Ukrainian (українська мова [ukrɑˈjiɲsʲkɐ ˈmɔwɐ]) is an East Slavic language closely related to Russian, Belarusian and Rusyn. It is the official language of Ukraine, and the common language of most Ukrainians. It is also one of the three official language of the largely unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, commonly known as Transnistria. Ukrainian is written in the Cyrillic script.
A large Ukrainian minority lives in Russia and Moldova. Large diaspora communities also live in the U.S. and Canada as well as Portugal(around 60.000).
The origin of the Ukrainian language is still highly debated among scholars. But we can be sure about some aspects of its development. We know that at least from the 11 century, the language used in Novgorod differed from the Kyiv. We have by the 16 century direct written evidence of the Ukrainian language, on a dictionary named "Лексис".
Past that in the 18 century, we have the first entirely written Modern Ukrainian literary work in history, it is called "Енеїда", a burlesque poem made by Ivan Kotlyarevsky in 1798.
Later on in the Russian Empire, Ukrainian was called "Малорусскій"(Little Russian); and according to the Russian Empire 1897 Census, Ukrainian was the predominant language on what is today the entirety of Ukraine, although only 32.5% of the urban population claimed Ukrainian as their native language.
The Ukrainian language uses a modified version of the Cyrillic Alphabet. Speakers of Russian are familiar with most of the letters, but some being unique to Ukrainian.
|А а||a /ɑ/||A in "Arm"|
|Б б||b /b/||B in "Bat"|
|В в||v /ʋ~w/||V in "Vegas"|
|Г г||h /ɦ/||A more "breathy voiced" version of the H in "Head"|
|Ґ ґ||g /g/||G in "Gun"|
|Д д||d /d/||D in "Dad"|
|Е е||e /ɛ/||EA in "Peasant"|
|Є є||ye /jɛ/ or /ʲɛ/||YE in "Yeah"|
|Ж ж||zh /ʒ/||S in "Pleasure", or the J sound in French|
|З з||z /z/||Z in "Zambia"|
|И и||y /ɪ/||I in "Sit"|
|І і||i /i/, /ʲi/||EA in "Eagle"|
|Ї ї||yi /ji/||Same as Є but ending in the previous sound (EA in "Eagle) instead of the EA in "Peasant"|
|Й й||y /j/||Same as Ї but only the first part|
|К к||k /k/||C in "Cat"|
|М м||m /m/||M in "Mom"|
|Н н||n /n/||N in "Nice"|
|О о||o /ɔ/||O in "Mother"|
|П п||p /p/||P in "Party"|
|Р р||r /r/||There's no equivalent to this sound in English, but it's the same as the R in "Aranha" in Portuguese, or the R in "Arigatou" in Japanese.|
|С с||s /s/||S in "Stop"|
|Т т||t /t/||T in "Top"|
|У у||u /u/||O in "Move"|
|Ф ф||f /f/||F in "Fabric"|
|Х х||kh /x/||There's no equivalent to this sound in English, but it's the same as the sound of Scottish or German CH in Loch.|
|Ц ц||ts /t͡s/||TS in "Pets" (remember to pronounce both the T and the S, not only the S)|
|Ч ч||ch /t͡ʃ/||TCH in "Atchoo"|
|Ш ш||sh /ʃ/||S in "Mansion"|
|Щ щ||shch /ʃt͡ʃ/||There's no equivalent to this sound in English, but it's a mixture of the Ш and Ч sounds.|
|Ь ь||(soft sign), ʼ /◌ʲ/||This letter is not pronounced, but indicates that the previous letter is "softened"|
|Ю ю||yu /ju/||YU as in "Yugoslavia"|
|Я я||ya /jɑ/||YA as in "Yahoo"|
|'||apostrophe; not a letter|
Similar to its sister languages, Ukrainian is a highly inflected synthetic language. It has 7 grammatical cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Instrumental, Locative and the Vocative. The Vocative being underused by some people, but recently has been getting fairly more popular around some groups of people.
All words in Ukrainian are gendered in one of the three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. To know the gender of a word you can just look at the end of the word. Masculine nouns in general end in ь, й or a consonant, feminine ones end in а or я, and neuter ones end in е, о and some verb derived nouns ending in я(You can easily know that it is neuter just looking at the end of the word, if the preceding consonant is doubled or not, ex: Дослідження, research; neutral). All genders have their declensions for each specific grammatical case. Declining nouns for cases depends on 2 factors:
- The gender of the noun
- If it ends on a soft(ь, й, я, і) or a hard sound(и, о, е, а, consonants)
Let's see the declensions for the masculine noun чоловік(man):
|Locative||на/у чоловіку, чоловікові||на/у чоловіках|
- (1) The ending -а for the Genitive case in masculine nouns is only used for living beings, inanimate masculines nouns in the Genitive case take -у(hard ending) or -ю(soft ending)
- (2) The Accusative case for inanimate nouns is the same as the nominative
Now the declension of a feminine noun such as собака(dog):
|Locative||на/у собаці||на/у собаках|
- (1) In Ukrainian some sound changes are quite common in some cases, it is common for declensions in nouns that end in к, and in the declension it adds -і(a soft vowel), the к becomes a ц.
For the neuter declension we will use the noun місто(city):
|Locative||на/у місті||на/у містах|
Ukrainian has a decent amount of general resources.
|Resource||Lingq||Assimil||Michel Thomas||Pimsleur||Rosetta Stone||Language Transfer|
- Ukrainian has 1 unit, with 30 total lessons.
- імені Т.Г. Шевченка - Ukrainian history channels.
- Ukraїner - Videos on modern Ukraine, showing interesting places and the subcultures throughout Ukraine .
- Alex_D20 - A Let's Play channel, with some focus on games made by Ukrainians.
- Історія Без Міфів - World and Ukrainian history channel.
- Geek Journal - A channel whose main focus is on popular culture and cinema.
- Клятий раціоналіст - Science channel.
- Цікава наука - Translation of science videos.
Dictionaries and Pronunciation Guide
- Словник.ua - It is your best bet if you want a complete, and useful dictionary, although it is in Ukrainian, and the language used can be quite hard to understand for beginners.
- Cybermova - They have English-Ukrainian and Ukrainian-English dictionaries, they can be very useful, but sometimes the descriptions can be severally lacking information
- Словники України - An amazing dictionary, which shows all the declensions of each word, and also shows where the stress falls in the word, amazing for bettering pronunciation.
- Гуртом - A simply amazing website, where you can download films, serials, documentaries and more all in Ukrainian.
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