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It is time to speak Ukrainian in Ukraine

It is time to speak Ukrainian in Ukraine
Article by: Oleksandr Hunko
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

The writer Olena Stepova wrote in Facebook that in the center of Luhansk she met a bus driver who spoke Ukrainian. He explained that he and his pals had simply decided to speak Ukrainian as a protest against idiocy.”Now I read every day, I study, I listen to pronunciation,” he said.

When Napoleon’s troops invaded Russia in 1812, the elite of Saint Petersburg abruptly switched to speaking Russian. They did so despite the fact they had poor command of the language and had considered it a language of slaves.

Until then the French language dominated in the upper echelons of Russian society. It represented ideas of freedom, liberalism, and various fashionable trends. The nobility also included Poles, Germans, Dutch, Italians, and the English. In short, at meetings and balls all the European languages could be heard except for Russian.

However, the war with the “enemy” raised such a wave of patriotism that nobles and the intelligentsia quickly adopted the language of their people. Speaking French began to be considered in bad taste.

In Ukraine today there is also a war with an aggressor. And there is sufficient patriotism. Volunteers, battalions, voluntary organizations, local self-defense units, flags on cars and balconies, the national hymn sung in squares and stadiums provide vivid evidence.

Unfortunately, however, Russian — the language of the enemy — continues to dominate in society.  A strange term has even appeared — Russian-speaking Ukrainian patriots/nationalists. The absolute majority of ATO soldiers and volunteers speak Russian. It has become virtually the only language of military communication on the battlefield.

And in the capital, the majority continue to communicate in Russian. Even workers from the Kyiv, Poltava, and Cherkasy oblasts somehow switch to “the generally accepted language” as soon as they cross the Kyiv boundary. When reproached, they shrug their shoulders, explaining that everyone here speaks that way. Obviously, many still cling to the strong Soviet myth that Ukrainian is the language of peasants, that it is a secondary, imperfect language and so on. But in reality, that is not true. Ukrainian belongs to the most developed languages of the world and absolutely gives no cause for shame.

Therefore, all of you who consider yourselves patriots, switch to Ukrainian. Only the Ukrainian language can serve as a means of identification for the nation. Any remarks on the order of “what difference does it make as long as the person is decent” are no longer simply uninformed; they are damaging. We must take command in our corner of the world with our minds and souls. And they manifest themselves most fully in the language of our ancestors, who have lived on this land for ages and have fortified it not only with their blood but with their thoughts, their songs, their speech.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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