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Slavic Languages and Literatures

Resources on Slavic Languages and Literatures, including Russian and Ukrainian.

Welcome! Добро пожаловать! Ласкаво просимо!

The Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures Department at Penn State offers a full range of courses in Russian and in Ukrainian language and culture. This guide focuses on East Slavic Languages and Literatures, which include these languages. As both Russia and Ukraine are places of significant geopolitical significance, study of these languages opens the door to careers in international business, education, and government and military service.

The program at Penn State is supported by the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library located on the second and third floor of Pattee Library, however there are many works available throughout the libraries system, particularly works in translation.

The Spoken Languages of Russian and Ukrainian

Spoken Russian and Ukrainian are classified as East Slavic languages along with Belarusian and Rusyn (also known as Carpatho-Rusyn). All are distinct enough to be considered separate languages despite some linguistic similarities. The following chart explains how the Slavic languages of Eastern Europe are connected:

East Slavic Languages Tree, by Любослов Езыкин, 8 September 2011


Source: Wikimedia Commons, (2011). East Slavic Languages Tree.

The Written Languages of Russian and Ukrainian

Early modern literary Russian and Ukrainian largely developed from Church Slavonic, which was originally a South Slavic written form used for church liturgy and writings in east Slavic lands from the earliest times up until the present day. Modern Russian and Ukrainian both use the Cyrillic alphabet that originated with Church Slavonic, though each has made significant changes to the original form since that time.