How similar are Ukrainian and Russian?

by Gerry Popplestone

Russian President Vladimir Putin argues that Ukrainians and Russians have 'historical unity' and includes language identity there. Ukrainian and Russian use the same Cyrillic script , but history shows that Ukrainian has an independent nation and language, explains Professor Neil Bermel, who studies Slavic studies at the University of Sheffield .

Ukrainian and Russian: how similar are the two languages?

According to Professor Bermel, Ukrainian and Russian are classified into the 'East Slavic languages', which are different from Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, etc., among the 'Slavic languages', and were once 'the same language'. It is thought that the relationship was about 'dialogues'.

However, the Great Principality of Kiev (Kievan Rus), which was an East Slavic nation, collapsed from the 12th century to the 13th century. The land of Ukraine was under the influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Lithuania until the 16th century, and especially as Poland promoted the 'Polishization' of the territory, a considerable amount of Polish vocabulary was incorporated into Ukraine. I did. On the other hand, in the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the predecessor of Russia, and in the Russian Empire, contact with the eastern region, immigration, and imports of technology and culture from Western European countries formed the current Russian language.

Around the 18th century, when Russia came to dominate Ukraine, the words of Russia and Ukraine were not so closely related, and in addition to words and spelling, there were major changes in sound and grammar. Both Russian and Ukrainian use Cyrillic and have much in common in pronunciation characteristics compared to other Slavic countries. On the other hand, Ukrainian lacks four of the Cyrillic letters used in Russian, and conversely, Russian lacks the four letters used in Ukrainian.

Ukrainian and Russian vocabulary are said to be 'shared about 62%'. Since this number is about the same as the amount of vocabulary shared between English and Dutch using the same calculation method, Professor Belmel states that it is difficult to call it 'the same language' just because it has something in common. .. In addition, 'words that look the same and have different meanings' also exist between the two languages, which is often misunderstood as sharing a language, Professor Belmel points out.

Russian and Ukrainian are born from the same ancestral language. In addition, there is a survey that 30% of Ukrainian people have Russian as their mother tongue, and a mixed language called ' Surzhyk ' that coexists as a very close language is used in many parts of Ukraine. Many are accepted. But Professor Bermel argues that 'due to the similarities between Russian and Ukrainian, we must not lose sight of the fact that the two languages are separate and the political implications of claiming to be'one language'.' increase.

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