This page has been translated automatically.

Belarussian (official term: Belarusian; беларуская мова, Belarouskaya mova) is an Indo-European language belonging, along with Russian and Ukrainian, to the East Slavic group. It is spoken by around 7 million people in Belarus (official term: Byelorussia), where it is co-official with Russian, in Poland (regional language), Ukraine and the Czech Republic (minority language), as well as in most of the republics of the former USSR. There are also large emigrant diasporas in the USA and Canada.
Bélarussien 1‎

Discover the language

Belarussian (беларуская мова, belarouskaïa mova) counts around 7 million speakers in Belarus (where it is the co-official language with Russian), Poland (regional language), Ukraine and the Czech Republic (minority language) as well as in most of the former USSR republics. There are also significant emigrant diasporas in the USA and Canada.

Belarussian is an Indo-European language belonging with Russian and Ukrainian to the East Slavic group. But there are still phonetic, grammatical and syntactic differences between these three languages. This is why a unilingual Russian speaker will find it very difficult to understand Belarussian, especially in its literary and spoken form.

Belarussian also has many features in common with South Slavic and especially West Slavic languages. This allows a number of linguists eager to unravel the mysteries of Slavic origins to situate Belarussian at the center of the Protoslavic space. An important background of archaic Baltisms in modern Belarussian would also be of interest to those wondering about the common origin of Balto-Slavic languages.

Although for historical reasons it was and still is possible to write Belarusian with the Latin alphabet (just as the Arabic alphabet was used by the Tatar community many centuries ago), today's Belarusian is generally written with the Cyrillic alphabet, the current 32-letter version of which dates from 1918.

As for the phonetic system, it is made up of 45 (54) phonemes: 6 vowels and 39 (48) consonants.

Belarussian has its origins in Old Belarussian, attested as early as the 13th century and which became the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (13th century - 18th century, not to be confused with present-day Lithuania).

His golden age was in the 16thème century when the country was among the first to have its Bible translated into the national language. This was printed in Prague in 1517-1519, based on the translation by F. Skaryna. However, for various historical reasons, Old Belarussian lost its primacy in the written sphere to Polish during the 18th century.

Classical Belarussian only really took off in the second half of the 19th century. A whole host of linguists, writers and patrons of the arts then contributed to the codification of the modern literary language.

This delay was above all due to the massive Russification experienced by the territory of present-day Belarus since its annexation by the Tsarist Empire at the end of the 18th century.

The Soviet era would be a continuation of this policy of colonization, particularly linguo-cultural, of the country. The short period of Belarussianization in the 1920s was nothing but a trap. The purges of the 1930s eliminated the elites who had actively participated in the national revival movement.

The influx of Russian settlers after the Second World War ended up completely marginalizing Belarussian.

The Belarussian language was, nevertheless, one of the symbols of the independence of the Republic of Belarus in 1991. But from 1994, when President Aliaksandr Lukashenka came to power, every effort was made to reduce Belarusian once again to its folkloric status and discourage its use in everyday life.

Belarusian is now used only by a minority belonging, more often than not, to the milieu of political and cultural opposition (less than a million out of nearly 9.5 million inhabitants).

Paradoxically, the majority of Belarussians continue to refer to Belarussian as their mother tongue, whose identity and symbolic power remains very strong.

A new language policy could very quickly change the situation.

Thus, Belarussian, whatever it may be, demonstrates enduring vitality and allows an original approach to the study of the complex relationships between language, state and nation.


Training courses

Courses in Belarusian can be taken as an option in UE3 and 4 of all our bachelor's degrees, in the Diploma in Medieval European Civilization, as well as in Passport and minor


Formation de Bélarusse 2023-2024 (162.82 KB, .pdf)

Bélarussien 2023-2024 (540.46 KB, .pdf)