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Ukrainian language

Ukrainian is an East Slavic language closely related to Russian but with some regular differences. Russian o often corresponds to Ukrainian i, as in pod/pid "under". This also happens when Ukrainian words are declined, such as rik (nom):rotsi (loc) "year". Also, Russian g corresponds to Ukrainian h, which is written with the same letter. (A modified form of the letter is used for g, but not universally. In borrowed words g is regularly transformed to h.) (Russian has no h sound but uses g in such words as gipnotizirovat. Czech also has h corresponding to Russian g. This alternation is old in Slavic.)

Ukrainian case endings are somewhat different from Russian, and the vocabulary includes a large overlay of Polish terminology. Russian na pervom etazhe "on the first floor" is in the prepositional case. The Ukrainian corresponding expression is na pershomy poversi, which to the Russian ear is a mishmash. -omy is the standard locative (=prepositional) ending, but variants in -im are common in dialect and poetry, and allowed by the standards bodies. The x of Ukrainian poverx has mutated under the influence of the soft vowel i (k is similarly unstable in final positions).

The Ukrainian language is currently emerging from a long period of disuse. Although there are almost fifty million ethnic Ukrainians worldwide, including roughly 38-39 million in Ukraine (three-quarters of the total population), only in western Ukraine is the Ukrainian language commonly spoken. In Kyiv and central Ukraine Russian is the language of nearly all city-dwellers, although there is a shift towards Ukrainian; in eastern Ukraine, Russian is dominant and a Russified Ukrainian spoken in some circles, while in the Crimea Ukrainian is almost absent. Use of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine can be expected to increase, as the rural population of Ukraine (still overwhelmingly Ukrainophone) migrates to Ukrainian cities and the Ukrainian language enters into wider use in central Ukraine.

Ukrainian is also spoken by a large emigre population, particularly in Canada. The founders of this population primarily emigrated between the World Wars, some from territories then occupied by Poland. Their vocabulary reflects somewhat less Russification than the modern language of independent Ukraine -- for "store/shop" they might prefer kramnytsya to mahazyn (cf. Russ. magazin, orig. French), whereas in Ukraine mahazyn is much more common and kramnytsya somewhat self-conscious.

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