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930854.  Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:58 am Reply with quote

Mostly only people living in western Ukraine speak ukrainian, but there, of course, can be exceptions.

Geography Guy
987258.  Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:34 am Reply with quote

14 million exceptions, in fact. Almost 30% of the Ukraine's residents don't speak Ukrainian thanks to the cultural melting pot that was the USSR. Russian, Polish, Yiddish, Romanian, and Rusyn (very similar to Ukrainian) all have over 500,000 speakers in the Ukraine.

987290.  Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:09 am Reply with quote

I've heard it claimed that a lot of Ukrainians who would, if you asked, tell you that they were speaking Ukrainian are actually speaking Russian.

In essence, the two languages are in any case fairly similar, and Ukrainians don't really know which they are speaking at any given time unless they stop to think about it. And even if they do stop to think it, they don't always want to admit that they are speaking Russian.

987431.  Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:24 pm Reply with quote

A Ukrainian who had lived in Bruges once told me that Ukrainian/Russian differences were like Dutch/Flemish with a bit of German added. I found this quote in Yahoo answers QI:

"Ukrainian and Russian are both descended (along with Belorussian) from a common ancestor language about 1500 years ago that linguists call Proto-Eastern Slavic. That language was not Ukrainian and it was not Russian, it was the common ancestor of both of them. They are closely related languages. One of the differences between the two is that in Ukrainian the 'g' sound has become an 'h' sound, so that, for example, "Kirovograd" became "Kirovohrad" in Ukrainian. There are other sound differences and grammatical differences. Since Ukraine was part of Poland for several centuries, there are many Polish loanwords in Ukrainian. For example, the words for "love", "understand", and "yes" in Ukrainian are borrowed from Polish."

Last edited by Zebra57 on Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:04 am; edited 1 time in total

987801.  Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:03 am Reply with quote

The Western Ukrainian Russophiles highlight the problems of defining ethnicity/language in this region of Europe.

1057619.  Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:17 pm Reply with quote

Territorial disputes between Russia and Ukraine over Tuzia Island and access to the Sea of Azov could result in Russia encouraging Crimea to break away from Ukraine. Only 25 percent of the peninsula are Ukranian speaking. Direct Russian intervention may occur if Putin can claim that security of the Russian leased naval base at Sevastopol has been compromised.

1057678.  Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:54 pm Reply with quote

What with being on holiday I'm not going to look up the demographics of Crimea right now, but do I have this about right?

About half the people are ethnic Russians, one quarter are ethnic Ukrainians, 10% are Crimean Tatars (Muslims who speak a language related to Turkish), and the rest are all sorts of odds and sods.

Are there any Black Sea Germans left in Crimea, or were they all relocated eastward?

1057694.  Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:17 pm Reply with quote

2001 Census:
Crimea population 2,033,700

Russians 58%
Ukranian 24%
Crimean Tartars 12%
Others 5%
(incuding Black Sea German, Greeks and Bulgars)

In 1941 45,000 ethnic Germans were deported to Siberia and other localities

In 1944 200,000 Tatars and 70,000 Greeks, as well as some Roma and Bulgars were similarly deported to be largely replaced by Russians and Ukranians.

1057870.  Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:56 am Reply with quote

Thanks Zebra. I'm pleased to see that my preconceived ideas were in more or less the right planet!

1058137.  Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:25 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
I've heard it claimed that a lot of Ukrainians who would, if you asked, tell you that they were speaking Ukrainian are actually speaking Russian.

The extreme example of this is probably Serbo-Croat, where merely by calling it that rather than listing the assorted South Slavic languages separately I've immediately antagonised anyone from that region with the opposite viewpoint (which seems to be most of 'em, these days). In that case, not even The Academy is any meaningful measure of agreement as to where "dialect" ends and "language" begins.

The two different writing systems are a big hint, but they were already both in use in the days of a unitary Yugoslav state (or rather, succession of different such states), where "single language" was very much the received wisdom.

1058243.  Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:50 am Reply with quote

Mind you, even the different writing systems aren't as much of a help as they used to be. While the government of Serbia speaks only in Cyrillic, there is no law against using the Roman alphabet to write Serbian and it's becoming increasingly common, especially among the young.

In a century from now, the only people writing Serbian in Cyrillic will be the Bosnian Serbs of the Republika Srpska. They'll use Cyrillic to make (what they see as continuing to be) An Important Point, but everyone in Beograd will be using the Roman alphabet.

Already, few in Montenegro use Cyrillic - even though few outside government are dogmatic about Montenegrin being a different language than Serbian.

In days gone by, Bosnian Muslims used Arabic script, even though it was woefully badly suited to the language. There hasn't been a book published in Arabic-script Bosnian for over seventy years though, and there is no sign of it making a comeback.

Alphabet aside, the easiest way to distinguish the dialects/languages which make up Serbo-Croat is to look at recent loanwords. Serbian takes most of its loanwords from Russian, Croatian takes its from Italian and German, while Bosnian takes its from Arabic and Turkish. If Montenegrin does seek to assert itself as meaningfully different than Serbian, it may have to resort to borrowing from Greek.

1058338.  Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:09 pm Reply with quote

The main square of Cairo is the Midan Tahrir.
The main square of Kiev is the Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

1058340.  Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:11 pm Reply with quote

Neither language is written in the Roman alphabet, so those spellings are but conventions.

They are the same word, in any case. That word for a town square is of either Arabic or Sanskrit origin, and is largely confined to the Muslim world. But, and as the world is now coming to know, it is also used for the same concept in Ukrainian. A small handful of Russian towns also have a maidan as so called, but the word is not found in Germanic or Romance Europe.

1058348.  Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:13 pm Reply with quote

Territorial disputes between Russia and Ukraine over Tuzia Island and access to the Sea of Azov could result in Russia encouraging Crimea to break away from Ukraine. Only 25 percent of the peninsula are Ukranian speaking.

That's not that important at the moment, because ...

CBS News wrote:
a divided Ukraine is not in the interest of Russia, Europe or the United States.

... this isn't some diplomatic agreement nor a new goal. A divided Ukraine will mean the classic east-west border will shift towards the east. Kiev may become an EU capital. An undivided Ukraine, controlled by Russia, will mean the classic east-west border will shift back towards Poland. So both the EU and Russia will be happy with the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine, a status quo.

1059300.  Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:06 pm Reply with quote

The transfer of the Crimea from Russian to Ukrainian administration was unpopular at the time. After the mass expulsions Crimea rapidly gained a Russian dominated population. It was a favourite destination for retired KGB and other high ranking communist party members. Strategically its military significance to Russia cannot be underestimated. Some have a likened it to Florida as a winter escape for the privileged. Do not be surprised if a Russian sponsored coup in the peninsula of a similar nature to Abkhazia once in Georgia occurs. Russia would probably fall short of invasion, but would pursue an active role in establishing a "friendly" compliant regime in Sebastopol.


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