The historical name of the territories of modern RB
How to say - Belarus or Belarus? Initially, the territories of the modern Republic of Belarus, the name of which was officially enshrined in the constitution of the state exactly in this form, were called White Russia in Western European sources. With the spread of the Russian-language education system to these lands, the ethnonym “Belarusians” and the corresponding name of the territories became entrenched among the local population and neighboring nations.
It is believed that the “white” western part of Russia was called, because the territory was not dependent on the Mongol-Tatar yoke for some time, the adjective in this case was used as a synonym for the word “free”. According to another version, White Russia was the land whose population professed Christianity, while Black Russia maintained pagan traditions. Some sources put forward another assumption: the name was fixed only for the reason that the inhabitants of the land wore white clothes and were predominantly blond.
There are several other versions of the origin of the toponym:
- For example, N. Karamzin believed that White means light, clean, with an ancient history.
- According to the color scheme in parts of the world, which is mentioned in some Slavic peoples, white was called west, blue - east, black - north, red - south.
- By analogy with this hypothesis, the following explanation is applied (according to the Fra Mauro world map): the part of Russia that passes by the White Sea is called Beloya, by the Black River - Black, by the Red River - Red.
Chronology of state names until 1991
Republic of Belarus or Belarus - how to? The correct spelling and pronunciation depend on the chronological period in question. In the final stage of the First World War, in 1918, the territories of modern Belarus were called the Belarusian People's Republic. Later, from February to June of the following year, already Soviet Belarus and Lithuania merged into the Lithuanian-Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (other options: LitBel, Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania and Belarus).
The Union of Belarus and Lithuania lasted only a few months, then the territories were renamed respectively the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus and the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. This education (if we talk about the Belarusian lands) was renamed again a month later. This time finally, the name of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic remained until the collapse of the USSR. So, until 1991, the question: “Belarus or Belarus: how is it right?” Simply did not exist - the Soviet republic was Belarus.
By the way, with the name of the Belarusian SSR (or Belarus), the state became one of the original members of the United Nations. In 1945, the Ukrainian and Belarusian Republics were accepted by the UN along with the USSR for a significant contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany.
Title enshrined in the modern constitution
Byelorussia or Belarus - how did the Belarusian SSR properly come to be called after the collapse of the USSR? In 1991, with the adoption of the constitution of an independent Belarus, the state informed the world community about the name change. The Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic became known as the Republic of Belarus (RB), or Belarus for short. Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), Bengal (Bangladesh), Persia (Iran), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Burma (Myanmar) and some others have gone in a similar way.
How to write correctly - Belarus or Belarus, if we are talking not about the name of the state, but about the traditional use of a toponym in everyday speech? Along with the official change of the name of the state in Belarus, it was also changed in traditional names. For example, the central print media of the Republic of Belarus “Sovetskaya Belorussia” has now been renamed “Belarus Today”.
The problem of the correctness of the name in the Russian language
And yet, how to write correctly - Belarus or Belarus - today? The problem of the correct name of the former Byelorussian SSR in the Russian language arose immediately after the republics gained independence. Whereas in Belarus itself, at the highest state level, they decided on the correct name, in Russia both the population and the leading media, news agencies and even high-ranking officials continued to call the above-mentioned territories either Belarus or Belarus.
Recommendations of the IYR RAS (Institute of the Russian Language of the Russian Academy of Sciences)
Belarus or Belarus, how to speak and write correctly in accordance with the documents adopted at the state level? In 1995, the Ordinance “On the Writing of Names of the Former Republics of the USSR” was adopted in Russia. According to this document, the name “Belarus” or “Republic of Belarus” should be used at the official level and in business correspondence. However, on the same paper, when signing international treaties or any other interaction, you should take into account the wishes of counterparties regarding the correct writing of the state.
The most accurate directory of state names
How to spell - Belarus or Belarus? Classifier OKSM (Official Classifier of the World), which is designed to identify states, and is a kind of ultimate truth. So, in this document under the international index BY is listed exactly Belarus (abbreviated name) or the Republic of Belarus (full name).
By the way, despite the fact that it seemed that the Republic of Belarus itself had long been identified with the name, in 2014 Alexander Lukashenko sat at a table with a sign “Belarus” at a meeting of the CSTO member states. This fact was further discussed in the press.
Political correctness and historical name
And yet Belarus or Belarus? How to correctly name the territory, which for a long time was called White Rus? On the one hand, political correctness recommends adopting a name that conforms to the state’s constitution, on the other hand, historical justice, which the media have so much liked to remember lately, is literally imposed on Belarus by the usual.
The point in this matter was put by the board of the Ministries of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, during which it was recommended to use the name “Belarus”. The Foreign Ministry of Belarus later spoke in favor of the same proposal. At the same time, the traditional “Belarus” is not at all a disregard for the brotherly people, but only a historical habit, therefore, at the household level, the use of this variant of the name of the state is permissible.