Pannonian Rusyn

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Pannonian Rusyn
Руски язик
Ruski jazik
Native toSerbia
EthnicityPannonian Rusyns
Native speakers
20,000[citation needed]
Cyrillic (Pannonian Rusyn alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byStatute of Vojvodina
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Pannonian Rusyn (Rusyn: руски язик / ruski jazik), formerly known as Yugoslav Rusyn, and sometimes also referred to as Pannonian Ruthenian (an exonymic term),[1] is a variety of Rusyn language, spoken by the Pannonian Rusyns, primarily in the regions of Vojvodina (northern part of modern Serbia) and Slavonia (eastern part of modern Croatia), and also in Pannonian Rusyn diaspora. Since Rusyns are officially recognized as a national minority both in Serbia and Croatia, their language is also recognized as a minority language, and in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (Serbia) it is employed as one of six official provincial languages.[2][3][4]

Official usage of Pannonian Rusyn language in Vojvodina, Serbia

There are several scholarly debates on various linguistic issues related to this language, including the question whether Pannonian Rusyn should be reclassified as a distinct microlanguage, or still considered to be just a specific variety of the common Rusyn language, that also has other varieties, spoken by Rusyns in northern (Carpathian) regions, mainly in southwestern Ukraine, northeastern Slovakia, southeastern Poland, and northern Romania.[5]


Pannonian Rusyn journal Creativity (Rusyn: Творчосц), no. 1 (1975)

Most commonly, native speakers refer to their language simply as Rusky (Rusyn: руски язик / rusky i͡azik), that renders in English as Rusyn. Sometimes they also use a somewhat archaic term Rusnacky (Rusyn: руснацки язик / rusnat͡sky i͡azik), that renders in English as Rusnak. Those terms are used both by people (in vernacular communication), and by native linguists (in their scholarly works, that are written in the native language).[6][7][8]

Since those terms were also used by Carpathian Rusyns and some other East Slavic groups as designations for their own vernaculars throughout history,[9] subsequently a need occurred to select an appropriate adjective, that would be added to the main term in order to specify this particular linguistic variety. In 1923, Gabriel Kostelnik used the regional Bačka designation, thus proposing the term Bačvansko-Rusky (Rusyn: бачваньско-руски язик), rendered in English as the Bačka Rusyn. That term was designating a variety spoken in the region of Bačka (in modern Serbia).[10]

In order to expand the scope of the term, a wider Bačka-Srem designation was also used by several scholars, thus encompassing also the variants spoken in the region of Srem (in modern Serbia and Croatia).[11][12] Terms like Vojvodina Rusyn, or Vojvodinian Rusyn were also used, in order to designate all variants in the region of Vojvodina. Even wider term Yugoslav Rusyn was sometimes also used during the existence of former Yugoslavia.[13]

During the 1970s and 1980s, Rusyn writer and artist Yulian Kolyesarov proposed the term Panonsko-Rusky (Rusyn: панонско-руски язик), that renders in English as the Pannonian Rusyn.[14][15]

Contrary to all terms mentioned above, that are based on on endonymic (native) designations, some modern authors opted for different terms, based on exonymic (foreign) Ruthenian designations. Since native speakers do not use Ruthenian terms for self-identification in their own language,[16] such terms are not used in works that are written in the native language, but they are employed by some authors in various works that are written in English and other foreign (non-Slavic) languages. Some of them are employing those terms in a non-specific way: instead of using regionally defined terms, such as Pannonian Ruthenian that corresponds to Pannonian Rusyn, several of those authors have started to designate that linguistic variety just as Ruthenian, without any regional of other adjectives.[17][18][19]

Thus, a specific terminological situation was created, since the term Ruthenian language already had a distinctive and well established meaning both in traditional and scientific terminology, where it is used primarily as a common exonymic designation for a former East Slavic language that was spoken on the territories of modern Ukraine and Belarus during the late medieval and early modern periods, from the 15th up to the 18th centuries.[20] In former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the same term (German: Ruthenische sprache) was employed (up to 1918) as an official exonymic designation for the entire East Slavic linguistic body within the borders of the Monarchy.[21]

Contrary to all that, some modern authors (including several linguists) have started to employ the very same term (just: Ruthenian, without any additional adjectives) as a specific exonymic designation for a particular linguistic variety, that is spoken by Pannonian Rusyns. In November 2020, some of those authors formulated a request, that was sent to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), asking for a formal recognition of such reductive use of Ruthenian linguistic designations. That request is still under deliberation (see section at the end of this article).[22]


Mayor office written in four official languages used in the City of Novi Sad (Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, and Rusyn).

Both Pannonian Rusyn and Carpathian Rusyn are East Slavic languages. Pannonian Rusyn differs from Carpathian Rusyn in that the former has been influenced by the surrounding South Slavic languages (especially Serbian) whilst the latter has been influenced by the surrounding West Slavic languages (especially Polish and Slovak). Both forms of Rusyn are closely related to Russian Church Slavonic, Old Ruthenian and modern Russian.

Among the West Slavic languages, Rusyn has been especially influenced by the Eastern Slovak dialects. This influence occurred before the Rusyns emigrated to Pannonia from the north Carpathian area, around the middle of the 18th century.

Pannonian Rusyn has also been treated as a separate language from Carpatho-Rusyn. By some scholars, mainly American scholars, Pannonian Rusyn has been treated as a West Slavic language, and Carpatho-Rusyn as an East Slavic language, which would make Pannonian Rusyn the only West Slavic language to use the Cyrillic script.


As early as the 1970s, the Pannonian Rusyns were granted certain minority rights by the former Yugoslavia, which was a multinational state. Consequently, there is a Rusyn language high school in Ruski Krstur (Руски Керестур, Serbian: Руски Крстур / Ruski Krstur), the cultural centre of the Pannonian Rusyns. At least 250 Rusyn language books have been printed so far for the high school and elementary schools in the region.[citation needed])

There is a professorial chair in Rusyn Studies at Novi Sad University.[23] [24]


There are regular television and radio programmes in Pannonian Rusyn, including the multilingual radio station Radio Novi Sad, which serves all of Vojvodina. The breakdown of minutes of Novi Sad original broadcasting by language in 2001 was: 23.5% Serbian, 23.5% Hungarian, 5.7% Slovak, 5.7% Romanian, 3.8% Rusyn, 2.2% Romani, and 0.2% Ukrainian.

Writing system[edit]

Pannonian Rusyn was codified by Mikola Kočiš in Правопис руского язика (Pravopis ruskoho jazika; "Orthography of Rusyn", 1971) and Ґраматика руского язика (Gramatika ruskoho jazika; "Grammar of Rusyn", 1974) and is written in a Cyrillic script.

The Pannonian Rusyn alphabet
А а Б б В в Г г Ґ ґ Д д Е е Є є
Ж ж З з И и Ї ї Й й К к Л л М м
Н н О о П п Р р С с Т т У у Ф ф
Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ю ю Я я Ь ь

The Pannonian Rusyn alphabet has 32 letters. It includes all the letters of the Ukrainian alphabet except І/і. Like the Carpathian Rusyn alphabets, and like the Ukrainian alphabet until 1990, the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet places ь after я, while the vast majority of Cyrillic alphabets place ь before э (if present), ю, and я.

Comparison with the Carpathian Rusyn alphabets[edit]

The Prešov Rusyn alphabet of Slovakia has 36 letters. It includes all the letters of the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet plus ё, і, ы, and ъ.

The Lemko Rusyn alphabet of Poland has 34 letters. It includes all the letters of the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet with the exception of ї, plus і, ы, and ъ.

In the Ukrainian alphabet, и precedes і and ї, and the Pannonian Rusyn alphabet (which doesn't have і) follows this precedent by placing и before ї. In the Prešov Rusyn alphabet, however, і and ї come before и, and likewise, і comes before и in the Lemko Rusyn alphabet (which doesn't have ї).

The question of the ISO status[edit]

Since the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has an ISO 639-3 designation (rue) for the common Rusyn language,[25] a group of linguists (including Aleksandr Dulichenko), supported a proposal, that was addressed in April 2019 to the ISO, requesting suppression of the code (rue) and division of Rusyn language in two distinctive and separate languages, designated as: the East Rusyn language (representing the Carpathian Rusyn) and the South Rusyn language (representing the Pannonian Rusyn). In January 2020, the ISO authorities rejected the request.[26]

In November 2020, the same group of linguists, with some additional support, formulated a new proposal, also addressed to the ISO, requesting recognition of a new language, representing the Pannonian Rusyn (that was referred to in the previous proposal as the South Rusyn), but designated in the new request under a different name, that was proposed as: the Ruthenian language (with additional designation as: Rusnak). The request is still under deliberation, since the claimed term (Ruthenian language) already has a distinctive and well established meaning both in traditional and scientific terminology, designating primarily the late medieval and early modern East Slavic linguistic variant in the regions of modern Ukraine and Belarus.[27]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]