About Ukrainian Language




Did you know?

  • The Ukrainian language became the official state language of Ukraine on October 28, 1989, upon enactment of the Law of Ukraine on the status of the Ukrainian language. Ukrainian is one of the official languages in Moldova and Serbia too.
  • Approximately 43 million people in the world consider Ukrainian their native language. The majority of them live in Ukraine. Others live in 26 countries, including Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Portugal, Germany, Canada, the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and China. This makes Ukrainian one of the twenty most widespread languages of the world. Ukrainian is listed among the languages that are quickly developing nowadays.
  • Ukrainian, along with Russian and Belarusian, belongs to the East-Slavic group of the Slavic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. The vocabulary of the Ukrainian language is most similar to Belarusian.
  • The Ukrainian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic alphabet.
  • The modern Ukrainian literary language was formed at the end of the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th century. Ivan Kotliarevsky and Taras Shevchenko are considered to be the founders of it. Their language was based on vernacular Ukrainian used in Poltava Region of Ukraine and in Naddniprianshchyna (Dnieper Ukraine).
  • The first Ukrainian grammar books and dictionaries were published in the twenties – forties of the 19th century.
  • Before the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917, the Ukrainian language was banned in the Russian Empire.
  • 1930 – 1980 were the years of extensive Russification of the Ukrainian language. Russification is the replacement of Ukrainian words by Russian with the adaptation of the latter to rules of the Ukrainian grammar.
  • The Ukrainian orthography currently in force was approved in 1960. In 1993, it was slightly amended. In particular, the letter ґ was restored in the alphabet.
  • In January, 2010, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (CMU) approved a new transliteration guide to transliterate the Ukrainian language into Latin letters. Text of the CMU’s Resolution and transliteration table (in Ukrainian).
  • They say that it is impossible to count the exact number of words in a language. But it is possible to determine the approximate number. The modern Ukrainian language has 256,000+ words according to a Ukrainian dictionary created by the Ukrainian Lingua-Information Fund of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
  • The first known Ukrainian newspaper, Gazette de Leopol, appeared in print in Lviv in 1776. It was a weekly newspaper published in French.

To read more about the Ukrainian language and Ukraine, visit the Interactive Map Of Ukraine page.



Citations of Ukrainian poets and writers about the Ukrainian language

Who can tell more vividly about the Ukrainian language than Ukrainian poets and writers? Here are selected lines from their works:


Любіть Україну, як сонце, любіть, Love your Ukraine, love as you would the sun,
як вітер, і трави, і води, The wind, the grasses and the streams together...
в годину щасливу і в радості мить, Love her in happy hours, when joys are won,
любіть у годину негоди! And love her in her time of stormy weather.
Любіть Україну у сні й наяву, Love her in happy dreams and when awake,
вишневу свою Україну, Ukraine in spring's white cherry-blossom veil.
красу її, вічно живу і нову, Her beauty is eternal for your sake;
і мову її солов'їну. Her speech is tender with the nightingale.

Володимир Сосюра

Volodymyr Sosiura, translated by C.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell

***

...Українське слово. Ти частка тих, що вже давно померли, їх кров живуща, їх жага нетлінна, безсмертне і величне, як Говерла, багате і дзвінке, як Україна. …The Ukrainian word. You are a part of those who have passed away long ago, their life-giving blood, their eternal thirst, immortal and majestic as Hoverla, rich and sonorous as Ukraine.
Д. Луценко D. Lutsenko, translated by I.O. Lychak

***

І найперше було Слово And in the beginning was the Word
І розмовляли квіти And flowers spoken
І цвів мак And poppies bloomed
Україною Across Ukraine
І йшли віки And centuries went by
І були українці And there were Ukrainians
І створилося And the Word
Слово was created
Українське... Ukrainian…

Степан Сапеляк

Stepan Sapeliak, translated by I.O. Lychak


A collection of contemporary Ukrainian poetry supplemented by English translations provides additional insight into the mentality, life and language of modern Ukrainians. Today, the scope of translations into/from Ukrainian is modest. However, the Ukrainian translation tradition, that has survived from the distant past to present times, can boast of numerous translations from many languages of the world.



FAQ about Ukrainian

1. What is a good Ukrainian news website in English?

UNIAN (a website of a Ukrainian news agency)

2. What site can you recommend to watch Ukrainian TV programs in the Ukrainian language?

Glas TV Channel. A modern TV channel for the whole family. Oriented to culture, intellectual development, and Orthodoxy. Has awards of international film festivals and decorations of the Ukrainian government.

3. Where can I get free English into/from Ukrainian translations online?

This Free Ukrainian Translation page offers free translation of basic Ukrainian phrases and transliteration of English names into Ukrainian. You can get free online translation using a machine translation gadget of a Ukrainian developer placed on this page.

4. What is the difference between the Russian and the Ukrainian languages?

In short:

    Vocabularies differ. If you speak Russian and do not know Ukrainian, you will understand about 60-70% of what you hear in Ukrainian. Therefore, the vocabularies of these two languages are not as similar as, say, vocabularies of two dialects of one and the same language or as American English and British English.

    Ukrainian is more laconic than Russian. Russian is more descriptive.

    Ukrainian has 7 grammatical cases, Russian – 6.

    In Ukrainian, spelling is in close agreement with pronunciation, i.e. you spell what you here. In Russian, that’s not the case. Example:

      - добре [dobre] ('good') – Ukrainian
      - хорошо [kharasho] ('good') – Russian, two vowels 'o' are pronounced as 'a'

      - щасливий [shchaslyvyi] ('happy') – Ukrainian
      - счастливый [shchaslivyi] ('happy') – Russian, 'c' is pronounced as 'sh', 'т' is not pronounced at all

5. How can I learn Ukrainian?

Check this page for EURO 2012 fans. It has a list of free resources to learn basic Ukrainian. If you already know basics of Ukrainian, these crosswords can help you to further learn Ukrainian.

6. Do you know any good Ukrainian names?

Yes, I do. Feminine names: Оксана (Oksana), Катерина (Kateryna), Марія (Maria), Галина (Halyna). Masculine names: Петро (Petro), Павло (Pavlo), Василь (Vasyl), Дмитро (Dmytro). More info can be found on this Ukrainian names page.

***

Slovnenya Slovnenya is an on-line Ukrainian-English-Ukrainian dictionary. Click on the elephant logo to go to the dictionary's homepage.

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Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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