The language of Україна Ukraine
is closely related to Russian
, and is written in Cyrillic
with slight differences from the Russian alphabet. For example, it retains the old dotted-i character as well as the reversed-N, and has an umlauted-i. These are pronounced as vowels i, y, and yi; as in the name of the capital, Киїб Kyiv
(occasionally transcribed Kyyiv; the Russian form is the more familiar Kiev
). See Using Unicode on E2
for the full Cyrillic alphabet of Russian: the following are only the extra letters of Ukrainian.
Є Є є є curved-E
І І і і I
Ї Ї ї ї I-umlaut
Ґ Ґ ґ ґ G-hook
Other notable differences in place names are Харкіб Kharkiv and Lviv for Russian Kharkov and L'vov. The personal name Vladimir appears as Володимир Volodymyr, and the infamous power station is Chornobyl. It is sometimes said that chornobyl means 'wormwood', and others have claimed that this is a false etymology used by fundamentalists to link it with the Book of Revelation. In fact it is the Ukrainian name of a plant in the same genus as wormwood, Artemisia.*
In common with Belarusan and Czech it has a voiced H where Russian has a G.
Older names for it are Little Russian and Ruthenian. It is notably an important minority language in Canada.
Detectable differences from Russian occur in manuscripts from as early as the 11th century, but it was not widely written in the early period, when the region was part of Great Lithuania. The literature took off from the 18th century, with a Bible, a grammar (1857) and the poetry of the great Shevchenko in the 19th century, but in 1863 Russia prohibited its teaching in schools, and in 1876 prohibited all printing in Ukrainian. The ban was lifted in 1905. During the denial of it the Russian authorities termed it the Little Russian dialect.
* see http://www.raygirvan.co.uk/apoth/2004_05_01_arc.html