Ukraine and the Russian language
Filed under: Culture, Globalization For Business, History, Language, Language Learning, Multiculturalism, Translation Services, Travel
As the Social Media Manager for ABLE, I read about 50 language and culture-related articles each week and I have noticed that there are some very troubling times in the Ukraine right now. A bill has been passed to enforce the use of Russian as the official business language (regional language) in parts of Ukraine. Ukrainian remains the only official, federal language.
Ukrainian has been the official language of Ukraine for quite some time, as Russian has been spoken as a minority language. Two decades after the fall of the USSR and once famous for coal mines and gang wars of the 1990s, Donetsk (a city in Eastern Ukraine) has welcomed a move to restore Russian as the language for official business in Ukraine’s east and south.
The Ukrainian language, which was once considered a Russian dialect by rulers of the Russian Empire (and is still thought of by some that way) was banned from use in the schools and printing presses of the 19th century.
In 1917, the Soviet leaders of the Bolshevik revolution began enforcing the use of Russian as a universal language across the USSR. Ukrainian was not banned, however, Russian-language schools were thought of as more elite and offered a “better future” for its students.
In 2004, during the Orange Revolution, Ukraine was free from Soviet identity and this new bill could heighten divisions between those who are happy with Ukraine’s post-Soviet identity and those who want to maintain close ties with Russia.
Many fear that the upgraded status of the Russian language will discourage the millions of Russian speakers inside the country from learning Ukrainian, prolonging their dependence on Russia. Around 15 deputies and activists have launched a hunger strike.
Ukraine is not the only post-Soviet state to struggle with the language issue. Earlier this year, Latvia rejected a bill to make Russian an official state language. It appears that many of the post-Soviet states want their complete independence from Russia and the Russian language.