Feminization of the Belarusian Language

This slim monograph, modestly described as an essay, by Uladzislaǔ Harbacki (pen name of Uladzislaǔ Ivanoǔ) is a pioneering work in the troubled world of Belarusian orthography and word formation. Its main focus is the feminization of a narrow linguistic category, namely nomina agentis: positions, titles, professions and types of work. By feminization should be understood the use of feminine suffixes. The book’s main purpose is to suggest ways of resisting the ongoing Russification or colonization of the Belarusian language, which was especially strong between 1930 and the 1950s, when Belarusian linguists slavishly followed their Russian colleagues. Other major themes of the book are the choice between narkamaǔka and taraškievica, although neither has a particular influence on the feminization of the language as such. Also discussed is feminism itself, even though far from all present-day feminists are linguistically aware and consistent in their use of the female forms of nomina agentis.