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What Language Do They Speak in Ukraine?

What Language Do They Speak in Ukraine

Key Takeaways

Official LanguageUkrainian
Percentage of SpeakersAbout 67.5% native speakers; almost 85% claim proficiency
Minority LanguagesRussian, Belarusian, Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian
Popular Second LanguagesEnglish, German, French
Writing SystemCyrillic alphabet


Ukraine, situated in Eastern Europe, boasts a rich history and a unique cultural tapestry. Language, as with most countries, plays a pivotal role in its cultural and national identity. For those interested in Ukrainian culture or planning a trip, understanding the linguistic landscape is essential.

Official Language: Ukrainian

Ukrainian is the official state language of Ukraine. Derived from the Old East Slavic, it’s part of the Indo-European family and shares close ties with Belarusian and Russian, although it is distinct from both.

Some Features of the Ukrainian Language:

  • Writing System: The language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but with some letters unique to Ukrainian.
  • Phonetics: Ukrainian is known for its melodic sound, largely due to its vowel-rich structure.
  • Vocabulary: It borrows words from Polish, Czech, and German due to historical influences.
Unique LettersҐґ, Єє, Іі, Її
Number of Letters33

Minority Languages in Ukraine

Ukraine’s linguistic landscape isn’t limited to just Ukrainian. Due to its geographical location and history, several minority languages are spoken across the nation:

  1. Russian: The most widely spoken minority language. While not official, it is prevalent in daily communication, especially in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
  2. Belarusian, Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian: Spoken in regions bordering respective countries.
  3. Crimean Tatar: Spoken by the Crimean Tatars, primarily in Crimea.
RussianEastern Ukraine, Crimea
BelarusianNorthern Border Areas
RomanianWestern Border Areas
PolishWestern Ukraine
HungarianZakarpattia Oblast

Multilingualism and Language Shifts

Ukraine is undergoing significant linguistic shifts. For many Ukrainians, multilingualism is common. Let’s delve deeper into this phenomenon:

  • Shift towards Ukrainian: Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there’s been a revival of the Ukrainian language in schools, media, and public life.
  • Rise in English Proficiency: As Ukraine integrates more with the West, English proficiency is growing, especially among the younger generation.
  • Other Foreign Languages: German, French, and Spanish are popular second languages taught in schools.

Why Multilingualism?

  1. History: Centuries of shifting borders and rulers have introduced a variety of languages.
  2. Education: Language education is a priority, with many Ukrainians learning at least one foreign language.
  3. Tourism & Business: As Ukraine becomes a popular tourist destination and business hub, multilingualism offers a competitive edge.

The Future of Language in Ukraine

The future of language in Ukraine is promising:

  • Preservation Efforts: With increased nationalism and cultural pride, there’s a conscious effort to preserve and promote the Ukrainian language.
  • Digital Age: Technology is playing a significant role in promoting Ukrainian. From apps to online courses, it’s easier than ever to learn the language.
  • Globalization: As Ukraine opens up more to the world, the linguistic diversity is bound to grow, enriching the country’s cultural mosaic.


Ukraine is a land of rich linguistic diversity. While Ukrainian reigns supreme as the official language, the country’s history, geography, and cultural crossroads have birthed a multilingual society. Whether you’re a linguist, traveler, or simply curious, Ukraine offers a fascinating study in language evolution and interplay.