10 Aug /16

Ukrainian Language Facts

Ukrainian Language Facts - EVS Translations
Taras Shevchenko monument, Vinnytsia, Ukraine

Logically, Ukrainians would speak the official language, Ukrainian. While this is true for like two thirds of the population, outside of them, things can quickly become confusing. In areas near bordering states, spoken languages include Russian, Hungarian, and Romanian. Aside from this, there are also regional languages, such as Crimean Tatar and Krymchak. All told, there are up to 40 different languages and dialects spoken in Ukraine.

In English, as many could guess, the most used letter is “e;” however, in Ukrainian, the most used letter is “п” (p), which begins a substantial amount of words. As for the least used letter “ф” (f), it is usually associated with words borrowed from other languages.

It is nearly impossible to discuss the Ukrainian language without mentioning Taras Shevchenko. His 1845 work of poetry, Zapovit (Testament) has been translated into 100+ languages, was set to music in the 1870s, and domestically, enjoys a status second only to the national anthem, which by the way consists of only six lines – four of them couplet, and two refrain. It is no wonder that, across Ukraine, there are over 1200 statues of him in different towns.

And if the Cyrillic script is not the biggest discouragement for learners, as they could sometimes find romanized Ukrainian texts to follow, the contextual sensitivity of the Ukrainian language could be really perplexing.

If you are using the abbreviation “PC” in English, it is understood that you are most likely referring to a personal computer. Using Ukrainian though, the same phonetic abbreviation, “ПК,” can mean anything from a personal computer (персональний комп’ютер) to a punched card (перфокарта), submachine gun (пістолет-кулемет), fire hydrant (пожежний кран), or standing committee (постійний комітет) among other things.

Exactly as our in-house native Ukrainian translators and Ukrainian interpreters confirm, context matters a great deal in the Ukrainian language.