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UKRAINE
Language

Cities in UKRAINE

Kyiv

Language

Ukrainian is the official national language of Ukraine. This language belongs to the East Slavic language group (which also includes Polish, Bulgarian and Russian), which in turn is part of the Indo-European language family, just like Spanish, English and many other languages. The Slavic group has three subgroups, South Slavonic, West Slavonic, and East Slavonic. The three East Slavic languages (Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian) are very similar and in some cases mutually intelligible.

Of the population, 78% speak Ukrainian, but the same percentage also speak Russian also an official language. During Soviet domination Ukrainian was banned, but after independence the language flourished again. During that difficult period, the language was kept alive by a group of nationalists, of which Taras Shevchenko is one of the best known. The diaspora, Ukrainians abroad, were also important in preserving Ukrainian.

Nevertheless, the language is still a very sensitive issue in this formerly highly Russified country, particularly due to the presence of the many ethnic minorities, of whom the 15 million Russians are obviously the most important. Many Ukrainians also speak Russian better than Ukrainian, because for a long time Russian was the only language taught in school.

Ukrainian and Russian are therefore very similar, with word shares about 60% the same. Recent research shows that Russian is losing ground in favor of Ukrainian.

Ukrainian is a real tonal language, with, among other things, the use of the 'h' as a sound. Also notable in the grammar is the use of seven cases. The Ukrainian alphabet has 33 letters, some of which represent sounds that exist in Ukrainian but not in Russian.

Ukrainian uses the Cyrillic script, which dates back to the ninth century and was designed by two Byzantine missionaries, Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. The Cyrillic script is based on Greek and Hebrew letters.

Some words:

Spelling of geographical names:

Russian spellingUkranian spelling
KievKyiv
ChernobylChornobyl
LvovLviv
KharkovKharkiv
OdessaOdesa

During Soviet rule, the country was globally called "the Ukraine," implying that it was not an independent country but a region in the Soviet Union. Today, the name is simply Ukraine.


Sources

Bassis, V. / Ukraine
Marshall Cavendish

Corona, L. / Ukraine
Lucent Books

Hove, P. ten / Schets van Oekraïne
Stichting Platform Samenwerking Nederland-Oekraïne

Oekraïne
Minbuza Stichting Platform Samenwerking Nederland-Oekraïne

Otfinoski, S. / Ukraine
Facts on File

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info