Ukrainian Proves Himself Right by Marta Rebon

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Next year will be the 160th anniversary of the Valuyev Circular of 1863, which prohibited the use of Ukrainian in the Russian Empire. Thirteen years later, in 1876, the Ames Decree placed even more restrictions on the language until its use in print was banned. These methods of the Tsarist government reversed the upward trajectory of the Ukrainian. But what is the relationship between Ukrainian and Russian? Both are part of the East Slavic family, and it is estimated that they account for more than 50% of the vocabulary. Although they share the Cyrillic alphabet, four spellings separate them. A propaganda ploy that has most distorted the vision of Ukrainian society, precisely to confirm a perceived connection between language and identity; That is, those whose mother tongue is Russian, are of Russian ethnicity, or favor the rest of the country in the sphere of influence of a neighboring nuclear power. With Ukraine’s independence three decades ago, various elected governments have implemented policies to protect and promote the Ukrainian language, which was in apparent decline in areas such as education or the media. Nevertheless, regardless of politicization, Ukrainian and Russian were part of the same linguistic landscape, as well as Surzhik, a mixture of both. The events of 2014 and the crimes resulting from the Russian invasion have intensified civilian support for the Ukrainian language as a unifying and reaffirming element in the face of a dangerous existence. For this reason, there are Ukrainian writers in Russian who have naturally felt the change of language. An anecdote: Soon after the independence of Ukraine, the leader of the rock band Plach Eremi played in Kyiv. “After all the Russification, do we have a chance to be Ukrainians?” He asked mostly the Russophone audience. The answer was: “Yes!”





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