Historical Development of Ukrainian Language

As one of the largest crossroads in Europe, Ukraine has a diverse array of spoken languages. Of course, Ukraine’s official language is Ukrainian, which is spoken by roughly 67 percent of the population. Ukrainian is a Slavic language and it uses a Cyrillic alphabet when committed to written form. Foreigners may find the language incredibly difficult to understand or learn, but for those of Belarusian, Polish, Russian or Slovakian decent, certain similarities may be found since some vocabulary is shared with these neighboring nations.

The Ukrainian language can be traced back to the Old East Slavic language which was used in Kievan Rus’. Perhaps the beauty of the language is that it has persisted as the main language of the country to this day – despite continual persecution from ruling powers. The most noted political interference in this regard occurred during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when speakers of the language faced persecution. Before this, Imperial Russia had imposed two bans on the language to discourage the speaking of Ukrainian. However, the language survived due to the large number of Ukrainian people who continued to live in the country – especially in the more remote parts of Ukraine. Even during the bans, Ukrainians continued to enjoy folklore songs, kobzars and the works of various great poets.

Imperial Russia may not have been able to exterminate the Ukrainian language from the land, but they did have a strong influence on the country. Today Russian speakers make up the second largest language group in Ukraine – though they occupy a relatively small percentage when compared to those who speak Ukrainian. Other languages spoken in the country include Romanian, Polish and Hungarian, but these minority languages are spoken on a very small scale.

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