«The Ukrainian language is close to Slovak; Russian is anthropologically foreign to us»

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Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians are free people, while the Russians are slaves from generation to generation.
Photo: Tvoe Misto/Ivan Stanislavskyi

Photo: Tvoe Misto/Ivan Stanislavskyi

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The Ukrainian language belongs to the group of Slavic languages and was formally included in the East Slavic group. Nevertheless, historian and translator Andrii Pavlyshyn believes that our language belongs to the West Slavic one, while the similarity with Russian, as it might seem at first glance, isn’t so big. He stated this in the «Accents of Your City» program.

«My experience as a historian, a person who works with many different languages, shows that Ukrainian belongs rather to the West Slavic languages. It was formally classified as East Slavic in the 19th century, because it grew lexically on the roots of Church Slavonic, on the roots of Orthodox civilization, using the Cyrillic alphabet. However, it’s quite close to Slovak, we understand almost everything from it, unlike Russian, which is very distant from us.» – the historian explains.

Read also: «We have to say goodbye to disgusting and stinking Soviet past,» – historian Andrii Pavlyshyn

According to him, most Ukrainians do not feel the difference between Ukrainian and Russian, as for many years, they’ve lived and continue to be in an environment impacted by the latter. Just as many people in Ukraine do not have problems with Polish, although, Andrii Pavlyshyn notes, English is easier for students than Polish.

«At a certain time, we just listened to the radio, watched television, read books, because there was no such choice as now. The younger generation, who never studied Russian at school, also has a big problem: they don’t understand most of the words. When reading slowly, it is easier to understand, but when speaking quickly in Russian and also in dialects, with different pronunciation, it’s a certain difficulty. And the further we move away from Russia, the more we do not study the Russian language and literature at school, the further this civilization will be from us,» – the historian and translator believes.

Read also: It’s a madness that in Ukraine, Russia used to shape a picture of who we are, – publisher Maryana Savka

The Russian language is anthropologically foreign to the Ukrainian language, Andrii Pavlyshyn notes, while Polish is still closer. After all, Ukrainians and Poles have lived in the same civilizational and cultural space for thousands of years, have more or less the same heritage and close genetics. Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians are free people, and this is genetically determined. Simultaneously, the Russians are slaves from generation to generation, and it’s hard to get rid of it, you have to work on it and squeeze every drop out of yourself every day. If you dedicate your whole life to it, you might succeed, says the historian.

Read our material to find out why the trident on the Motherland monument in Kyiv is an attempt at a false compromise, whether the Russian language is anthropologically foreign to Ukrainians, and who should replace the Russian literature classics at Ukrainian schools.

Translated by Vitalii Holich

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.


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