|Population:||1.5 million (est.)|
|Languages:||Rusyn language, Polish|
|Rels:||Predominantly Uniate, with Roman Catholic minorities|
Lemkos (Ukrainian: Лeмки, [[Rusyn language|Lemko]]: Лeмкы, [[Romanization of Ukrainian|translit.]] ''Lemky''; sing. Лeмкo, ''Lemko''), one of several quantitatively and territorially small nationalities who also traditionally call themselves Rusyns (Ukrainian: Руснаки, [[Rusnak language|Lemko]]: Руснакы, ''Rusnaky''; sing. Руснак, ''Rusnak''), are one of the four major groups inhabiting the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. Their language has been variously described as a Lemko language in its own right (literary Lemko language is one of the four literary norms of the Carpatho-Rusyn language), a dialect of the Rusyn language (a group of dialects which is, itself, sometimes described as a distinct dialect of the Ukrainian or Slovak dialect group). In any case, the Lemko tongue and the Ukrainian language are akin but not always mutually intelligible (ref: Best and Moklak).
See main article: Lemkivshchyna. The Lemkos' homeland is commonly referred to as Lemkivshchyna (Ukrainian: Лeмкiвщина, Lemko: Lemkovyna (Лeмкoвина), Polish: Łemkowszczyzna). Up until 1945, this included the area from the Poprad River in the east to the valley of Oslawa River in the west, areas situated primarily in present-day Poland, in the Lesser Poland and Subcarpathian Voivodeships. This part of the Carpathian mountains is mostly deforested, which allowed for an agrarian economy, alongside such traditional occupations as ox grazing and sheep herding.
This area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its dissolution in 1918, at which point the Lemko-Rusyn Republic (Ruska Lemkivska) declared its independence. Independence did not last long however, and the territory was incorporated into Poland in 1920.
As a result of the repatriation of Ukrainians from Poland to USSR, the majority of Lemkos from this territory were resettled throughout Poland and in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, leaving a significant population only in the Prešov Region of present-day Slovakia.Lemkos are/were neighbours with Slovaks, Carpathian Germans and Lachy sądeckie (Poles) to the west, Pogorzans (Poles) and Dolinians (Dale Dwellers subethnic of Lemkos) to the north, Ukrainians to the east, and Slovaks to the south.
The name "Lemko" derives from the common expression Lem (Лeм), which can mean "but", "only", or "like" in the Lemko dialect. "Lemko" came into use as an endonym after having been used as an exonym by the neighboring Boykos and Hutsuls, who do not use that expression in their respective dialects.Prior to this moniker, the Lemkos described themselves as Rusnaks ((Ukrainian: Руснaки, translit. Rusnaky) or Rusyns (Ukrainian: Русини, translit. Rusyny), as did the rest of the inhabitants of present-day Western Ukraine in the 19th century and first part of the 20th century. In the early 20th century, a majority of these peoples became active participants in the creation of the Ukrainian nation and came to call themselves Ukrainians (Ukrainian: Українці, translit. Ukrayintsi). However, while they may have accepted the new state of Ukraine, some Lemkos, including many in Poland and Slovakia, consider themselves to be a distinct ethnicity, while some claim to be Ukrainians and still others identify themselves as Rusyns.
Lemkos are generally considered to be descendants of Ruthenian settlers who arrived in 14th century or probably earlier to the area traditionally inhabited by Lemkos.
The term "Lemko" is from a pejorative description for any person who excessively uses the word LEM. This word, as correctly described in the article, is commonly used in many dialects mainly around eastern Slovakia, Polish and Ukrainian border. Slovakia on its own would have more than 1,000,000 users of local dialects which would commonly use the word LEM. The pejorative description in Slovak dialects would be Lemko, in Rusyn dialect it is Lemkiv, in Polish Lemkwich.
After World War I, Lemkos founded two short-lived republics, the Lemko-Rusyn Republic in the west of Galicia, which had a russophile orientation, and the Komancza Republic, with a Ukrainophilic orientation.
It is estimated that about 130,000-140,000 Lemkos were living in the Polish part of Lemkivshchyna in 1939. Mass emigration from this territory to the Western hemisphere began in the late 1800s, diminishing the cultural uniqueness of the Lemko homeland. Additional depopulation of these lands occurred when the Lemkos began to be removed in a forced resettlement, first to the Soviet Union (about 90,000 people) and later to Poland's newly-acquired western lands (about 35,000) in the Operation Wisła campaign of the late 1940s. This action was a state ordered solution to the struggle waged by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in south-eastern Poland.
While a minority of Lemkos returned (some 5,000 Lemko families returned to their home regions in Poland between 1957-1958 , officially having been allowed the right to return in 1956), the Lemko population in the Polish part of Lemkivschyna only numbers around 10,000-15,000 today. Some 50,000 Lemkos live in the western and northern parts of Poland, where they were sent to populate former German villages in areas Stalin had ceded to Poland. Among those, 5,863 people identified themselves as Lemko in the 2002 census. However, some people suspect that 60,000 ethnic Lemkos may reside in Poland today. Within Lemkivshchyna, Lemkos live in the villages of Łosie, Krynica, Nowica, Zdynia, Gładyszów, Hańczowa, Zyndranowa, Uście Gorlickie, Bartne, Binczarowa and Bielanka. Additional populations can be found in Mokre, Szczawne, Kulaszne, Rzepedź, Turzańsk, Komańcza, Sanok, Nowy Sącz, and Gorlice.
Christianity in the region is thought to date back to the efforts of Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century. The religion of many Lemkos is Greek-Catholicism. In Poland they belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and to the Ruthenian Catholic Church (see also Slovak Greek Catholic Church) in Slovakia. A substantial number belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Through the efforts of the martyred priest Fr. Maxim Sandovich (canonized by the Polish Orthodox Church in the 1990s), in the early 20th century Eastern Orthodoxy was reintroduced to many Lemko areas which had accepted the Union of Brest centuries before. The distinctive wooden architectural style of the Lemko churches is to place the highest cupola of the church building at the entrance to the church, with the roof sloping downward toward the sanctuary.
The Lemko language is considered by Ukrainian scholars to be the most western of Ukrainian dialects. Because the ethnic territory occupied by the Lemkos was not politically part of Ukraine, the language used by the Lemkos has been influenced greatly by the language spoken by their neighbours. So much so that some consider it a separate entity.
Some scholars state that Lemko is the western-most dialect of the Rusyn language . Lemko speech, however, includes patterns matching those of the surrounding Polish and Slovak languages, leading some to refer to it as a transitional dialect between Polish and Slovak (some even consider the dialect in Eastern Slovakia to be a dialect of the Slovak language).
Metodyj Trochanovskij published a Lemko Primer ('Lemkivskj bukvar') and a First Reader ('Persa knyzecka') for use in schools in the Lemko-speaking area of Poland in the 1930s. These were banned by the Polish government in 1938. Important fieldwork on the Lemko dialect was carried out by the Polish linguist Zdzisław Stieber before their dispersal.In the late 20th century, some Lemkos/Rusyns, mainly emigres from the region of the southern slopes of the Carpathians in modern-day Slovakia, began an effort to codify and standardize a grammar for the Lemko dialect. This happened on the 27-th Jan. 1995 in Prešov, Slovakia. The Lemko/Rusyn language became a language.