Linguistic repressions were the main tools of the Russians in their fight against Ukraine. While developing their stereotypical narratives about the “brotherly people”, the Russian politicians continue to make increasingly absurd statements that the Ukrainian language is artificial and was implemented by force. However, current events do not match the aggressor’s expectations. Ukrainian writer, Serhii Zhadan, said that people are changing history and writing it in the Ukrainian language.
During the full-scale war waged by Russia against Ukraine, the Ukrainian language became a sign of national identity and civic position and an instrument of struggle against the enemy. It is possible to defend your country from the aggressor not only with weapons but also with words.
Photo: Yurii Stefaniak
Almost all Ukrainians know and understand Russian, but Russians do not learn Ukrainian. Ignorance of the Ukrainian language by the Russian military and saboteurs bears an effective way to detect them. The Armed Forces of Ukraine officially announced that the Ukrainian servicemen speak only Ukrainian, even if imperfect.
There are already many videos on social media showing Ukrainian soldiers, territorial defence fighters or civilians checking suspicious people by using Ukrainian words or phrases.
The word “Palianytsia” (loaf of bread) has already become one of the linguistic symbols of this war. Russians simply can’t pronounce it correctly, and their media translates it as “strawberry”.
Even before the war, Russian-speaking Ukrainians actively switched to Ukrainian and continued to do so. It is a way to express their position against the aggressor. Today is a historic chance for Ukraine to cut all cultural ties with Russia forever.
Ukrainians use the Russian language to address and demoralise the enemy. The Ukrainian media is duplicating its content in Russian to inform the Russian civilian population that their government has been lying to them for years and continues to do so.
More and more foreigners are learning Ukrainian. According to the online platform for learning foreign languages, “Duolingo”, during one week of the full-scale war launched by Russia, the number of people willing to learn Ukrainian worldwide increased by 200%.
The Ukrainian language is worldwide associated with resistance, courage, unity, and freedom. On the other hand, Russian became the language of the country of the aggressor.
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