Names of Slavic languages

EuropeanOrigin

Member
English NZ & Australia
When did Russians, Czechs, Poles, Croatians, Serbs, Bulgarians and others stop calling their language Slavic and start using their own national names for their languages? Are the first documents known in which the national names for the languages are used?
 
  • rusita preciosa

    Modus forendi
    Russian (Moscow)
    Your question assumes that for some period of time the Russians, the Czechs, etc... called their languages Slavic, then stopped and started calling them by the national names. Based on what did you make that assumption?
     

    EuropeanOrigin

    Member
    English NZ & Australia
    Just an assumption based on sources calling these people Slavs. I could be wrong. But the language was called Slavic in early OCS documents and I know that OCS didn't influence all Slavic languages in the same way. Did Russians not call their language Slavic in any documents? Do you know the first document where Russians called their language Russian?
     

    rusita preciosa

    Modus forendi
    Russian (Moscow)
    Russian language as we know it emerged during Peter the Great times in 1700s. Mikhail Lomonosov developed the first Russian grammar book in mid-1700s. Before that it was a bunch of dialects that I believe would not have a common name, "Slavic" or otherwise.
     
    The 12th century East Slavic Primary Chronicle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_Chronicle) uses the name словѣньскъ/Slavic for the language of Cyril and Methodius period (http://hudce7.harvard.edu/~ostrowski/pvl/alpha.pdf from http://hudce7.harvard.edu/~ostrowski/pvl/) — 25,25–29,1, e. g.:

    25,25: Бѣ бо единъ языкъ словѣньскъ…
    [For there was a common Slavic language…]

    28,21–29,2: А словѣньскъ языкъ и русьскыи единъ. Отъ варягъ бо прозъваша ся Русию, а пьрвѣе бѣша словѣни. Аще и поляне зъваху ся, нъ словѣньска рѣчь бѣ. Полями же прозъваша ся, зане въ поли сѣдяху, а языкъ словѣньскыи бѣ имъ единъ.
    [And Slavic and Russian languages are the same. For they began to call themselves Russians after Varangians, while originally they were Slavs. For instance, they called themselves Polyanians as well, for they were living in the field {polye}, whereas they shared the same Slavic language.]
     
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    Do you know the first document where Russians called their language Russian?
    I suspect the earliest preserved text is Слово о законѣ и благодѣти (http://izbornyk.org.ua/oldukr2/oldukr01.htm) written probably between 1037 and 1050 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sermon_on_Law_and_Grace):

    и вѣра въ вьсѧ ѩзыкы прострѣсѧ и до нашeго ѩзыка русьскааго
    (I have corrected the much modernized orthography of that site).

    Two things to consider:
    (1) ѩзыка русьскааго means here rather the country than the language proper;

    (2) русьскыи ѩзыкъ/ꙗзыкъ originally meant the language of the entire East Slavic territory.
     
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    swintok

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    The people of what is now Ukraine called their language руський along with all other East Slavs until early into the 20th century. If a distinction was needed, the local language was sometimes called малоруський (literally "little Rus," but the meaning was centre or home Rus) to distinguish if from the великоруський (literally "big Rus") spoken in the areas "out there" (similar to the concept of Magna Graecia as opposed to the homeland Graecia). When the Russian Empire took over the area, the term малоруський was given a paternalistic meaning by the new rulers and was increasingly seen to be derogatory by the local intelligentsia. In reaction, the term український started to be used more often from the early- to mid-19th century though had been in existence previously. The usage started in Central and Eastern Ukraine and spread from there to the Kuban and to areas of what is now Western Ukraine that were under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was pretty much firmly fixed and given official recognition as the name of the language only with the creation of the Ukrainian SSR in 1922.

    Those areas that were not touched by or did not accept the Ukrainian national consciousness movement of the 19th and early 20th century continued (and continue) to call their language руський. Hence the whole Ruthenian debate in which some claim that Ruthenian is simply a Ukrainian dialect while others claim it to be a separate language. Similarly, the language spoken by the Ruthenian/Ukrainian communities in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia is virtually identical to one another but the people self-identify as Ruthenian or Ukrainian mainly based on whether their ancestors left Western Ukraine before or after the adoption by that area of a Ukrainian self-identification in the late 19th century.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    The Ruthenian (at least the variants spoken in Slovakia, Pollland and partly in Hungary) is a bit different from the Ukranian. Linguistically it belongs rather to the Eastern Slavic languages than to western ones, however "practically" nowadays it represents a certain "transition" between the two. A part of the today's Western Ukraine (called Закарпаття, Kárpátalja in Hungarian, Zakarpatsko/Podkarpadsko in Slovak), where the Ruthenian (or it's ancestor) was supposedly the dominantly spoken language, was part of the Hungarian Kingdom (later Austria-Hungary) for about a thousend years.

    As to the terminology, in Hungarian sources from the 19th century the Ukranian was called kisorosz ("little Russian"), but the Ruthenian was called rutén or ruszin, i.e. different terms were used.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    When did Russians, Czechs, Poles, Croatians, Serbs, Bulgarians and others stop calling their language Slavic and start using their own national names for their languages? ...
    I think this coincides with the self-identification or the cultural/political separation of a particular "group" or tribes (the future "nation" in the modern sense of the word) from the "common Slavic people". Once e.g. the Czech tribes identified or "self-defined" themselves, I suppose their language became spontaneousely/automatically called Czech, regardless of any linguistic considerations.
     
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    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ... When the Russian Empire took over the area, the term малоруський was given a paternalistic meaning by the new rulers and was increasingly seen to be derogatory by the local intelligentsia. In reaction, the term український started to be used more often from the early- to mid-19th century though had been in existence previously...
    Does it mean that before the Ukranians ("little Ruses") practically identified themselves as part of the (future) Russian nation? Which is the date of the first known written occurence of the word український in the sense of a separate "nation" or language?
     
    Does it mean that before the Ukranians ("little Ruses") practically identified themselves as part of the (future) Russian nation?
    No, that means that all the Slavic inhabitants of the Rus state used the same word русьскъи/rusьskъjь for their affiliation. After the Mongol and Lithuanian invasions in the 13th century, the part that is now Russia preserved political autonomy (within the Golden Horde or as vassal states), whereas the part that is now Ukraine and Belarus lost it, so to the time when the national revival was emerging in the 19th century, the word "Russian" had been essentially confined to what we know as Russia proper. The official Russian policy was to recognize Belarusians and Ukrainians as members of the pluricentric Russian nation (that consisted of three branches: Great Russians, Little Russians and Belorussians), but that was unacceptable to the nationally conscious parts of Belarusians and Ukrainians.
     
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    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Thanks, but I still don't understand something ...
    ... when the national revival was emerging in the 19th century, the word "Russian" had been confined to what we know as Russia proper ...
    This is clear and understandable.
    After the Mongol and Lithuanian invasions in the 13th century, the part that is now Russia preserved political autonomy ... whereas the part that is now Ukraine and Belarus lost it ...
    This seems to be also clear. What is not clear to me, is the situation between the 13th and the 19th century. Did these invasions (separation from the "common Rus") practically cause/start the self identification of the future Ukrainians (and Belorussians)? How did they call themselves/their language during this period?
     
    Hilarion of Kiev, whose work I had mentioned in the post #8, writes (http://izbornyk.org.ua/oldukr2/oldukr01.htm) in the middle third of the 11th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sermon_on_Law_and_Grace) about the Kievan grand prince Vladimir the Great (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_the_Great) and his two ancestors:

    Не въ худѣ бо и невѣдомѣ земли владычьствоваша, нъ въ Руськѣ, яже вѣдома и слышима есть всѣми четырьми конци земли
    [~They ruled not a wretched and unknown country, but the Russian one, which is known and heard by all four sides of Earth].
    (The orthography by izbornyk.org.ua).
     
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    This seems to be also clear. What is not clear to me, is the situation between the 13th and the 19th century. Did these invasions (separation from the "common Rus") practically cause/start the self identification of the future Ukrainians (and Belorussians)? How did they call themselves/their language during this period?
    The Belarusian and Ukrainian participants will probably explain better. As far as I imagine, the situation is as follows.

    Future Belarusians were the least involved in the affairs of the Rus state and, in contrast, their land happened to be situated close to the core of the Great Duchy of Lithuania (or, as Belarusian revivalists now prefer to believe, was the core of that state), so they had the least sentiments as to the common pre-Lithuanian heritage. In the 19th century there was even a discussion about the preferable name of the nation, Belarusians (беларусы) or Lithuanians (ліцьвіны), which obviously caused some concerns from the proper Baltic-speaking Lithuanians. Interestingly, there are still Belarusian internet resources that prefer the latter name (http://lurkmore.to/Бульбосрач#.D0.9....BD.D0.BE.D1.84.D1.80.D0.B5.D0.BD.D0.B8.D1.8F).

    As to Ukrainians, I have an impression that the farther they were (or felt) themselves from Russia, the more readily they kept the name "Russian" (руський). See Swintok's post #9.
     
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    A 15–16th century Ruthenian chronicle (http://izbornyk.org.ua/old14_16/old14_06.htm), when describing the events of the 15th century, still calls the land Russian and regards all the participants as Russians. Two citations (I'm keeping the modern orthography of that site):

    И приде Швитригайло на Полоцк и на Смоленск, и князи руськии и бояре посадиша князя Швитригайла на великое княжение на руськое.

    Сий князь великий Витовт, бяше ему держащи великое княжение Литовское и Руськое, иныя многие земли, сопроста реку — вся Руськая земля. Не токмо же Руськая земля вся, но и еще ж господарь Угорской земли, зовемый римский и велицей любви живяще с ним.


    In the same period, a Ukrainian authorized translation of a Russian(?) historical pamphlet calls Russian ("Muscovite" in the Polish parlance) princes and lands "Russians" (http://izbornyk.org.ua/old14_16/old14_21.htm). Again, a citation:

    Аж року 6889 (1381) князі руськиї, особливе Семеон Іванович, князь тверський, і Дмитрій Іванович Семечин, великий князь володимерський і московський, своїм мужеством і храброством татаров до конца побивши, досконале зкинули з шиї своєї ярмо татарськоє і в першую прийшли вольность руського пановання.
     
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    swintok

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Hilarion of Kiev, whose work I had mentioned in the post #8, writes (http://izbornyk.org.ua/oldukr2/oldukr01.htm) in the middle third of the 11th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sermon_on_Law_and_Grace) about the Kievan grand prince Vladimir the Great (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_the_Great) and his two ancestors:

    Не въ худѣ бо и невѣдомѣ земли владычьствоваша, нъ въ Руськѣ, яже вѣдома и слышима есть всѣми четырьми конци земли
    [~They ruled not a wretched and unknown country, but the Russian one, which is known and heard by all four sides of Earth].
    (The orthography by izbornyk.org.ua).

    One has to be careful about translating the term руський (русский руский) in documents anytime before the 19th century. When Hilarion writes about нъ въ Руськѣ, it has nothing to do with Russia per se. It is the same with the pamphlet mentioned in post 17 ("князі руськиї"). A more accurate translation into English would be "Rus lands" and "Rus princes." It was only with the rise of nationalism in the 19th century that руський came to be conflated with "Russian," especially outside the heartland of the Russian empire (Moscow-St. Petersburg-Novgorod). Even into the 20th century, Ukrainians (or those people who are now called Ukrainians) would refer to themselves as руські and people from the north as москалі or московські. Руський was their endonym and anyone who was different in speech, dress, culture, or religion was given an exonym that was not руський. Even then, their primary identification might not even have been as руські, but a local or religious one.

    As with any nationalist movement the evolution of the term руський was a political development, not an ethnic or linguistic one. With the development of nationalism in the 19th century it was in the interest of the leaders and administrators of the Russian empire to conflate руський with Russian in order to project the history of the empire back in an undifferntiated line to the time of Rus and hence for all the people living in that territory to be "Russian." Similarly, the more closely the term руський came to be seen to mean Russian, the more Ukrainian and Belarusan nationalists (or, frankly, anyone who thought himself different from the people in Moscow/St. Petersburg) used alternative endonyms and exonyms.

    Today, Russian historians tend to use the word "Russian" in English for the pre-19th-century руський while non-Russian historians translate the word as Rus. This is sometimes done for conscious political reasons, but usually is more just a reflection of what is seen as standard usage.

    The political evolution of ethnonyms in the region continues today and has become even more pronounced as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Russian media and the Russian leadership have not quite decided what to do with the term украинский. In some usages, украинские are only those people who are sympathetic to the Russian invasion or at least the idea of Russia and Ukraine being closer together. All others are not truly украинскиe, but are given some other (usually not flattering) epithet. At other times украинскиe is synonymous with the enemy, with rabid fascists, Russian-hating nationalists, etc., and the term itself is considered some form of artificial construct. From the Ukrainian side, separatists and the Russian invanding army are descibed disparagingly in Ukrainian not as россійські (and in Russian not as руські), but as москалі, рашшан, etc.
     
    Русьскъи/русский/руський are all the same word (respectively, a common Old East Slavic ancestor and reflexes in Russian and Ukrainian), which for the reasons outlined above became confined to either side of the former Mongol-Lithuanian boundary (yet the last citation in #17 shows that in the 15–16th centuries a Ukrainian translator called Tver and Moscow princes князі руськиї). I would compare it to the word Roman used in the Middle ages by both the Byzantine and Holy Roman empires for themselves. There is simply no way in Russian to translate Hilarion's русьская земля other than русская земля, and the same is true for all the other occurrences of this adjective in the old texts. This is not the matter of nationalism, chauvinism or anything else, this is simply exactly the same word that may (or may not, depending on one's geopolitical feelings) have changed its territorial scope since the 11th century.

    When mentioning in English the language of that period, I always use the name Old East Slavic, but the topic question was about the first attestations of the names for the separate Slavic languages, and словѣньскъ языкъ и русьскыи единъ *is* the first attestation of this term for the language, one of the descendants of which has preserved this name to our days and has been using the word русьскъи/русский for self-identification during this entire millennium (российский in Russian is simply an adjective from the solemn Greek borrowing Россия, similar to the relationships of Britain/Britannia and british/britannic in English). If Ukrainians were concerned about primogeniture, they shouldn't have introduced replacement terms.
     
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    Just to clarify. The phrases русьскъи ѩзыкъ and русьскаꙗ землꙗ from the citations above are indeed the first attestations of the modern Russian русский язык and русская земля, and are connected with these by a millennium of uninterrupted usage. In this connection, my translation from the post #15 of the word руськѣ (in the middle 11th century Kiev must have been русьсцѣ, of course) as "Russian" is justified in the sense that it is exactly the same word now and then, but is ambiguous because the English word Russian is indeed confined to a later period.
     

    swintok

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I don't disagree with anything you've said, Ahvalj. I just wanted to point out that in English translating Русьскъи/русский/руський as "Russian" when referring to language, people, or political entities in documents that predate the 19th century is not always the most accurate way to do so.

    I agree with your answer to the post question that the citations above are indeed the first documented attestations of what the people who now speak Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusan (and Ruthenian) used to call the language(s) they spoke as opposed to some generic словянський-type name. Whether those people ever commonly referred to their language(s) by some generic-slavic-type name or whether the vernacular was always referred to as some variant of Русьскъи/русский/руський is, of course, another question.

    The word "Ukraine" (ukraina) referring to a territory is first found in the 12th and 13th century Primary Chronicle (as recorded in the Hypation Codex). The first documented use of the term український to refer to the руський language spoken by what are now referred to as Ukrainians has not been established as far as I can tell. I read one source that stated it was used in the 16th century, but does not give the citation. It is commonly accepted that the term applied to the language started gaining widespread acceptance in the mid-19th century.
     
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