Part 1, Section 12 - Nationality

Ethnically the Lemkos belong to the large Slavic-Russian family. The name Rus' [Roosh] was to them a sacred word, and the Slavic ideals always lay deeply within their hearts. Also they always remained on friendly terms with other Slavic nations, but Germans was always seen as enemies. They call themselves Rusyns, Russians, Rusnaks, and Lemkos.The name "Lemko" originates from the word "lem" which is used in their language, and is equivalent in English to mean "only". Even though lately attempts were made to call them "Ukrainians" in defining their nationality, and at the same time to change their political outlook ....................................... .......... so far Lemkos have not accepted this label, nor have they changed their political views.

Residents of the Carpathians are divided into three groups, known as: Lemkos, Boykos and Hutsuls, and this is due to significant linguistic differences. But these three groups taken together however are historically known as Carpatho-Rusyns or Carpathian Rusnaks., and the territory in which they reside as Carpathian Rus'. So the Lemkos are part of the Carpathian Rus'. In each one of these groups, over centuries, a separate language has developed, or a separate dialect. The reasons for these linguistic differences are due to geography and history of these groups. As was already mentioned the Carpathian Mountains are situated vertically on the map, so that the Carpathian roads run mostly North-South. For the Lemkos to reach Boykivshchyna or Hutsulshchyna, they would have to cross the mountains that reached to the sky, then descend from these mountains into the valleys, head east, and again start mountain climbing all over again. For these reasons, there was no permanent contact of Lemkos with Boykos or Hutsuls, and this prevented them from merging into a single entity. However contacts with Carpatho-Rusyns from north and south, due to positioning of these roads, was more favorable. This explains why there are no significant differences between Lemkos on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains, even though each side belongs to a different country, northern to Poland, and the southern part to Czechoslovakia. However differences did develop on the same side of the Carpathians between Lemkos, Boykos and Hutsuls, even though they all find themselves living in the same country [Poland]. Another reason is the fact that both Boykivshchyna and Hutsulshchyna find themselves living in the middle of the Russian population, but Lemkivshchyna lies between Poland and Slovakia. Boykos and Hutsuls were influenced by Galician and Zakarpatska Rus', and Lemkos by Poles and Slovaks.

Excerpted from "Istoria Lemkovyny" (History of Lemkovyna), in 5 parts, by Ioann F. Lemkyn, published in distorted Lemko in 1969 by Lemko-Soyuz of USA & Canada, Yonkers, NY. Translated by Walter Maksimovich.

Icon Return to Lemko Home Page

Date Posted: February 24th, 1998
Last Revision: May 29th, 1999

We welcome questions and comments. Please send them to Walter Maksimovich.

© 1997 LV Productions. All Rights Reserved.

LV Productions
c/o Walter Maksimovich
3923 Washington Street
Kensington MD 20895-3934