The young have chosen Ukrainian — Poroshenko




The Ukrainian language has been and will be the official language of Ukraine, and all attempts to use the language issue to split the country are doomed to fail, President Poroshenko told participants at the ceremony honoring winners of the 15th Petro Yatsyk Ukrainian Language International Competition held at the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater in Kyiv on May 26.

He emphasized that language has become a unifying factor in the country. “Despite the fact that the citizens of Ukraine have spoken various languages and have different ethnic backgrounds, they have decided that all their children will learn Ukrainian,” he said.

“In Ukraine there always was, is, and will be only one official language — the Ukrainian language that belongs to you and me. And the Revolution of Dignity and the fight against Russian aggression have revealed the price of the nonsense that has been used to dissuade our country from this decision,” he added. “I can say this with complete certainty because the social accord on the language issue has always been remarkably stable.”

According to Poroshenko, this decision is the result of a profound social consensus that is not subject to manipulation.  “What is it that unites our people, country, nation now? Language … and this has not been the result of politics. We have taken a long look at the manipulations of these self-appointed defenders of minority languages and their cynical manipulation of the Europeans charters, but this will not be able to split our society,” he said.

“Neither poor decisions nor political gambles have managed or will manage to divide our society. After all, our peace and unity are the results of a profound social consensus. The young have made their choice and have demonstrated it openly — including in this competition. From Lviv to Luhansk, from Chernihiv to Crimea — in certain places loudly, and in other places more quietly — but everywhere the Ukrainian language can be heard more confidently, the language of an independent, sovereign European state, ” he said.

Poroshenko emphasized that the most important aspect of this process is the fact that it is not directed against the options of those who speak other languages but instead complements them because it contributes to national unity.

“A single nation, invincible,” he added, calling the aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea attempts to stop this process. “But people have made their choice and they are prepared to protect it from pressure,” he said.

The president noted that throughout the ages Ukrainians have passionately defended their native language. The defenders included the nation’s most gifted sons and daughters — Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Lesia Ukrainka — and Ukrainians today remember and protect their teachings.

“This year has shown that Ukrainians are worthy descendants of those who fought against various circulars and decrees used by different empires to deprive our people of their language — in other words, their soul. And we know everything that they taught us  because we speak with them in one Ukrainian language, he said.

The president congratulated this year’s  contest winners and expressed confidence that the inexhaustible intellectual potential of young Ukrainians and their creative energy will pave the way to the renewal of the country.

“I am certain that it is the younger generation, fluent in dozens of languages and with a deep love of their own Ukrainian language, that will confidently join the European home as its integral, powerful component,” he said.

The winners of this year’s Petro Yatsyk competition (over 70 people) represent almost all regions of Ukraine. Fourteen winners will receive the presidential scholarship during the new school year. Others will also receive prizes from Maryna Poroshenko, the Ukrainian World Congress, the European Congress of Ukrainians and other international philanthropists and charities.

Previously Poroshenko said that it is the status of English not Russian that is important in Ukraine, arguing that the second language taught in schools should be English because there is a correlation between the wealth of a country and the degree of English mastery of its citizens.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Dzerkalo Tyzhnia

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  • gmab

    I see no reason for Ukrainians to speak Russian, unless they’re ethnic Russians & they want to speak it at home. But schools Should teach in Ukrainian only and offer English if it’s not the second language officially. In the higher grade, Russian could be an elective but from what I hear from relatives, German is a popular choice. Plan for the future! There is no turning back now. Russians will need to absorb Mandarin into their mainstream if Putin heads to the East. I wonder if Government business, ie, Parliament is conducted in Ukrainian, Russian or both during the transition??

  • Oknemfrod

    Deciding what “real” Ukrainian is is no different and no less moronic than deciding what “real” English is. Even if limited just to the US, Is New England English more “real” than mid-Western one or Southern? The truth is, all of them are real representing various dialects of the same tongue. The same is true for Ukrainian, provided that the populace in general, as opposed to a small part of it, actively and predominantly uses it for communication. Active live use is what makes a language authentic irrespective of the dialect. In this sense, western Ukrainian (where practically everybody speaks Ukrainian almost exclusively) is more active than Ukrainian spoken in the east mainly in the rural areas by the same token as English is more authentic in, say, Ohio than in Little Havana.

    If an “institution” is needed to tell what kind of language is “right” and which is “wrong”, there is something wrong with the picture. Shevchenko spoke and wrote in Central Ukrainian and Franko did in Western. Neither needed any “institution” to do that – they merely used the languages absorbed with their mothers’ milk.
    As with any highly intrinsically developed native language, in time certain linguistic bodies arise that study it, categorize, and establish rules of proper usage. Their dictates, however, are not in the least absolute, and by themselves subject to change as the live language develops, acquires new vocabulary, semantic and idiomatic forms, and sheds archaic ones. They do play one important role, however, and especially in Ukraine, where the native language has not only endured literally hundreds of ukases prohibiting its use and intentionally russifying authentic linguistic forms but been under the real threat of being corrupted and diluted by invaders. A mind-conscious Ukrainian understands that and keeps his language as far apart from its Northeastern corruption as possible.
    My Ukrainian school teacher was hawkish in this sense. If you could not find the exactly right Ukrainian word and substituted it with another one, but still Ukrainian, she might mildly chide you but woe betide you if you’d say “приймати участь” instead of “брати участь” as that was classified as a “русизм”.

    • Nomid

      Shevchenko spoke, and so did Franko… Neither could possibly be misunderstood, Only by people who draw up semantics and what can readily be construed as deliberate misunderstanding…. I wrote you a couple of letters, and they might reflect with their content this sentiment, if i read your comment a couple of times and pause to agree on my first comprehension…

  • canuke

    I recall reading that English has been become the predominant language that young people are learning in Ukraine. This is fantastic and needs to continue as it’s the world’s lingua franca. There’s no future in just pushing the Russian language.

  • Michel Cloarec

    If you live in Ukraine, the simple logic is that you have to learn the country´s language. That is international recognized everywhere and anywhere in the world .
    In USA or in France (as example) you must have a good command minimun of the countries language. (no citizenship otherwise) Nothing stop emigrants or settlers to speak other languages ! For Ukrainians to have good knowledge of russian,english,german etc… only something positive

  • disqus_aJpixObjG7

    Wow ! you sickening russian criminal hater of Ukraine , WHOSE BLOOD YOU SUCKED YOU FILTHLY RUSSIAN genocidal criminal.
    No, you are not and never were a Ukrainian. You are one of the arrogant, chauvinistic parasite russian occupiers/colonisers of Ukraine -even with a Ukrainian passport, but you are a russian racist with a fascist mind who actively pushes for more russian genocide of Ukrainians.
    There is a lot of disgusting filthy russian trash like you that left Ukraine to now parasite thanklessly on the West and repay it with hate- just as you all did in Ukraine, which fed and educated you.

    • Nowhere Girl

      disqus_aJpixObjG7 – why are you so aggressive when someone expresses his opinion? I can see no “fascism”, no hatred of Ukraine or Ukrainian language in Ivan’s post.

      As for Poroshenko’s statement in general – I believe it’s a bit of wishful thinking. Unfortunately, russification of Ukraine has been going on for centuries and we have to deal with it. It seems that these young people very often prefer speaking Russian because this is how most people around tehm speak.
      However one thing has changed for sure: they CAN speak Ukrainian. They have all been learning this language at school. At Soviet times it wasn’t obligatory and quite many people really forgot Ukrainian or never learned it properly. Today’s Ukrainian children, no matter what their actual preferred language of everyday communcation is, are able to switch between languages.
      And learning English instead of Russian in Ukraine is a very good idea because it’s almost impossible not to master Russian when living in Ukraine. 1 + 1 not always equals 2, so to say – if a Ukrainian child learns Russian as a foreign language and doesn’t learn another language outside school, it will end up speaking Ukrainian and Russian. But if it learns English at school, it will learn Russian anyway just because it’s so commonly used and if the school teaches well, it will end up speaking three languages, not two. This is a positive result of russification: it allows true bilingualism. While everyone who speaks a foreign language is at least bilingual in a broader sense, I am talking about what I call true bilingualism: speaking two languages AS native languages. People in single-language countries, unless they are members of ethnic minorities, usually have no such chance. I have been learning English since late kindergarten, but I was really able to speak it rather around the age of 13 – more thanks to American adventure games than thanks to school. And I will probably never be able to speak English or German as perfectly as Polish, I will never speak completely without a foreign pronounciation. While I am able to think in English or German for a short period – which is perhaps easier for me since I’m an extreme verbal thinker – speaking or writing in these languages is more about translating from Polish than about completely switching from one language to another.

      • Nowhere Girl

        P.S. Something about forgetting languages, but it is even more of an off-topic. My uncle is an emmigrant – he has been living in Germany for over 30 years now, he got married there… And he switched to German so “well” that he really forgot Polish to quite a high extent. My mother doesn’t speak German, so he talks in English with her! This is in my opinion terrible. My cousin Paula was deprived of the chance to be bilingual this way – my uncle probably never even thought about teaching her Polish. And after early school age it’s almost always not possible to master another language perfectly, as if it was your native language – it’s a scientific fact. So forgetting your native language means doing harm to your own mind, limiting what you can think.

      • disqus_aJpixObjG7

        Dear Nowhere Girl., You are living in a Disneyland, a fantasy land, a sweet dream rose garden…

        The russian CRIMINAL Chornovol, who lived his life as an occupier chauvinist russian parasite in Ukraine- And now BETRAYS HIS HOST COUNTRY, CALLING FOR CULTURAL AND PHYSICAL GENOCIDE of the UKRAINIAN people, is NOT expressing an “opinion”.

        He is an activist fighter for the continuing mass-murder of the Ukrainian people who gave him his life and education.

        Evidently you are still a “girl.”


        Evidently not. The death penalty was not “official” but if you were heard speaking UKRAINIAN in … UKRAINE, you were tortured to death in a russian prison or in the russian GuLAG. This has been going on with fluctuating levels of genocidal viciousness by russians for 300 years.

        This is going on in Donbas and in Crimea RIGHT NOW- Just let a russian invader like Chornovol hear you speaking Ukrainian in your OWN COUNTRY UKRAINE- you will disappear- and if you are a woman, be raped and tortured- beaten to death. If you are a man – just tortured to death without the rape.

        Imagine if your uncle, aunts, grandparents, mother and father were bestially tortured to death – having their eyes gouged out- by russians for what? FOR WHAT? FOR speaking Polish in Poland! Can you imagine that? CAn you imagine it?
        WHO CAN IMAGINE SUCH RUSSIAN DEMONIC BESTIALITY? Only those who have known russian racist oppression against Ukraine. Chornovol pushes for more of it. He hates Ukraine and applauds the murder of those who provided for him. So no, he is NOT expressing an Opinion he is ACTIVELY calling for, spewing, murder.

  • Lev Havryliv

    I urge all Ukrainians to study English as a second language after Ukrainian. English has become a de facto international language.

    English and other European languages will help Ukrainians rid themselves of the international isolation that was a feature of Russian rule of Ukraine.

    We should take special pride in the Ukrainian language. A language that oppressors of Ukraine have done their utmost to suppress and marginalize over the centuries.

  • Michel Cloarec

    If you listen to ukrainian and russian speakers, ukrainian is softer in sound.
    when an ukrainian speaks english or german or french , it is difficult to guess where he/she comes from. (if you don´t know). A few countries in the world have these abilities. Sweden, Hungary, Finland for example. When french , spanish, italian speak english it is awfull. When a russian speaks english it sounds like a toilet flush.
    My point is, those people and especially ukrainians are nearer to central europe culture than the russian culture . And it has been so for centuries .
    Ukraine´s land´s region has been populated 800 years before moscovy or mordvins appeared in the waste empty land region east on st P line to Rostov.

    • Michel Cloarec

      Obviously my comment was too long ! so I go back to shorter one !

    • Michel Cloarec

      Try to listen to a chinese speaking english, and you will see if it is individual

    • Michel Cloarec

      Of course the ukrainian sound softer , eftersom the origin are nearer to central europa than the russian language.

    • Michel Cloarec

      The ability to learn a language is individual. Ukrainians and other people in Europe have this abilities . Lucky for them !

    • Michel Cloarec

      When an ukrainian woman is speaking english , you can´t see guess where does she come from. I call that a nice ability !

    • Michel Cloarec

      The russians have some qualities, but not to learn english the right way. It is too far from their origins.

    • Michel Cloarec

      The russian sound is too guttural , that can´t be help !
      The russian sound coming from lower in the throat deform any other language. But I must say I like the red army choir songs, it sounds powerful !

    • Michel Cloarec

      Little ivan, my job has been to travel around the world, but obviously not yours ! Try to travel !

  • Michel Cloarec

    Of course the young people in Ukraine will choose the european world. After all the second roots of Ukraine is coming from there .
    The young russian people would do the same , especially the ones around St Petersburgh which was called little Paris for a long time for many reasons .
    But unfortunatly, their rights to choose is blocked by a regime , which is having its eyes on Europe , not only because of the technologies, but for the culture of many countries together which make it attractive to anyone having peaceful wishes to be free. In the 90th , as soon as the economy of the russians became better , Europe was invaded by russian tourists which had been longing for decennies to meet Europe and the way of life. France for example, is the country in the world which receive more tourists from the entire world . WHY ? I suppose no trolls would dare to answer !

  • Orysia Tracz

    As long as Ukrainians teach and learn English properly. The pronunciation must be ENGLISH, not the russified pronunciation with Russian letters — KHillari, KHarper, kheet (hit), KHello, and using G instead of H. Ukrainian has both the G and H sounds, as does English. Russian has only G. Ukrainian names should be written and pronounced as they are, not Galia, Galyna, Gerasym, etc. And transliteration of surnames on documents could be in French or German, but for most of the world, English should be the language for transliteration. Kravchuk, not Krawtchouk, Zhuk, not Jouk, Prysiazhniuk, not Prisiajniouk, habi, not khobi, haki, not khokey, hutsuly, not gutsuly, etc. etc. This writing and pronouncing is just wrong and presents the wrong image – Ukrainians can’t pronounce English properly.