History of the Ukrainian Language
The Ukrainian language, historically a Ruthenian language, is the official language of Ukraine and belongs to the East Slavic language family with a population of approximately 45 million speakers, making it the 26th most widely spoken language in the world. It is regulated by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Ukrainian has its origin in Kievan Rus, where the Old Slavonic language is spoken. After the fall of Kievan Rus′ and the formation of the Kingdom of Ruthenia, the ancient East Slavic languages developed into different branches, one of which was the Ruthenian language, which was the direct ancestor of the Ukrainian language, in Ukraine. Ruthenian is known as Old Ukrainian.
Old Ukrainian has been in common use since the late 17th century, associated with the founding of the Cossack Hetmanate, by which time the language had become distinct enough from other Slavic languages to require translators for Pereyaslav′s treatise. With the fall of the Hetmanate in 1764, most of present-day Ukraine (north, south and east) came under the rule of the Russian Empire, during this period the Ukrainian language was subject to much censorship and discrimination by judges. After the War of Independence in Ukraine, the Ukrainian language experienced a brief resurgence from 1917 to 1932, but with the Soviet policy of Russification, the Ukrainian-speaking community was constantly discriminated against, lowering the status of the language, causing the use of the Ukrainian language faded in this period much more severely than during the Russian Empire. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine in 1991, Ukrainian became the only official language in Ukraine and its use has since been recovered thanks to social policies and the educational system.
Every year on October 9, Ukraine celebrates the Day of the Ukrainian language and writing.
There are two main theories about the origin of the language, although both are not fully proven due to the lack of historical sources, one is the formation of the Proto-Slavic language and the other is the evolution of the language.
Ukrainian linguist Stepan Smal-Stotsky denies the existence of Old Slavonic. Yevhen Tymchenko, Vsevolod Hantsov, Olena Kurylo and Ivan Ohienko also shared similar views. According to this theory, the East Slavic tribal dialects gradually evolved from the Proto-Slavic languages without intermediate stages during the 6th to 9th centuries. The Ukrainian language was formed due to the convergence of tribal dialects, mainly due to the mass migration of the population to the territory of present-day Ukraine. This opinion is also supported by the phonological studies of Yuriy Shevelov.
The formation of the ancient East Slavs
The first theory about the origin of the Ukrainian language was formulated in the Russian Empire in the middle of the 18th century by Mikhail Lomonosov. This theory suggests the existence of a common language spoken by the inhabitants of Kievan Rus′, Old East Slavonic. According to Lomonosov, the later developmental differences between Russian and Ukrainian can be explained by the influence of Polish and Slovak languages on Ukrainian and the influence of Uralic languages on Russian from the 13th to 17th centuries.
A different view was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries by linguists of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, as well as by Lomonosov, who suggested the existence of Old Slavonic, but contrary to Lomonosov′s theory, this theory does not suggest that the influence of the Polish language over the Ukrainian or any other external influence was the main cause of the formation of the four different languages (Belarusian, Russian, Russian and Ukrainian) from Old East Slavonic. This theory is the most widely accepted by scholars around the world, especially outside Ukraine, however proponents of this theory disagree on when the different languages were formed.
Soviet linguists established a split between Ukrainian and Russian between the 14th and 16th centuries. According to this theory, Old East Slavonic splits into the Ruthenian language in the west and the Vladimir-Suzdal dialect in the northeast between the 15th centuries. and 17. With the breakup of Kievan Rus′ in 1240, Ukraine and Belarus became part of the Two-State Republic, as Ukraine and Belarus were significantly separated.