The international political landscape has put Ukraine in the eye of the storm. We see in the news interviews with Ukrainian people who speak as if they were Spanish natives. At iScribo we want to contribute in some way to pay tribute to these people, and that is why today we are going to talk to you about the Ukrainian language and why the inhabitants of Ukraine decide to learn Spanish as a foreign language.
At iScribo we defend the power of communication as a tool to avoid conflicts. Languages are a fundamental part of communication and understanding. Also, in today’s post, you can find out a little more about Slavic languages.
First of all, let’s talk a bit about Ukrainian. It belongs to the East Slavic languages family and is the only official language of the country. It is spoken by two-thirds of the population, although it should be noted that a large proportion of Ukrainians speak Russian, especially in the eastern part of the country, sometimes as the only language or bilingually alongside Ukrainian.
After the Soviet era, the Ukrainian government began a Ukrainianisation campaign to encourage the use of the language as it had been losing speakers for some time. This campaign required the use of Ukrainian dubbing or subtitles for all foreign broadcasts.
Meet the Slavic languages
Slavic languages belong to the Indo-European linguistic family and use the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets for writing. What diversity!
They are spoken in Central Europe, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and Northern Asia. In addition, as if they didn’t already sound like extraordinary languages, there are several ways to classify Slavic languages, in this case, let’s mention them by their geographical classification:
– East Slavic – Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian.
– West Slavic – Polish, Slovak, Czech, Moravian, Sorbian, Kashubian, and Silesian languages; there are also two languages that have disappeared – Polabian and Slovincian.
– South Slavic – Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian, and Bulgarian, as well as Old Slavic, now extinct.
More and more countries understand the importance of languages, which is why they include the learning of a second or third foreign language in their educational curricula and political programs.
In Ukraine, the most studied foreign languages are Russian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, and Arabic.
Slavic languages are more complex grammatically
We are always told that Slavic languages are very difficult to learn. The truth is that nouns are inflected and change form in terms of gender (not only masculine and feminine but also in the neuter gender) and number (in addition to singular and plural there is also dual).
Too much information? Well, that’s not all – the verb marks person, number, aspect, tense, mood, and sometimes gender. As if that weren’t enough, declension is applied in up to seven cases to nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and sometimes numerals.
Oh, dear! Looking at it this way, it should not seem strange that a Spanish speaker has more difficulty learning Ukrainian than the other way around.
Ukrainian is somewhat more complex
Spanish is a Romance language that also descends from the Indo-European languages, but in this case from spoken Latin.
Moreover, as we have already seen on other occasions, Spanish is heavily influenced by Arabic for historical reasons, for example, the words ojalá (hopefully), alacena (cupboard), or alfombra (carpet). The Spanish language has had little contact with the Slavic languages throughout its history, so there is little influence between the two, for example, the word zar (czar) comes from Russian, but we do not have as many as we have with Greek, English or French.
For a person who speaks Ukrainian, learning Spanish is not a big challenge. The Spanish grammar is much less complicated, and the phonemes are simpler. We could test whether for a Slavic speaker, understanding Cuban Spanish is a challenge or not in terms of lexical diversity and intonation when speaking, it would be fun, wouldn’t it?
As you can see, all languages have a degree of difficulty when they are not your mother tongue, but if we stop to analyse the history and linguistics of each of them, we will realise that the difficulties we face when learning our own language help us and facilitate the path to learning a new one. At iScribo we love languages, this same passion leads us to invite you to improve and learn Spanish without complications. Visit us and discover how our tool works.