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What is Ukrainian? [UK. GRAMMAR PORTAL]


Welcome to the Ukrainian Grammar Portal, this is a series of Duolingo posts where you can learn all about Ukrainian grammar and the language itself! In this bonus post, we will learn all about the language you guys all know and love, Ukrainian!

Well then, what is Ukrainian?

Ukrainian is an East Slavic language (just like Russian and Belarusian) spoken primarily in Central and Western Ukraine but also in communities in Russia, Canada, Poland, Romania, the USA and many more. There is also a large Ukrainian immigrant community in the Czech Republic. It is generally agreed that 40 million people speak this beautiful language natively however some sources put it as low as 30 million and others as high as 60 million, there is also an estimated 10 million L2 speakers. It enjoys official status in Ukraine (also in the unrecognised state of Transinistria) and is a recognised minority language in Moldova, Hungary, Serbia, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet and most of its words are comparable to Polish and Russian depending on the dialect.


The Ukrainian language was banned in the Eastern half of the country for many years especially during the Russification period. Today, most urban areas in Eastern and Central Ukraine speak Russian but speak Ukrainian fluently, however in rural areas most people speak Surzhyk which is a Ukrainian dialect with a lot of Russian influence. In Eastern Ukraine, most people speak Ukrainian and know Russian. Here is a map showing the percentage of speakers in each region.

Percentage of people who said Ukrainian was their native language

Ukrainian speaking world

See more in this video

October 30, 2016



Interesting. 30% of people in Luhanska speak Ukrainian? I was there for a while in 1998-1999, and I can remember the one time I heard "dyakuyu" in a bread line (in Luhansk itself). Are the statistics before the Russian invasion, or more recently?

Conversely, I spent most of 1999-2000 in Frankivsk. That there's anyone there who's not a Ukrainian speaker is a bit mind-boggling. Perhaps Polish, or Russian among the Jewish community?


I presume its from the last census which was in 2007. Also many Russian speakers have fled to Russia since the war. But the East is still pretty safe :)


If I had the chance to come back, it'd be to Galicia, or perhaps Kyiv. What's happened to Ukraine since I left really depresses me.


Ye, such beatiful language, such beatiful country. And such disappointing situation.


It's really sad to think that language, a thing to unite us, has been used to divide us :(


Hello! I saw that there's a yet-unfinished section for how similar Ukrainian is to other Slavic languages and why to learn it.

Would you be interested in some of my research on this subject? I recently calculated the mutual intelligibility of Ukrainian compared to Russian to other Slavic languages, and it's actually pretty favorable for giving you a reason to learn Ukrainian! (I did the research because I was trying to get my friends to learn Ukrainian instead of Russian on Duolingo ;)


Sure, where can I find it? :)


Haha, here is a table of mutual intelligibility (first number is spoken intelligibility, second is written):

Russian Belarussian 75 85 Ukrainian 50 90 Bulgarian 40 80 Serbo-Croat 30 50 Slovenian 20 30 Slovak 30 60 Polish 20 40 Czech 10 70

Ukrainian Belarussian 75 85 Slovak 70 75 Bulgarian (?) 60 Serbo-Croat 30 (?) Polish 30 50

Ukrainian gets average 51.25%/67.5% Russian gets average 34.375%/63.125%

And here is a great source that details it more qualitatively: www.academia.edu/4080349/Mutual_Intelligibility_of_Languages_in_the_Slavic_Family

Learn Ukrainian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.