Ukrainian is the official state language of Ukraine although there are many other languages spoken including Russian, Romanian, and other East Slavic languages. The Ukrainian constitution protects the developing and functioning of this language that has its roots in the Old East Slavic language of the Kievan Rus'. With a Cyrillic script, the Ukrainian alphabet has 33 letters and 38 phenoms and an apostrophe. In the language’s orthography, a letter corresponds to a specific phoneme. In this alphabet, the "Ь" symbol can be the last alphabetical letter.

Ukrainian is the native language of 67.5% of Ukrainians, while Russian is native to 29.6% of Ukrainians. The rest, 2.9%, speak minority native languages mostly from the former USSR. Of the total population, 22% have a native grip of both Ukrainian and Russian. In 2001, 32 million people spoke Ukrainian while 8.33 million spoke Russian. Other languages include Eastern Yiddish, Rusyn, Romanian, Moldovan, Belarusian, Crimean Tatar, Bulgarian, Ukrainian Sign Language, Hungarian, and Polish among others.

Youths use common Ukrainian slang phrase “mama ridna” when they see something scary like in situations where English speakers would use “oh my God.” The phrase “ne bachylys’ sto rokiv” which directly translates to “we have not seen each other in a hundred years” is also commonly used by those who have not seen each other for long. The phrase “vishaty lapshu na vuha” (you have pasta on the ear) is commonly used when someone is out rightly lying to another. The most common words visitors will find useful include “dobryj den” (hello), “pryvit” (hi), “Jak spravy?” (how are you), “vy hovoryte anhlijs’koju” (do you speak English), and “d’akuju” (thank you) among others.

Ukraine has about 40 minority languages, most of which are languages of the former USSR, protected by the constitution. Some of the languages like Jakati and Romani are so remote that no official data exist on them. In 2007, there were only 3,670 Bashkort, 200 Krimchak, and 6 Karaim speakers. Others include immigrant languages of Dargwa, Lak, Lezgi, and Osetic.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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