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Ukrainian (Українська)

Ukrainian is an Eastern Slavonic language closely related to Russian and Belarusian. It is spoken by about 51 million people in Ukraine (Україна) and in many other countries, including Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia.

The recorded history of the Ukrainian language began in 988, when the principality of Kiev (Київ) was converted to Christianity. Ukrainian religious material, including translations of the Bible, was written in Old Slavonic, the language used by missionaries to spread Christianity to the Slavic peoples.

In the 13th century, Ukraine became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian and Ruthenian, an ancestor of Belarusian and Ukrainian became the main language. The remaining parts of Ukraine were taken over by Poland during the 16th century and Latin and Polish were used for official purposes. Ruthenian began to split into Ukrainian and Belarusian during this period.

The Cossacks later moved into eastern Ukraine and during the 17th century, their leader, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, invited Russia to help against Polish domination in 1648. During the reign of Catherine the Great, the Cossacks moved to the eastern frontiers of Russia, but Ukraine remained under Russian domination, and the Russians considered the Ukrainian language as little more than a dialect of Russian.

A decree in 1876 banned the printing or importing of Ukrainian books. Inspite of this, there was a revival of Ukrainian poetry and historiography during the 19th century.

Ukraine enjoyed a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1919, then was taken over by the USSR and declared a Soviet Republic. During the Soviet era, Russian was the main language of education and employment and Ukrainian was sidelined.

Ukraine declared independence in 1991. Since then many Ukrainian émigrés have returned to Ukraine, particularly from central Asia and Siberia.

Please note, the capital of Ukraine is written Київ (Kyiv) in Ukrainian, Kiev in English and Киев (Kiev) in Russian.

Ukrainian alphabet (українська абетка)

There are a number of systems for transliterating Ukrainian into the Latin alphabet. The system used here is the Ukrainian National transliteration, which is the official system used in Ukraine since 1996. It is used to write personal names in passports, and for geographical names on maps and road signs.

Ukrainian alphabet with Ukrainian National transliteration


More information about the transliteration of Ukrainian

Sample text in Ukrainian

Всі люди народжуються вільними і рівними у своїй гідності та правах. Вони наділені розумом і совістю і повинні діяти у відношенні один до одного в дусі братерства.

Transliteration (Ukrainian National)

Vsi liudy narodzhuiutsia vilnymy i rivnymy u svoiii hidnosti ta pravax. Vony nadileni rozumom i sovistiu i povynni diiaty u vidnoshenni odyn do odnoho v dusi braterstva.

Transliteration (Scholarly)

Vsi ljudy narodžujut'sja vil'nymy i rivnymy u svojij hidnosti ta pravax. Vony nadileni rozumom i sovistju i povynni dijaty u vidnošenni odyn do odnoho v dusi braterstva.

A recording of this text by Anatoli Sakhnik


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Ukrainian | Ukrainian phrases | Tower of Babel in Ukrainian | Ukrainian learning materials

European-Ukrainian Latynka


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Free Cyrillic fonts

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian

Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet