Ukrainian language

Ukrainian language

Overview
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup
East Slavic languages
The East Slavic languages constitute one of three regional subgroups of Slavic languages, currently spoken in Eastern Europe. It is the group with the largest numbers of speakers, far out-numbering the Western and Southern Slavic groups. Current East Slavic languages are Belarusian, Russian,...

 of the Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. It is the official state language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

.

The Ukrainian language traces its origins to the Old East Slavic of the early medieval state of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

. Ukrainian is a lineal descendant of the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 (10th–13th century). From 1804 until the Russian Revolution Ukrainian was banned from schools in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 of which Ukraine was a part at the time.
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Encyclopedia
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup
East Slavic languages
The East Slavic languages constitute one of three regional subgroups of Slavic languages, currently spoken in Eastern Europe. It is the group with the largest numbers of speakers, far out-numbering the Western and Southern Slavic groups. Current East Slavic languages are Belarusian, Russian,...

 of the Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. It is the official state language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

.

The Ukrainian language traces its origins to the Old East Slavic of the early medieval state of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

. Ukrainian is a lineal descendant of the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 (10th–13th century). From 1804 until the Russian Revolution Ukrainian was banned from schools in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 of which Ukraine was a part at the time. It has always maintained a sufficient base among the Ukrainian people (especially in Western Ukraine
Western Ukraine
Western Ukraine may refer to:* Generally, the territories in the West of Ukraine* Eastern Galicia* West Ukrainian National Republic...

 where the language was never banned) in its folklore songs, itinerant musicians
Kobzar
A Kobzar was an itinerant Ukrainian bard who sang to his own accompaniment.-Tradition:Kobzars were often blind, and became predominantly so by the 1800s...

, and prominent authors.

The standard Ukrainian language is regulated by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NANU), particularly by its Institute of Ukrainian Language, Ukrainian language-informatical fund, and Potebnya Institute of Language Studies.

Theories concerning the Ukrainian language's development


The first theory of the origin of Ukrainian language was suggested in Imperial Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in the middle of the 18th century by Mikhail Lomonosov
Mikhail Lomonosov
Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov was a Russian polymath, scientist and writer, who made important contributions to literature, education, and science. Among his discoveries was the atmosphere of Venus. His spheres of science were natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, art,...

. This theory posits the existence of a common language spoken by all East Slavic people in the time of the Rus'. According to Lomonosov, the differences that subsequently developed between Great Russian
Great Russian language
Great Russian language is a name given in the 19th century to the Russian language as opposed to the Ukrainian and Belarusian languages...

 and Ukrainian (he referred to as Little Russian) could be explained by the influence of the Polish and Turkic languages on Ukrainian and the influence of Uralic languages
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

 on Russian from the 13th to the 17th centuries.

Another point of view developed during the 19th and 20th centuries by linguists of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. Like Lomonosov, they assumed the existence of a common language spoken by East Slavs in the past. But unlike Lomonosov's hypothesis, this theory does not view "Polonization" or any other external influence as the main driving force that led to the formation of three different languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

 from the common Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

. This general point of view is the most accepted amongst academics world-wide, particularly outside Ukraine. The supporters of this theory disagree, however, about the time when the different languages were formed.

Soviet scholars set the divergence between Ukrainian and Russian only at later time periods (14th through 16th centuries). According to this view, Old East Slavic
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

 diverged into Belarusian and Ukrainian to the west (collectively, the Ruthenian language of the 15th to 18th centuries), and Old Russian to the north-east, after the political boundaries of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 were redrawn in the 14th century. During the time of the incorporation of Ruthenia (Ukraine and Belarus) into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ukrainian and Belarusian diverged into identifiably separate languages.

Some scholars see a divergence between the language of Galicia-Volhynia and the language of Novgorod-Suzdal
Suzdal
Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated northeast of Moscow, from the city of Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. Population: -History:...

 by the 12th century, assuming that before the 12th century, the two languages were practically indistinguishable. This point of view is, however, at variance with some historical data. In fact, several East Slavic tribes, such as Polans
Polans (eastern)
The Polans ; also Polianians; were a Slavic tribe between the 6th and the 9th century, which inhabited both sides of the Dnieper river from Liubech to Rodnia and also down the lower streams of the rivers Ros', Sula, Stuhna, Teteriv, Irpin', Desna and Pripyat...

, Drevlyans
Drevlyans
The Drevlians were a tribe of Early East Slavs between the 6th and the 10th century, which inhabited the territories of Polesia, Right-bank Ukraine west of Polans, down the stream of the rivers Teteriv, Uzh, Ubort, and Stviga...

, Severians
Severians
The Severians or Severyans or Siverians were a tribe or tribal union of early East Slavs occupying areas to the east of the middle Dnieper river around the rivers Desna, Sejm and Sula on the territory of the archaeological Romny culture....

, Dulebes
Dulebes
The Dulebs or Dulebi were one of the tribal unions of Early East Slavs between the 6th and the 10th centuries. Dulebi were among the twelve East Slavic tribes mentioned in the Primary Chronicle...

 (that later likely became Volhynians
Volhynians
Volhynians were a tribe or tribal union of Vlachs. They are mentioned in the Primary Chronicle as well as by the Bavarian Geographer. According to the latter, the Volhynians had seventy "cities" in the last half of the 10th century...

 and Buzhans
Buzhans
The Buzhans or Buzhane were one of the tribal unions of Early East Slavs. They are mentioned as Buzhane in the Primary Chronicle. It appears that the name of the tribe derives from the Southern Bug River, where they chose to settle down. According to the Bavarian Geographer, the Buzhans had 230...

), White Croats
White Croats
White Croats is the designation for the group of Slavic tribes, of which seven tribes led by 5 brothers and 2 sisters migrated to Dalmatia as part of the migration of the Croats in the 7th century, being invited to settle on this vastly depopulated area by Roman...

, Tiverians and Ulichs
Ulichs
The Ulichs were a tribe of Early East Slavs who between the eighth and the tenth century inhabited the territories along the Lower Dnieper, Bug River and the Black Sea littoral....

 lived on the territory of today's Ukraine long before the 12th century. Notably, some Ukrainian features were recognizable in the southern dialects of Old East Slavic as far back as the language can be documented.

Some researchers, while admitting the differences between the dialects spoken by East Slavic tribes in the 10th and 11th centuries, still consider them as "regional manifestations of a common language" (see, for instance, the article by Vasyl Nimchuk). In contrast, Ahatanhel Krymsky and Alexei Shakhmatov assumed the existence of the common spoken language of Eastern Slavs only in prehistoric times. According to their point of view, the diversification of the Old East Slavic language took place in the 8th or early 9th century.

Ukrainian linguist Stepan Smal-Stotsky went even further, denying the existence of a common Old East Slavic language at any time in the past. Similar points of view were shared by Yevhen Tymchenko, Vsevolod Hantsov, Olena Kurylo, Ivan Ohienko and others. According to this theory, the dialects of East Slavic tribes evolved gradually from the common Proto-Slavic language without any intermediate stages during the 6th through 9th centuries. The Ukrainian language was formed by convergence of tribal dialects, mostly due to an intensive migration of the population within the territory of today's Ukraine in later historical periods. This point of view was also confirmed by Yuri Shevelov's phonological studies and, although it is gaining a number of supporters among Ukrainian academics, it is not seriously regarded outside Ukraine.

Outside Ukraine, however, such nationalist-based theories that distance Ukrainian from East Slavic have found few followers among international scholars and most academics continue to place Ukrainian firmly within the East Slavic group, descended from Proto-East Slavic, with close ties to Belarusian and Russian.

Origins and developments during medieval times


Ukrainian traces its roots through the mid-14th century Ruthenian language
Ruthenian language
Ruthenian, or Old Ruthenian , is a term used for the varieties of Eastern Slavonic spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later in the East Slavic territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth....

, a chancellery language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, back to the early written evidences of 10th century Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

. Until the end of the 18th century, the written language used in Ukraine was quite different from the spoken, which is one of the key difficulties in tracing the origin of the Ukrainian language more precisely. The language was constantly persecuted as the territory of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 was divided mainly between Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, and as a result there is little direct data on the origin of the Ukrainian language. Scholars rely on indirect methods: analysis of typical mistakes in old manuscripts, comparison of linguistic data with historical, anthropological, archaeological ones, etc. Several theories of the origin of Ukrainian language exist. Some early theories have been proven wrong by modern linguistics (yet continue to be cited), while others are still being discussed in the academic community.

It is believed that up to the 14th century, ancestors of the modern Ukrainians spoke dialects of the language known collectively as Old East Slavic (today known as Ruthenian language
Ruthenian language
Ruthenian, or Old Ruthenian , is a term used for the varieties of Eastern Slavonic spoken in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later in the East Slavic territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth....

), also spoken by other East Slavs
East Slavs
The East Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking East Slavic languages. Formerly the main population of the medieval state of Kievan Rus, by the seventeenth century they evolved into the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian peoples.-Sources:...

 of Kievan Rus. That mainly spoken tongue was used alongside Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

, the literary language of all Slavs. The earliest written record of the language is an amphora found at Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo or Gnyozdovo is an archeological site located near the village of Gnyozdovo in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. The site contains extensive remains of a Slavic-Varangian settlement that flourished in the 10th century as a major trade station on the trade route from the Varangians to the...

 and tentatively dated to the mid-10th century. Until the 15th century, Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo or Gnyozdovo is an archeological site located near the village of Gnyozdovo in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. The site contains extensive remains of a Slavic-Varangian settlement that flourished in the 10th century as a major trade station on the trade route from the Varangians to the...

 was a part of the independent Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

 principality.

It is known that between 9th and 13th century, many areas of modern Ukraine, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and parts of Russia were united in a common entity now referred to as Rus'. Surviving documents from the Kievan Rus' period are written in either Old East Slavic
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

 or Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 language or their mixture. Different earldoms of Rus' had different dialects of Old East Slavic. These languages are considerably different from both modern Ukrainian and Russian, but similar enough that a modern educated Ukrainian or Russian reader can understand 11th-century texts reasonably well.

During the 13th century, when German settlers were invited to Ukraine by the princes of Galicia-Vollhynia, German words began to appear in the language spoken in Ukraine. Their influence would continue under Poland not only through German colonists but also through the Yiddish-speaking Jews. Often such words involve trade or handicrafts. Examples of words of German or Yiddish origin spoken in Ukraine include dakh (roof), rura (pipe), rynok (market), kushnir (furrier), and majster (master or craftsman).

Developments under Poland and Lithuania


In the 13th century, eastern parts of Rus' (including Moscow) came under Tatar yoke until their unification under the Tsardom of Muscovy, whereas the south-western areas (including Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

) were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

. For the following four centuries, the language of the two regions evolved in relative isolation from each other. Direct written evidence of the existence of the Ukrainian language dates to the late 16th century. By the 16th century, a peculiar official language was formed: a mixture of Old Church Slavonic, Ruthenian and Polish with the influence of the last of these three gradually increasing. Documents soon took on many Polish characteristics superimposed on Ruthenian phonetics. Polish rule and education also involved significant exposure to the Latin language. Much of the influence of Poland on the development of the Ukrainian language has been attributed to this period and is reflected in multiple words and constructions used in everyday Ukrainian speech that were taken from Polish or Latin. Examples of Polish words adopted from this period include zavzhdy (always; taken from old Polish word zawżdy) and obitsiaty (to promise; taken from Polish obiecać) and from Latin raptom (suddenly) and meta (aim or goal).

Significant contact with Tatars and Turks resulted in many Turkic words, particularly those involving military matters and steppe industry, being adopted into the Ukrainian language. Examples include torba (bag) and tyutyun (tobacco).

By the mid-17th century, the linguistic divergence between the Ukrainian and Russian languages was so acute that there was a need for translators during negotiations for the Treaty of Pereyaslav
Treaty of Pereyaslav
The Treaty of Pereyaslav is known in history more as the Council of Pereiaslav.Council of Pereyalslav was a meeting between the representative of the Russian Tsar, Prince Vasili Baturlin who presented a royal decree, and Bohdan Khmelnytsky as the leader of Cossack Hetmanate. During the council...

, between Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state...

, head of the Zaporozhian Host
Zaporozhian Host
The Zaporozhian Cossacks or simply Zaporozhians were Ukrainian Cossacks who lived beyond the rapids of the Dnieper river, the land also known as the Great Meadow in Central Ukraine...

, and the Russian state.

History of the Ukrainian spoken language's usage



Rus' and Galicia-Volhynia


During the Khazar period, the territory of Ukraine, settled at that time by Iranian (post-Scythian), Turkic (post-Hunnic, proto-Bulgarian), and Uralic (proto-Hungarian) tribes, was progressively Slavicized by several waves of migration from the Slavic north. Finally, the Varangian ruler of Novgorod, called Oleg
Oleg of Novgorod
Oleg of Novgorod was a Varangian prince who ruled all or part of the Rus' people during the early 10th century....

, seized Kiev (Kyiv) and established the political entity of Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

. Some theorists see an early Ukrainian stage in language development here; others term this era Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian/Rus'ian. Russian theorists tend to amalgamate Rus' to the modern nation of Russia, and call this linguistic era Old Russian. Some hold that linguistic unity over Rus' was not present, but tribal diversity in language was.

The era of Rus' is the subject of some linguistic controversy, as the language of much of the literature was purely or heavily Old Slavonic. At the same time, most legal documents throughout Rus' were written in a purely Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

 (supposed to be based on the Kiev dialect of that epoch). Scholarly controversies over earlier development aside, literary records from Rus' testify to substantial divergence between Russian and Ruthenian/Rusyn forms of the Ukrainian language as early as the era of Rus'. One vehicle of this divergence (or widening divergence) was the large scale appropriation of the Old Slavonic language in the northern reaches of Rus' and of the Polish language at the territory of modern Ukraine. As evidenced by the contemporary chronicles, the ruling princes of Galich (modern Halych
Halych
Halych is a historic city on the Dniester River in western Ukraine. The town gave its name to the historic province and kingdom of Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, of which it was the capital until the early 14th century, when the seat of the local princes was moved to Lviv...

) and Kiev called themselves "People of Rus'" (with the exact Cyrillic spelling of the adjective from of Rus varying among sources), which contrasts sharply with the lack of ethnic self-appellation for the area until the mid-19th century.

One prominent example of this north-south divergence in Rus' from around 1200, was the epic, The Tale of Igor's Campaign
The Tale of Igor's Campaign
The Tale of Igor's Campaign is an anonymous epic poem written in the Old East Slavic language.The title is occasionally translated as The Song of Igor's Campaign, The Lay of Igor's Campaign, and The Lay of...

. Like other examples of Old Rus' literature (for example, Byliny
Byliny
Byliny may refer to:*Byliny, plural of bylina, a traditional East-Slavic narrative poem*Byliny, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship...

, the Primary Chronicle
Primary Chronicle
The Primary Chronicle , Ruthenian Primary Chronicle or Russian Primary Chronicle, is a history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev about 1113.- Three editions :...

), which survived only in Northern Russia (Upper Volga belt) and was probably created there. It shows dialectal features characteristic of Severia
Severia
Severia or Siveria is a historical region in present-day northern Ukraine and southwestern Russia, centered around the city of Novhorod-Siverskyi in Ukraine.-Severians:...

n dialect with the exception of two words which were wrongly interpreted by early 19th century German scholars as Polish loan words.

Under Lithuania/Poland, Muscovy/Russia, and Austro-Hungary



After the fall of Galicia–Volhynia, Ukrainians mainly fell under the rule of Lithuania, then Poland
Crown of the Polish Kingdom
The Crown of the Kingdom of Poland , or simply the Crown , is the name for the unit of administrative division, the territories under direct administration of Polish nobility from middle-ages to late 18th century...

. Local autonomy of both rule and language was a marked feature of Lithuanian rule. In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Old Slavic became the language of the chancellery and gradually evolved into the Ruthenian language. Polish rule, which came mainly later, was accompanied by a more assimilationist policy. By the 1569 Union of Lublin
Union of Lublin
The Union of Lublin replaced the personal union of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with a real union and an elective monarchy, since Sigismund II Augustus, the last of the Jagiellons, remained childless after three marriages. In addition, the autonomy of Royal Prussia was...

 that formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a significant part of Ukrainian territory was moved from Lithuanian rule to Polish administration, resulting in cultural Polonization
Polonization
Polonization was the acquisition or imposition of elements of Polish culture, in particular, Polish language, as experienced in some historic periods by non-Polish populations of territories controlled or substantially influenced by Poland...

 and visible attempts to colonize Ukraine by the Polish nobility. Many Ukrainian nobles learned the Polish language and adopted Catholicism during that period. Lower classes were less affected because literacy was common only in the upper class and clergy. The latter were also under significant Polish pressure after the Union with the Catholic Church
Union of Brest
Union of Brest or Union of Brześć refers to the 1595-1596 decision of the Church of Rus', the "Metropolia of Kiev-Halych and all Rus'", to break relations with the Patriarch of Constantinople and place themselves under the Pope of Rome. At the time, this church included most Ukrainians and...

. Most of the educational system was gradually Polonized. In Ruthenia, the language of administrative documents gradually shifted towards Polish.

The Polish language has had heavy influences on Ukrainian (and on Belarusian). As the Ukrainian language developed further, some borrowings from Tatar
Tatar language
The Tatar language , or more specifically Kazan Tatar, is a Turkic language spoken by the Tatars of historical Kazan Khanate, including modern Tatarstan and Bashkiria...

 and Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 occurred. Ukrainian culture and language flourished in the sixteenth and first half of the 17th century, when Ukraine was part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Among many schools established in that time, the Kiev-Mogila Collegium (the predecessor of modern Kyiv-Mohyla Academy), founded by the Orthodox Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 Peter Mogila (Petro Mohyla), was the most important. At that time languages were associated more with religions: Catholics spoke Polish language
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, Orthodox spoke Rusyn language
Rusyn language
Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

.

After the Treaty of Pereyaslav
Treaty of Pereyaslav
The Treaty of Pereyaslav is known in history more as the Council of Pereiaslav.Council of Pereyalslav was a meeting between the representative of the Russian Tsar, Prince Vasili Baturlin who presented a royal decree, and Bohdan Khmelnytsky as the leader of Cossack Hetmanate. During the council...

, Ukrainian high culture was sent into a long period of steady decline. In the aftermath, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was taken over by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and closed down later in 19th century. Most of the remaining Ukrainian schools also switched to Polish or Russian, in the territories controlled by these respective countries, which was followed by a new wave of Polonization
Polonization
Polonization was the acquisition or imposition of elements of Polish culture, in particular, Polish language, as experienced in some historic periods by non-Polish populations of territories controlled or substantially influenced by Poland...

 and Russification
Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 of the native nobility. Gradually the official language of Ukrainian provinces under Poland was changed to Polish, while the upper classes in the Russian part of Ukraine used Russian widely.

There was little sense of a Ukrainian nationality in the modern sense. East Slavs called themselves Rus’ki ('Russian' pl. adj.) in the east and Rusyny ('Ruthenians
Ruthenians
The name Ruthenian |Rus']]) is a culturally loaded term and has different meanings according to the context in which it is used. Initially, it was the ethnonym used for the East Slavic peoples who lived in Rus'. Later it was used predominantly for Ukrainians...

' n.) in the west, speaking Rus’ka mova, or simply identified themselves as Orthodox (the latter being particularly important under the rule of Catholic Poland). A part of Ukraine under the Russian Empire was called Russia Minor
Little Russia
Little Russia , sometimes Little or Lesser Rus’ , is a historical political and geographical term in the Russian language referring to most of the territory of modern-day Ukraine before the 20th century. It is similar to the Polish term Małopolska of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth...

 (Malorossija) by the Russian establishment, where the inhabitants were considered to speak the “Little Russian language” (malorossijskij jazyk) or “Southern Russian dialect” (južno-russkie narečie) of the Russian literary language.

During the 19th century, a revival of Ukrainian self-identity manifested itself in the literary classes of both Russian-Empire Dnieper Ukraine
Dnieper Ukraine
Dnieper Ukraine , was the territory of Ukraine in the Russian Empire , roughly corresponding to the current territory of Ukraine, with the exceptions of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and Galicia in the west, which was a province of the Austrian Empire. Galicians sometimes call it Great Ukraine...

 and Austrian Galicia. The Brotherhood of Sts Cyril and Methodius in Kiev applied an old word for the Cossack motherland, Ukrajina, as a self-appellation for the nation of Ukrainians, and Ukrajins’ka mova for the language. Many writers published works in the Romantic tradition of Europe demonstrating that Ukrainian was not merely a language of the village, but suitable for literary pursuits.

However, in the Russian Empire expressions of Ukrainian culture and especially language were repeatedly persecuted, for fear that a self-aware Ukrainian nation would threaten the unity of the Empire. In 1804 Ukrainian as a subject and as language of instruction was banned from schools. In 1811 by the Order of the Russian government the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was closed. The Academy that had been open since 1632 and was the first university in the eastern Europe, was now proclaimed to be outlaw. In 1847 the Brotherhood of Sts Cyril and Methodius was terminated. The same year Taras Shevchenko
Taras Shevchenko
Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko -Life:Born into a serf family of Hryhoriy Ivanovych Shevchenko and Kateryna Yakymivna Shevchenko in the village of Moryntsi, of Kiev Governorate of the Russian Empire Shevchenko was orphaned at the age of eleven...

 was arrested and exiled for ten years, and banned for political reasons from writing and painting. In 1862 Pavlo Chubynsky
Pavlo Chubynsky
Pavlo Chubynsky was a Ukrainian poet and ethnographer whose poem "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina" was set to music and adapted as the Ukrainian national anthem....

 was exiled for seven years out of Ukraine to Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk , formerly known as Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea in the north of European Russia. The city spreads for over along the banks of the river...

. The Ukrainian magazine Osnova
Osnova
The Ukrainian magazine Osnova was published in 1861-1862 in St Petersburg. It contained articles devoted to life and customs of the Ukrainian people, including regular features about their wedding costumes and traditions...

 was discontinued. In 1863, the tsarist interior minister Pyotr Valuyev proclaimed in his decree
Valuyevsky Ukaz
The Valuev Circular of 18 July 1863 was a secret decree of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Empire Pyotr Valuev by which a large portion of the publications in Ukrainian language was forbidden.The Circular has put the reason for the growing number of textbooks in Ukrainian, and...

 that "there never has been, is not, and never can be a separate Little Russian language". A following ban on Ukrainian books led to Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

's secret Ems Ukaz
Ems Ukaz
The Ems Ukaz, or Ems Ukase , was a secret decree of Tsar Alexander II of Russia issued in 1876, banning the use of the Ukrainian language in print, with the exception of reprinting of old documents. The ukaz also forbade the import of Ukrainian publications and the staging of plays or lectures in...

, which prohibited publication and importation of most Ukrainian-language books, public performances and lectures, and even the printing of Ukrainian texts accompanying musical scores. A period of leniency after 1905 was followed by another strict ban in 1914, which also affected Russian-occupied Galicia.

For much of the 19th century the Austrian authorities demonstrated some preference for Polish culture, but the Ukrainians were relatively free to partake in their own cultural pursuits in Halychyna and Bukovyna, where Ukrainian was widely used in education and in official documents. The suppression by Russia retarded the literary development of the Ukrainian language in Dnipro Ukraine, but there was a constant exchange with Halychyna, and many works were published under Austria and smuggled to the east.

By the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and the collapse of Austro-Hungary in 1918, the former 'Ruthenians' or 'Little Russians' were ready to openly develop a body of national literature, to institute a Ukrainian-language educational system, and to form an independent state, named Ukraine (the Ukrainian People's Republic
Ukrainian People's Republic
The Ukrainian People's Republic or Ukrainian National Republic was a republic that was declared in part of the territory of modern Ukraine after the Russian Revolution, eventually headed by Symon Petliura.-Revolutionary Wave:...

, shortly joined by the West Ukrainian People's Republic). During this brief independent statehood the statue and use of Ukrainian greatly improved.

Speakers in the Russian Empire



In the Russian Empire Census
Russian Empire Census
The Russian Imperial Census of 1897 was the first and the only census carried out in the Russian Empire . It recorded demographic data as of ....

 of 1897 the following picture emerged, with Ukrainian being the second most spoken language of the Russian Empire. According to the Imperial census's terminology, the Russian language (Русскій) was subdivided into Ukrainian (Малорусскій, 'Little Russian'), what we know as Russian today (Вѣликорусскій, 'Great Russian'), and Belarusian (Бѣлорусскій, 'White Russian').

The following table shows the distribution of settlement by native language ("по родному языку") in 1897, in Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 governorates (guberniya
Guberniya
A guberniya was a major administrative subdivision of the Russian Empire usually translated as government, governorate, or province. Such administrative division was preserved for sometime upon the collapse of the empire in 1917. A guberniya was ruled by a governor , a word borrowed from Latin ,...

s) which had more than 100,000 Ukrainian speakers.
Total population Ukrainian speakers Russian speakers Polish speakers
Entire Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

125,640,021 22,380,551 55,667,469 7,931,307
Urban
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

16,828,395 1,256,387 8,825,733 1,455,527
Rural
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

108,811,626 21,124,164 46,841,736 6,475,780
Regions
"European Russia
European Russia
European Russia refers to the western areas of Russia that lie within Europe, comprising roughly 3,960,000 square kilometres , larger in area than India, and spanning across 40% of Europe. Its eastern border is defined by the Ural Mountains and in the south it is defined by the border with...

"
incl. Ukraine & Belarus
93,442,864 20,414,866 48,558,721 1,109,934
Vistulan guberniyas
Vistula land
Vistula Land or Vistula Country was the name applied to the lands of the Kingdom of Poland following the defeats of the November Uprising and January Uprising as it was increasingly stripped of autonomy and incorporated into Imperial Russia...

9,402,253 335,337 267,160 6,755,503
Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

9,289,364 1,305,463 1,829,793 25,117
Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

5,758,822 223,274 4,423,803 29,177
Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

7,746,718 101,611 587,992 11,576
Subdivisions
Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

1,935,412 379,698 155,774 11,696
Volyn
Volhynia
Volhynia, Volynia, or Volyn is a historic region in western Ukraine located between the rivers Prypiat and Southern Bug River, to the north of Galicia and Podolia; the region is named for the former city of Volyn or Velyn, said to have been located on the Southern Bug River, whose name may come...

2,989,482 2,095,579 104,889 184,161
Voronezh
Voronezh Oblast
Voronezh Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It was established on June 13, 1934.-Main rivers:*Don*Voronezh*Bityug*Khopyor-Economy:...

2,531,253 915,883 1,602,948 1,778
Don Host Province 2,564,238 719,655 1,712,898 3,316
Yekaterinoslav
Yekaterinoslav Governorate
The Yekaterinoslav Governorate or Government of Yekaterinoslav was a governorate in the Russian Empire. Its capital was the city of Yekaterinoslav .-Administrative divisions:...

2,113,674 1,456,369 364,974 12,365
Kiev
Kiev Governorate
Kiev Governorate , or Government of Kiev, was an administrative division of the Russian Empire.The governorate was established in 1708 along with seven other governorates and was transformed into a viceroyalty in 1781...

3,559,229 2,819,145 209,427 68,791
Kursk
Kursk Oblast
Kursk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Kursk.-Geography:The oblast occupies the southern slopes of the middle-Russian plateau, and its average elevation is from 177 to 225 meters . The surface is hilly, and intersected by ravines...

2,371,012 527,778 1,832,498 2,862
Podolia
Podolia
The region of Podolia is an historical region in the west-central and south-west portions of present-day Ukraine, corresponding to Khmelnytskyi Oblast and Vinnytsia Oblast. Northern Transnistria, in Moldova, is also a part of Podolia...

3,018,299 2,442,819 98,984 69,156
Poltava
Poltava Governorate
The Poltava Governorate or Government of Poltava was a guberniya in the historical Left-bank Ukraine region of the Russian Empire, which was officially created in 1802 from the disbanded Malorossiya Governorate which was split between the Chernigov Governorate and Poltava Governorate with an...

2,778,151 2,583,133 72,941 3,891
Taurida
Taurida Governorate
The Taurida Governorate or Government of Taurida was a historical governorate of the Russian Empire. It included the Crimean peninsula and the mainland between the lower Dnieper River and the coasts of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov It was formed after the defunct Taurida Oblast in was abolished in...

1,447,790 611,121 404,463 10,112
Kharkov
Kharkiv Oblast
Kharkiv Oblast is an oblast in eastern Ukraine. The oblast borders Russia to the north, Luhansk Oblast to the east, Donetsk Oblast to the south-east, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast to the south-west, Poltava Oblast to the west and Sumy Oblast to the north-west...

2,492,316 2,009,411 440,936 5,910
Kherson
Kherson Governorate
The Kherson Governorate or Government of Kherson was a guberniya, or administrative territorial unit, in the Southern Ukrainian region, between the Dnieper and Dniester Rivers, of the Russian Empire. It was one of three governorates created in 1802 when the Novorossiya guberniya was abolished...

2,733,612 1,462,039 575,375 30,894
City of Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

403,815 37,925 198,233 17,395
Chernigov
Chernigov Governorate
The Chernigov Governorate , also known as the Government of Chernigov, was a guberniya in the historical Left-bank Ukraine region of the Russian Empire, which was officially created in 1802 from the disbanded Malorossiya Governorate with an administrative centre of Chernigov...

2,297,854 1,526,072 495,963 3,302
Lublin
Lublin Voivodeship
- Administrative division :Lublin Voivodeship is divided into 24 counties : 4 city counties and 20 land counties. These are further divided into 213 gminas....

1,160,662 196,476 47,912 729,529
Sedletsk
Siedlce Voivodeship
Siedlce Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in Poland in years 1975–1998, superseded by Masovian Voivodeship and Lublin Voivodeship. Its capital city was Siedlce.-Major cities and towns :...

772,146 107,785 19,613 510,621
Kuban Province
Kuban
Kuban is a geographic region of Southern Russia surrounding the Kuban River, on the Black Sea between the Don Steppe, Volga Delta and the Caucasus...

1,918,881 908,818 816,734 2,719
Stavropol
Stavropol Krai
Stavropol Krai is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Stavropol. Population: -Geography:Stavropol Krai encompasses the central part of the Fore-Caucasus and most of the northern slopes of Caucasus Major...

873,301 319,817 482,495 961
Brest-Litovsk district
Brest Voblast
Brest Voblast or Brest Oblast is a province of Belarus with its administrative center being Brest.Important cities within the voblast' include: Baranovichi, Brest, and Pinsk.-Geography:...

218.432 140.561 17.759 8.515


Although in the rural regions of the Ukraine provinces, 80% of the inhabitants said that Ukrainian was their native language in the Census of 1897 (for which the results are given above), in the urban regions only 32.5% of the population claimed Ukrainian as their native language. For example, in Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

, the largest city of Ukraine at this time, only 5.6% of the population said Ukrainian was their native language. Until the 1920s the urban population in Ukraine grew faster than the number of Ukrainian speakers. This implies that there was a (relative) decline in the use of Ukrainian language. For example, in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, the number of people stating that Ukrainian was their native language declined from 30.3% in 1874 to 16.6% in 1917.

Soviet era




During the seven-decade-long Soviet era, the Ukrainian language held the formal position of the principal local language in the Ukrainian SSR
Ukrainian SSR
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or in short, the Ukrainian SSR was a sovereign Soviet Socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union lasting from its inception in 1922 to the breakup in 1991...

. However, practice was often a different story: Ukrainian always had to compete with Russian, and the attitudes of the Soviet leadership towards Ukrainian varied from encouragement and tolerance to discouragement.

Officially, there was no state language in the Soviet Union until the very end when it was proclaimed in 1990 that Russian language is the all-Union state language and that the constituent republics had rights to declare additional state languages within their jurisdictions. Still it was implicitly understood in the hopes of minority nations that Ukrainian would be used in the Ukrainian SSR, Uzbek
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

 would be used in the Uzbek SSR
Uzbek SSR
The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic , also known as the Uzbek SSR for short, was one of the republics of the Soviet Union since its creation in 1924...

, and so on. However, Russian was used in all parts of the Soviet Union and a special term, "a language of inter-ethnic communication" was coined to denote its status. In reality, Russian was in a privileged position in the USSR and was the state official language in everything but formal name—although formally all languages were held up as equal.

Soviet language policy in Ukraine may be divided into the following policy periods:
  • Ukrainianization and tolerance (1921–1932)
  • Persecution and Russification (1933–1957)
  • Khrushchev
    Nikita Khrushchev
    Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

     thaw (1958–1962)
  • The Shelest period: limited progress (1963–1972)
  • The Shcherbytsky period: gradual suppression (1973–1989)
  • Mikhail Gorbachev
    Mikhail Gorbachev
    Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

     and perestroika
    Perestroika
    Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

     (1990–1991)

Ukrainianization and tolerance


Following the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, the Russian Empire was broken up. In different parts of the former empire, several nations, including Ukrainians, developed a renewed sense of national identity. In the chaotic post-revolutionary years the Ukrainian language gained some usage in government affairs. Initially, this trend continued under the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 government of the Soviet Union, which in a political struggle to retain its grip over the territory had to encourage the national movements of the former Russian Empire. While trying to ascertain and consolidate its power, the Bolshevik government was by far more concerned about many political oppositions connected to the pre-revolutionary order than about the national movements inside the former empire, where it could always find allies.

The widening use of Ukrainian further developed in the first years of Bolshevik rule into a policy called korenization. The government pursued a policy of Ukrainianization by lifting a ban on the Ukrainian language. That led to the introduction of an impressive education program which allowed the Ukrainian taught classes and raised the literacy of the Ukrainophone population. This policy was led by Education Commissar Mykola Skrypnyk
Mykola Skrypnyk
Mykola Oleksiyovych Skrypnyk was a Ukrainian Bolshevik leader who was a proponent of the Ukrainian Republic's independence, and led the cultural Ukrainization effort in Soviet Ukraine. When the policy was reversed and he was removed from his position, he committed suicide rather than be forced to...

 and was directed to approximate the language to Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

. Newly generated academic efforts from the period of independence were co-opted by the Bolshevik government. The party and government apparatus was mostly Russian-speaking but were encouraged to learn the Ukrainian language. Simultaneously, the newly literate ethnic Ukrainians migrated to the cities, which became rapidly largely Ukrainianized – in both population and in education.

The policy even reached those regions of southern Russian SFSR where the ethnic Ukrainian population was significant, particularly the areas by the Don River and especially Kuban
Kuban
Kuban is a geographic region of Southern Russia surrounding the Kuban River, on the Black Sea between the Don Steppe, Volga Delta and the Caucasus...

 in the North Caucasus
North Caucasus
The North Caucasus is the northern part of the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas and within European Russia. The term is also used as a synonym for the North Caucasus economic region of Russia....

. Ukrainian language teachers, just graduated from expanded institutions of higher education in Soviet Ukraine, were dispatched to these regions to staff newly opened Ukrainian schools or to teach Ukrainian as a second language in Russian schools. A string of local Ukrainian-language publications were started and departments of Ukrainian studies were opened in colleges. Overall, these policies were implemented in thirty-five raions (administrative districts) in southern Russia.

Khrushchev thaw


After the death of Stalin (1953), a general policy of relaxing the language policies of the past was implemented (1958 to 1963). The Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 era which followed saw a policy of relatively lenient concessions to development of the languages on the local and republican level, though its results in Ukraine did not go nearly as far as those of the Soviet policy of Ukrainianization in the 1920s. Journals and encyclopedic publications advanced in the Ukrainian language during the Khrushchev era.

Yet, the 1958 school reform that allowed parents to choose the language of primary instruction for their children, unpopular among the circles of the national intelligentsia in parts of the USSR, meant that non-Russian languages would slowly give way to Russian in light of the pressures of survival and advancement. The gains of the past, already largely reversed by the Stalin era, were offset by the liberal attitude towards the requirement to study the local languages (the requirement to study Russian remained). Parents were usually free to choose the language of study of their children (except in few areas where attending the Ukrainian school might have required a long daily commute) and they often chose Russian, which reinforced the resulting Russification. In this sense, some analysts argue that it was not the "oppression" or "persecution", but rather the lack of protection against the expansion of Russian language that contributed to the relative decline of Ukrainian in 1970s and 1980s. According to this view, it was inevitable that successful careers required a good command of Russian, while knowledge of Ukrainian was not vital, so it was common for Ukrainian parents to send their children to Russian-language schools, even though Ukrainian-language schools were usually available. While in the Russian-language schools within the republic, Ukrainian was supposed to be learned as a second language at comparable level, the instruction of other subjects was in Russian and, as a result, students had a greater command of Russian than Ukrainian on graduation. Additionally, in some areas of the republic, the attitude towards teaching and learning of Ukrainian in schools was relaxed and it was, sometimes, considered a subject of secondary importance and even a waiver from studying it was sometimes given under various, ever expanding, circumstances.

The complete suppression of all expressions of separatism or Ukrainian nationalism
Ukrainian nationalism
Ukrainian nationalism refers to the Ukrainian version of nationalism.Although the current Ukrainian state emerged fairly recently, some historians, such as Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Orest Subtelny and Paul Magosci have cited the medieval state of Kievan Rus' as an early precedents of specifically...

 also contributed to lessening interest in Ukrainian. Some people who persistently used Ukrainian on a daily basis were often perceived as though they were expressing sympathy towards, or even being members of, the political opposition. This, combined with advantages given by Russian fluency and usage, made Russian the primary language of choice for many Ukrainians, while Ukrainian was more of a hobby
Hobby
A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.- Etymology :A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse...

. In any event, the mild liberalization in Ukraine and elsewhere was stifled by new suppression of freedoms at the end of the Khrushchev era (1963) when a policy of gradually creeping suppression of Ukrainian was re-instituted.

The next part of the Soviet Ukrainian language policy divides into two eras: first, the Shelest period (early 1960s to early 1970s), which was relatively liberal towards the development of the Ukrainian language. The second era, the policy of Shcherbytsky (early 1970s to early 1990s), was one of gradual suppression of the Ukrainian language.

Shelest period


The Communist Party leader Petro Shelest
Petro Shelest
Petro Yukhymovych Shelest was the First Secretary of the Communist party in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Petro Yukhymovych Shelest (February 14, 1908 - January 22, 1996) was the First Secretary of the Communist party in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Petro Yukhymovych Shelest...

 pursued a policy of defending Ukraine's interests within the Soviet Union. He proudly promoted the beauty of the Ukrainian language and developed plans to expand the role of Ukrainian in higher education. He was removed, however, after only a brief tenure, for being too lenient on Ukrainian nationalism.

Shcherbytsky period


The new party boss, Volodymyr Shcherbytsky
Volodymyr Shcherbytsky
Volodymyr Vasylyovych Shcherbytsky was a Ukrainian and Soviet politician. He was a leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine from 1972 to 1989....

, purged the local party, was fierce in suppressing dissent, and insisted Russian be spoken at all official functions, even at local levels. His policy of Russification was lessened only slightly after 1985.

Gorbachev and perestroika


The management of dissent by the local Ukrainian Communist Party was more fierce and thorough than in other parts of the Soviet Union. As a result, at the start of the Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 reforms, Ukraine under Shcherbytsky was slower to liberalize than Russia itself.

Although Ukrainian still remained the native language for the majority in the nation on the eve of Ukrainian independence, a significant share of ethnic Ukrainians were Russified. In Donetsk
Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

 there were no Ukrainian language schools and in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 only a quarter of children went to Ukrainian language schools.

The Russian language was the dominant vehicle, not just of government function, but of the media, commerce, and modernity itself. This was substantially less the case for western Ukraine, which escaped the artificial famine
Holodomor
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...

, Great Purge
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

, and most of Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

. And this region became the piedmont of a hearty, if only partial, renaissance of the Ukrainian language during independence.

Independence in the modern era




Since 1991, Ukrainian has been the official state language in Ukraine and the state administration implemented government policies to broaden the use of Ukrainian. The educational system in Ukraine has been transformed over the first decade of independence from a system that is partly Ukrainian to one that is overwhelmingly so. The government has also mandated a progressively increased role for Ukrainian in the media and commerce. In some cases the abrupt changing of the language of instruction in institutions of secondary and higher education led to the charges of Ukrainianization, raised mostly by the Russian-speaking population. This transition however lacked most of the controversies that arose during the de-russification
Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 of the other former Soviet Republics.

With time, most residents, including ethnic Russians, people of mixed origin, and Russian-speaking Ukrainians started to self-identify as Ukrainian nationals, even those who remained Russophone
Russophone
A Russophone is literally a speaker of the Russian language either natively or by preference. At the same time the term is used in a more specialized meaning to describe the category of people whose cultural background is associated with Russian language regardless of ethnic and territorial...

. The Russian language however still dominates the print media in most of Ukraine and private radio and TV broadcasting in the eastern, southern, and to a lesser degree central regions. The state-controlled broadcast media have become exclusively Ukrainian. There are few obstacles to the usage of Russian in commerce and it is still occasionally used in government affairs.

Late 20th century Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n politicians like Alexander Lebed and Mikhail Yur'ev still claimed that Ukrainian is a Russian dialect.

In the 2001 census
Ukrainian Census (2001)
The first Ukrainian Census was carried out by State Statistics Committee of Ukraine on 5 December 2001, twelve years after the last Soviet Union census in 1989....

, 67.5% of the country population named Ukrainian as their native language (a 2.8% increase from 1989), while 29.6% named Russian (a 3.2% decrease). It should be noted, though, that for many Ukrainians (of various ethnic descent), the term native language may not necessarily associate with the language they use more frequently. The overwhelming majority of ethnic Ukrainians consider the Ukrainian language native, including those who often speak Russian. According to the official 2001 census data approximately 75% of Kiev's population responded "Ukrainian" to the native language (ridna mova) census question, and roughly 25% responded "Russian". On the other hand, when the question "What language do you use in everyday life?" was asked in the sociological survey, the Kievans' answers were distributed as follows: "mostly Russian": 52%, "both Russian and Ukrainian in equal measure": 32%, "mostly Ukrainian": 14%, "exclusively Ukrainian": 4.3%.
Ethnic minorities, such as Romanians, Tatars and Jews usually use Russian as their lingua franca. But there are tendencies within these minority groups to use Ukrainian. The Jewish writer Olexander Beyderman
Olexander Beyderman
Olexander Abramovytsch Beyderman is a Soviet-Ukrainian writer of Jewish descent...

 from the mainly Russian speaking city of Odessa is now writing most of his dramas in Ukrainian. The emotional relationship regarding Ukrainian is changing in southern and eastern areas.

Opposition to expansion of Ukrainian-language teaching is a matter of contention in eastern regions closer to Russia – in May 2008, the Donetsk
Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

 city council prohibited the creation of any new Ukrainian schools in the city in which 80% of them are Russian-language schools.

Literature and the Ukrainian Literary Language


See Ukrainian literature
Ukrainian literature
Ukrainian literature is literature written in the Ukrainian language. Ukrainian literature had a difficult development because, due to constant foreign domination over Ukrainian territories, there was often a significant difference between the spoken and written language...


The literary Ukrainian language, which was preceded by Old East Slavic
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

 literature, may be subdivided into three stages: old Ukrainian (12th to 14th centuries), middle Ukrainian (14th to 18th centuries), and modern Ukrainian (end of the 18th century to the present). Much literature was written in the periods of the old and middle Ukrainian language, including legal acts, polemical articles, science treatises and fiction of all sorts.

Influential literary figures in the development of modern Ukrainian literature include the philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda, Ivan Kotlyarevsky
Ivan Kotlyarevsky
Ivan Petrovych Kotlyarevsky , was a Ukrainian writer, poet and playwright, regarded as the pioneer of modern Ukrainian literature. Kotliarevsky was a veteran of the Russo-Turkish War.- Biography :...

, Mykola Kostomarov, Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky
Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky
Mykhailo Mykhailovych Kotsiubynsky , was a Ukrainian author whose writings described typical Ukrainian life at the start of the 20th century...

, Taras Shevchenko
Taras Shevchenko
Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko -Life:Born into a serf family of Hryhoriy Ivanovych Shevchenko and Kateryna Yakymivna Shevchenko in the village of Moryntsi, of Kiev Governorate of the Russian Empire Shevchenko was orphaned at the age of eleven...

, Ivan Franko
Ivan Franko
Ivan Yakovych Franko was a Ukrainian poet, writer, social and literary critic, journalist, interpreter, economist, political activist, doctor of philosophy, the author of the first detective novels and modern poetry in the Ukrainian language....

, and Lesia Ukrainka. The earliest literary work in the modern Ukrainian language was recorded in 1798 when Ivan Kotlyarevsky
Ivan Kotlyarevsky
Ivan Petrovych Kotlyarevsky , was a Ukrainian writer, poet and playwright, regarded as the pioneer of modern Ukrainian literature. Kotliarevsky was a veteran of the Russo-Turkish War.- Biography :...

, a playwright from Poltava
Poltava
Poltava is a city in located on the Vorskla River in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Poltava Oblast , as well as the surrounding Poltava Raion of the oblast. Poltava's estimated population is 298,652 ....

 in southeastern Ukraine, published his epic poem, Eneyida, a burlesque in Ukrainian, based on Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

. His book was published in vernacular Ukrainian in a satirical way to avoid being censored, and is the earliest known Ukrainian published book to survive through Imperial and, later, Soviet policies on the Ukrainian language.

Kotlyarevsky's work and that of another early writer using the Ukrainian vernacular language, Petro Artemovsky, used the southeastern dialect spoken in the Poltava, Kharkiv and southern Kieven regions of the Russian Empire. This dialect would serve as the basis of the Ukrainian literary language when it was developed by Taras Shevchenko
Taras Shevchenko
Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko -Life:Born into a serf family of Hryhoriy Ivanovych Shevchenko and Kateryna Yakymivna Shevchenko in the village of Moryntsi, of Kiev Governorate of the Russian Empire Shevchenko was orphaned at the age of eleven...

 and Panteleimon Kulish in the mid 19th century. In order to raise its status from that of a dialect to that of a language, various elements from folklore and traditional styles were added to it.

The Ukrainian literary language developed further when the Russian state banned the use of the Ukrainian language, prompting many of its writers to move to the western Ukrainian region of Galicia which was under more liberal Austrian rule; after the 1860s the majority of Ukrainian literary works were published in Austrian Galicia. During this period Galician influences were adopted in the Ukrainian literary language, particularly with respect to vocabulary involving law, government, technology, science, and administration.

For most of its history, Russian letters were used for written Ukrainian (for example, by Shevchenko). The modern Ukrainian alphabet
Ukrainian alphabet
The Ukrainian alphabet is the set of letters used to write Ukrainian, the official language of Ukraine. It is one of the national variations of the Cyrillic script....

 and orthography, which introduced the distinct letters і, ї, є, ґ, and modified the usage of и, was developed in the late 19th century in Austrian-controlled Galicia.

Current usage


The Ukrainian language is emerging from a long period of decline. Although there are almost fifty million ethnic Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 worldwide, including 37.5 million in Ukraine (77.8% of the total population), only in western and central Ukraine is the Ukrainian language prevalent. In Kiev, both Ukrainian and Russian are spoken, a notable shift from the recent past when the city was primarily Russian speaking. The shift is caused, largely, by an influx of the rural population and migrants from the western regions of Ukraine but also by some Kievans' turning to use the language they speak at home more widely in everyday matters. In addition, public signs and announcements in Kiev are now almost always in Ukrainian, further encouraging a switch to that language. In southern and eastern Ukraine, Russian is the language of the urban population. According to the Ukrainian Census of 2001, 87.8% people living in Ukraine are able to communicate in Ukrainian.

Use of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine can be expected to increase, as the rural population (still overwhelmingly Ukrainophone) migrates into the cities and the Ukrainian language enters into wider use in central Ukraine. However, the situation in eastern and southern Ukraine is not changing a lot, the rural Ukrainophones continue switching to Russian. The literary tradition of Ukrainian is also developing rapidly, overcoming the consequences of the long period when its development was hindered by either direct suppression or simply the lack of the state encouragement policies.

Dialects


Several modern dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s of Ukrainian exist
  • Northern (Polissian) dialects:
    • (3) Eastern Polissian is spoken in Chernihiv
      Chernihiv Oblast
      Chernihiv Oblast is an oblast of northern Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Chernihiv.-Geography:The total area of the province is around 31,900 km²....

       (excluding the southeastern districts), in the northern part of Sumy
      Sumy Oblast
      Sumy Oblast is an oblast in the northeastern part of Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Sumy.Other important cities within the oblast include Konotop, Okhtyrka, Romny, and Shostka....

      , and in the southeastern portion of the Kiev Oblast
      Kiev Oblast
      Kyiv Oblast, sometimes written as Kiev Oblast is an oblast in central Ukraine.The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Kyiv , also being the capital of Ukraine...

       as well as in the adjacent areas of Russia, which include the southwestern part of the Bryansk Oblast
      Bryansk Oblast
      Bryansk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Bryansk. Population: 1,278,087 .-History:...

       (the area around Starodub
      Starodub
      Starodub is a town and the administrative center of Starodubsky District of Bryansk Oblast, Russia. It is located on the Babinets River , southwest of Bryansk. Population: 16,000 .-History:...

      ), as well as in some places in the Kursk
      Kursk Oblast
      Kursk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Kursk.-Geography:The oblast occupies the southern slopes of the middle-Russian plateau, and its average elevation is from 177 to 225 meters . The surface is hilly, and intersected by ravines...

      , Voronezh
      Voronezh Oblast
      Voronezh Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It was established on June 13, 1934.-Main rivers:*Don*Voronezh*Bityug*Khopyor-Economy:...

       and Belgorod
      Belgorod Oblast
      Belgorod Oblast is a federal subjects of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Belgorod. Population: 1,532,670 .-History:...

       Oblasts. No linguistic border can be defined. The vocabulary approaches Russian as the language approaches the Russian Federation. Both Ukrainian and Russian grammar sets can be applied to this dialect. Thus, this dialect can be considered a transitional dialect between Ukrainian and Russian.
    • (2) Central Polissian is spoken in the northwestern part of the Kiev Oblast
      Kiev Oblast
      Kyiv Oblast, sometimes written as Kiev Oblast is an oblast in central Ukraine.The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Kyiv , also being the capital of Ukraine...

      , in the northern part of Zhytomyr
      Zhytomyr Oblast
      Zhytomyr Oblast is an oblast of northern Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Zhytomyr.-History:The oblast was created as part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on September 22, 1937....

       and the northeastern part of the Rivne Oblast
      Rivne Oblast
      Rivne Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Rivne. The area of the region is 20,100 km²; its population is 1.2 million...

      .
    • (1) West Polissian is spoken in the northern part of the Volyn Oblast
      Volyn Oblast
      Volyn Oblast is an oblast in north-western Ukraine. Its administrative center is Lutsk. Kovel is the westernmost town and the last station in Ukraine of the rail line running from Kiev to Warsaw.-History:...

      , the northwestern part of the Rivne Oblast
      Rivne Oblast
      Rivne Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Rivne. The area of the region is 20,100 km²; its population is 1.2 million...

       as well as in the adjacent districts of the Brest Voblast
      Brest Voblast
      Brest Voblast or Brest Oblast is a province of Belarus with its administrative center being Brest.Important cities within the voblast' include: Baranovichi, Brest, and Pinsk.-Geography:...

       in Belarus. The dialect spoken in Belarus uses Belarusian grammar, and thus is considered by some to be a dialect of Belarusian.
  • Southeastern dialects:

    • (4) Middle Dnieprian is the basis of the Standard
      Standard language
      A standard language is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Alternatively, varieties become standard by undergoing a process of standardization, during which it is organized for description in grammars and dictionaries and encoded in such reference works...

       Literary Ukrainian. It is spoken in the central part of Ukraine, primarily in the southern and eastern part of the Kiev Oblast
      Kiev Oblast
      Kyiv Oblast, sometimes written as Kiev Oblast is an oblast in central Ukraine.The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Kyiv , also being the capital of Ukraine...

      ). In addition, the dialects spoken in Cherkasy
      Cherkasy Oblast
      Cherkasy Oblast is an oblast of central Ukraine located along the Dnieper River. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Cherkasy).-Geography:...

      , Poltava
      Poltava Oblast
      Poltava Oblast is an oblast of central Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Poltava.Other important cities within the oblast include: Komsomolsk, Kremenchuk, Lubny and Myrhorod.-Geography:...

       and Kiev
      Kiev Oblast
      Kyiv Oblast, sometimes written as Kiev Oblast is an oblast in central Ukraine.The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Kyiv , also being the capital of Ukraine...

       regions are considered to be close to "standard" Ukrainian.
    • (5) Slobodan is spoken in Kharkiv
      Kharkiv Oblast
      Kharkiv Oblast is an oblast in eastern Ukraine. The oblast borders Russia to the north, Luhansk Oblast to the east, Donetsk Oblast to the south-east, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast to the south-west, Poltava Oblast to the west and Sumy Oblast to the north-west...

      , Sumy
      Sumy Oblast
      Sumy Oblast is an oblast in the northeastern part of Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Sumy.Other important cities within the oblast include Konotop, Okhtyrka, Romny, and Shostka....

      , Luhansk
      Luhansk Oblast
      Luhansk Oblast ) is the easternmost oblast of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Luhansk. The oblast was established in 1938 and bore the name Voroshilovgrad Oblast in honor of Kliment Voroshilov....

      , and the northern part of Donetsk
      Donetsk Oblast
      Donetsk Oblast is an oblast of eastern Ukraine. Its administrative center is Donetsk. Historically, the province is an important part of the Donbas region...

      , as well as in the Voronezh
      Voronezh Oblast
      Voronezh Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It was established on June 13, 1934.-Main rivers:*Don*Voronezh*Bityug*Khopyor-Economy:...

       and Belgorod
      Belgorod Oblast
      Belgorod Oblast is a federal subjects of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Belgorod. Population: 1,532,670 .-History:...

       regions of Russia. This dialect is formed from a gradual mixture of Russian and Ukrainian, with progressively more Russian in the northern and eastern parts of the region. Thus, there is no linguistic border between Russian and Ukrainian, and, thus, both grammar sets can be applied. This dialect is a transitional dialect between Ukrainian and Russian.
    • A (6) Steppe dialect is spoken in southern and southeastern Ukraine. This dialect was originally the main language of the Zaporozhian Cossacks.
    • A Kuban dialect related to or based on the Steppe dialect is often referred to as Balachka
      Balachka
      Balachka is a term used to label the dialects spoken by Cossacks living in Russia. Originally the term was applied to the dialects of Ukrainian language spoken in the region around the Kuban river, however the usage of this term has recently broadened to include the Cossack dialects spoken on the...

       and is spoken by the Kuban Cossacks
      Kuban Cossacks
      Kuban Cossacks or Kubanians are Cossacks who live in the Kuban region of Russia. Most of the Kuban Cossacks are of descendants of two major groups who were re-settled in the Western Northern Caucasus during the Caucasus War in the late 18th century...

       in the Kuban
      Kuban
      Kuban is a geographic region of Southern Russia surrounding the Kuban River, on the Black Sea between the Don Steppe, Volga Delta and the Caucasus...

       region in Russia by the descendants of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who settled in that area in the late 18th century. It was formed from gradual mixture of Russian into Ukrainian. This dialect features the use of some Russian vocabulary along with some Russian grammar. There are 3 main variants which have been grouped together according to location.
  • Southwestern dialects:
    • (13) Boyko is spoken by the Boyko people
      Boyko
      Boyko or Boiko are a distinctive group of Ukrainian highlanders or mountain-dwellers of the Carpathian highlands. The Boykos inhabited the central and the western half of the Carpathians in Ukraine, including the Dolynskyi and a part of the Rozhniativskyi Raions in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast ,...

       on the northern side of the Carpathian Mountains in the Lviv
      Lviv Oblast
      Lviv Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Lviv.-History:The oblast was created as part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on December 4, 1939...

       and Ivano-Frankivsk
      Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
      Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine. Its administrative center is the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. As is the case with most other oblasts of Ukraine this region has the same name as its administrative center – which was renamed by the Soviets after the Ukrainian writer, nationalist...

       Oblasts. It can also be heard across the border in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship
      Subcarpathian Voivodeship
      Podkarpackie Voivodeship , or Subcarpathian Voivodeship, is a voivodeship, or province, in extreme-southeastern Poland. Its administrative capital and largest city is Rzeszów...

       of Poland.
    • (12) Hutsul is spoken by the Hutsul people
      Hutsuls
      Hutsuls are an ethno-cultural group of Ukrainian highlanders who for centuries have inhabited the Carpathian mountains, mainly in Ukraine, the northern extremity of Romania .-Etymology:...

       on the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, in the extreme southern parts of the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
      Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
      Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine. Its administrative center is the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. As is the case with most other oblasts of Ukraine this region has the same name as its administrative center – which was renamed by the Soviets after the Ukrainian writer, nationalist...

      , as well as in parts of the Chernivtsi
      Chernivtsi Oblast
      Chernivtsi Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine, bordering on Romania and Moldova. It has a large variety of landforms: the Carpathian Mountains and picturesque hills at the foot of the mountains gradually change to a broad partly forested plain situated between the Dniester and Prut rivers....

       and Transcarpathian Oblasts.
    • Lemko is spoken by the Lemko people
      Lemkos
      Lemkos , one of several quantitatively and territorially small ethnic groups who also call themselves Rusyns , are one of the ethnic groups inhabiting the Carpathian Mountains...

      , whose homeland
      Lemkivshchyna
      Lemkivshchyna sometimes called Lemkovyna, Lemkivshchyna, Lemkovshchina or Łemkowszczyzna, is the region traditionally inhabited by the Lemkos. It forms an ethnographic peninsula 140 km long and 25–50 km wide from the Ukrainian border within Polish and Slovak territory...

       rests outside the borders of Ukraine in the Prešov Region
      Prešov Region
      The Prešov Region is one of the eight Slovak administrative regions. It consists of 13 districts.-Geography:It is located in north-eastern Slovakia and has an area of 8,975 km². The region has diverse types of landscapes occurring in Slovakia, but mostly highlands and hilly lands dominate the...

       of Slovakia
      Slovakia
      The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

       along the southern side of the Carpathian Mountains, and in the southeast of modern Poland, along the northern sides of the Carpathians.
    • (8) Podillian is spoken in the southern parts of the Vinnytsia
      Vinnytsia Oblast
      Vinnytsia Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Vinnytsia.-Geography:The area of the region is 26,500 km²; its population is 1.7 million....

       and Khmelnytskyi
      Khmelnytskyi Oblast
      Khmelnytskyi Oblast is an oblast of western Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Khmelnytskyi.The current estimated population is around 1,401,140 .-Geography:...

       Oblasts, in the northern part of the Odessa Oblast
      Odessa Oblast
      Odesa Oblast, also written as Odessa Oblast , is the southernmost and largest oblast of south-western Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Odessa.-History:...

      , and in the adjacent districts of the Cherkasy Oblast
      Cherkasy Oblast
      Cherkasy Oblast is an oblast of central Ukraine located along the Dnieper River. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Cherkasy).-Geography:...

      , the Kirovohrad Oblast
      Kirovohrad Oblast
      Kirovohrad Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Kirovohrad.-Geography:The area of the province is , its population is 1.1 million....

       and the Mykolaiv Oblast
      Mykolaiv Oblast
      Mykolaiv Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Mykolayiv.-Geography:The Mykolaiv Oblast is located in the southern half of Ukraine...

      .
    • (7) Volynian is spoken in Rivne
      Rivne Oblast
      Rivne Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Rivne. The area of the region is 20,100 km²; its population is 1.2 million...

       and Volyn
      Volyn Oblast
      Volyn Oblast is an oblast in north-western Ukraine. Its administrative center is Lutsk. Kovel is the westernmost town and the last station in Ukraine of the rail line running from Kiev to Warsaw.-History:...

      , as well as in parts of Zhytomyr
      Zhytomyr Oblast
      Zhytomyr Oblast is an oblast of northern Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Zhytomyr.-History:The oblast was created as part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on September 22, 1937....

       and Ternopil
      Ternopil Oblast
      Ternopil Oblast is an oblast' of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Ternopil, through which flows the Seret River, a tributary of the Dnister.-Geography:...

      . It is also used in Chełm in Poland
      Poland
      Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

      .
    • (11) Pokuttia (Bukovynian) is spoken in the Chernivtsi Oblast
      Chernivtsi Oblast
      Chernivtsi Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine, bordering on Romania and Moldova. It has a large variety of landforms: the Carpathian Mountains and picturesque hills at the foot of the mountains gradually change to a broad partly forested plain situated between the Dniester and Prut rivers....

       of Ukraine. This dialect has some distinct volcabulary borrowed from Romanian
      Romanian language
      Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

      .
    • (9) Upper Dniestrian is considered to be the main Galician dialect, spoken in the Lviv
      Lviv Oblast
      Lviv Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Lviv.-History:The oblast was created as part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on December 4, 1939...

      , Ternopil
      Ternopil Oblast
      Ternopil Oblast is an oblast' of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Ternopil, through which flows the Seret River, a tributary of the Dnister.-Geography:...

       and Ivano-Frankivsk
      Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
      Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast is an oblast in western Ukraine. Its administrative center is the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. As is the case with most other oblasts of Ukraine this region has the same name as its administrative center – which was renamed by the Soviets after the Ukrainian writer, nationalist...

       Oblasts. Its distinguishing characteristics are the influence of Polish and the German vocabulary, which is reminiscent of the Austro-Hungarian rule. Some of the distinct words used in this dialect can be found here.
    • (10) Upper Sannian is spoken in the border area between Ukraine and Poland in the San river valley.
  • The Rusyn language
    Rusyn language
    Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

    is considered by Ukrainian linguists to be also a dialect of Ukrainian:
    • Dolinian Rusyn or Subcarpathian Rusyn is spoken in the Transcarpathian Oblast.
    • Pannonian or Bačka Rusyn
      Pannonian Rusyn language
      Pannonian Rusyn or simply Rusyn is a Slavic language or dialect spoken by Pannonian Rusyns in north-western Serbia and eastern Croatia...

       is spoken in northwestern Serbia
      Serbia
      Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

       and eastern Croatia
      Croatia
      Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

      . Rusin language of the Bačka dialect is one of the official languages of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina
      Vojvodina
      Vojvodina, officially called Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. Its capital and largest city is Novi Sad...

      .
    • Pryashiv Rusyn is the Rusyn spoken in the Prešov (in Ukrainian: Pryashiv) region of Slovakia
      Slovakia
      The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

      , as well as by some émigré communities, primarily in the United States of America.


Ukrainian is also spoken by a large émigré population, particularly in Canada (see Canadian Ukrainian
Canadian Ukrainian
Canadian Ukrainian is a variety of the Ukrainian language specific to the Ukrainian Canadian community descended from the first two waves of historical Ukrainian emigration to Western Canada.Canadian Ukrainian was widely spoken from the beginning of Ukrainian...

), United States and several countries of South America like Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

. The founders of this population primarily emigrated from Galicia, which used to be part of Austro-Hungary before World War I, and belonged to Poland between the World Wars. The language spoken by most of them is the Galician dialect of Ukrainian from the first half of the 20th century. Compared with modern Ukrainian, the vocabulary of Ukrainians outside Ukraine reflects less influence of Russian, but often contains many loan words from the local language.

Ukrainian diaspora


Most of the countries where it is spoken are ex-USSR
Post-Soviet states
The post-Soviet states, also commonly known as the Former Soviet Union or former Soviet republics, are the 15 independent states that split off from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its dissolution in December 1991...

 where many Ukrainians have migrated. Canada and the United States are also home to a large Ukrainian population. Broken up by country (to the nearest thousand):
  1. Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     1,815,000 (according to the 2002 census)
  2. Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     200,525 (67,665 spoken at home in 2001, 148,000 spoken as "mother tongue" in 2006)


Ukrainian is one of three official languages of the breakaway Moldovan republic of Transnistria
Transnistria
Transnistria is a breakaway territory located mostly on a strip of land between the Dniester River and the eastern Moldovan border to Ukraine...

.

Ukrainian is widely spoken within the 400,000-strong (in 1994) Ukrainian community in Brazil.

Ukrainian is also co-official, alongside Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

, in ten communes in Suceava County
Suceava County
Suceava is a county of Romania, in the historical region of Moldavia and few villages in Transylvania, with the capital city at Suceava.- Demographics :...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (as well as Bistra
Bistra, Maramures
Bistra is a commune in Maramureş County, Romania. The Ukrainian border is located to the north of the commune.-Valea Vişeului:Valea Vişeului is a village in Bistra commune....

 in Maramureş County
Maramures County
Maramureș is a county of Romania, in the Maramureș region. The county seat is Baia Mare.- History :* The 10th century frontier county of Borsova was founded by Stephen I of Hungary. Since then Máramaros served as the north-eastern border of the Hungarian Kingdom until 1920, the Trianon Peace...

). In these localities, Ukrainians, who are an officially recognized ethnic minority in Romania, make up more than 0.2% of the population. Thus, according to Romania's minority rights law, education, signage and access to public administration and the justice system are provided in Ukrainian, alongside Romanian.

Language structure

Cyrillic letters in this article are romanized using scientific transliteration
Scientific transliteration
Scientific transliteration, variously called academic, linguistic, or scholarly transliteration, is an international system for transliteration of text from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet...

.

Grammar


The canonical word order of Ukrainian is subject–verb–object (SVO).

Old East Slavic (and Russian) o in closed syllables, that is, ending in a consonant, in many cases corresponds to a Ukrainian i, as in pod->pid (під, ‘under’). Thus, in the declension of nouns, the o can re-appear as it is no longer located in a closed syllable, such as rik (рік, ‘year’) (nom
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

): rotsi (loc
Locative case
Locative is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by"...

) (році).

Ukrainian case endings are somewhat different from Old East Slavic, and the vocabulary includes a large overlay of Polish terminology. Russian na pervom etaže ‘on the first floor’ is in the prepositional case. The Ukrainian corresponding expression is na peršomu poversi (на першому поверсі). -omu is the standard locative (prepositional) ending, but variants in -im are common in dialect and poetry, and allowed by the standards bodies. The kh of Ukrainian poverkh (поверх) has mutated into s under the influence of the soft vowel i (k is similarly mutable into c in final positions). Ukrainian is the only modern East Slavic language which preserves the vocative case
Vocative case
The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

.

Sounds


The Ukrainian language has six vowels, /ɑ/, /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /i/, /ɔ/, /u/, and two approximants /j/, /w/.

A number of the consonants come in three forms: hard, soft (palatalized) and long, for example, /l/, /lʲ/, and /lː/ or /n/, /nʲ/, and /nː/.

The letter г represents different consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s in Old East Slavic and Ukrainian. Ukrainian г /ɦ/, often transliterated as Latin h, is the voiced equivalent of Old East Slavic х /x/. The Russian (and Old East Slavic) letter г denotes /ɡ/. Russian-speakers from Ukraine and Southern Russia often use the soft Ukrainian г, in place of the hard Old East Slavic one. The Ukrainian alphabet has the additional letter ґ, for representing /ɡ/, which appears in some Ukrainian words such as gryndžoly (ґринджоли, ‘sleigh’) and gudzyk (ґудзик, ‘button’). However, the letter ґ appears almost exclusively in loan words, and is usually simply written г due to the relative unavailability of the letter. For example, loanwords from English on public signs usually use г for both English "g" and "h". This sound is still more rare in Ukrainian than in Czech
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

 or Slovak.

Another phonetic divergence between the two languages is the pronunciation of "v", the Cyrillic в. While in standard Russian it represents /v/, in many Ukrainian dialects it denotes /w/ (following a vowel and preceding a consonant (cluster), either within a word or at a word boundary, it denotes the allophone [u̯], and like the off-glide of in the English words "flow" and "cow", it forms a diphthong
Diphthong
A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

 with the preceding vowel). Native Russian-speakers will pronounce the Ukrainian в as /v/, whereas Ukrainians will often use /w/, which is one way to tell the two groups apart. As with г above, Ukrainians use в to spell both English "v" and "w"; Russians tend to instead opt for using у for "w".

Unlike Russian and most other modern Slavic languages, Ukrainian does not have final devoicing.

Alphabet


Ukrainian is written in a version of the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

, consisting of 33 letters, representing 38 phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s; an apostrophe is also used. Ukrainian orthography is based on the phonemic principle, with one letter generally corresponding to one phoneme, although there are a number of exceptions. The orthography also has cases where the semantic, historical, and morphological principles are applied.

The modern Ukrainian alphabet is the result of a number of proposed alphabetic reforms from the 19th and early 20th centuries, in Ukraine under the Russian Empire, in Austrian Galicia, and later in Soviet Ukraine. A unified Ukrainian alphabet (the Skrypnykivka, after Mykola Skrypnyk
Mykola Skrypnyk
Mykola Oleksiyovych Skrypnyk was a Ukrainian Bolshevik leader who was a proponent of the Ukrainian Republic's independence, and led the cultural Ukrainization effort in Soviet Ukraine. When the policy was reversed and he was removed from his position, he committed suicide rather than be forced to...

) was officially established at a 1927 international Orthographic Conference in Kharkiv
Kharkiv
Kharkiv or Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine.The city was founded in 1654 and was a major centre of Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv became the first city in Ukraine where the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in December 1917 and Soviet government was...

, during the period of Ukrainization
Ukrainization
Ukrainization is a policy of increasing the usage and facilitating the development of the Ukrainian language and promoting other elements of Ukrainian culture, in various spheres of public life such as education, publishing, government and religion.The term is used, most prominently, for the...

 in Soviet Ukraine. But the policy was reversed in the 1930s, and the Soviet Ukrainian orthography diverged from that used by the diaspora
Ukrainian diaspora
The Ukrainian diaspora is the global community of ethnic Ukrainians, especially those who maintain some kind of connection, even if ephemeral, to the land of their ancestors and maintain their feeling of Ukrainian national identity within their own local community.-1608 To 1880:After the loss...

. The Ukrainian letter ge
Ge with upturn
Ge with upturn is a letter of the Cyrillic alphabet. In Ukrainian, Urum and Rusyn, this letter is called "Ge", and the letter ⟨Г⟩ is called "He"...

 ґ was banned in the Soviet Union from 1933 until the period of Glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 in 1990.

The letter щ represents two consonants [ʃt͡ʃ]. The combination of [j] with some of the vowels is also represented by a single letter ([jɑ] = я, [jɛ] = e, [ji] or [jı̽] = ї, [ju] = ю), while [jo] = йо and the rare regional [jɪ] = йи are written using two letters. These iotated vowel letters and a special soft sign
Soft sign
The soft sign , also known as yer, is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In Old Church Slavonic, it represented a short front vowel. As with its companion, the back yer, the vowel phoneme it designated was later partly dropped and partly merged with other vowels...

 change a preceding consonant from hard to soft. An apostrophe
Apostrophe
The apostrophe is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritic mark, in languages that use the Latin alphabet or certain other alphabets...

 is used to indicate the hardness of the sound in the cases when normally the vowel would change the consonant to soft; in other words, it functions like the yer
Yer
The letter yer of the Cyrillic alphabet, also spelled jer or er, is known as the hard sign in the modern Russian and Rusyn alphabets and as er golyam in the Bulgarian alphabet...

 in the Russian alphabet.

A consonant letter is doubled to indicate that the sound is doubled, or long.

The phonemes [d͡z] and [d͡ʒ] do not have dedicated letters in the alphabet and are rendered with the digraphs
Digraph (orthography)
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

 дз and дж, respectively. [d͡z] is pronounced close to English dz in adze, [d͡ʒ] is close to g in huge.
See also Drahomanivka
Drahomanivka
Drahomanivka was a proposed reform of the Ukrainian alphabet and orthography, promoted by Mykhailo Drahomanov. This orthography was used in a few publications and in Drahomanov's correspondence, but due to cultural resistance and political persecution it was never able to catch on.This phonemic...

, Ukrainian Latin alphabet
Ukrainian Latin alphabet
A Latin alphabet for the Ukrainian language has been proposed or imposed several times in the history in Ukraine, but has never challenged the conventional Cyrillic Ukrainian alphabet. Actually it is promoted as a way of facilitating the Ukrainian integration within the European Union.In or...

.

Classification and relationship to other languages


The question of whether contemporary Ukrainian and Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 (as well as Belarusian and Rusyn
Rusyn language
Rusyn , also known in English as Ruthenian, is an East Slavic language variety spoken by the Rusyns of Central Europe. Some linguists treat it as a distinct language and it has its own ISO 639-3 code; others treat it as a dialect of Ukrainian...

) are dialects of a single language or separate languages is not entirely decided by linguistic factors alone because there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

. As members of the East Slavic group of languages, they are descended from a common ancestor. Although Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian are usually listed by linguists as separate languages, some linguistic references list them as dialects of a single language.

Within East Slavic, the Ukrainian language is most closely related to Belarusian.

It is accepted that before the 18th century the precursor to the modern literary Ukrainian language was a vernacular language used mostly by peasants and petits bourgeois as no traces of earlier literary works could be found. It existed along with Church Slavonic, a literary language of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 that evolved from the Old Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 and which was the language usually used in writing and communication.

Difference between Ukrainian and other Slavic languages


The Ukrainian language has the following similarities and differences with other Slavic languages:
  • As with all Slavic languages with the exception of Russian, Slovak and Slovene, the Ukrainian language has preserved the Common Slavic Vocative case
    Vocative case
    The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

    . When addressing one's sister (sestra) she is referred to as sestro. In the Russian language the vocative case has been replaced by the nominative.
  • The Ukrainian language, in common with all Slavic languages other than Russian, Slovak and Slovene has retained the Common Slavic endings -ce, -ze, and -se in declension
    Declension
    In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

    . For example, from the hand (ruka) becomes ruci. In Russian from the hand (ruka) would be ruke.
  • The Ukrainian language, in common with Serbo-Croatian and Slovene, has developed the ending -mo for first-person plurals in verbs (we walk is khodymo)
  • The Ukrainian language, in common with Russian and Belarusian, has changed the Common Slavic word beginning ye- into o, such as in the words ozero (lake) and odyn (one).
  • The Ukrainian language, in common with Czech, Slovak, Upper Sorbian, Belarusian and southern Russian dialects has changed the Common Slavic "g" into an "h" sound (for example, noha – leg).
  • The Ukrainian language, in common with some northern Russian and Croatian dialects, has transformed the Common Slavic yě into i (for example, lis – forest).
  • The Ukrainian language, in common with Russian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Slovene and Serbian has simplified the Common Slavic tl and dl into l (for example, mela – she swept").

See also

  • Balachka
    Balachka
    Balachka is a term used to label the dialects spoken by Cossacks living in Russia. Originally the term was applied to the dialects of Ukrainian language spoken in the region around the Kuban river, however the usage of this term has recently broadened to include the Cossack dialects spoken on the...

  • Korenizatsiya
    Korenizatsiya
    Korenizatsiya sometimes also called korenization, meaning "nativization" or "indigenization", literally "putting down roots", was the early Soviet nationalities policy promoted mostly in the 1920s but with a continuing legacy in later years...

  • Linguistic discrimination
    Linguistic discrimination
    Linguistic discrimination is discrimination based on native language, usually in the language policy especially in education of a state that has one or several linguistic minorities....

  • Russification
    Russification
    Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

  • Russification of Ukraine
    Russification of Ukraine
    The Russification of Ukraine was a body of laws, decrees, and other actions undertaken by the Imperial Russian and later Soviet authorities to strengthen Russian national, political and linguistic positions in Ukraine.- In the Russian Empire :...

  • Surzhyk
    Surzhyk
    Surzhyk refers to a range of russified sociolects of Ukrainian used in certain regions of Ukraine and adjacent lands. It does not possess any unifying set of characteristics; the term is used for "norm-breaking, non-obedience to or nonawareness of the rules of the Ukrainian and Russian standard...

  • Swadesh list of East-Slavic languages
  • Ukrainianization
  • Vergonha
    Vergonha
    La vergonha is what Occitans call the effects of various policies of the government of France on its citizens whose mother tongue was a so-called patois, specifically langue d'oc...



External links