5 Interesting Facts About Ukrainian Language

Ukraine Kyiv Ukrainian language

Ukrainian language is one of the most fascinating languages in the world, spoken by over 40 million people worldwide. In this article, we’ll discuss five interesting and lesser known fact about this language. Buckle Up!

1. Ukrainian language is much different than Russian

Contrary to popular belief, Ukrainian language varies greatly from Russian. In fact, Russian isn’t even among the top 3 languages, with similar vocabulary to Ukrainian. The closest language to Ukrainian is Belarusian (84% of the general vocabulary), then Polish (70%), Slovak (68%) and Russian (62%).

Want a tip to differentiate Ukrainian from Russian? Pay special attention to the pronunciation of the letter “Г”. In Russian, this letter is pronounced like an english “g”, whereas in Ukrainian it’s pronounced like an english “h”.

Ольга – Olga | Olha
Игорь – Igor | Ihor
Гривня – Gryvnya | Hryvnia

2. Lots of "П" and not much "ф"

The largest quantity of words begin with “П” (pronounced like P). For example: до Прип’яті прибув президент Павел!

On the other hand, The character “Ф” (pronounced like F) is the least used letter of the Ukrainian alphabet. In most cases, words starting with “ф” have found their way into Ukrainian from other languages.  

3. Ukrainian is officially the second melodic language after Italian

In a language competition which took place in 1934 in Paris, Ukrainian was awarded the second most melodic language in the world after Italian. In terms of overall beauty, judged by criteria such as vocabulary, phraseology, phonetics and sentence structure, Ukrainian was recognized as the third most beautiful language following French and Persian. 

If it sounds Slavic, melodic and poetic, no doubt it’s Ukrainian!

Taras Shevchenko monument, Lviv Ukraine, Ukrainian langauge

4. "Testament" by Taras Shevchenko is the most translated Ukrainian literary work

Taras Shevchenko is Ukraine’s most famous and esteemed literary figure. His most notable work, “Testament” has been translated into 147 languages. It was written on Christmas day in 1845. 

мій заповіт

“Як умру, то поховайте…Мене на могилі…Серед степу широкого…На Вкраїні милій,…Щоб лани широкополі,…І Дніпро, і кручі…Було видно, було чути,…Як реве ревучий….Як понесе з України…У синєє море…Кров ворожу… отойді я…І лани і гори —…Все покину, і полину…До самого Бога…Молитися… а до того…Я не знаю Бога….Поховайте та вставайте,…Кайдани порвіте…І вражою злою кров’ю…Волю окропіте…І мене в сем’ї великій,…В сем’ї вольній, новій,…Не забудьте пом’янути…Незлим тихим словом.”

5. Ukrainian is the language of synonyms

Ukrainian language is full of synonyms. There are claims that Ukrainian has over 5 million synonyms. For example, there are 12 synonyms for the word “horizon”. It’s nothing compared to the verb “бити” (to beat, fight, hit) which as 45 synonyms. 

In short, you can play around with different words in Ukrainian. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?!

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