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Why is Ukrainian so neglected?

I recently posted this on the Ukrainian for English speakers forum, one of the comments suggested I move this to the general forum so I could ask who I really wanted to ask, non-Ukrainian learners:

Hi. I'm wondering, why don't more people learn Ukrainian? Sure, Russian's great and all. But Ukrainian is so melodic, it allows so many vowels in its words. It's completely phonetic and like Latin languages, it doesn't like having many consonants together. It's also very easy to pronounce with only a few strange sounds and combinations such as "kh, szcz/shch, vzh, vcz/vch" but apart from that it's relatively easy. The alphabet is phonetic and I'm half way down the tree and I've only come across four/five irregular verbs and extremely few irregular case endings. To have is formed with to be, as is the future tense. So please people, give Ukrainian a try it is one of the most spoken Slavic languages. It's estimated to have 40-60 million speakers!

April 2, 2016



I am native Ukrainian speaker, I think that it is great that you want to learn our language.


Do you also speak Russian? I ask because I know 3 people from Ukraine and all 3 of them speak both Russian and Ukrainian. One of them is from the east, they consider Russian their native language, but also speak Ukrainian. Another is from the west, their native language is Ukrainian but also speak Russian. And the other is from Kiev, they consider both Russian and Ukrainian as equal native languages.


I am from L'viv which is very far west, I speak Ukrainian as native language, but my family is very emm how do you say.... "very proud" and my parents are not too happy about Russia. I will not go into detail, but we prefer to use Polish and L'viv was once Polish city and center of the Slavic culture. I speak some Russian but my parents don't let us speak it at home.


Quite interesting, people in L'viv seem to be some of the more "nationalist" people (or maybe patriotic? I don't want to use a negative term) in Ukraine. I kind of heard the same from a friend of mine who comes from the more central part of the country. Maybe the Polish heritage has something to do with that? And how big do you think the differences are between L'viv oblast and the rest of Ukraine in that regard?

Anyways, just wanted to share: I really like the language, and the course on Duolingo doesn't do it justice and should be developed further :) І я хочу піти на ваша країна коли-небудь :)


Sorry, I was away but yes what you say is true. L'viv/Lwow is much more European than rest of Ukraine. My heritage is technically Polish but here in L'viv we are just a huge mix of "real" Ukrainians and Polish.


In my opinion, it's a normal desire to speak Russian but not to bring devastation to Ukraine in the name of Russia. If I hadn't learned Russian at school, Ukrainian would be much more difficult to learn nowadays. L'viv is a wonderful city!


Ukranian is not a language with many people who is learning it because Ukraine is not a rich country, it is near Russia so probably for that reason they choose Russian instead, compare it with languages like French, German, etc... and almost every person from Ukraine speaks Russian.


Ukrainian is neglected by users because the Ukrainian course is pretty terrible.

There are so many grammatical and spelling mistakes on the English side of it that no one takes it seriously. How can you be confident that the language you're learning is correct when the English isn't usually?

It was hastily put together with seemingly no regard for a logical pedagogical structure. And now it seems the course contributors have abandoned it with no answers to the questions being asked on the sentences, and reports have gone unanswered for months. The reason it's still in beta and has been for so long is because the course contributors aren't actively improving it.

All of this is extremely unfortunate because one bad course can sour Duolingo's reputation and Ukrainian is a great language worth learning. Hopefully some dedicated soul will apply to help and fix the mess that is the current state of the course.


I can't deny that, the course is awful.


Such passionate advocacy for this language :) In my country there are many Ukrainian immigrants, so I often hear them speak... you're right, it is a melodic language, pretty much like Italian.

I'm not planning on learning a Slavic language now, but I would like to learn at least some Ukrainian and Czech in the future.


Czech is one of my favourite Slavic languages, obviously behind Ukrainian but I love how unique it sounds. I think it sounds harsh but something like a barbaric tribe would use and I love languages that have that feel. Have you heard the song "Najednou"? it is a kid's song but sounds war-like, I love it!


I listened to it. It sounds epic and somewhat barbaric, but in an interesting way :)


Yes, I love "najednou". (:


It is a pretty short tree, too.


I know some trees cough cough German, cough cough Spanish, are ##WAY TOO LONG


How can a tree be too long, though? A short tree just means there's even more to learn on your own after finishing it, without the helpful guidance of the owl. (Or I am missing something?)


I'm not saying a long tree is bad, it's just very intimidating. How did you start Hindi? Isn't it still in the incubator?


Sure, it's a great feeling to finish a tree! But I think most of us actually enjoy using the language -- which I find you can just about do when you've finished one of the longer trees (at least I think the French is one of the longer, more thorough ones). A shorter tree just leads to not breaking through that tough A2/B1 barrier, and having to try to move on by yourself using other methods.

(There was a glitch which let Hindi escape for a moment, and I started the course without realizing it wasn't out properly. As soon as I'd reached Level 2, it was back in Phase 1 again...)

[deactivated user]


    My Hindi level two broke my flags again! Now neither that nor Spanish show up right.


    did you have the whole tree available? if so, how long was it?


    @anyom: I didn't think to scroll down, since I thought it was actually out... I just finished the first skill and redid each lesson once.

    @PfifltriggPi: My Spanish is from French, that might be why it's not messed up. (Then again, my Dutch flag has been messed up since the start.)


    Scottish Gaelic is an ancient and very beautiful language. Gaelic culture has had worldwide impact. So, why did you ask this question in English and not in Gaelic?

    You did so because you wanted to be understood, because you wanted a reply. And more people speak English than speak Gaelic. Numbers do matter.

    I am not talking simply of Scotland's larger immediate neighbour, but of the millions beyond the borders of the British Isles, who speak English because their countries had at some time in the past been part of the British Empire. To admit that they do so does not imply a nostalgia for British rule - it is simply a consequence of history.

    If you come to Scotland I also would advise you to look beyond its major cities, and experience the full range of Scottish culture. And if you speak Gaelic, your welcome will indeed be much warmer for it.

    But it is nevertheless true that not all Scots speak Gaelic. Partly this is because of repression of the language in the past - not only was it not taught in schools, but children who were caught speaking it on the school grounds were punished. And partly because many Scots are not Gaels by ethnicity, so that it was never part of their personal heritage.

    There is a beautiful heritage of Gaelic music and literature - but many of Scotland's greatest writers wrote either in Scots or in English.

    Gaelic is a beautiful language and Gaelic culture is worth appreciating. So is Ukrainian. But just as historical factors caused many Scots to write in English, so many great Ukrainian writers have used Russian - and some still do.

    Intrinsically, all languages are worth studying. And if you go to a country, it is indeed only courteous to try to speak their native language.

    But for improving access to international communication - English and Russian are more useful than Gaelic or Ukrainian.


    Something others haven't mentioned: Most Ukranians speak Russian.


    By that logic, nobody should learn Swedish, Danish or Norwegian and too a lesser extent German and Deutsch.


    You asked why Ukrainian is neglected. I didn't say nobody learns it; I just pointed that the fact that most Ukrainians can speak Russian lowers the interest from people in learning Ukrainian. Millions of people learn German, but more people would learn German if most Germans couldn't speak English. Portuguese is spoken in 8 countries, by 250 million people, however not many people learn it. Why is that? It's because Portuguese is similar to Spanish, which is even more widespread and more prestiged. You asked why Ukrainian is neglected, and people have tried to explain, but it seems you don't want to hear the answers.


    I never thought I would try anything outside of romance languages but then I learned the cyrillic alphabet. I didn't find it hard to learn either . Ukrainian was one of favorite languages so far. However I do wish the duolingo course was longer.


    so nice to hear this about my native language. :-)


    Do you want me to be real? (WARNING: some people would end up sad)


    We're still waiting.


    It is over there.


    Oh. It's not even half as saddening or frustrating as you announced it to be :P


    Are you the only person in this world?


    Your opinion about the language is put together politely and consistently. I surely hope I am not the only person in the world who can see it.


    I'd love to learn some Ukrainian, but the problem is that the keyboard layout for it on my computer is different than the English one, (say, TRIOVE instead of QWERTY) and I find it confusing (since I'm a speed typer) and it would take a really long time to get used to it, (not to mention mixing them up).


    That can be fixed: On screen keyboard! What OS are you using?


    Well the main reason is that it is dwarfed by Russian - both by the amount of speakers and worldwide prominence. Up until 1991, remember, if you were an Eastern European you didn't learn English for business, you learned Russian instead as the Soviet Union was the main power in the area. Also, I honestly feel Ukrainian got through and made a language before Russian because of the Euromaiden protests in 2014, and the solidarity with Ukraine after Crimea and the Donbass region was invaded by Russia and the rebels/terrorists they backed.


    "Sure, Russian's great and all."

    This sounds kind of passive-aggressive, I didn't even need to read further to know the "But..." that was to follow it.

    Fact is that Russian has over five times the amount of native speakers, let alone those who speak it as a second language. Russian culture has made a far bigger impact in the world, so there is much more music, literature, and cinema to enjoy once you've learned the language. It also serves as the lingua franca in Eastern Europe, so it's obvious that most people want to learn Russian before considering Ukrainian.


    I'm sorry about the first quote, I didn't mean anything bad by it. I apologise if I offended you. :(


    I wasn't offended by it. The reason I responded is because it seems weird to 'defend' one language by first putting down another. Both languages have there values and merits.


    No, I like Russian it's a lovely language. Duolingo is a friendly place, I just want to make sure there's no hard feelings :)


    No hard feelings at all. Thanks for contributing to keeping this forum civil.


    Just because Russian has a lot of speakers does not make it any more useful than ukrainian. You are not going to meet everyone that speaks a language anyway, so why should the number of speakers matter. Also, even though Russian is spoken all over Eastern Europe, Ukrainian is more closely related to most of those countries native languages such as polish. If you plan to go to a country, you should at least try to learn their native language, instead of using only a minority language anyway, so unless you want to be lazy, Ukrainian is useful in that way as well. Besides, if you want to go to these countries to experience the touristy cultural sites, chances are there will be a huge number of non native, only English speaking tourists. Russian is only spoken in big cities for the most part. True cultural sites, such as historic farm villages almost always only speak their own language. If you want to truly learn about a culture, you should go off the beaten path and experience what life is truly like in those countries, which is just as interesting in Ukraine as Russia or any other Slavic country. Russia may have more of an impact on the world, but that is because of the Soviet Union mostly, which is definitely not a good period in history. During this time, Russia oppressed people of other nationalities, and kept them from being true to their culture, whoch is why nobody knows much about these cultures, although they definitely should learn. The effects Russia had on these countries was destroying their culture, which is why all these countries speak Russian. Do you really think if you visit a country and speak the language of their enemy, they will appreciate your visiting their homeland? The true people and culture of a country are what matter, not the overrated cities and tourist attractions, or what Russia has made these countries appear to be. When it comes to true culture, no nation is less influential than another. (Sorry if that came off as rude. Just stating my point of view)


    Also, I do not mean to offend any russians. They are great people. Their former rulers were not, because of their oppression of culture. Russians have a huge amount of culture, im only stating, so do other countries.


    Thanks a lot! For as a native Ukrainian, it's a pleasure to hear.


    I'm mostly Ukrainian and I speak Ukrainian, so I'm all happy someone's learning Ukrainian. ( if you know this yet:) dyakoyu!!!


    Ukrainian is only melodic because someone else said it was melodic, therefor everyone followed suit. Such as people saying French is romantic, however, I disagree with both. I speak fluent Croatian and now I'm near native level of fluency Russian (I have been studying Russian for 3 years and now live with a Russian speaker whom I'm dating and we speak in Russian every day). Ukrainian is 60-70% Russian and the rest is a mash-up of Polish and Croatian which means any Russian, Croatian or Polish speaker can understand Ukrainian without ever learning it. I understand Ukrainian without a problem and I've never learned it. Ukrainian should be compared to British English vs., American English, I spent 3 years in England and I didn't understand any of their slang and basically had to learn a different-version of English.

    I'm half American half Croatian. My dad is American, and his ancestry is Ukrainian, Russian and Lithuanian. My opinion comes from experience and not racism. The most romantic slavic language in my opinion is RUSSIAN and the LEAST romantic, and ugliest slavic language for me is CROATIAN and guess what? Croatian is my native language, English is my second.


    Although I agree with you on "repeating the cliché" thing, I still think your generalization is too..broad at best. I am a native Russian speaker and I cannot understand 100% of Ukrainian even on everyday topics. It's definitely not Serbian vs. Croatian thing that you might have in mind. Probably since you had exposure to South Slavic languages as well your experience with comprehensibility is different. But claiming that Ukraininan basically doesn't have any identity on its own is a bit over the top.


    I don't know a single word in Ukrainian, yet I often heard people speak it and, IMHO, it sounds very nice... oddly enough, I find its rhythm similar to my native Italian.

    Mine was just an opinion based on my real life experience, not a cliché, nor a crypto-political remark; that said, to each his own :)


    You say: 'Ukrainian should be compared to British English vs., American English,' and that`s complete untrue because of the fact that no Russian could comprehend this poem of Леся УКРАЇНКА

    НАДІЯ Hi долі, ні волі у мене нема, Зосталася тільки надія одна: Надія вернутись ще раз на Вкраїну, Поглянути ще раз на рідну країну, Поглянути ще раз на синій Дніпро, — Там жити чи вмерти, мені все одно; Поглянути ще раз на степ, могилки, Востаннє згадати палкії гадки… Ні долі, ні волі у мене нема, Зосталася тільки надія одна.

    You need to be a real Ukrainian to understand text and meaning or you love this country like Ukrainians do.


    Maybe you haven't been listening to the right Ukranian:



    Very nice indeed! Have a lingot for that :-)


    Yes, Ukraine is home to many Christmas traditions such as that song but also tinsel on a Christmas tree is believed to have come from an old folk tale :)

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