Throughout its history Minsk has been a city of many languages. Initially most of its residents spoke Ruthenian (which later developed into modern Belarusian). However, after 1569 the official language was Polish. In the 19th-century Russian became the official language and by the end of that century it had become the language of administration, schools and newspapers. The Belarusian national revival increased interest in the Belarusian language—its use has grown since the 1890s, especially among the intelligentsia. In the 1920s and early 1930s Belarusian was the major language of Minsk, including use for administration and education (both secondary and tertiary). However, since the late 1930s Russian again began gaining dominance.
A short period of Belarusian national revival in the early 1990s saw a rise in the numbers of Belarusian speakers. However, in 1994 the newly elected president Alexander Lukashenko slowly reversed this trend. Most residents of Minsk now use Russian exclusively in their everyday lives at home and at work, although Belarusian is understood as well. Substantial numbers of recent migrants from the rural areas use Trasyanka (a Russo-Belarusian mixed language) in their everyday lives.
The most commonly used and understood foreign language in Minsk, especially among the younger generation, is English.