'мова.укр' is the first web-project in Ukraine, which deals with the problem of the Ukrainian language policy and situation, its development and usage. The site consists of: 1. Web-magazine on a day-to-day language situation and policy. 2. On-line Encyclopedia on the languages in Ukraine. 3. Ukrainian language "distant-study" section designed to improve language skills of Ukrainian journalists and teachers - the people who are the first to deliver the Ukrainian language to the population. 4. Section containing interesting information (news, facts, statistics, new books to read, quotes etc.) which is to draw more visitors to the site.


349 years of Russification in Ukraine

Have you ever wondered if there is a capital city in Europe in which the language heard in the street is not a native one. Surprisingly but this is the case in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. What's more, the like situation is common for many cities in this country.

At first glance there is no reason for concern over the language situation in Ukraine. People of the Ukrainian nationality live in this territory from old times and make up almost 80 percent of all population. The Ukrainian language itself has long history and strong traditions. For instance, at a linguistic contest held in Paris in 1934 Ukrainian was ranked as the third most beautiful language after French and Persian. However, you can't say that the Ukrainian language 'feels at home' in present-day Ukraine.

Despite the fact that in 1990 it was declared the official language of Ukraine and is obligatory now in the entire territory of the country, the number of Ukrainian-speaking people continues to drop and now makes up less than 40% of overall population.

Ukraine's residents are still subjected to Russian television, newspapers, books and magazines. According to government data, Russian-language newspapers outnumber Ukrainian 10 to one across the country, Russian books account for almost 90 percent of the country's book market. Almost two thirds of all radio and TV programs are in Russian.

This situation is viewed by many as legacy of century-long Russification. Ukraine was a part of the Russian Empire and later - the Soviet Union for more than three centuries. In the second half of the 19th century schools in Ukraine began teaching exclusively in Russian, administrative bodies could use only Russian, and publication in Ukrainian was forbidden. It was done because of the fears that the multiethnic empire would disintegrate unless its population was drawn more closely together in culture and language.

Russification that started in tsarists times was accelerated in the Soviet period. From the 1930's to the 1980's the authorities were using all possible means to intensify it especially in the large cities, in which the population was considerably mixed. The Ukrainian people were forced to use the Russian language in government, schools, newspapers and on television. Those who tried to protect the rights to speak in Ukrainian were deported to Siberia. And not only were the Russian language and culture promoted, but also it became essential for Ukrainians to know and speak Russian in order to secure career growth. What's more, such policy caused many Ukrainians to know the Russian language better than Ukrainian.

Many of Ukraine's scholars believe that it will take a long time to heal the wounds of the past, and even after, the scars will still remain for several generations.

Compiled by NovaMova staff




The Ukrainian language belongs to the Eastern group of Slavic languages. It uses the Cyrillic alphabet. The closest languages it is similar to are: Belorussian and Russian. It is actually the language which was spoken in medieval Kievan Rus' kingdom. Russian is a newer language, derived from Ukrainian. In a loose sense, Ukrainian is related to Russian somewhat as the Spanish language is related to Portuguese.

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