I'm delighted to feature a guest post on a language that's never been covered on I Will Teach You A Language before. Have you ever been tempted to learn Ukrainian?
The author is Lesley Vos, a blogger, nature lover and coffee addict!
Maybe it has never occurred to you to learn Ukrainian, but it should!
By the end of this post, I am going to convince you that Ukrainian is a great pick for your next language.
Many Associate Ukraine With…
It's up to you to finish this sentence…
What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word Ukraine?
Back in 2009, I was lucky enough to visit this country and attend summer courses of practical psychology there.
If someone had told me then I would fall in love with the Ukrainian language, I would have laughed in their face and never believed them.
But never say never.
Now here I am, writing about my experience of learning this beautiful language.
And here I am, sharing five reasons for you should learn Ukrainian or, at least, start thinking about learning it.
1. Ukrainian Is Spoken By Millions
Ukrainian is the official language of the largest European country, with more than 46 million people speaking it.
It takes the 26th place among the most widespread languages in the world due to the number of its speakers. And it is the second most widespread Slavic language after Russian.
Ukraine is a beautiful country with the geographical centre of Europe located in it.
It has a rich culture and kind people – proud Ukrainians who are ready to share their cultural heritage with others.
You'll get to learn Ukrainian and a whole lot about the country's culture and customs.
If you don't want to offend Ukrainians and stumble at their country’s sovereignty and independence, keep in mind the fact it's Ukraine, not The Ukraine.
In English we don't use the definite article with countries' names (it's Italy, not The Italy; and it's France, not The France, after all), it is a huge grammatical mistake to use it for Ukraine.
Also, its capital, when transliterated from the Ukrainian language, is Kyiv (not Kiev, as many of you might suppose).
2. You Need To Learn Ukrainian For Education
I can tell you from first-hand experience that it's worth studying in Ukraine.
The country is open to international students. And its universities offer dozens of programmes and scholarships for applicants from foreign countries.
Ukrainian education is popular among students from African and Asian countries such as Libya, Bangladesh, India, China, Nigeria, Egypt, Jordan, and others.
A variety of programmes and relatively low cost of education makes Ukraine attractive for students wishing to get a medical or engineering education abroad.
Barriers To Studying In Ukraine Are Only Linguistic Ones
Educational institutions in Ukraine have four different instructional languages: Ukrainian, Russian, English, and French (for medical programs).
International students who apply for Ukrainian universities have three options:
- Take a language proficiency test.
- Spend one academic year in Ukraine, attending the preparatory faculty and learn the Ukrainian language there.
- Choose a program in English or French languages, and learn Ukrainian as an independent course.
That's all well and fine, but a basic knowledge of Ukrainian would be a good skill to have.
3. Ukrainian Is The World's 3rd Most Beautiful Language
Based on the results of the languages competition that took place in Paris in 1934, Ukrainian is the third most beautiful by its phonetics, vocabulary, phraseology, and sentence structure after French and Persian.
Also, it's officially the second most melodic language in the world after Italian. So it comes as no surprise that many admit the Ukrainian language reminds them a nightingale’s song.
To make sure it's true, you might want to listen to world-famous Summertime by George Gershwin and Carol of the Bells in their original language, which is…Ukrainian!
- Summertime was inspired by the ancient Ukrainian lullaby Oi Hodyt' Son Kolo Vikon. (Listen to it here)
- Carol of the Bells, a Christmas song we all hear and sing yearly, comes from Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych. Peter J. Wilhousky adapted its lyrics, following the original performance of the Ukrainian National Chorus at Carnegie Hall in 1921. (Listen to it here)
The Ukrainian Language Is Very Flexible
With more than five million synonyms, Ukrainian is versatile and diverse.
According to the Brief Synonym Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language, the biggest number of synonyms, which is 45, goes to the word “бити” (to beat).
Ukrainian has fewer homonyms, which says a lot about the lexical wealth of the language.
Ukrainian is unique with its alphabet having two letters you won't find in any other language:
Ґ sounds like /g/. The thing is, Ukrainians also have Г that sounds somewhere between /g/ and /h/.
Many don't see any difference between these sounds, which makes it possible for you to turn Harry Potter into Garry Potter, for example.
Ї is a letter that makes Ukrainian so melodic.
It sounds like /ji/, not /i/ or /y/, and, as Ukrainians joke themselves, makes their language look and sound sexy.
4. Learning Ukrainian Helps You Easily Understand Other Languages
Once you learn Ukrainian, you can understand Polish, Czech, Belarusian, or other Slavic languages because they are quite similar.
Coming from the same family of languages, they share common sounds and roots of words.
For example, those who learn Ukrainian will eventually know 70% of Polish lexicon and a third of its grammar rules.
But if you plan to understand Russian, Ukrainian won't help you, as the Russian language differs from other Slavic languages.
Though it shares most grammar rules with them, it still lacks a lot of Ukrainian, Polish, and Belarusian phonemes.
5. You Need Ukrainian To See The World's Most Unique Places
Ukrainian people are bilingual, understanding both Russian and Ukrainian. But if you plan to travel to the western regions of the country, I would suggest you learn their national language.
Ukrainians are proud of their beautiful language. If you speak Russian to them, there's a big chance they will respond in Ukrainian.
Some Cool Places To Visit In Ukraine
For those loving McDonald’s, go to the main train station in Kyiv – it is the third most visited McDonald's in the world.
If you are more of a transit enthusiast, go to Arsenal’na metro station in Kyiv, known as the world’s deepest one (105.5 meters below ground).
Or, visit the Atlantis cave in the Kamianets-Podilskyi region, which is 2,400 meters in length and 3,120 meters in area.
For those who prefer ghosts of the past, go to Chernobyl – the city of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster and the place of inspiration for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. creators.
I had a chance to visit it, and I suggest forgetting everything you have read or heard about Chernobyl before your trip there.
You have to see the place with your own eyes.
For nature lovers, go to the forests of Ukraine near Kleven.
Known as the Tunnel of Love, this railroad is one for a private train that provides wood for a local factory.
I've been there, too. It looks awesome, especially for those willing to find lovely photos for their Instagram accounts.
My Friend From France Once Said:
“It wasn't me who chose to learn Ukrainian. It's Ukrainian that chose me: once I heard it, I couldn't resist a temptation of starting to learn this language and reveal all secrets of its own. It's like meeting a girl: you see her, you fall in love with her, and you are ready to do everything for this love to become mutual.”
Whatever your reason to learn Ukrainian, I promise you won't regret your decision.
Proud and beautiful, this language will broaden your horizons and teach you to speak with your heart rather than linguistic units.
Written by Lesley Vos, a content writer, blogger, and contributor to publications on education, marketing, and lifestyle. Lesley is a nature lover, coffee addict, and passionate traveller with her heart lost in Ukrainian Lviv. She is in love with words and is working hard to make her writing skills better.
Have you tried to learn Ukrainian? What are your favourite things about the language? Leave a comment below!