Language Books For Carpatho-Rusyns

From The Collection of

The Episcopal And Heritage Institute (EHI)

By Bogdan Horbal ©1996 all rights reserved.
Use of this material is limited to on-line viewing or the printing of one(1) copy for off-line review/reference. Any other use is in violation of international copyright law.

Since World War II and the imposition of Soviet-dominated Communist rule throughout East Central Europe, the Rusyn language was banned in all countries where Rusyns live, except in Yugoslavia. In the Soviet Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Poland, Rusyns were administratively declared to be Ukrainians and all publications and education intended for them had to be carried out in Ukrainian. Any efforts to have some form of Rusyn used in publications, schools, or public life was considered to be illegal ("counterrevolutionary"). This was supposed to be the end of the so called "language question" among Carpatho-Rusyns.

The collapse of Communism, however, underscored what many had for some time suspected. The repressed but unresolved question of national identity and language among Rusyns returned. In the mid 1980's Lemkos in Poland led the way in linguistic developments. They published a few collections of poetry in Lemko vernacular. In the late 1980's, Rev. Frantishek Krajnjak (b. 1952) set up a small "language commission" to help with his work of translating religious texts into local Rusyn dialect (Medzilaborce, Slovakia). When, after 1989, Rusyn language newspapers appeared in Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, and the Rusyn cultural movement was becoming stronger, it was obvious that its primary goal would be the codification of a standard Rusyn literary language. In an attempt to put some order and coordination into this effort, a working seminar of the Rusyn language was convened in Bardejovske Kupele, Slovakia on November 6-7, 1992. Rusyn writers and editors from: Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary joined with scholars from those countries and from the United States, Sweden, Switzerland and Monaco to discuss theoretical issues and practical ways in which the Rusyn codifers can coordinate their efforts. This First Congress of the Rusyn Language allowed the development of four standards based on dialects in the countries where Rusyns live: Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia. The participants also agreed to meet periodically to exchange views on their own codifying work as well as to agree on as many as possible principles that will form the basis of an eventual "fifth" Rusyn literary standard, or koine that would be common to all regions. One of the results of the Congress was also the creation of the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture in Presov. Since January of 1993, this Institute has been serving as a coordinating center for the work of Rusyn language codifiers in all countries where they live. The institute has published Rules for Rusyn Orthography, as well as a primer and a reader for elementary schools in Slovakia. This activity culminated with the recognition of Rusyn as an literary language. The event marking this remarkable change in the status of Rusyn language took place on January 27, 1995 at the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. 1


The Most Reverend Michael J. Dudick, D.D., Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Diocese of Passaic, New Jersey began to aquire materials for the Episcopal and Heritage Institute Museum and Library some twenty-five years ago. In 1986, the Institute moved into a new building, occupying part of the Episcopal residence and Diocesan center in West Patterson, NJ. Bishop Dudick's primary concern was for the preservation of the rich ethnographic and religious cultural tradition of the people under his jurisdiction, both in the United States and the homeland. Carpatho-Rusyns make up the overwhelming majority of the members of the diocese. Hence, the greater portion of the valuable objects in the museum and library materials related to the history and religious experience of Carpatho-Rusyns. 2

One of the highlights of Bishop Dudick's library is the collection of language books written for Carpatho-Rusyns. This collection was microfilmed, deposited and made available to the general public in the Slavic and Baltic Division of the New York Public Library as a gift from Bishop Michael J. Dudick.

Carpatho-Rusyns And Their Language

Carpatho-Rusyns belong to the Slavic branch of Indo-European peoples. They speak a series of distinct but related dialects which are classified as East Slavic. The Rusyns' Carpathian homeland is a boundary region in many ways. As a result of the historical process of contact, Carpatho-Rusyn dialects are heavily influenced by Polish, Slovak and Hungarian vocabulary. These influences, together with numerous terms from the Church Slavonic liturgical language and dialectical words unique to Carpatho-Rusyns, are what distinguish their spoken language from other East Slavic languages.

The question of formulating a literary language was most challenging for Carpatho-Rusyns. It was closely relayed to the question of an ethnonational identity. The Carpatho-Rusyn intelligentsia was troubled by divisions over these two questions and attempted to resolve them.

Hence, these ethnonational debates were often conducted in the context and form of ethnonational debates. Paul R. Magocsi 3 divides the disputants into five groups.

The described below typology will be used to organize the following discussion.

  1. Karpatorossy, who considered themselves members of "one indivisible Russian people:, promoted the use of what they called a common Russian (obshcherusskii) language, and who described the Ukrainian language as nothing more than an artificial jargon.
  2. "Staunch Carpathian Rusyns, conservative and regional patriots", who also did not recognize Ukrainian, but rather spoke and wrote in a "noble" local Carpatho-Russian language, a Subcarpathian variant of Russian used by writers in the late nineteenth century.
  3. Nationally conscious Rusyns who foresaw the possibility of formulating a literary language based on local dialects.
  4. Rusyn-populists, who were basically Ukrainian in outlook but still in the process of transition from using Subcarpathian Rusyn dialects and traditional orthography to the standard Ukrainian language.
  5. Nationally-conscious Ukrainians who wrote in standard Ukrainian and who used the modern orthography.

About The Library Of The EIH

In the collection, one can find examples of the writings of the first four groups, and of one more, which was not described above. That oldest group called upon Carpatho-Rusyns to use in their writings Church Slavonic (or more precisely Subcarpathian recession of Church Slavonic, called Slaveno-Rusyn). It was, among others, Michael Luchkai 4 (1789-1843) who argued for the use of Church Slavonic in Subcarpathian cultural life. This language was favored by Carpatho-Rusyns in the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century, but increasingly lost its influence after 1848.

The First Group

The first standardization of the common-Russian (obshcherusskii) language for use in Subcarpathian Rus' appeared in Kirill A. Sabov's (1838-1914) grammar and Aleksander Mitrak's (1837-1913) dictionary. Works by Illarion S. Svientsitskii (1876-1956), Semen IU. Bendasiuk (1877-1965), Ivan G. Borukh (1872-after 1940), Ioann Gr. Dzvonchik, Stefan F. Telep (1885-1965) an Ivan Vantsa were also written in what was basically standard literary Russian.

The Second Group

This orientation was best represented by the interwar cultural leader Evmenii Iv. Sabov (1859-1934). His grammar became the symbol of the Russophile orientation. In his other pronouncements on the subject, however, Sabov cited local writers like Ivan Sil'vai (183-1904), IUlii Stavrovskii-Popradov (1850-1899) and Evgenii Fentsik (1844-1903), as the best guides for Carpatho-Rusyns. Sabov also believed that "the Carpathians separate us from the East" (that is from the influence of the Ukrainian national movement). The uncodified local recession of Russian was very popular among Carpatho-Rusyn writers and journalists. It was used, among others, by: Peter Maczkov ( 1880-1965), Ivan Dobosh and Pavel Fedor (1884-1952)

The Third Group

Works by John Slivka (1899-1986) and Joseph Hanulya (1874-1962), among others, best represent this group of nationally-conscious Rusyns. These two American-Rusyn activists believed that it is not good for Carpatho-Rusyns to use either Russian or Ukrainian, because they are neither Russian nor Ukrainian. Both of them expressed and interest in formulating a separate Carpatho-Rusyn literary language. Mykhal Vrabel's (1866-1923) primers were also written in vernacular based language.

The Fourth Group

The collection includes fourteen works of Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945). His tremendous effort in the field of producing school text books is a perfect example of the activity of this group. His 1919 grammar, along with the Mitrak's dictionary were favored by a teacher's congress held at Berehovo in 1923. It was stated there, that these two positions well conform to the character of the Carpatho-Russian language. The 1923 Congress attended by about 550 teachers from Subcarpathian Rus' was depicted as a victory by the Russophile orientation, even though Voloshyn's 1919 text was actually more dialectically oriented that other texts in the Subcarpathian recession of Russian. Voloshyn himself was becoming a Ukrainophile and was more and more using local Carpatho-Rusyn vocabulary in his writings.

The Fifth Group

This group is not represented in the collection. The best example of its activity is given in: Frants Ahii (b1899), Zhyva Mova, Uzhhorod, 1938; IAroslav Nevrli, Hramatyka i Pravopys ukraiins'koii movy, Uzhhorod, 1937; and Ivan Pan'kevych's (1887-1958) grammar, Korotki pravyla ukraiins'koho pravopysu dlia vzhytku Priashivshchyny, Presov, 1952


1. Paul R. Magocsi, "Scholarly Seminar on the Codification of the Rusyn Language", in Slavia, LXXII, 4 (Prague, 1993), p. 550, and also his: "The Rusyn Language Question Revisited", forthcoming in International Journal of Sociolingusitics.

2. Roberts A. Karlowich, Richar Renoff, "The Byzantine Episcopal and Heritage Institute Museum and Libraries", in Eastern Catholic Life, XXX, (West Patterson, NJ)< February 13, 1994,

3. Paul R. Magocsi, The Shaping of a National Identity, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978, p. 132; see also his: The Language Question Among the Subcarpathian Rusyns, Fairview, NJ: Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center, 1979.

4. The author is aware of the fact that names of some personalities appear in different forms. In the article, names appear in their established English language forms. In the listing, they were spelled the way they appear on the front page of the publication/.


1. Mykhayl Vrabel' (1866-1923), BUKVAR' [Primer], (4th Edition), Ungvar (Uzhhorod): Yzdan Knyhopechatnym Aktsiinym Obshchestvom "Unio" 1910, (92 pp.).

2. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), AZBUKA Y PERVA CHYTANKA DLIA PERVOHO KLASSA NARODNYKH SHKOL NA RUS'KOM IAZYTSI [Rusyn Alphabet and First Reader for the First Class of Primary Schools], (2nd Edition), Budapesht (Budapest): Sobstvennost' Drukarny Mad'. Kor. Unyversyteta Nauk, [1913?], (116 pp.).
3. Mykhayl Vrabel' (1866-1923), BUKVAR' [Primer], (4th Edition), Ungvar (Uzhhorod): Yzdan Knyhopechatnym Aktsiinym Tovarystvom "Unio" 1914, (92 pp.).

4. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), AZBUKA UHRO-RUS'KOHO TSERKOVNO-SLAVIANSKOHO CHTENIA [Alphabet of the Uhro-Rusyn and Old Church Slavonic Reading], (2nd Edition), Pittsburgh: The A. Strasburger Co. Inc. Publisher, 1917, (96 pp.).

5. Ioann F. Kyzak (1856-1929), BUKVAR' DLIA NARODNYKH SHKOL EPARKHII PRIASHEVSKOI [Primer for the Primary Schools of the Presov Diocese], Praha (Prague)-Priashev (Presov): Izdanie Chekhoslovatskoi Graficheskoi Unii akts. obsh., 1921, (88 pp.).

6. Rev. Petr Ivanovich Matskov (1880-1965), NOVYI BUKVAR' DLIA GREKO-KATFOLICHESKIKH DIETEI S RYSUNKAMI [New Primer with Sketches for Greek-Catholic Children], Homestead: Nakladom Literaturnago Fonda Soedineniia Greko Katf. Russkikh Bratstv, 1921, (110 pp.).

7. 4. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), AZBUKAKARPATO-RUS'KOHO Y TSERKOVNO-SLAVIANSKOHO CHTENIA [Rusyn Alphabet and First Reader for the First Class of Primary Schools] (7th Edition), Uzhhorod: Drukarnia Akts. Tovarystva "Unio", 1924, (101 pp.).

8. Ivan Dobosh, Pavel Fedor 91884-1952), KARPATORUSSKII BUKVAR' [Carpatho-Rusyn Primer], (3rd Edition), Uzhhorod: Izdanie Uchytel'skago Tovaryshchestva Podk. Rusi, Typografiia "Shkolnaia Pomoshch'", 1930, (95 pp.).

9. Stefan F. Telep (1885-1965), RUSSKII BUKVAR' DLIA TSERKOVNO-PRIKHODSKIKH SHKOL V SIEVERNOI AMERYKIE [Russian Primer for the Church Schools in North America], Mayfield: Iz pechati St. F. Telepa, 1937, (95 pp.).

10. Stefan F. Telep (1885-1965), RUSSKII BUKVAR' DLIA TSERKOVNO-PRIKHODSKIKH SHKOL V SIEVERNOI AMERYKIE [Russian Primer for the Church Schools in North America], (2nd Edition) Mayfield: Iz pechati St. F. Telepa, 1938, (98 pp.).

11. Ivan Vantsa, NOVYI BUKVAR' DLIA 1 GODA RUSSKIKH NARODNYKH SHKOL [New Primer for the First Class of the Rusyn Primary Schools], Priashev (Presov): Izdanie L. Shmigaly, 1945, (99 pp.).


1. Rev. Michaelem Lutskay (1789-1843), GRAMMATICA SLAVO-RUTHENA SEU VETERO-SLAVICAE, ET ACTU IN MONTIBUS CARPATHICIS PARVO-RUSSICAE, CEU DIALECTI VIGENTIS LINGVAE [Slaveno-Rusyn Grammar], Budae (Budapest): Typis Reg. Universitatis Pestiensis, 1830, (178 pp.).

2. Kirill A. Sabov (1838-1914), GRAMMATIKA PIS'MIENNAGO RUSSKAGO IAZYKA [Grammar of the Literary Russian Language], Uzhhorod: Izdanna Kirillom Sabovym v tipografii Karla Iegera, 1865, (254 pp.).

3. IIlarion S. Svientsitskii (1876-1956), RUKOVODSTVO K IZUCHENIIU RUSSKAGO LITERATURNAGO IAZYKA GALICHANAMI [Guidance for Galicians for the studying of Russian Literary Language], L'vov (L'viv): Iz tipografii Stavropigiiskago Instituta, 1902, (64 pp.).

4. Rev. Volosin Agoston (1874-1945), GYAKORLATI KISIROSZ (RUTEN) NYELVTAN, Ungvar (Uzhhorod): Unio Konyvnyomda Reszvenytarsasag, 1907, (209 pp.).

5. Semen Iu. Bendasiuk (1877-1965) , GRAMMATIKA RUSSKAGO LITERATURNAGO (OBSHCHERUSKAGO) IAZYKA DLIA RUSSKIKH V GALICHINIE, BUKOVINIE I UGRII [Grammar of the Russian Literary Language for the Russian People in Galicia, Bukovina and Hungary], L'vov (L'viv): Izhdeveniem Avtora, Pechatnia Stavropigiiskago Instituta, 1909, (376 pp.).

6. Rev. Iosyf Hanulia ( 1874-1962), HRAMMATYKA DLIA AMERYKANSKYKH RUSYNOV [Grammar for American Rusyns], McKeesport, Yz knyhopechatni "Prosvita Vydavn. Spolechnosty", 1918, (95 pp.).

7. Rev. Avhustyn Yv. Voloshyn (1874-1945), METODYCHESKA HRAMMATYKA KARPATO-RUSSKOHO IAZYKA DLIA NARODNYKH SHKOL. CHAST 1. DLIA 1 I 2 KLASSOV NARODNOI SHKOLY [Methodical Grammar of the Carpatho-Rusyn Language for Primary Schools. Part 1 for the First and Second Class of Primary School], Uzhhorod: Knyhopechatnia Aktsionernoho Tovarystva, "Unio", 1919, (32 pp.).

8. Rev. Avhustyn Yv. Voloshyn (1874-1945), METODYCHESKA HRAMMATYKA KARPATO-RUSSKOHO IAZYKA DLIA NARODNYKH SHKOL. CHAST 1. DLIA 2-HO KLASSA NARODNOI SHKOLY [Methodical Grammar of the Carpatho-Rusyn Language for Primary Schools. Part 1 for the Second Class of Primary School], Uzhhorod: Knyhopechatnia Aktsionernoho Tovarystva, "Unio", 1919, (33 pp.).

9. Rev. Avhustyn Yv. Voloshyn (1874-1945), METODYCHESKA HRAMMATYKA KARPATO-RUSSKOHO IAZYKA DLIA NARODNYKH SHKOL. CHAST 2. DLIA 3 I 4 KLASSOV NARODNOI SHKOLY [Methodical Grammar of the Carpatho-Rusyn Language for Primary Schools. Part 2 for the Third and Fourth Class of Primary School], Uzhhorod: Knyhopechatnia Aktsionernoho Tovarystva, "Unio", 1919, (36 pp.).

10. Rev. Avhustyn Yv. Voloshyn (1874-1945), METODYCHNA GRAMMATYKA KARPATO-RUS'KOHO IAZYKA DLIA NYZSHYKH KLAS NARODNYKH SHKOL [Methodical Grammar of the Carpatho-Rusyn Language for Lower Classes of Primary Schools], (4th Edition), Uzhhorod: Knyhopechatnia Aktsionernoho Tovarystva, "Unio", 1924, (111 pp.).

11. Rev. Evmenii Iv. Sabov (1859-1934), Editor, GRAMMATIKA RUSSKAGO IAZYKA DLIA SREDNIKH UCHEBNYKH ZAVEDENII PODKARPATSKOI RUSI. CHAST 1. ETIMOLOGIIA [Grammar of Russian Language for the High Schools of Subcarpathian Rus'. part 1. Ethymology], Uzhhorod: Izdanie Kul'turno-Prosvititel'nago Obshchestva imeni A. Dukhnovicha, 1924, (VIII+152 pp.).

12. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), PRAKTYCHNA HRAMATYKA RUS'KOHO IAZYKA [Practical Grammar of the Rusyn Language], Uzhhorod: Knyhopechatnia Aktsionernoho Tovarystva, "Unio", 1926.

13. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), PRAKTYCHNA HRAMATYKA RUS'KOHO IAZYKA DLIA NARODNYKH, HOROZHANSKYKH Y SEREDNYKH SHKOL. CHASR 2. SKLADNIA (SYNTAKSYS [Practical Grammar of the Rusyn Language for the Primary and High Schools. Part 2. Syntax], Uzhhorod: Knyhopechatnia Aktsionernoho Tovarystva, "Unio", 19--.


1. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), CHYTANKA DLIA UHRO-RUS'KOI MOLODEZHY. CHAST PERVA. DLIA NYZSHYKH KLASSOV NARODNYKH SHKOL [Reader for the Uhro-Rusyn Youth. Part 1. For the Lower Classes of Primary Schoolsl], (2nd Edition), Ungvar (Uzhhorod): Yzdanie Aktsiinoho Obshchestva "Unio", 1908, (225 pp.).

2. Ivan G. Borukh (1872-after 1940), RODNAIA RIECH. VTORAIA KNIGA DLIA CHTENIA I BESIED USTNYKH I PIS'MENNYKH UPRAZHNENII V SHKOLIE I V SEM'IE[Native Talk. The Second Book for Reading and Conversations and Written Excercises in School and at Home}, New York 1916, (224 pp.).

3. Rev. Iosyf Hanula (1874-1962), CHYTANKA DLIA AMER. RUS'KOI MOLODEZHY
[Reader for the American-Rusyn Youth], McKeesport: Yzdanie "Prosvita" Vyd. Spolechnosty.", 1919, (254 pp.).

4. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), CHYTANKA DLIA 2 KLASSY NARODNYKH SHKOL [Reader for the Second Class of Primary Schools], Uzhhorod: Yzdania Aktsionernoho Tovarystva "Unio", 1921, (80 pp.).

5. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), MALA CHYTANKA DLIA 2 I 3 KLASY NARODNYKH SHKOL [Little Reader for the Second and Third Class of Primary Schools], (3rd Edition) Uzhhorod: Vydanie Knihopechatnoho Akts. Tovarystva "Unio", 1930, (125 pp.).

6. Rev. Avhustyn Voloshyn (1874-1945), CHYTANKA DLIA 4 I 5 SHKOL'NYKH ROKOV NARODNYKH SHKOL [Reader for the Fourth and Fifth Year of Primary Schools], CHAST 2, Uzhhorod: Typografia "Shkol'naia Pomoshch'", 1932, (251 pp.).

7. Rev. Iosyf P. Hanulia ( 1874-1962), CHYTANKA DLIA AMER. [sic!] RUS'KOI MOLODEZHY [Reader for the American-Rusyn Youth], (2nd Edition)Mckeesport: "Prosvita", Knyhopechatnia "Sobrania Hreko Katolicheskykh Tserkovnykh Bratstv, 1935, (254 pp.).

8. Rev. Ioann Gr. Dzvonchik, PERVAIA RUSSKO-ANGLIISKAIA KNIGA DLIA CHTENIIA [First Russian-American Book for Reading], Philadelphia: Pravda Press, 1943, (48 pp.).


1. Rev. Ernest L. Dunda, RUTHENIAN NOTES, (typewritten), (19 pp.).

2. Paul R. Magosci (b. 1945), LET'S SPEAK RUSYN. PRESHOV REGIONAL EDITION, Englewood: Transworld Publisher, 1976.

3. Paul R. Magocsi (b 1945), LET'S SPEAK RUSYN. TRANSCARPATHIAN EDITION, Fairview: Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center, 1979.


1. Rev. Emilii Kubek ( 1859-1940), STAROSLAVIANSKII-OUGORSKII-RUSSKII-NIMETSKII SLOVAR' K SVIASHCHENNOMU PYSANIIU [Old Church Slavonic - Uhro-Russian - Russian - German Dictionary for Sacred Writing], Ungvar (Uzhhorod): Izdali ot imeni aktsionernogo knigopechatnogo soedineniia "Uniia" - Emanuil Roshkovich, Petr Gebej, Dr. Vasilii Gadzhega, sviashchenniki eparkhii mukachevskoi, 1906, (XL+387pp.).

2. Rev. Aleksandr Mitrak (1837-1913), RUSSKO-MAD'IARSKII SLOVAR' [Russian-Hungarian Dictionary], Ungvar (Uzhhorod): Izdanie Sostavitelia, Knigopechatnia Iosifa Feinishisha, 1881, (854 pp).

3. Rev. Aleksandr Mitrak (1837-1913), MAD'IARSKII - RUSSKO SLOVAR' [Hungarian - Russian Dictionary], Uzhhorod: Tipografiia Aktsionernogo Tovaristva "Unio", 1922, (1020 pp.).

4. Rev. John Slivka (1899-1986), ENGLISH-RUSIN / RUSIN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY, (Manuscript in Latin letters), 1963, (25pp. - over 500 words).

5. Rev. John Slivka (1899-1986), RUSIN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY, (Manuscript in Cyrillic and Latin letters), 1963 (80 pp. 3180 words).

6. Rev. John Slivka (1899-1986), ENGLISH-RUSIN DICTIONARY, (Manuscript in Latin and Cyrillic letters), 1963, (95 pp. - 3760 words).

7. Rev. John Slivka ( 1899-1986), OLD SLAVONIC - ENGLISH DICTIONARY, (Manuscript in Cyrillic and Latin letters), 1963, (53 pp - over 5000 words).

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Last modified on November 10 1996
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