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
gh is used in the romanization of зг = zgh, avoiding confusion with ж = zh
The transliterations beginning with y - ye, yi, yu, ya are used at the beginning of a word, as it y for й
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)