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Belarussian language

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Belarussian, Belarusian or Belarusan, formerly called in English Byelorussian, Belorussian, White Russian (in its own language: беларуская мова, biełaruskaja mova), is a Slavic language mainly spoken in Belarus.

It is one of the two official languages of Belarus, the other being Russian. Although Belarus has been independent since 1991, Russian is still the dominant language of the country.

Writing system

Belarussian may be written with the Cyrillic alphabet, which is official, or with the Latin alphabet (Łacinka), which is used by part of the population. The former has been used since the Middle Ages, the latter since the 16th century.[1] It is very easy to switch from one to another thanks to a simple system of correspondence. This coexistence of two alphabets resembles the situation of Serbian.

Belarussian Alphabets
Cyrillic alphabet
letter name
Łacinka or
Latin alphabet
English equivalent)
А   а а [a] A a [a] a in "father", u in "cut"
Б   б бэ [be] B b [b] b
В   в вэ [ve] V v [v] v
Г   г гэ [ɣe] H h [ɣ] between h in "hot" and Scottish ch in "loch"
Д   д дэ [de] D d [d] d
Е   е е [je] IE ie (initially or after vowel: JE je) [je], [ʲe] ye in "yet"
Ё   ё ё [jo] IO io (initially or after vowel: JO jo) [jo], [ʲo] yo in "York"
Ж   ж жэ [ʒe] Ž ž [ʒ] s in "pleasure"
З   з зэ [ze] Z z [z] z
І   і і [i] I i [i], [ʲi], [ji] i in "link", yi in "Yiddish"
Й   й і нескладовае J j [j] y in "boy"
К   к ка [ka] K k [k] k
Л   л эл [el] - L l (palatal)
- Ł ł (non palatal)
- [lʲ] (palatal)
- [l] (non palatal)
- li (palatal in "million")
- l (non palatal in "look")
→   ЛА   ла →   ŁA ła (non palatal l before a) [la] la in "large"
→   ЛЯ   ля →   LA la (palatal l before a) [lʲa] l-ya in "small yard"
→   ЛЭ   лэ →   ŁE łe (non palatal l before e) [le] le in "let"
→   ЛЕ   ле →   LE le (palatal l before e) [lʲe] l-ye in "will yell"
→   ЛО   ло →   ŁO ło (non palatal l before o) [lo] lo in "lord"
→   ЛЁ   лё →   LO lo (palatal l before o) [lʲo] l-yo in "all your"
→   ЛУ   лу →   ŁU łu (non palatal l before u) [lu] loo in "look"
→   ЛЮ   лю →   LU lu (palatal l before u) [lʲu] l-you in "call you"
М   м эм [em] M m [m] m
Н   н эн [en] N n [n] n
О   о о [o] O o [o] aw in "saw", o in "song"
П   п пэ [pe] P p [p] p
Р   р эр [er] R r [r] rolled r
С   с эс [es] S s [s] s
Т   т тэ [te] T t [t] t
У   у у [u] U u [u] oo in "look" or "soon"
Ў   ў у нескладовае,
у кароткае
Ŭ ŭ [w] w in "now"
Ф   ф эф [ef] F f [f] f
Х   х ха [xa] CH ch [x] Scottish ch in "loch"
Ц   ц цэ [tse] C c [ts] ts
Ч   ч чэ [tʃe] Č č [tʃ] ch in "such"
Ш   ш ша [ʃa] Š š [ʃ] sh
Ы   ы ы [ɨ] Y y [ɨ] Resembles ir in "first".
Ь   ь мяккі знак ´ (acute accent) [ʲ] i in "million"
→   ДЗЬ   дзь →   DŹ dź (palatal dz) [dzʲ] ds-y in "needs you"
→   ЗЬ   зь →   Ź ź (palatal z) [zʲ] s-y in "sees you"
→   НЬ   нь →   Ń ń (palatal n) [nʲ] ni in "onion"
→   СЬ   сь →   Ś ś (palatal s) [sʲ] ss-y in "bless you"
Э   э э [e] E e [e] e in "let"
Ю   ю ю [ju] IU iu (initially or after vowel: JU ju) [ju], [ʲu] u in "cute"
Я   я я [ja] IA ia (initially or after vowel: JA ja) [ja], [ʲa] ya in "yard"
 – -


  1. See article "bielorús", p. 61, in: BADIA I CAPDEVILA Ignasi (2002) Diccionari de les llengües d’Europa, coll. Diccionaris temàtics, Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana