Language situation and language policy in contemporary Ukraine
Many readers ask me quite often which language – Ukrainian or Russian – should be taught in order to communicate with a woman from Ukraine. Can Ukrainian women really understand and speak Russian? What is the language situation in Ukraine today? Today we talk about the language situation and politics in contemporary Ukraine. And my answer to your question is you can surely learn Russian (in my opinion, Russian is not so difficult like Ukrainian and have many advantages as a global language).
It is obvious that the “language issue” is exceptionally painful in Ukraine. You will understand this issue if you really know the language situation in Ukraine today. The fact is that is difficult to find the world’s second country with such a deep and comprehensive bilingualism as Ukraine.
The language situation in Ukraine is quite complex and still incurs a lot of debates in the society and political scenario of the country. Ukrainian is the major state language; however a large section of the country speaks Russian and this particular issue seems to hinder the government’s Ukrainianisation policies.
The government considers that official Ukrainian language is the keystone of building the nation’s policies. But the Russian population has the demands to retain their language as a major language in the country. It is almost impossible to create a harmony between the two demands.
The issue of using different languages is surfacing at various levels in Ukraine which includes cinema and media. Quite recently a Ukrainian film named ‘Orange Sky’, depicting the political and social circumstances of the country during the Orange Revolution. The film stands out from the rest since both Russian and Ukrainian languages have been profoundly used in it to exhibit the exact situation. Several studies have been conducted to analyze this particular situation in Ukraine since the country became free in 1991. Usage of Russian and Ukrainian languages in the country varies depending on the geographical locations, social condition, rural or urban factor, generations and many more.
Image: The Ukrainian-speaking territory is marked orange. The area with Russian-speaking population in Ukraine is marked blue.
Certain policies created by the Ukrainian government have significantly boosted this debate between the Russian and Ukrainian speakers. The Ukrainianisation policy includes providing more support and benefits to the drama theatres speaking Ukrainian official languages, attractive subsidies for institutions practicing Ukrainian literature, better employment opportunity for university professors and teachers who are able to deliver lectures in Ukrainian language.
Also teachers in the schools are encouraged to speak to the children in Ukrainian. There are strict regulations governing the broadcasting of most television and radio shows in the country. All international films are dubbed in the Ukrainian language is another aspect of the policy. However these policies are mostly associated with public activities controlled by the states; it does not affect the private or commercial interactions.
The issue with the language situation is basically emotionally charged. Residents of western Ukraine do not consider the Russian influence on the country’s culture and languages positively. They consider the Russians oppressors and invaders who have imposed their language on the country’s social and cultural scene. This particular issue is often exploited by ideologues and politicians and it triggers the “us versus them” approach in common Ukrainians. Despite there are quite a few strong opponents, the concept of Ukrainianisation is certainly enjoying success of late.
Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert 🙂 (s. here: Contact Krystyna)