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Ukrainian: A unified language?

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by Marijka, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. Marijka

    Marijka Junior Member

    Lublin/Eastern Poland
    Polish/Poland
    Sorry, but I can't agree. In Eastern Ukraine people speak maily Russian or "surżyk", but in Western part Ukrainian language is spoken. And though it is in some ways similar to Polish or Slovak ( but no more than Polish is similar to Czech for example) it IS Ukrainian and it is official state language in Ukraine. Or maybe you thought about some Carpathian dialects? Then, yes, they're spoken either in Ukraine or Slovakia and Poland.
     
  2. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    Here I cannot agree. I myself do not speak any ukrainian, my grandma however hails from a village on the dniepr river and, well, her language is not surzhik (which is just russian with ukrainian pronounciation & some voc.), nor is it the official language of ukraine. She also sees her language as the only right version of ukrainian and says they've taken the gutzulian dialect as the official version, just so that russians don't understand 'nything :D (I don't support this POV). There is western ukrainian literature & eastern one, the ukrainian diaspora in Romania speaks the eastern version. Thus, IMHO there is no unified ukrainian, just as there's no unified german.
     
  3. Marijka

    Marijka Junior Member

    Lublin/Eastern Poland
    Polish/Poland
    O.K., but from that point of view there is no unified language at all. In Poland we also have a few "versions" of Polish, many dialects and so on, but there is one official version. But I agree that in Ukraine situation is much more complicated.

    What do you mean by that? Some writers form Eastern Ukraine write in Russian. But some of them write in Ukrainian, and believe me, I can't see big difference between Andruchovycz's (from Ivano-Frankivsk) and Zhadan's (Kharkiv) language, it's just Ukrainian.

    Jana, don't you think it's a little bit offtopic? I suggest making a new thread of it :)
     
  4. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    English
    Is Ukrainian a unified language? Not more and not less than most other languages. This controversy occurs whenever there is an area where many closely-related languages are spoken. Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, and Slovak all come from the same ancient language. So what you will see in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia is a dialect continuum. That is, disregarding the fact that most people nowadays speak the standardized national language, if you look at adjacent little towns, there are rarely any big jumps where the local language changes from distinctly Polish speech to Ukrainian speech. On the road from Warszawa to Kyiv every two neighboring towns will be speaking the same language. As you approach Ukraine, the language sounds more and more Ukrainian and less Polish, then as you approach Russia the language sounds more and more Russian and less Ukrainian.

    The same situation can be said between the Netherlands and Germany: there is no point where the people suddenly switch from speaking Dutch to speaking German, just that as you get closer to Germany the language sounds more and more German. Same thing with Spanish-Catalan-Occitan-Italian.
     
  5. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    English
    The thing about Ukrainian and Polish is that they're standardized written languages. So a Ukrainian will modify her writing to fit the standardized Ukrainian language, even if she speaks a language closer to Polish. Similarly, a Polish person will modify her writing to fit the standardized Polish language, even if she speaks a language closer to Ukrainian.

    Although this has less relevance now than in the past since I suspect that due to national education, the language spoken in Lublin and the language spoken in L'viv are much farther apart than they once were. Or at least people in Lublin/L'vov might modify their speech in formal situations to match whatever is spoken in Warszawa for Lublin and Kyiv for Lvov.
     
  6. Marijka

    Marijka Junior Member

    Lublin/Eastern Poland
    Polish/Poland
    Thanks Vince. This is exactly what I wanted to explain to Ubermonch. We are talking about standarized versions of languages, so you can't just say that "Ukrainian doesn't really exist as a single language".

    Oh, and one more thing. There is a "big jump" on Polish-Ukrainian border, believe me :)
     
  7. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    English
    Yes but this big jump was not historically there, it appeared suddenly in the years immediately following WWII. I am not acquainted with how sensitive the Poland-Russia relationship is so I am not going to go into details.

    But the fact is historically, any two neighboring towns from Warszawa to Minsk to Moskva spoke the same language with no jumps, just a smooth transition from Polish to Belarusian to Russian.
     
  8. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Oh dear. I've always thought it's enough to read any text in Russian (ot listen to it) and then compare it with a Ukrainian text. Same thing with comparing Ukrainian with Polish.
    Don't forget that, when we're talking about languages, we mean standartised languages, not dialects - which may be closer to a language of a neighbour country, of course:). What about Piedmontese, for instance? It is considered to be a dialect of Italian (it's more than a dialect, in fact, but it doesn't matter for the present), but it is closer to French and Occitan, than to the standartised Italian.
     
  9. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    I see the point that there's a difference between official languages and dialects. The question with Ukrainian however is if it should be regarded the same way as German. Commonly "German" refers to the high German dialect, Germans however make difference between High German, Middle German and Low German which is closer to Dutch than to High German. The official language of FRG is High German, thus German is a pluricentric language with several standard versions. Same goes for the term "Norwegian" which includes Bokmal and Nyorsk. In contrary, the term Spanish does not include Catalan, which is regarded as a separate language; the dialects in England (exept Scotch) are just regarded as wrong English. The question is what approach can be applied to Ukrainian in the current situation.
     
  10. Marijka

    Marijka Junior Member

    Lublin/Eastern Poland
    Polish/Poland
    Tell me, how do you see it, as a Russian speaker? Is Ukrainian easy to understand for you? For Poles, for example, it's quite easy to understand spoken Ukrainian.
     
  11. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    If so, I apologise for my slowness in understanding the point of the discussion.
    And I vote for the first approach. It just seems more reasonable.
     
  12. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    I understand almost everything that is written in Ukrainian. Can't say if I can understand spoken Ukrainian as well, because I've had no possibility of listening to Ukrainians, even when I was in Odessa three or four years ago.
    You know, Henryk Sienkiewicz used a lot of Ukrainian words and phrases in his famous novel Ogniem i mieczem. I've read Russian translation (which was surprisingly good!), and I saw the original Polish text of it. Neither Russian edition nor Polish include translations of those words and expressions! And no translation is needed, in fact.
    I remember there was a very sad and beautiful Ukrainian song which pan Zagloba sang at the bivouak - Stań, obernysia... I asked my bilingual friend from Kamenets Podolsky to translate for me this song into Russian - I was just curious if I understood it correctly. And when she sent me a word-by-word translation, I saw that I understood the song perfectly!
     
  13. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    čeština
    The comparison of Russian/Belarussian/Ukrainian is now here.
     
  14. Victoriya New Member

    Russian/Ukrainian - USA
    I am from the East of Ukraine originally. We speak Russian, and no matter what the official state language is people will speak Russian for hundreds of years to come. even all oficial papers can be filled out in Russian in the East. TV channels, radio, billboards - all in Russian. But we do study Ukrainian, and some people can speak it as if it was their native language. Take me for example, I have been studying Ukrainian since I was 7 and all classes at school and in college were in Ukrainian. So, technically i speak both languages equally well. And there are thousands of people like me in the east. Ukrainian that we speak is a state language, it's a unique beatiful language without Russian words and expressions. Not Surzhyk. It's a language of literature. The same Ukrainian is spoken in the central parts of Ukraine. But moving towards the west you might find Ukrainian difficult to understand due to mixture of Polish, Hungarian words in it. For example the word Piven' (rooster) is called Kogut in the West. (in Russian it's Petuh). Three totally different words. So, normal standard Ukrainian language without Russian influence does exist, mostly in the Center of Ukraine. In the west Ukrainian language is westernized (but again I'm talkign about far west..not Lviv, where Ukrainian language is beautiful like a melody). and about Surzhik - it exists in the villages..in Ukraine moving towards Russian there are villages that speak both Ukrainian and Russian, and the same moving towards Ukraine on the russian land people speak Ukrainian. and of course even if you speak pure language, there will be words that are used only in certain areas. For exaple the word hanger in my city is called "trempel'" which is normal russian word as I thought (I used to live in Kharkiv which is a big industrial city), and in other areas I heard they call it Plechiki..which doesn't sound anywhere near normal to me :)))))
     
  15. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Is Russian spoken in Ukraine more so because of the USSR's influence or is the language indigenous to the region.
     
  16. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Panjabigator, Ukraine became a part of the Russian Empire in 17th century, I don't remember the year exactly, but it was shortly after Khmelnitsky's uprising (grrr...). So, the Russian influence must had been extremely strong ever since.
     
  17. MarX Senior Member

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Ermm... L'viv is in the far west, isn't it?

    I'd never really thought that western Ukrainian contained Hungarian words.

    So is the standard based on the dialect of Central Ukraine? With least influence from Hungarian, Polish, or Russian?

    Interesting thread. I find it quite hard to build a picture of the linguistic situation in Ukraine (and Belarus, for that matter).
     
  18. Natabka Senior Member

    Home
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    Guys, this discussion - as it is now - seems to be pointless.
    Everyone is a linguist here and knows perfectly well how a language works.

    First of all, Ukrainian IS a unified language because it is has the Standard with fixed rules which is spoken by people (that have received higher education and live in towns/cities) in ALL parts of Ukraine. Of course, there are regional dialects - as in any other language, and of course, they may be used in informal situations by those who otherwise speak Standard, but they don't prevent the mutual understanding among Ukrainians (mind, Ukrainians because I'm not sure about the understanding of Russian speakers who have learned Standard Ukrainian). However, some dialects of the South-Western group are very much distinct form the Standard and one may have lexical difficulties in comprehending them (I'm speaking of Boiko, Lemko and Hutsul dialects and the Rusyn language which is a controversial point - Ukrainians consider it to be a dialect, Rusyns - a separate lanugage).

    And in the posts above I've noticed some inaccuracies: Hutsul dialect is not a base for Standard Ukrainian! And it HAS NOT "appeared suddenly in the years immediately following WWII"! It has always been there since the begging of its formation in Kyiv Rus' in the 11-12th c. The year 1789 is considered to be the start of Standard Modern Ukrainian, formed on the basis of Central dialects (Наддніпрянський, mainly, though here I'm not totally sure, I'll have to check it).

    Naturally, in the course of history Ukrainian has experiences and sometimes suffered influences of Russian, Hungarian, German, Polish (and now English) but that's a different topic for discussion.

    P.S. I believe I'm exposed to західнополіський, волиський and наддністрянський dialects but I'm perfectly aware what may be dialectal in my speech and can either use it or not. I'm sure, most of the speakers of so much frightening Western dialects can do so too, so the situation is not like Victoria (#14) has described: if you go there and know only Standard name for rooster (півень), everyone will understand you ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  19. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I agree with Natabka, and also I'm asking myself what an "unified" language should be at all.
    In some languages (like English, or German as spoken in Germany) many people speak more or less standard language even in casual speech while in other languages (like Slovenian, or German as spoken in Austria, or - it seems - Ukrainian) only a very few (or probably none at all) speak more or less standard language.

    The situation in Ukraine is special only because a significant Russian minority is living in Ukraine - and with both languages being closely related as they are it might give the impression that the language border between Russian and Ukrainian is very much "diffuse", more so than other linguistic borders. But if one looks at other language borders where dialect continua still are not cut off sharply (like some parts of Slovenian/Croatian border, or South Serbian/Macedonian border) you will find similar phenomena there.

    (The one between Dutch and German once too was very much diffuse - but this isn't the case anymore as on the German side of the border old Platt dialects have been influenced heavily by standard language.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  20. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Sokol, I assume you meant either Austria or Switzerland in that second reference, right?

    Great insight, by the way (as usual)!
     
  21. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Sure did, and thanks for the correction! (Edited above.)
    Actually I intended to write "Austria" but you're of course right, the same is true (even more so) for Switzerland.
     
  22. Natabka Senior Member

    Home
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    This is the best formulation in this thread I've read so far :) Ich bin ganz einverstanden mit dir, Sokol!
     

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