Language section number: 431 (How to register for Critical Languages classes)
Ukrainian is an East Slavic language. Since 1991, it has been the official state language of Ukraine. It is the first of two principal languages of Ukrainians, and it is one of the three official languages in the unrecognized state of Transnistria, the other two being Moldovan and Russian. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic script (see Ukrainian alphabet). Until the 20th century it was known in Russia as Little-Russian language (Russian: малорусский язык, малороссийский язык), while in Poland as Rusyn language or Ruthenian language (Polish: język ruski, rusiński).
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 Modern 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 It has always maintained a sufficient base in Western Ukraine, where the language was never banned in its folklore songs, itinerant musicians, and prominent authors.
The use of the Ukrainian language is increasing after a long period of decline. Although there are almost fifty million ethnic Ukrainians worldwide, including 37.5 million in Ukraine (77.8% of the total population), the Ukrainian language is prevalent only in western and central Ukraine. In Kiev, both Ukrainian and Russian are spoken, a notable shift from the recent past when the city was primarily Russian-speaking. The shift is believed to be caused, largely, by an influx of the rural population and migrants from the western regions of Ukraine but also by some Kievans' turning to use the language they speak at home more widely in everyday matters. Public signs and announcements in Kiev are in Ukrainian. In southern and eastern Ukraine, Russian is the prevalent language of the urban population. According to the Ukrainian Census of 2001, 87.8% people living in Ukraine communicate in Ukrainian.
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. Lexically, the closest language to Ukrainian is Belarusian (84% of common vocabulary), followed by Polish (70%), Serbo-Croatian (68%), Slovak (66%) and Russian (62%). The Ukrainian language retains a degree of mutual intelligibility with Belarusian and Russian.
CLP's Ukrainian Tutor
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ukrainian language", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.