19
  5. ^ Belarusian historian Vitawt Tumash, [KUC 2006] p. 23
  6. ^ Proceedings of General Meeting of Russian Academy of Sciences on May 5, 1919, §141
  7. ^ a b acc. to [YanuTsvir 2001]
  8. ^ a b acc. to [RublSkal 2006]
  9. ^ [RublSkal]


  • [Bulakh 1981] Булахов М. Г. Евфимий Федорович Карский: Жизнь, научн. и обществ. деятельность / Под ред. В. И. Борковского. – Мн. : Изд-во БГУ, 1981.
  • [YanuTsvir 2001] Янушкевіч Я., Цвірка К. Яўхім Карскі і яго "Беларусы" // Карскі Я. Беларусы / Я. Карскі; Уклад. і камент. С. Гараніна і Л. Ляўшун; Навук. рэд. А. Мальдзіс; Прадмо. Я. Янушкевіча і К. Цвіркі. – Мн. : Беларускі кнігазбор, 2001. – ( Беларускі кнігазбор; сер. II. Гісторыка-літаратурныя помнікі). ISBN 985-6638-26-7.
  • [KUC 2006] Курцова, Унучак, Чаквін. Прадмова да першага тома працы Я. Ф. Карскага "Беларусы" // Карский, Е. Ф. Белорусы: 3 т. Т. 1 / Уступны артыкул М. Г. Булахава, прадмова да першага тома і каментарыі В. М. Курцовай, А. У. Унучака, І. У. Чаквіна. – Мн. : БелЭн, 2006. ISBN 985-11-0360-8 (Т.1), ISBN 985-11-0359-4.
  • [RublSkal 2006] Рублевская Людмила, Скалабан Виталь. Околонаучный спор. Злополучная командировка профессора Карского // Беларусь сегодня, #12 (22422), 20.01.2006 – [1]
  • [Rulex 2006] [Н. Т.?] Карский [1890s-1900s?] // Большой русский биографический словарь. – Электронная репринтная версия. – [2].
Preceded by
Vasily Bartold
Director of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography
Succeeded by
Nikolay Matorin