Bye Bye Soviet Union – New-Old Ukrainian Spelling Rules
The new rules for the Ukrainian language are closer to what they were in the 1920s
“Apparently this is how people talk. This is a real, live Ukrainian language. The one we learned in school is somewhat artificial,” linguist Oleksandr Avramenko said.
On the one hand, new rules only changed the spelling of separate words, yet on the other – they added new variants to the existing norms. According to the experts, one of the main features of new orthography is its simplicity.
“Changes to orthography is a normal practice that is done from time to time. Because language is a living organism that is everchanging. The language has to respond to the challenges of the new times. If there are any changes happening in the society, then the language needs to reflect them,” language law co-author Maksym Kobelev said.
Five years ago, one of the major changes in the life of Ukrainians was the war started by Russia. Along with the fighting on the front lines, there is information warfare. Each step of Ukraine that demonstrates national identity is criticized and ridiculed by the Russian media.
“I absolutely do not care what Russians do to their language. This is their right. And I do not even want to care whether they are bothered by my language. The discussion on this issue should be within the country and among the scientists that study the language,” Ukrainian actress Irma Vitovska said.
In many of its features, this orthography is similar to the orthography that was adopted in the 1920s. In 1933, the Soviet government deemed it to be “nationalistic”
“These norms were adopted in order to make Ukrainian closer to Russian. It was Stalin’s policy to make languages alike. Authors of the old orthography were executed. Orthography itself changed to make Ukrainian resemble Russian,” Avramenko said.
In the name of clearing Ukraine from the nationalist threat, many well-known Ukrainian linguists, members of the orthography commission were repressed. This aggressive expansion of Russian language into Ukrainian grammar lasted for almost 100 years.
“Old words came back. They were not invented by linguists. They came back to our day to day lives and took an important place even after being discarded and repressed in the past. I cannot call it differently,” Vitovska said.
Linguists say, that there will be no issues with the transition to the new orthography. In the next few years, both old and new norms will be used. Those who want to perfect their Ukrainian language can attend special courses for free.