Sunday, March 24, 2024

Belgorod Residents Speak Their Own Language, Even Russian Linguists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 19 – Because of drone and now ground attacks, Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, which is located on the border with Ukraine, has attracted unprecedented attention in recent weeks; but one aspect of its situation has not: Many Russian linguists say that it is appropriate to call what they speak not just a separate dialect of Russian but a second language altogether.

            Reporting on this phenomenon, the Russkaya Semerka popular history portal says that it is incorrect to think of what the Belgorod residents speak as being typical of the mixture of languages often found in border regions. Its distinctiveness has much deeper roots than that (

            It is a much more ancient dialect, the porta says, which has “preserved in itself aspects of the Old Slavonic languages of Russian, Little Russian and Polish,” even those the Old Slavonic has disappeared elsewhere. And that is reflected in the fact that the Belgorod language although not officially recognized uses 39 letters, some of which don’t exist in Russian.

            According to Russkaya Semerka, only a small fraction of the population in Belgorod Oblast – about 3,000 -- speak this language in its purest form; but a much larger portion of the residents there retain some of its vocabulary and structure, something that sets them apart from both Russian and Ukrainian tongues.

            For background on this phenomenon, see, and

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