Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Language wars in Ukraine

Here's another article chronicling more of the same-old, same-old...

...The Russian Foreign Ministry, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s loyalist, Sergei Lavrov, sent a note to Kyiv on June 16, saying that "Moscow proceeds from the fact that the question of the Russian language in Ukraine should take into account the legal rights and interests of millions of Ukrainian citizens who consider it [the Russian language] as their native one, which they use in everyday life" ...

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry calmly replied that Russia should take more interest in the provisions for the cultural and educational needs of Ukrainians with Russian passports in Russia. "I would advise [Russia] to worry about the functioning of the Ukrainian language in Russia and take an interest in the educational and cultural conditions for Ukrainians in Russia, and in the number of Ukrainian language schools in Moscow," Vasyl Kyrylych, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, [said]. ...


I find it hard to believe that the Russian language is in such dire need of protective measures in Ukraine, especially since...

... 442,000 children studied in 1,500 schools in Ukraine with Russian as their main language of education and 31 universities educated Russian language teachers. Moreover, 2,343 media outlets were registered in Ukraine as Russian language outlets, Ukrainian libraries had 59 million titles in Russian and the Russian language could be heard on the streets throughout Ukraine.

Then there's the predominance of the Russian language vis-á-vis Ukrainian outside of the FSU.

... Putin, addressing the International Congress of Russian Press, pledged the government’s support for the Russian language foreign press. Presumably, he did not have in mind Russian language newspapers in the United States, the Czech Republic or Canada, which appear to be well-funded and enjoy a stable readership among the émigré communities.

It goes far beyond newspapers. In my never-ending quest to improve my Ukrainian language skills, I checked out Rosetta Stone, the latest trendy language study program. It offers Polish, Irish, Swahili, Welsh, Persian, Pashto as well as the standard Spanish, French, and Italian, etc. and of course Russian. I asked a Rosetta Stone rep if they would be offering Ukrainian. He informed me that in Ukraine, most [sic] Ukrainians speak Russian ... and while he conceded that they may not like it, he insisted that Russian is what they speak and so why bother with Ukrainian.

OKay. Fine. So I decided to go with Pimsleur . They're considerably more up to date in their approach to the language issue in Ukraine. It's a very effective method, btw, although the material is outdated and appears to have been compiled by Moscow-centric folk of the ilk of the above-mentioned Rosetta Stone rep. One of the more aggravating aspects is its use of the Russian word for "hello ... which is bizarre when there are perfectly good Ukrainian ones. (I'm told they're coming out with an updated version soon. I sincerely hope it will be more authentic.)

But, I digress. As far as the Russian language goes, Mr. Putin has no worries about its survival. Although no doubt he knows that very well. Survival apparently isn't the goal.

The Russian complaint came at a time when both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are intensifying the campaign to promote Russian as a global language on par with English. ...

Full article here.

6 comments:

Stanislav said...

This is rather not in Ukraine, but between Ukraine and Russia backing up Russian nationalists in Ukraine.

Pawlina said...

That's my understanding of it, too, Stan. Russian imperialists as usual trying to wipe out the Ukrainian language.

These days their most expedient method is taking on the victim mantle ... even they occasionally have a clue that bullying tactics are passé these days.

No doubt they would love to resurrect the old tsarist-era Ems Ukaz that not only banned but denied the very existence of the Ukrainian language.

Apparently the ukaz was never cancelled. Perhaps the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry should insist that Russia officially cancel it before making any more demands of Ukraine on the language front.

An apology as well would add a real touch of class. I don't suppose anyone should hold their breath waiting for it, tho.

Stanislav said...

I would never call all variety of current Russian nationalists as "imperialists". They are too rude and primitive to be imperialist. They are rather chauvinists and even fascists. Big majority of them. Unfortunately.

Andrew said...

Hey you're not the only in your area trying to touch up on their Ukrainian http://www.43things.com/people/progress/stackybot/1794857. Perhaps you can find other some adult schools that are teaching it as well?

http://www.ukrcdn.com

Pawlina said...

Hey Andrew, thanks for dropping in!

The problem I'm running into (and I suspect a lot of others are as well) is finding the time, place, and environment to actually apply what I learned in class.

I was fortunate to have been immersed for several days in Ukraine back in the 80s when I spent a few days with a family who couldn't speak any English. I couldn't even decline nouns at the time so that we managed to understand each other still seems miraculous to me.

Then when I studied it in university (it was my minor) I had a wonderful prof who also gave me the immersion experience. She was newly arrived from Lviv, and filling in for the regular guy who went off on sabbatical. She couldn't speak much English so conducted the classes in Ukrainian. Yikes! I have trouble remembering grammatical terms in English! Rather than let me drop the course, she offered to tutor me after class. So off we'd go for coffee or pizza and she'd re-explain the course material in simpler Ukrainian until I started to manage on my own. (My Ukrainian immersion ended when I returned the favour to help her learn English.)

This Pimsleur program, while not perfect, is the closest to those immersion experiences. They're coming out with an updated version, and I hope with higher levels as well. It's out in the fall sometime and I'm anxious to see what it's like.

Jason said...

I've just started on the Pimsleur Ukrainian level 1, and I'm very impressed with it. I don't even need to rewind to hear what was said, it just seems to stick.

I'ts good to know that they are coming out with a Level 2 later this year; I too can't wait to see what it's like.

Does Nash Holos sell CDs with its Ukrainian lessons by the way?