Ukrainian language

українська мова
ukrayins'ka mova
Pronunciation[ʊkrɐˈjinʲsʲkɐ ˈmɔwɐ]
Native toUkraine
Native speakers
35 million (2000)[1]
Speakers: around 40 million (estimated)[2]
Early form
southern dialect of Ruthenian
Cyrillic (Ukrainian alphabet)
Ukrainian Braille
Ukrainian Latin alphabet
Official status
Official language in


Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byNational Academy of Sciences of Ukraine: Potebnya Institute of Language Studies
Language codes
ISO 639-3ukr
ukra1253  Ukrainian[11]
Linguasphere53-AAA-ed < 53-AAA-e
(varieties: 53-AAA-eda to 53-AAA-edq)
Ukrainian in the world.svg
Ukrainian-speaking world
Ukrainians en.svg
Ukrainian language and Ukrainians with their neighbors in the early 20th century.
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Ukrainian (n/ (About this soundlisten) KRAY-nee-ən; українська мова ukrayins'ka mova [ʊkrɐˈjinʲsʲkɐ ˈmɔwɐ]) is an East Slavic language. It is the official state language of Ukraine and one of the three official languages in the unrecognized state of Transnistria, the other two being Romanian and Russian. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic script (see Ukrainian alphabet).

Historical linguists trace the origin of the Ukrainian language to the Old East Slavic of the early medieval state of Kievan Rus'. After the fall of the Kievan Rus' as well as the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, the language developed into a form called the Ruthenian language. The Ukrainian language has been in common use since the late 17th century, associated with the establishment of the Cossack Hetmanate. From 1804 until the Russian Revolution, the Ukrainian language was banned from schools in the Russian Empire, of which the biggest part of Ukraine (Central, Eastern and Southern) was a part at the time.[12] It has always maintained a sufficient base in Western Ukraine, where the language was never banned,[13] in its folklore songs, itinerant musicians, and prominent authors.[13][14]

The standard Ukrainian language is regulated by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NANU), particularly by its Institute for the Ukrainian Language, Ukrainian language-information fund, and Potebnya Institute of Language Studies. The Ukrainian language retains a degree of mutual intelligibility with Belarusian and Russian.[15]

Linguistic development of the Ukrainian language

Theories concerning the development of the Ukrainian language

The first theory of the origin of Ukrainian language was suggested in Imperial Russia in the middle of the 18th century by Mikhail Lomonosov. 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 and Ukrainian (which he referred to as Little Russian) could be explained by the influence of the Polish and Slovak languages on Ukrainian and the influence of Uralic languages on Russian from the 13th to the 17th centuries[16].[full citation needed]

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) from the common Old East Slavic language. This general point of view is the most accepted amongst academics worldwide,[17] 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 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 the Kievan Rus' 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.[citation needed]

Some scholars[who?] see a divergence between the language of Galicia-Volhynia and the language of Novgorod-Suzdal 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, Drevlyans, Severians, Dulebes (that later likely became Volhynians and Buzhans), White Croats, Tiverians and Ulichs lived on the territory of today's Ukraine long before the 12th century. Notably, some Ukrainian features[which?] were recognizable in the southern dialects of Old East Slavic as far back as the language can be documented.[18]

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).[19] In contrast, Ahatanhel Krymsky and Alexei Shakhmatov assumed the existence of the common spoken language of Eastern Slavs only in prehistoric times.[20] 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.[21] 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 supported by George Shevelov's phonological studies.[18]

Origins and developments during medieval times

As the result of close Slavic contacts with the remnants of the Scythian and Sarmatian population north of the Black Sea, lasting into the early Middle Ages, the appearance of voiced fricative γ(h) in modern Ukrainian and some southern Russian dialects is explained, that initially emerged in Scythian and the related eastern Iranian dialects from earlier common Proto-Indo-European *g and *gʰ.[22][23][24]

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).[25]

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) were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. 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.[26] By the 16th century, a peculiar official language was formed: a mixture of the liturgical standardised language of Old Church Slavonic, Ruthenian and Polish, with the influence of the last of these three gradually increasing, considering that the nobility and rural large-landowning class, known as the szlactha, was largely Polish-speaking. Documents soon took on many Polish characteristics superimposed on Ruthenian phonetics.[27] 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 (via Polish) raptom (suddenly) and meta (aim or goal).[25]

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).[25]

Due to heavy borrowings from Polish, German, Czech and Latin, early modern vernacular Ukrainian (prosta mova, "simple speech") had more lexical similarity with West Slavic languages than with Russian or Church Slavonic.[28] 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, between Bohdan Khmelnytsky, head of the Zaporozhian Host, and the Russian state.[29]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Oekraïens
Alemannisch: Ukrainische Sprache
አማርኛ: ዩክሬንኛ
aragonés: Idioma ucrainés
asturianu: Idioma ucraín
azərbaycanca: Ukrayn dili
Bân-lâm-gú: Ukraina-gí
башҡортса: Украин теле
беларуская: Украінская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Украінская мова
български: Украински език
brezhoneg: Ukraineg
català: Ucraïnès
Чӑвашла: Украин чĕлхи
čeština: Ukrajinština
Cymraeg: Wcreineg
davvisámegiella: Ukrainagiella
dolnoserbski: Ukrainska rěc
Esperanto: Ukraina lingvo
euskara: Ukrainera
Fiji Hindi: Ukrainian bhasa
français: Ukrainien
Frysk: Oekraynsk
Gaeilge: An Úcráinis
Gaelg: Ookraanish
Gagauz: Ukrain dili
Gàidhlig: Ucràinis
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Ukraina-ngî
հայերեն: Ուկրաիներեն
Արեւմտահայերէն: Ուքրաներէն
hornjoserbsce: Ukrainšćina
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Ukraina
íslenska: Úkraínska
italiano: Lingua ucraina
עברית: אוקראינית
kalaallisut: Ukrainimiusut
къарачай-малкъар: Украин тил
қазақша: Украин тілі
kernowek: Ukraynek
Kiswahili: Kiukraine
Кыргызча: Украин тили
latviešu: Ukraiņu valoda
Lëtzebuergesch: Ukrainesch
Limburgs: Oekraïens
Lingua Franca Nova: Ucrainsce (lingua)
lumbaart: Lengua ucraina
magyar: Ukrán nyelv
македонски: Украински јазик
მარგალური: უკრაინული ნინა
مصرى: اوكرانى
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Ukraine
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ukraine-ngṳ̄
монгол: Украин хэл
Nederlands: Oekraïens
नेपाल भाषा: युक्रेनियन भाषा
Nordfriisk: Ukrainisk spriak
norsk: Ukrainsk
norsk nynorsk: Ukrainsk
occitan: Ucraïnian
олык марий: Украин йылме
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ukrain tili
Papiamentu: Ukraniano
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាសាអ៊ុយក្រែន
Piemontèis: Lenga ucrain-a
Plattdüütsch: Ukrainsche Spraak
português: Língua ucraniana
Qaraqalpaqsha: Ukrain tili
qırımtatarca: Ukrain tili
Runa Simi: Ukranya simi
русиньскый: Україньскый язык
саха тыла: Украин тыла
Gagana Samoa: Fa'aUkaraina
Simple English: Ukrainian language
slovenčina: Ukrajinčina
slovenščina: Ukrajinščina
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Оукраиньскъ ѩꙁꙑкъ
српски / srpski: Украјински језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ukrajinski jezik
svenska: Ukrainska
татарча/tatarça: Украин теле
Türkçe: Ukraynaca
Türkmençe: Ukrain dili
удмурт: Украин кыл
українська: Українська мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ئۇكرائىن تىلى
vepsän kel’: Ukrainan kel'
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Ukraina
Volapük: Lukrayänapük
Winaray: Ukranyano
ייִדיש: אוקראיניש
Yorùbá: Èdè Ukraníà
粵語: 烏克蘭文
Zazaki: Ukraynki
žemaitėška: Okrainėitiu kalba
中文: 乌克兰语