Thursday, July 10, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Belarusian Wins Russian Language Olympiad by Talking about Belarusian

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 10 – Yuliya Yemalyanovich, a Belarusian school girl from Baranovichi, has won an international Russian-language Olympiad in Moscow by talking about the Belarusian language in which she declared her commitment both to that language and to the nation which speaks it.


            She competed against representatives from the CIS, the Baltic countries, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Osetia and won a scholarship to a Russian Federation higher educational institution of her choice on the basis of her performance in oral practice, an essay and an examination on Russian area studies (


            Yemalyanovich chose as the subject of her essay the Belarusian language.  She told her home city’s newspaper that it was “a theme close” to her heart and that she had talked about its phonetic distinctions, its history, its two alphabets, its two orthographies, and “its contemporary popularization among young people and the intelligentsia.”


            In addition to her knowledge of Belarusian, she speaks Russian, English, German, and Polish, believing like Voltaire that “to know many languages is to have many keys to a single lock.” 


            She said that she was delighted to have the opportunity to study at a Russian university because Russia is entering the Bologna process, and consequently, her diploma will be internationally recognized.  But at the same time, she said that she “does not want to leave Belarus forever.”


            After completing her university studies, Yemalyanovich said, she hopes to work in Europe and then return to Belarus where she told the paper, she hopes to promote “the popularization of Belarusian as a means of inter-Slavic communication.”



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