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Language situation in Ukraine.

  Tags: Ukrainian | Russian
 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
Senior Member
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Speaks: Latvian*, Russian
Studies: English

 Message 1 of 4
12 July 2008 at 8:48am | IP Logged 
Yesterday I watched public political debate on Ukrainian TV channel and was very surprised that they freely used both Ukrainian and Russian languages. Ukrainians spoke Ukrainian and Russians replied in Russian and vice versa.
Although my country is sometimes considered to be a bilingual country(29% of the population are ethnic Russians), we usually prefer to use one language at a time in everyday conversations. And both languages are never used simultaneously on TV or at any official situations.

So how could you describe language situation in Ukraine? Is it so common to use both languages simultaneously? Is it truth that every single ethnic Russian speaks Ukrainian and every Ukrainian speaks Russian?

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Trilingual Hexaglot
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Speaks: Russian, English*, Czech*, Slovak*, French, Spanish
Studies: Ukrainian, Polish, Dutch

 Message 2 of 4
12 July 2008 at 2:10pm | IP Logged 
In some areas the languages are so intertwined that people speak a mix of the two languages. This is for example the case in places like Dnepropetrovsk Oblast. As for Russians in Ukraine speaking Ukrainian, a lot do, many don't. I think the majority of Ukrainians also speak Russian, however that is not always the case in Western Ukraine, where the Ukrainian language has a huge predominance and there are few native Russian speakers. On the other hand I would be surprised if there were monolingual Ukrainian speakers in Eastern Ukraine due to the widespread presence of the Russian language in the area, especially due to heavy immigration from other parts of the Soviet Union to that part during Soviet times.
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Speaks: English*, Mandarin, French
Studies: Esperanto, Ukrainian, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Persian

 Message 3 of 4
14 July 2008 at 9:04am | IP Logged 
I've been living in Donetsk (eastern Ukraine) for the past 2.5 years. Everyone here definitely speaks Russian. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone here speaking Ukrainian.   Up until the beginning of this year all the movies at the cinema were in Russian. Then the Ukr. govt. passed a law that said all movies must be in Ukr. or have Ukr. subtitles, so now all the movies here in Donetsk are in Ukrainian. Most people don't like this. In Kiev, however, Ukrainian is much more noticeable. Most of the billboards and ads are in Ukrainian.

As for here in Donetsk I think nearly everyone understands Ukrainian, but they all speak Russian. I think their Ukrainian is mostly passive, although the younger generations in school now are being forced to use Ukrainian in school, so I think they speak it better than their parents.

Interestingly enough, when I went to Dnipropetrovsk (about 3 hours west of Don.) I did hear Ukraine being used. Most noticeably in a restaurant by the staff. Whereas here in Donetsk all restaurants are strictly Russian as far as I've noticed.
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Senior Member
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Speaks: Dutch*, NorwegianC1, Swedish, Danish, English, German, ItalianB1, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, French
Studies: Portuguese

 Message 4 of 4
14 July 2008 at 9:46am | IP Logged 
I don't really know in how far these languages differ, but I do know that in Norwegian talkshows, guests from Sweden (and to a lesser extent Denmark) usually talk Swedish (resp. Danish). When aired live, this is not subtitled, but if it is a recording subtitles may be used. Also many films from Scandinavia usually include actors from various Scandinavian countries who all speak their own language as if it is one single language. I suppose that in real life, these conversations would be a lot more like 'excuse me, what did you just say?' in comparison to these films. Also SAS Scandinavian Airlines personnell speak their respective language, though again, I expect more problems with languages further apart from one another soundwise (like Swedish and Danish).

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