Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Maidan: Why Ukraine's second language should be English

This article on the Maidan blog presents a good argument for making English, not Russian, Ukraine's second language. It also sheds some light on why Ukraine's media isn't very helpful in advancing the Ukrainian language in the country.

At a time when the educated in every country in the world, including China and Russia, are learning English as a second language, because English is the de facto world-language, Ukraine's neo-soviet Russophile politicians threaten to isolate the country from the rest of the world with their Russian language legislation and throw Ukraine back culturally 100 years.

This is no surprise. Ukrainian success would mean the end of the status quo.

Fifteen years after independence public life, business and the media is still Russian-speaking outside Ukraine's three westernmost provinces. ... The government does not enforce its language legislation. All government employees must speak Ukrainian, but most don't and continued to be paid nonetheless. Whether or not foreign corporations use Ukrainian inside their stores is ignored. MacDonald's does use Ukrainian on its menus. Baskin Robbins does not.

Ukrainians everywhere should boycott Baskin Robbins and buy MacDonalds ice cream instead. It wouldn't hurt to let Baskin Robbins know, either.

It is thought that as much as 80% of Ukraine's media is owned either by Russians or Russophile Ukrainian citizens. Sixteen years after independence, however, no one really knows who owns Ukraine's media. Foreign companies, of which 3 are Russian, own all or part of at least 9, individuals unknown own all or part of 3, and one is partly owned by a Russophile Ukrainian oligarch.

This could explain the Ukrainian media's lack of interest in collaborating with Ukrainian broadcasters in the diaspora.

Mass-circulation Russian-language dailies like Bulvar, Kievskie vedomosti and Fakty i kommentarii ... regularly belittle, ridicule and mock things Ukrainian, and highlight Russian rather than Ukrainian pop- stars, movies and television programs.

This could explain why fifteen years of Ukrainian independence has had minimal impact on Ukrainian radio and TV programming in the diaspora. And vice versa.

Read the entire article. Very illuminating.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When we visited in Ukraine, it seemed as if every student was studying english for all the aforementioned reasons - makes sense to me.