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English topics / THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS.doc
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6. Read a small extract about the history of the name of our country. Say whether you know other versions concerning the history of the name.

Historically the country was referred to in English as “White Russia”, although this is not exactly correct. The correct translation is “White Ruthenia”, which either describes the area of Eastern Europe populated by Slavic people or the various states occupied the area. Despite this, the practice of using the term White Russia continues in some languages: “Weiβrussland” in German, “Beyaz Rusya” in Turkish, “Leukorosia” in Greek.

The first known English use of the term “White Russia” to refer to Belarus was in the late 16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Morsey. He used the term to describe areas of Ivan the Terrible’s Empire.

However, the origin of the name has never been precise. Some researchers put it down to the white colour of local peasants` everyday linen clothes and to their fair hair. There are also other versions of the origin of the name.

7. Work in pairs. Restore the dialogue between Mike, a student from Belarus and Alex, a student from Australia. They are speaking about the history of the name “ Belarus “.

Alex: Hello, Mike. You know, people in our country know too little about your country. I’m interested in the history of it. Is Belarus the original name of your country?

Mike: No, it isn’t. Once it was called “White Russia” or “Belaya Rus”.


Mike: Surely. According to chronicles it was first mentioned in the 12th century. And the English “White Russia” was first used in the 16th century.


Mike: You know there are different versions of the name. Some researchers associate it with the direct meaning of the colour “belyi” or “white”. Of course, there are also other versions.


Mike: In the 19th century, for example, it was called “Belorussia”. And then the official name of the country was “Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic”, when the country was the part of the former USSR.


Mike: On 27th of July 1990 our declared itself sovereign and became an independent state. Now its official name is the Republic of Belarus.


… Oh, thank you. I’ve learned interesting facts about your country.

… And what’s the origin of the name?

… Has your country been always called “Belaya Rus”?

… Do you know when the term “Belaya Rus” was first used?

… When did it become Belarus?

8. Read an extract about the Belarusian language. Reproduce it to your partner (group). Add some more sentences of yours, discussing the status of Belarusian language in our country nowadays. You may expand one of the three statements below the text.

The Belarussian language is the language of the indigenous population of the Republic of Belarus. In the 14th – 17th centuries the language of Belarusians was the state language of the Great Principality of Lithuania. After the territory of Belarus was included into the Russian Empire, the Russian language began to spread in Belarus.

For the purpose of preservation of the living space for the Belarusian language the Law “ On languages in the Republic of Belarus “ was adopted in 1990 which proclaimed the Belarusian language the state language. The Russian language was given the equal status to the Belarusian language in May 1995. Every nationality living in the territory of Belarus is guaranteed the right to study its native language and use it.

a) I’m sure the status of Belarusian language will improve and Belarusian people realize they must speak their native language.

b) People must be forced to speak their language, otherwise the loses its image.

c) I think Belarusian language is so beautiful, so soundy that one can’t help speaking it.

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