The Rusyn language in Slovakia was codified in 1995 on the basis of the country’s two most prevalent Rusyn dialects: East Zemplín and West Zemplín. From this perspective Rusyn is a relatively young Slavic language, and this despite its centuries-long history, which is marked by many conflicts concerning the question of a literary norm; the disputes concerning Rusyn have taken place on the territory of today’s Slovak Republic, as well as throughout all of historical Carpathian Rus. Any solutions concerning a Rusyn literary language were always connected to the question of the Rusyn minority’s ethnic identity [i.e. are they (Great) Russian, Ukrainian, or do they form a separate Slavic nationality?], and these issues were not possible to resolve until after 1989, when society began to enjoy new pluralistic conditions. Thus, the late twentieth-century codification of Rusyn on the basis of local dialects was the natural result of an expression of free will on the part of Rusyns, and a response to the dilemma of their ethnic identity. The codification of Rusyn became the basis for introducing the literary language into various public spheres in Slovakia – publishing and media, religious life, stage and theatre productions, and of course the literary world –, which had until 1995 used various forms of Rusyn dialects without applying standardized rules. The expansion of Rusyn into these spheres of life – especially into the educational system and government administration – required the existence of a standardized literary language. Thus, the implementation of literary Rusyn (in its written and spoken form) into the above-named spheres of life is an important step to guaranteeing the language’s further development.
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