Number of people speaking Belarusian: Approximately 4 millions
Belarusian is an East Slavic language and shares lexical and grammatical features particularly with Russian and Ukrainian.
The modern form of Belarusian was redeveloped from the basis of Old Belarusian. The development of the language was heavily influenced by the political conflicts which were occurring in the region in the nineteenth century.
Many people in the time considered Belarusian an indicator of poor stature and of peasant origins. Due to this many forms of literature were rejected for publication and native Belarusian speakers were only seen to appear in state office positions towards the end of the century.
The increased socialist ideologies also diminished the language’s sphere of influence; however the ban on publishing documents and books in Belarusian was lifted in 1905, which created a swell of national pride in the language, particularly among peasants and workers. This in turn created a surge in development in grammar, literature and publications. The approximate number of native speakers is calculated to be four million people.
However there is speculation that there are over nine million people worldwide who speak it as a primary or secondary language.
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