The multifaceted and interwoven tapestry of Eastern European cultures and languages materialized from an intricate and complex history spanning centuries and comprising over two millennia of cultural intermixing with some degree of resistance to foreign pressures as well as specific facets of assimilation…
The end of Communism unleashed a brief springtime of ethnicity in Eastern Europe, and a tentative ethnic, cultural, and political revival followed the collapse of Soviet power. In 2004 the European Union voted to incorporate ten Eastern European nations known to value democratic principles into its association: the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
All Slavic languages derive from the Proto-Slavic, which itself is believed to have divided off from the Proto-Indo-European precursor of members of the Indo-European family of languages as far back as 2000 B.C. (Ruhlenn, 28). In the 1st century B.C. Proto-Slavic was most likely still native to all Slavs and may have remained so as late as the 8th or 9th century A.D. The individual Slavic languages and their related cultures definitely began to surface by the 10th century A.D (Gordon, 357).
In the aftermath of the westward advance of the German tribes, the Slavic peoples had expanded throughout eastern and central Europe and had virtually assimilated most of the earlier peoples of the vicinity by the close of the 10th century. The absorption of these inhabitants created the subsequent diversity of languages and cultures that comprise present-day Central and Eastern Europe as well as the western section of the Soviet Union (Barraclough, 35). In comparison to the prosperity and erudition of the Byzantines, the Slavic culture was as much economically disadvantaged as its political affairs and defensive structures were decidedly tenuous. Over time Byzantine, German, Magyar, Mongol, or Turkish foreigners invaded the region by turns (Dornberg, 40). Each foreign element imposed a distinct set of ethnic, financial, political, and societal characteristics that were at times resisted and at others assimilated in an ethno-linguistic synthesis. Religion typically afforded the vital means by which outside ethnic customs and languages were adapted. By adopting western influences the Slav princes consolidated their influence abroad, acquired self-government and successfully unified the Slav tribes in official states (Barraclough, 57).
From the 9th to the 13th century A.D. Christians from Rome and Byzantium vied to win northern and eastern Europe over to their view of Christianity (Dornberg, 134). Early in the 9th century the influx of Hungarians in Pannonia had interjected non-Slavic speakers between southern and western Slavs (Barraclough, 73). A sketchy demarcation subsequently emerged along that 9th Century rift, running between Rome and Constantinople, marking an implicit dividing line between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, with Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, Ukrainians and Russians being largely Orthodox and Croats, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and Poles principally Catholic. According to linguists, all Slavs conversed in the same tongue across the region, with distinct local dialects, probably well into the12th century (Turnock, 2).
However, in spite of a compelling linguistic link to Russia and to Orthodox Christianity, the Eastern European nations did not partake significantly in the specific ...
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