Ukrainian language becomes official in Brazilian municipality

Local government meeting that adopted the decision to make Ukrainian the second official language of Brazil's Prudentópolis municipality. Photo: Facebook / Ukrainian World Congress - Свiтовий Конґрес Українців 

International

The Ukrainian language has received official status in the municipality of Prudentópolis in Brazil alongside Portuguese, the official language of Brazil. The relevant language bill was unanimously supported by all councilors present at the meeting on 5 October, according to the Facebook post by the World Congress of Ukrainians (WCU). The municipality of Prudentópolis is part of the South-Brazilian state of Paraná.

Ukrainian church in Prudentópolis, South Brazil. Photo: Fabiano Ferrari/ Wikimedia Commons

The southern Brazilian state of Paraná is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Ukraine due to its being the home of a large number of Ukrainian immigrants and their descendants. The municipality of Prudentópolis is the major center of the Ukrainian community in Brazil with 75% of the 52,000 local population being of Ukrainian descent.

In 1891, the first organized group of Ukrainians arrived in Brazil from Zolochiv district (now Lviv Oblast), settling in Paraná.

Some 1,500 Ukrainian families of about 8,000 people settled in Prudentópolis in 1895. Most of the newcomers arrived from the are of the Ukrainian city of Ternopil, which become a sister city of Prudentópolis in 2019. The Ukrainian immigration to the region continued until the 1920s.

“The municipality of Prudentopolis has already established friendly relations with the Ternopil Oblast, from where the majority of Ukrainian immigrants came to Brazil. The new law will open up new opportunities for exchanging specialists, teaching young people at the university level in Ukraine or by electronic means, remotely,” reads the WCU's post.

The second wave of Ukrainian immigration in the Ukrainian enclave of Brazil occurred in 1946 as after World War II thousands of Ukrainians arrived in Paraná, among which were "Ostarbeiters" - Nazi Germany's foreign slave workers, prisoners of war, political refugees, and Ukrainians who fought on the German side against the USSR.

In Prudentópolis, formerly also known by its Ukrainian name Prudentopil, the Ukrainian language is taught in many local schools as a mandatory or an optional foreign language course, and Ukrainian is a liturgical language.

However, the diffusion of the Ukrainian language was not always smooth in the region. In the 1930s and 1940s, President/Dictator Getúlio Vargas banned the public use and teaching of foreign languages. As a result, many foreign communities fully assimilated into modern Brazilian culture, yet local Ukrainians of Prudentópolis and Paraná have managed to maintain their culture and language.

Prudentopolis, Brazil: Vesselka Ukrainian dance group. Source: encyclopediaofukraine.com

The Ternopil City Council, a sister city of Prudentopolis, said that the author of the language bill was Vittorio Sorotyuk, a lawyer, head of the Ukrainian-Brazilian Central Representation, and vice president of the World Congress of Ukrainians.

“In Prudentópolis, the Ukrainian language has a unique meaning, since there still are Ukrainian language publications, religious festivals, and radio programs. The municipality of Prudentopolis is called the capital of 'Ukrainian Brazil,' because 75% of the total population of the city are ethnic Ukrainians, mainly from the Ternopil region,” the city council of Ternopil said.

 

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