Conscious Polonisation and Derussification?

One common accusation of Russians against Ukrainian language is that it was artificially polonised, and made different from Russian to assume its uniqueness. I can think of at least two examples of this…

In Ukrainian town or city is called “misto”:

Screenshot 2018-10-28 at 15.33.15.png

Screenshot 2018-10-28 at 15.35.13.png

Towns and cities in Ukraine however bear the names Uzhhorod, a town in the extreme west of the country, Vyshhorod, in the suburbs of Kiev, and further east Myrhodod, in the Poltava region.

Each of these towns bear the Russian form “gorod”, “horod” in Ukrainian and South Russian pronunciation.

Screenshot 2018-10-28 at 15.45.45.png

The thing is, “misto” is a Western Slavic (compare Czech: “město”) form, that clearly entered the Ukrainian language through Polish language, and it was likely consciously chosen to replace the Eastern Slavic form still apparent in the names of Ukrainian cities.

Screenshot 2018-10-28 at 16.02.41.png

Another such linguistic peculiarity concerns the hard sing. The hard sing is on old Slavic letter that at one point was overused. The Serbian language reformer,
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić famously wrote about the “Hardness of the hard sign”, and today the Serbian language lacks this letter altogether. The Russian language also dropped the hard sing following language reforms instituted by the bolsheviks, and now only uses it to mark a pause within a word. Ukrainian language also dropped the hard sign, and now uses the apostrophe instead.

And I have to ask why? It is clear Ukrainian language makers were aware of the hard sign. The apostrophe is a Late Medieval Western invention that has no tradition in Slavic languages. But it makes the Ukrainian language different from Russian, and that’s the point.

2 thoughts on “Conscious Polonisation and Derussification?

  1. I could imagine in some distant future where Russia and the Ukraine are reconciled, both language authorities could make some efforts to move the languages closer together, say replace some foreign words in Russian with proper East Slavic words from Ukrainian, which on the whole is a more conservative language.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s