What Languages Are Spoken In Ukraine?

Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine.
Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine.

Official Language Of Ukraine

The Ukrainian language is the official state language of Ukraine. The language is an East Slavic language that is believed to have evolved from the Old East Slavic language that was spoken in the medieval state of Kievan Rus’. The use of the Modern Ukrainian language became widely prevalent since the end of the 17th century. However, the use of the language was banned in the Russian Empire’s schools between 1804 till the end of the Russian Revolution. Currently, several government institutes in Ukraine regulate the standards of use of the Ukrainian language. It is written using a Cyrillic script variant.

In 2012, a new law was passed that allowed local languages that were spoken by at least 10% of the local population of an area to be declared as official languages of the area. Thus, Russian, the second most widely spoken language in the country, became the official language in a number of cities and oblasts in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. The language was now used in the administrative office work of these places. However, following the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, the country’s Parliament voted against the regional language law and rendered Ukrainian as the only official language to be spoken in the country at all levels of government and administration. However, the then President Turchynov and the current President of Ukraine did not sign the law.

The Most Popular Languages Of Ukraine: Ukrainian And Russian

According to the 2001 census, Ukrainian is spoken by about 67.5% of the population of Ukraine as their native language. The next most popular languages spoken in Ukraine is Russian with about 29.6% native speakers. Russian is also spoken as a second language by most Ukrainian speakers.

Ukrainian is most popular in central and western Ukraine. In central Ukraine, both Ukrainian and Russian are equally spoken in the cities but in western Ukraine, Ukrainian is the dominant language used by the urban population. In the rural communities of these regions, Ukrainian is the most spoken language. In Kiev, Russian speakers outnumber the Ukrainian speakers. In the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, Russian is the most popular language in the cities while Ukrainian remains dominant in the rural areas.

Government Efforts To Protect The Ukrainian Language

During the Soviet era, the population of Ukrainian speakers had drastically declined. By the mid-1980’s, Ukrainian’s use in public life was greatly affected. However, after independence, the government of Ukraine wasted no time to launch programs and execute laws to ensure that the image and usage of Ukrainian were restored in Ukraine. The Ukrainisation policy established the language as the sole official language of Ukraine. It became the medium of instruction in schools across the country. Even foreign language films and television programs, including those in Russian, are dubbed or subtitled in Ukrainian.

Minority Languages Spoken In Ukraine

According to Ethnologue, 40 minority languages and dialects are spoken in Ukraine. Most of these languages are native languages of the former Soviet Union. The Constitution of the country guarantees the use, protection, and free development of these languages in the country. These languages include Eastern Yiddish, Rusyn, Romanian, Belarusian, Crimean Tatar, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Armenian, and several others.


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