White Russia

Insider

Senior Member
Ukraine (Ukrainian)
Hello everyone,

I've found an interesting dictionary entitled: "Collins. Russian-English and English-Russian Dictionary".

I was just looking through it, observing its content, and suddently and totally unexpectedly my eyesight fell on the page where it was written White Russian.

I'm curious about this word right now, actually about the meaning of its. I mean why it was changed? And now, as you all know, the name of country sounds like Belarus.

I also think about if it's an offense to name the country White Russia. For example, in German it's offensive to call Weiss Russland. So, I'm curious regarding the challenge of the name.

And if you know, why it was changed?

Insider
 
  • Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    White Russia is an older name for the area of the former USSR now known as Belarus.

    Some suggest that the white comes from the association of colours with compass cardinal points. Black = north, Red = south, White = west, Green = east.

    So Belarus: White Russia = West Russia.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    White Russia sounds like a province or district of the Russian Federation.

    The folk in Belarus want their separate identity recognised.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Perhaps the reason for the change of name was the avoidance of confusion with the "Whites": Russians who fought against the Bolsheviks in the Civil War that followed the Revolution.
     

    Insider

    Senior Member
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    White Russia sounds like a province or district of the Russian Federation.

    The folk in Belarus want their separate identity recognised.


    Brioche,

    Well, you wrote the the idea I'd had on my mind. So, I've assured of its rightness. I also think that the expression White Russia vanished from the dictionaries after Belorus had declared their Independence.

    But the way, thank you for your participation!

    Insider
     

    Insider

    Senior Member
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    Perhaps the reason for the change of name was the avoidance of confusion with the "Whites": Russians who fought against the Bolsheviks in the Civil War that followed the Revolution.

    Maybe your are right. I'm not sure.

    But the main point consist in my willingness to define its linguistic situation. However, as I see, historical fact also took a great role in understanding that queston.
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    White Russia is a historical name which can be used speaking of the Middle Ages. During the Soviet period Belarus was called Byelorussia. The present-day official name is (The Republic of) Belarus and the most common adjective is Belarusian (I vote for the [bela`rusj@n] pronunciation:) ).

    The theory about "white" as a symbol for "West" is new to me. This article gives another possible explanation but there are quite a few actually and neither is convincing enough.

    By the way, it takes a hardcore nationalist to consider Weißrussland (Hviderusland, Beyaz Rusya etc) offensive.
     

    Insider

    Senior Member
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    White Russia is a historical name which can be used speaking of the Middle Ages. During the Soviet period Belarus was called Byelorussia. The present-day official name is (The Republic of) Belarus and the most common adjective is Belarusian (I vote for the [bela`rusj@n] pronunciation:) ).

    The theory about "white" as a symbol for "West" is new to me. This article gives another possible explanation but there are quite a few actually and neither is convincing enough.

    By the way, it takes a hardcore nationalist to consider Weißrussland (Hviderusland, Beyaz Rusya etc) offensive.


    Cyanista,

    Thank you for very good and comprehensive explanation of the question.

    Speaking about Weissrussland I've been quite confident. But I think it's better to believe you. :)

    Insider
     

    Tei Tetua

    Member
    UK + USA, English
    I think "White Russia" was a geographic region now called Belarus in English.

    The "White Russians" were the anti-Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War, and later were the Russian community of exiles after the Bolshevik victory. Not necessarily linked with the region of the country (but it's confusing).

    Someone invented a mixed drink and called it a "White Russian".
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Mod Note: further posts about drinking habits, Doctor Zhivago, Ukrainian or Russian or Belarussian pronunciation will be deleted.

    This is a forum for discussion of the English language.
     
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