Цікавинки української мови: а Ви це знали?

Ukrainian is interesting and beautiful. It is diverse and sometimes unpredictable – and we love our amazing language. Our language is even more quaint than English or French. One word may sound quite differently depending on the region you are in.

It’s interesting that the Ukrainian language is similar with Belarusian (84% common words), polish (70%) and Serbian (68%). Next comes Russian – 64%. Ukrainian is also similar to Czech, Slovak and Polish in phonetics and grammar.

There are three territorial idioms in Ukraine:

  • Northeast (spoken in Kyiv, Odesa, Sumy, Poltava, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya, Kropyvnytsky, Mykolayiv and in the Kherson regions);

  • Southwest (it covers part of Kyiv and Odesa regions, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytsky, Chernivtsi, Zakarpattya, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil);

  • North (covers North Sumy and Kyiv region, Chernigov, Zhytomyr, Rivne and Volyn).

All of them are divided into dialects. The Northeast dialect has the biggest number of dialects – Nine. The most common dialect in Ukraine is the one of the southwest. The dialects are also divided into territorial (tied to a specific territory) and social (language of social groups). Territorial are easy to see: track, accent, pronunciation, words and speech rate may tell about you more than any document does.


Now we try to explain those interesting facts using simple words as an example:

Bicycle is called “rover” in western regions, “layba” – in east Ukraine, Odesa and Zhytomyr.

Potatoes have a lot of alternative synonymy in different regions: “bulba” (tuber), “barabolya”, “bib” (bean), “mandeburka”.

Attic – “stryh” in Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv, “gora”, “vyshka” – other western regions.

Fry Pan – “rynka”, “brytvanka” – Ivano-Frankivsk region, “patelnya” – the western regions.

It is difficult to explain the history of these synonyms, but they will make your Ukrainian trip wonderful and unforgettable.

An especially interesting and colorful lexis exist in Lviv, Zakarpattya and nearby regions. Some words, which are typical in these regions, always make any tourist feel confused. For example: girl is called “cobita”, a bar is a “knaypa”, kredens (and you will find cafe with the same name in Lviv) is a cupboard with glass doors, “lustro” is a mirror, “patsyorka” is called a necklace, “pudelko” is a box, “Kryivka” which is also a secret vault. Local cuisine offers to taste “plyatsky” – a sweet pies.

As George Bernard Shaw said, there are 50 ways to say “Yes” and 500 ways to say “No”, but there is only one way to write it. The most important in Ukrainian speaking is intonation, accent, tone, pronunciation. Sometimes you don’t need to know the meaning of all dialect words. They can easily be understood by facial expression and tone of the interlocutor.

Every language is interesting and unique. It has a long history and unique sounding of words. Love and learn your language every day!


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