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Ukrainian - interesting facts

 

The Ukrainian language, a symbol of national pride and identity, is the state language of Ukraine and is spoken by over 40 million people worldwide. It's classified as an East Slavic language, one of the three branches of the Slavic language family, sharing a common ancestry with Russian and Belarusian. Still, Ukrainian possesses unique phonetic, syntactic, and lexical characteristics, establishing it as a distinct language within this group.

Ukrainian is primarily spoken in Ukraine, where it is the official language. It's also used by the Ukrainian diaspora, estimated at over 20 million people scattered across the world, including countries like Canada, the United States, Russia, and various parts of Europe.

Regarding global significance, Ukrainian is the second most spoken Slavic language after Russian, based on the number of native speakers. With Ukraine's growing economic importance and its deep, complex history, learning it can open doors to understanding its rich cultural heritage, literature, and current affairs.

Despite the relatively limited global spread compared to languages like English, Spanish, or Mandarin, Ukrainian has left its imprint on world culture and history. Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's most famous poet, playwright, and artist, significantly contributed to world literature writing in Ukrainian. The language was also the primary medium of the vibrant "samvydav" (self-publishing) movement, which played a critical role in preserving and promoting Ukrainian culture during Soviet times when the use of Ukrainian was discouraged.

A few unique aspects set Ukrainian apart from other languages. The most striking feature for English speakers may be its Cyrillic script, adopted and modified from Old Church Slavonic. The alphabet contains 33 letters, including a few unique ones that do not exist in other Cyrillic-based languages. In terms of phonetics, it is considered melodic due to the harmonic alternation of vowels and consonants in words.

Ukrainian is also one of the few languages globally that use the vocative case, a grammatical feature used to address or call upon someone. This case was prevalent in Old English but is now extinct in modern English. It's used in the expression of direct address, indicating "the one being spoken to." This case is disappearing in some other Slavic languages but remains robust in Ukrainian.

Finally, one curious fact about Ukrainian is that it has been rated as the third most beautiful language globally, according to a poll by the British Council's language-learning app in 2017. This assertion is subjective, of course, but it reflects the language's rhythm, intonation, and phonetic balance, which many find pleasing to the ear.

While not as widely spoken as some, the Ukrainian language holds significant historical, cultural, and linguistic importance. With its distinct features, rich literary tradition, and role in shaping national identity, Ukrainian offers a unique perspective for language learners and linguists. It opens a window to a deeper understanding of the country's vibrant history and culture, making it a worthy subject of study for anyone interested in languages.

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History of the Ukrainian language

The Ukrainian language, an Eastern Slavic language, is derived from the Prussian language, just like the Polish language. The common root means that Polish language users can find many similarities in vocabulary and grammar. Over the centuries, Ukrainian has developed under the influence of various languages, especially Old Church Slavonic, Polish, German and Russian. Ukrainian as a separate language from Russian began to be recognized in the 16th century, but it received official status only after Ukraine regained independence in 1991.

Relationships with the Polish language

Polish and Ukrainian have a lot in common. Both speeches are divided into similar grammatical cases, have similar prepositions, and use a verb conjugation system. Although these languages are not mutually understandable, many words may sound familiar to Poles. It is worth paying attention to false friends, words of a similar form but with different meanings. Examples are "bread" - in Ukrainian it means "harm", or "red" - in Ukrainian "beautiful".

Pronunciation and Alphabet

Ukrainian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which has 33 letters, and Polish - the Latin alphabet. For this reason, Poles may initially encounter difficulties in reading texts. Ukrainian contains sounds that are not in Polish, such as "h", "ы" or "ք". However, it is worth noting that Ukrainian pronunciation is more similar to Polish than Russian, which may facilitate communication for Poles.

The richness of dialects

Many dialects in Ukraine are differentiated mainly due to the influence of neighbouring countries, including Poland. Ukrainian dialects can be divided into three main groups: northern, southern and western. Western dialects related to historical Polish lands are similar to the Polish language.

Ukrainian in the World

Ukrainian is the mother tongue of almost 40 million people, making it one of the world's most widely spoken Slavic languages. Apart from Ukraine, Ukrainian-speaking communities can be found in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Poland and other countries. Due to the common history and proximity of borders, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians live in Poland, which makes the knowledge of the Ukrainian language useful in everyday life.

Ukrainian Literature

Ukrainian literature has a rich tradition, and one of the most important writers is Taras Shevchenko, a poet and painter who symbolised the struggle for Ukraine's independence. Knowledge of the Ukrainian language lets you get directly acquainted with his works and other works of Ukrainian literature, such as Ivan Franko's novels or Lesia Ukrainka's poetry.

Ukrainian cuisine

Ukrainian cuisine, an element of culture, is inextricably linked to language. Delicacies such as dumplings, borscht or pigeons are also popular in Poland. Knowledge of the Ukrainian language allows you to discover authentic recipes and talk with the residents of Ukraine about local specialities.

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Your Essential Ukrainian

 

English

Ukrainian

yes так (tak)
no ні (ni)
please будь ласка (bud' laska)
thank you дякую (diakuiu)
I'm sorry перепрошую (pereproshuiu)
good morning добрий день (dobryj den')
good evening добрий вечір (dobryj vechir)
goodbye на добраніч (na dobranich)
good night до побачення (do pobachennia)
hi привіт (pryvit)
how are you?  Як справи? (Yak spravy?)
well Дякую, добре (Diakuiu, dobre)
My name is... Мене звати  (Mene zvaty)
I don't understand Не розумію (Ne rozumiiu)

 

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