Background and status
Belarusian, together with Russian, is the official language of the Republic of Belarus, and in some parts of Poland. It’s spoken by about 7 to 9 million people in 16 countries, mainly concentrated in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Poland. The language is also known as White Ruthenian or White Russian (not to be confused with the “White” Russians who fought against the communists after the Russian Revolution of 1917).
After the collapse of the Communist regime, Belarusian naturally strived to re-establish its former prestige and popularity. Unfortunately, this proved to be quite a difficult task as generations of Belarusians have grown up in a Russian-speaking environment and have been socialised in a russophone educational system. Thus the language, being rejected by the Belarusians, struggled through reforms and protests, until it was established as the second official language along with Russian, which it remains today. Another attempt was made by a group of linguists and patriots in 2005 to establish a new internal standard, and although it was gladly embraced by the people, not much has changed regarding the use of the language.
Growth and usage
Since the 2010s, however, the situation around Belarusian has started to slightly change due to the efforts of language advocacy institutions, individual representatives of such educational, cultural, scientific and linguistic organisations, and the endeavours of pro-Belarusian public figures from media and communication fields, musicians, philosophers, entrepreneurs and benefactors. Despite losing its exclusiveness in the 1995 Belarusian referendum, new signs about Belarusian can be seen to trickle down into the life of the Belarusian society with advertising campaigns supporting the cause (outdoor billboards promoting and acquainting with the Belarusian language, branding campaigns for the leading telecommunication providers like Velcom, etc.), the simplified version of the Belarusian Latin alphabet on the metro map being introduced into the messages of the transport network, and dedicated advertising festivals upholding marketing communication in Belarusian.