Tkrainian is one of the most embattled languages in Europe, and LJ Ukrainians have long been fighting for their right to it. The fatal policy of national suppression and Russification established by Russia's tsarist regime, along with Polish suppression in the Polish-controlled regions in Ukraine's west, hampered the language's development over the years, leading to a strange situation in which one of the most widely-known languages in Europe was sometimes said to not even exist Ukrainian's latter-day difficulties are surprising from the point of view of its strong start in life. The word "Ukraine', a land in which a language called TJkrainian' was spoken, appears as early as the Kyivan Rus era, mentioned for the first time in the Kyiv Chronicle of 1187. Starting in the 15 th century, the entire southwest area of what is now Ukraine, as well as the central Prydniprovya region, was called Ukraine. The Ukrainian (or Ruthenian) language was used to write chronicles, statutes and official documents, and to hold negotiations between Lithuanian and Moldavian princes, Polish kings and Crimean Khans. Although Ukrainian was already an international language during the Middle Ages, it developed into the language that Ukrainians speak today only in 1798, when the writer Ivan Kotlyarevsky published his epic poem,~Eneyida~. A version of Virgil's 'Aeneid' transported into a Ukrainian setting it was the first work written in the Ukrainian spoken by people in the country, and it marked the birth of Ukrainian literature.
The influence of Russian on Ukrainian was, of course, unavoidable. The Russian Empire didn't admit Ukraine's existence; Ukrainians were regarded as 'Little Russians' and Ukrainian was considered a village dialect One of the most terrible periods the Ukrainian nation lived through was probably the 18th and 19th centuries, when a number of bans on Ukrainian were imposed In 1720 Tsar Peter I banned publishing in Ukraine and ordered all Ukrainian texts to be cut out of vestry books. In 1753, holding lectures at the ancient Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was banned. In 1769, the Moscow Synod decreed that all Ukrainian grammar books be seized from those who still had them. And in 1775 Catherine II suppressed the Ukrainian nation's very heart, the Zaporizhian Sich. Through killing the language, the nation's most important expression of identity, the Russian Empire aimed to do away with Ukrainians themselves, who with their pretensions toward separate nationhood were obviously a threat to Moscow's power. The 19th century proved to be even harsher than the previous one, due to the radical attitude towards Ukrainian that both the Russians and the Poles took In 1817, it was decreed that teaching in Polish-ruled Western Ukraine should be in Polish only. In 1847 the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, a political society that included as members such major Ukrainian historical figures as Taras Shevchenko, Panteleimon Kulish, Vasyl Bilozersky and Mykola Hulak, and that fought for the abolition of serfdom, access to education and transformation of the empire into a federation of free Slavic peoples, was suppressed. Many of its members were imprisoned or exiled. In 1863, the tsarist interior minister Pyotr Valuyev proclaimed that "there never has been, is not, and never can be a separate Little Russian language,' banning publishing of Ukrainian books in Ukraine Then
Ukrainians seem to pick up new English words too rapidly, using one even when there's a good Ukrainian word that can be used
came Alexander II's secret Ems Ukaz, which prohibited, throughout the whole empire, publication and importation of most Ukrainian-language books, Ukrainian public performances and lectures, and even the printing of Ukrainian texts accompanying musical scores. This was almost a coup de grace for Ukrainian and its literature. Those who resisted were punished and exiled immediately
After the Russian Revolution of 1917 destroyed the tsarist regime, things changed. Ukrainians developed a renewed sense of national identity. For the first time in modern history, Ukrainian started to be used in government affairs. Initially this trend continued under the Bolshevik government, which in its political struggle with the old regime had its own reasons to encourage the empire's destabilising national movements. The Bolshevik government pursued a policy of Ukrainianisation and promoted the language both in the government and among party personnel An impressive education programme raised Ukrainian literacy. Newly-literate ethnic Ukrainians migrated to the cities, which fast became Ulrainianised. Even regions outside of Ukraine that had a large Ukrainian population were influenced, particularly the area around the Don River and the Kuban in the North Caucasus. Ukrainian language teachers, just graduated from institutions of higher learning in Soviet Ukraine, were sent to these Russian regions to staff newly opened Ukrainian schools or to teach Ukrainian as a second language in Russian schools. Local Ukrainian-language publications were started and departments of Ukrainian studies opened in colleges. Such policies were implemented in thirty-five districts in southern Russia. Soviet policy towards the Ukrainian language changed abruptly in late 1932 and early 1933, after Stalin had consolidated his control. These years were characterised by massive repression and hardships for Ulaainians and their language. The regime started to push Russian as the language of the Soviet UNI0N, and using Ukrainian was considered a sign of bourgeois nationalism (even though the Soviet Constitution of 1936 stipulated that teaching in schools should be in native languages). In 1929-30 a big group of the Ukrainian elite were shot; the vast majority of Ukrainian scholars and cultural leaders were killed or jailed Soviet Ukraine's autonomy was gone by the late 1930s. The attack on Ukrainian increased with the Holodomor, Stalin's genocidal artificial famine of the early 1930s, and by the early 1950s a policy of Russification had made great strides.
After Stalin died, the USSR softened its language policies. Ukrainians could choose in what lan-xVguage to study at schools, for example But many ethnic Ukrainians were already Russified, preferring Russian to Ukrainian Their identify was fractured, with results that can still be felt. After the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted a law on the Ukrainian language in 1989 and gained independence two years later with the USSR's disintegration, the environment for Ukrainian development became more positive. By the end of the 20th century, all the classic works of Ukrainian literature that had long been suppressed were again available. How does Ukrainian stand now? It's the language of a large sovereign country, and the younger generation is more and more starting to be attracted to their ancestral tongue. One debate, however, is about the use of anglicisms in Ukrainian The sneaking of English words into other languages is a common phenomenon in the world, since English is the language of the global market, but Ukrainians seem to pick up new English words too rapidly, using one even when there's a good Ukrainian word that can be used Whereas other European countries (like France) try to protect their language from English influence, Ukraine doesn't Another issue is - still - Russian Pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine insist on Russian being Ukraine's second national language, which many see as an expression of pure chauvinism. "There can't be the two languages in Ukraine," saysVitaliy Radchuk a linguist at Taras Shevchenko University. "It's chauvinism, a splitting of the nation's mentality It's the way to Asia, not to Europe. If a second national language is introduced here, it will immediately become dominant Belarus should be an example to those who speak about the nonsense of bi-lingualism in Ukraine. Russian is the second national language there; as a result mere's not a single Belarusian school in Minsk" Radchuk alludes to a theory that others have bruited about: mat the Russian government, terrified by a demographic freefall that could lower Russia's population by 60 million people by the middle of this century, is trying to shore up the Russian identity wherever it can, by spreading its language. "Russia`s population, "Radchuk says, "will be less than that of Turkey." He adds, "You can`t hold all that territory given that sort of population, so the country will disappear. That`s why Russia needs Ukraine whith its human recourses, so that it can at least keep on for a while."