The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
Is Ukrainian More Similar to Polish or to Russian?
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

This is one of the main topics of discussion in the endless “Ukraine debates” on this blog, though not one that I usually participate in due to lack of qualification in this subject.

That said, I recently saw a very interesting article that I believe definitively answers the question.

While supporters of the Ukraine’s Polish slant/Western identity often cite the following graph of lexical distance, which appears to show Ukrainian as being closer to Polish than to Russian…

… the problem with statistical analysis of how close words are to each other is that “cultural innovations” in one language can create the appearance of rapid divergence between otherwise closely related languages.

This point is well illustrated by linguist Asya Pereltsvaig in a blog post from 2014, where she explains this in terms that non-specialists can understand.

For instance, based on the names of the different months, one might conclude that Russian is in an altogether different cluster from Polish, Ukrainian, and Belorussian.

The reality, of course, is that Russian adopted Julian calendar terms, while the Poles and White Russians and Little Russians retained the Slavic originals:

However, this view results from an incorrect interpretation of the data. Rather than being testimony for the closer link of Belarusian/Ukrainian to Polish than to Russian, these data result from the fact that Russian adopted the month names of the Julian calendar, while the other three languages generally retained the original Slavic terms… the earlier Slavic names for months “show etymologies … reflecting various aspects of flora, fauna, climate and activity”. For example, the term for February derives from ‘bitter, fierce’ in reference to the typically cold weather of the month. The term for ‘July’ comes from ‘linden tree’; interestingly, Russian has the word lipa for ‘linden tree’ but it does not preserve the month name based on it. Likewise, ‘September’ is the ‘heather’-month, while ‘November’ is the ‘leaf-falling’ month. The other month names that are not shared between the three languages—Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Polish—may come from different roots, but they too have weather- or activity-describing etymologies: for example, the name for ‘August’ in Ukrainian and Polish comes from the word for ‘sickle’ (cf. Russian serp‘sickle’), while in Belarusian it derives from the root for ‘reaping’. Similarly, the names for ‘October’ in Belarusian and Polish derive from two different words for ‘flax’, while the Ukrainian term comes from the root for ‘yellow’. Crucially for our argument, the shared cognates across Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Polish are shared retentions, not shared innovations; lexicostatistical methods often take this sort of data—mistakenly!—to be evidence of common descent.

Russian has borrowed heavily from Finnic and Turkic languages, as well as Old Church Slavonic (the latter, I think, explains its short lexical distance from Bulgarian).

Even so, the three East Slavic languages share phonological commonalities that make them far closer to each other than either is to Polish, or other West/South Slavic languages:

The first such phenomenon is the so-called pleophony. As a result of a complex series of changes, East Slavic languages ended up with sequences -oro– and -olo- (in roots of words), whereas West Slavic languages have corresponding -ro– and -lo-. Compare, for example, the Russian k orova ‘cow’ and z oloto ‘gold’ to Polish k rowa and z łoto. Importantly, Ukrainian and Belarusian follow the Russian pleophony pattern: for example, ‘cow’ in Ukrainian is korova and in Belarusian karova; ‘gold’ in Ukrainian is zoloto and in Belarusian zolata (generally, Ukrainian does not reduce vowels the same way Russian does, while Belarusian does reduce vowels and reflects the vowel reduction in spelling as well; as a result, Russian words are spelled like the Ukrainian ones, while their pronunciation is closer to their Belarusian counterparts).

Another phonological pattern that groups the three East Slavic languages in contrast to Polish (and other West Slavic languages) is the treatment of nasal vowels inherited from Proto-Slavic: in the East Slavic languages these vowels have lost their nasal qualities, whereas Polish has retained nasal vowels. The back nasal vowels, essentially the short and long nasal o-sounds, have been replaced in East Slavic by /u/, as in r uka ‘hand’ and z ub ‘tooth’ (shared by all three East Slavic languages). In contrast, in Polish these have become the nasal e- and a-sounds, marked in Polish orthography by the hooks under the corresponding vowel letters, as in r ęka (pronounced /renka/) and z ąb (pronounced /zamp/). Similarly, the short and long nasal e-sounds have turned into /a/ in East Slavic, as in p’at’ ‘five’ and r’ad ‘row’ (subsequently, in Belarusian the “soft” r-sound has been turned “hard”, as in rad ‘row’). The corresponding forms in Polish feature nasal e- and a-sounds, as in pięć ‘five’ (pronounced /pjenč/) and rz ąd (pronounced /žand/). Once again, Belarusian and Ukrainian pattern with Russian rather than with Polish.

So, Belorussian, Ukrainian – much closer to Russian than to Polish. But superficially appears more distant on account of differential vocabulary borrowings.

 
Hide 96 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. I don’t see though why this should matter for the question of separate Ukrainian nationhood.
    If I understand your position correctly, it has always been that Ukrainian nationhood is a fake and gay pseudo-identity of larping squatters. That seems to go well beyond regarding Ukrainians as a fellow East Slavic people which should maintain close contacts to Russia (which is the most one could conclude from such lingustic arguments imo).
    Not that I care much about the issue. But iirc Mr. Hack has frequently urged you to lay out your vision of Triune Russia in more detail. Maybe wouldn’t be a bad idea as a reference for your position on the Ukrainian question.

    • Agree: Mr. Hack
    • Replies: @Adam
    , @Mr. XYZ
    , @Anatoly Karlin
  3. Adam says:

    Russian has very little Finnic influence except in toponyms. The most significant borrowing would be the replacement of ‘иметь’ with ‘у меня есть’ etc. as the normal expression for ‘to have’, but it’s not certain that originates from Finnic and iirc Ukrainian has that same pattern. Turkic influence is much greater but despite a number of very common words is still fairly modest. Something like 200 words and most of them are rare or specific to Turkic culture. Ukrainian also has Turkic loanwords, though less than Russian.

    Profound influence from different Slavic languages, OCS in the case of Russian and Polish in Ukrainian explains the divergence, which would otherwise be pretty small. Ukrainian mythology about Russian being bastardized by Turkic/Finnic languages or being some kind of creole language has no basis in reality though.

  4. Real Ukrainian (literary version, i.e., Poltava region Ukrainian) is a lot more similar to Russian than to Polish. However, it is different in several ways. It is more melodious than Russian, in sharp contrast to Polish, which is full of sibilants. Ukrainian also has two more noun cases (eight, like Latin, whereas Russian has six). Although Ukrainian uses the same Cyrillic alphabet as Russian (in contrast to Polish, that uses heavily modified Latin alphabet), it has some letters that Russian does not have, like ї (sounds like the vowel in yield), and does not have vowel ы (specific for Russian alphabet) and the sign that denotes hard pronunciation of a consonant (ъ).

    • Replies: @A.A.
    , @anonymous coward
  5. @Adam

    Political Ukrainians (“svidomy”) spew a lot of BS. All Slavic languages have a lot in common. I am fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, but I understand most of what Czechs, Serbs/Croats, Bulgarians, and Slovenes are saying if they speak slowly. I can adjust my hearing to understand Polish (you just need to ignore the profusion of sibilants). In writing this is even easier.

  6. Adam says:
    @German_reader

    Ukrainians are an ethnic group, the result of colonization of Russians by Poles for many centuries. It’s foolish to pretend that they are not a distinct people, at least in central and western Ukraine. The real questions should be:

    What does Ukraine have to offer the world?

    Why should Russia tolerate a hostile state on its borders?

    The conclusion of any reasonable person is that Ukraine has nothing to offer the world and that Russia does not have any reason to tolerate a hostile state on its borders. The best course of action for Russia would be to annex those areas that have potential to be assimilated. i.e southern and eastern Ukraine, and leave the rest as a neutered rump state with no control over its foreign relations. Those Novorossians who do not wish to join Russia should be given financial incentive to leave Novorossia, and the fanatics should be sent to work camps in Siberia. Unfortunately, Putin cucked when the time for this was ripe so the process will be quite a bit nastier when a nationalist takes control of Russia.

  7. A.A. says:
    @AnonFromTN

    It is more melodious than Russian

    You reminded me of that often repeated myth about how Ukrainian got second place in a contest of the most beautiful languages. I think they usually give the first place to Italian when telling this story. It sounds too dumb to be believable and yet, curiously enough, there always seem to be people who are stating this like it’s a fact.

    Personally, I’m not really a fan of how Ukrainian sounds, so the idea that it’s more melodious than Russian has always been puzzling to me. But I think this is purely a question of personal taste and not really something that you can quote as objective truth.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  8. @Adam

    What does Ukraine have to offer the world?

    Idiotic question. What do you have to offer the world? If the answer is negative, should you be terminated?

    Why should Russia tolerate a hostile state on its borders?

    Because the UN charter prohibits territorial aggression against other states and unilateral annexations? Yes, I know, the record of Western powers in this regard has been abysmal over the last 25 years, there is a lot of hypocrisy involved in Western criticism of Russia. But Russia is always making a big show of standing for sovereignty of nations and the Westphalian system, including non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, so by its own standards dismemberment of Ukraine would be illegitimate.

    and the fanatics should be sent to work camps in Siberia. Unfortunately, Putin cucked

    lol, as if Putin should take the advice of internet warriors like you (btw, why do you feel so strongly about this? I got the distinct impression that you’re an American…are you one of those people who are so disgusted with their own country that they become cheerleaders of other people’s nationalism, like gentile Zionists?).

    • Replies: @Adam
    , @Anatoly Karlin
  9. Mr. Hack says:
    @Adam

    Ukraine has nothing to offer the world

    This is such an inane and bogus statement as to not really merit any refutation.

    Russia does not have any reason to tolerate a hostile state on its borders.

    It’s actually the other way around. Ukraine’s actions have all been in response to Russian provocations and incursions into its sovereign space, not the other way around.

    Those Novorossians who do not wish to join Russia should be given financial incentive to leave Novorossia, and the fanatics should be sent to work camps in Siberia.

    My, how generous of you. Just how would you propose that all of this be accomplished?

  10. @Adam

    Hey, Russia very recently got rid of a lot of parasites (“brotherly” republics of former USSR and “brotherly” “socialist” countries). Putin was just reluctant to acquire parasites again, especially as numerous as the population of Ukraine at that time (it is much smaller now – millions ran away to Russia, and millions more are gastarbeiters in Russia, Poland, and several other countries). Russia took Crimea because it had overwhelming majority wanting to return to Russia and it is strategically important. The people of Donbass proved that they deserve help by resisting Ukie wonna-be Nazis (too dumb and ham-handed to actually rise to the level of German Nazis), while the population in the rest of so-called Novorossia accepted the regime installed by a coup in 2014. So, Russia rightly let them experience the consequences. It may be unfair to normal people in that region, but the regime in the US is also unfair to the normal people living in the US, but they are a minority.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @Pater
  11. songbird says:

    What would be the best scenario to counter globohomo? Russia and the Ukraine re-united? Or Poland and the Ukraine united?

    It is an interesting philosophical question to me. What should be the goal? Forming the biggest economic-linguistic entity as a counterweight to the Anglosphere, or trying to form the most medium sized countries? Each with a different language? One to act as a filter or shield to the other.

    I am partial to the idea of a pozzed Germany potentially being relegated down a spot. Mainly, to sideline the regime.

  12. @A.A.

    Well, partially it is a matter of taste, but there are some objective things. In Ukrainian, like in Italian and spoken French, in most cases each consonant is followed by a vowel. There are much fewer sequences of two or more consonants together than in Russian, German, or English. In Ukrainian, like in Italian, you say exactly what’s written (in contrast to French, where you write many letters and pronounce no more than half of them).

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  13. Adam says:
    @German_reader

    But Russia is always making a big show of standing for sovereignty of nations and the Westphalian system

    So what? Russia does all kinds of stupid things. Putin believed that he could integrate Russia into the global order as ‘partners’ and look how that turned out. The idea that the status quo post 1991 should be continued in perpetuity is absurd.

    btw, why do you feel so strongly about this? I got the distinct impression that you’re an American…are you one of those people who are so disgusted with their own country

    Ukrainians pollute the discourse on all discussions of Russia and Russian history. The comment sections on this blog is an excellent example of this. Ukrainian rhetoric is also so extreme and hysterical it can’t help but leave a bad taste in the mouth. Look at how they react on social media whenever some tragedy happens in Russia. If you’re so butthurt about my comment, just wait until you see the things they write.

    You shouldn’t take comments made on an internet blog as indicative of some deep aspect of my personality though. I don’t think about or agitate against Ukraine in real life. I’m not a Russian nationalist and unlike zionists I don’t think the interests of a foreign state and people should be adopted as state policy. While my opinion of Russian culture is very high, my opinion about the Russian state and modern Russian society is quite negative. But I think Russians should adopt nationalism. Why not?

    lol, as if Putin should take the advice of internet warriors like you

    Damn. Putin definitely reads this blog, but I guess there’s just no chance he’ll put my policies into action.

  14. @Adam

    I’m not a Russian nationalist.

    In other words, you’re neither Russian nor Ukrainian, but you still write visceral comments about sending people to work camps in Siberia, as if this was somehow your own conflict.
    lol, as I wrote really reminds me of gentile Zionists. Someone should do a study about this kind of vicarious nationalism, it’s an interesting psychological phenomenon.

    • Agree: Yevardian
    • Replies: @Adam
  15. @Adam

    You don’t take into account self-selection and the life in a society pervaded by thought policing. Most Ukrainians posting on social media the crap you refer to are either the most butt-hurt suffering from a severe inferiority complex, or paid trolls. Many of them don’t even live in their “blessed” Ukraine and don’t want to live there. Many normal Ukrainians who actually live in Ukraine don’t post anything sane for fear of the SBU (Ukrainian equivalent of Gestapo in everything, including kidnapping and torture). A huge proportion of people in Ukraine are quite normal, but most of them are scared of their regime.

  16. @Adam

    Speaking of Siberia, people living there don’t want any Ukies sent their way, rightly saying that they don’t want additional scum in their region, they have enough home-grown.

  17. Adam says:
    @German_reader

    I meant Azov types and foreign war tourists who commit psychopathic acts in Donbass. Why shouldn’t I hate those people? I hate terrorists in plenty of other contexts as well.

    Interesting how you discount everything after ‘I’m not a Russian nationalist’. I’m really sorry I said a mean thing 🙁

    • Replies: @German_reader
  18. @Adam

    I meant Azov types and foreign war tourists who commit psychopathic acts in Donbass.

    Well sure, I don’t want to condone the activities of such people either, though I’m not sure they’re more than a fringe phenomenon (imo Russia understandably enough tries to play up the fascist angle in its own propaganda and direct the focus on such Nazi-like extremists).
    Anyway, I don’t really want to get drawn further into this discussion, I’m neither fully pro-Russian nor pro-Ukrainian in this matter.

  19. There is almost no lexical borrowing by English from Welsh. Dad and car being exceptional. On the other hand, almost all the verbal forms that English has that are distinct from German are identical to Welsh forms.

    In early medieval times, there was clearly a gradient of dialects from the West Slavs to the East Slavs changing village by village. The ones that acquired a church became !anguages.

    Polish is clearly grammatically rather different from Russian, not being inflected but we’re the inflections the work of monks anyway? Ukrainian monks were writing in local Slavic before there was a Metropolitan in Moscow. At the time, the Russian city of influence was Novgorod. So Ukrainian has its own roots. Modern Russian was a conscious blending of the peasant speech of Moscow with the current version of Church Slavonic by Lomonsov as late as the 18th C. Ukrainian was consolidated similarly a century later using a different peasant input more exposed to Polish (made a literary language by the Latin rather than the Greek Church).

    Arguments about some notional superiority of origin or forms of expression are ridiculous. (I am moderately bilingual in Welsh/English). At times I have reached decent abilities in French, German and Russian. I have had smatterings of Latin, Japanese and Swedish so I have some practical insight into emotional and technical issues of language). I am not impressed by Russian imperialist arguments. They come over like English class war against regional accents 40 years ago.

    • Replies: @Adam
  20. Mr. XYZ says:
    @German_reader

    AFAIK, Anatoly wants Russia to outright annex all of Novorossiya while putting Kiev and northeastern Ukraine within Russia’s sphere of influence. Western Ukraine can do whatever the Hell it wants, including become Banderastan.

  21. Lot says:
    @Adam

    “neutered rump state … sent to work camps in Siberia”

    Gee I wonder why Western Ukrainians are not eager to rejoin mother Russia.

    • Replies: @Adam
  22. @AnonFromTN

    Ukrainian was codified more recently. There has been less time for pronunciation to drift.

  23. @AnonFromTN

    You are to be congratulated on your exposition of the Narrative. RT could learn from you.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  24. Adam says:
    @Philip Owen

    almost all the verbal forms that English has that are distinct from German are identical to Welsh forms.

    Such as? Seems doubtful that a language would adopt grammar from a very different language while borrowing almost no words.

    Polish is clearly grammatically rather different from Russian, not being inflected but we’re the inflections the work of monks anyway?

    What? Polish is just as inflected as Russian and inflections certainly were not the work of monks.

    Arguments about some notional superiority of origin or forms of expression are ridiculous.

    Agreed, but language nationalism is often a very useful tool. The Irish decided English could coexist and now use of the Irish language in everyday life is nearly dead.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @songbird
  25. Lot says:
    @Adam

    “Ukrainians pollute the discourse on all discussions of Russia”

    From my completely indifferent perspective, Russia degrades its large and expensive English-language propaganda network with its Ukraine bashing.

    I think a lot of RT, Sputnik, etc is pretty well written and effective at undermining the anti-Russia elite line. But it is full of abrupt and ham-handed attacks on the “Nazis” in Ukraine, and has 20 times more Ukraine content than general Anglosphere readers care about.

    It would be sort of like The Guardian’s US edition being full of left wing stuff relating to Manchester’s local elections.

  26. @Adam

    У меня есть has similarity to the Welsh ‘y Mae gen i’ . The ‘y’ is rather literary ànd only used in very formal speech, more so in writing. The construction probably has PIE roots.

    I have been told that мат has resemblences to Finnish not found in decent Russian. I know neither мат nor Finnish so I cannot confirm this.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  27. Adam says:
    @Lot

    I get your point, but it’s funny how people get more butthurt about comments on a blog than the Ukrainian state killing civilians because they don’t want to be a part of Ukraine.

  28. Epigon says:

    Linguistic continuity is expected.

    In case of south Slavic Shtokavian dialects, there used to be a geographic-linguistic continuity starting from east Bulgarian, west Bulgarian, Torlakian, east Serbian, west Serbian.

    Ukrainian and Belarusian are obviously influenced by Polish in addition to having local, regional peculiarities that developed over time. Case in point – Surzhyk and Galician dialects.

    I see english wikipedia went full retard with inventing “old east slavic” and other linguistic and historical nonsense – such as replacing Old Russian/Rus’/Medieval Russian with “East Slavic” wherever possible – the truth is that all three modern East Slavic languages developed from Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian – diverging over time. Back then, language was de facto equal to ethnicity, so there should be no doubt which language was spoken by the people in “Russian lands” as they called them.

  29. @Adam

    ‘do’ forms for example.

    There are linguists who think that English was spoken in Britain (along the East coast) long before Anglo Saxons arrived and renewed the vocabulary. The Romans did not describe languages spoken in Britain.

    • LOL: Epigon
  30. songbird says:
    @Adam

    The Irish decided English could coexist and now use of the Irish language in everyday life is nearly dead.

    I don’t know if they really decided it. I mean, by that time there were few native speakers of Irish, and they lived in isolated areas, some of which didn’t get electricity until the 1970s.

    There’s was some rhetoric about a turn around, using the isolated areas as a seed of Irish language and culture. It never happened – the Blasket islands were so isolated that the people there had to be evacuated. They were running out of young men to do the hard work of fishing and rowing to the mainland. Many of them had gone to America – America probably helped kill (or nearly kill) the Irish language.

    That’s a difficult or impossible thing to turn around. I guess they could have tried an intense program of increasing censorship of English, but that would have required an enormous willpower and the foresight of understanding that English was going to become the language of globohomo.

    • Replies: @Matra
  31. @German_reader

    I think I’ve been pretty clear about my stance on the Ukraine.

    “Close contacts” with the UkSSR as it stands – an anti-Russian project whose elites are Atlanticist in orientation, and always have been – is a non starter, at least short of Russia’s own dissolution as a sovereign Power.

    I supported carving out Novorossiya in 2014, when the Ukrainian Army dissolved for a few months.

    That is obviously unrealistic at the present time, so the strategy now needs to be economic strangulation (e.g. Nord Stream II) and encouraging brain drain (e.g. my proposed 31 Steps for the Ukraine) instead.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Mr. Hack
  32. @German_reader

    But Russia is always making a big show of standing for sovereignty of nations and the Westphalian system, including non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, so by its own standards dismemberment of Ukraine would be illegitimate.

    Yeah, I don’t think cucking yourself over abstract principles is a great idea. It is good that Russia no longer does this.

  33. @Philip Owen

    Like I really care. I don’t blindly accept any point of view. Even though RT lies a lot less then NYT, WaPo, or CNN, it does not mean that they tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As a biologist, I believe that nature gave us two eyes for a good reason: you can reliably see the real world only from two different perspectives.

  34. @Anatoly Karlin

    That is obviously unrealistic at the present time, so the strategy now needs to be economic strangulation (e.g. Nord Stream II) and encouraging brain drain

    But what’s your end goal for Ukraine?
    Hypothetically, if there was some settlement guaranteeing that Ukraine will never join NATO (as there should be imo) and ensuring language rights etc. for Russian-speakers, would you still think that Ukraine needs to be “dismembered”?
    iirc you’ve made several statements of the sort that without Ukraine Russian civilization isn’t viable, how bad it was for Russia to lose Kiev etc., which seems to imply that you’d want some sort of annexation even if Ukraine wasn’t pro-American/pro-EU.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  35. @Philip Owen

    Many Russian swear words have Tatar origins. Just as many Russian disparaging words: e.g., “sarai” in Tatar/Turkish mean palace, whereas in Russian it mean a shack, “yakshi” in Tatar/Turkish means “good”, whereas in Russian a verbal derivative of this (“yakshatsya”) means associate with undesirables, etc. About a 100 years of Tatar rule gave essentially all Tatar words negative connotations in Russian. One exception is the word “otets” meaning “father”, it is derived from Tatar/Turkish “ata” meaning the same thing.

  36. @German_reader

    All that is totally irrelevant now. Considering how much Ukraine owes today, even if every Ukrainian female works as a prostitute (and who needs so many prostitutes except China?) and every Ukrainian sells one kidney (and who needs so many kidneys except China?) it won’t be able to pay off its debt. Now their new clown-president plans to sell land. But nobody will pay much for it, considering uncertainties. They already have negative examples in attempts to sell industrial assets: there were no buyers even for a fraction of a price these were worth just six years ago.

    If I were Russian president, I’d only accept debt-free areas (like Donbass, where Western money were used to pay for mass murder of civilians), and nothing else. I’d let the rest rot in their own “choice” and stink to high heaven.

  37. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    “Close contacts” with the UkSSR as it stands – an anti-Russian project whose elites are Atlanticist in orientation, and always have been – is a non starter, at least short of Russia’s own dissolution as a sovereign Power.

    Absolute total nonsense, and you should know better. A pro-Russian elite was in power not that long ago. The Party of Regions was a large well organized party that espoused a very pro-Russian stance. They all jumped ship when their leader was chased out of the country, and are still to a great extent in dissaray. The pro-Russian orientation lost out and Ukraine moved on, it was time to try something different.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  38. utu says:

    while the Poles and White Russians and Little Russians retained the Slavic originals

    There was nothing to retain. Slavs did not have a formal calendar. They did not have a concept of months. They did not conduct astronomical observations. They did not have a written language prior to adoption of Christianity. Everything came from Romans. Even Byzantine Greeks transliterated names of months from Latin. The local Slavic names were constructed and introduced fairly late. It was haphazard and artificial process. In some cases constructions occurred as late as 19 century when local language constructions were undergoing in Slavic lands during the era of birth of nationalisms which was obviously steered and funded from outside by those who wanted to undermine Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian empires (think of France and England).

    Comparing languages in their present form to support some nationalistic ethno-ideations is nonsensical. Particularly when it comes to Slavic languages with the scarcity of written sources texts.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  39. @Mr. Hack

    Yanuk was certainly not pro-Russian. In fact, he initiated the negotiations with the EU. Being a bit more versatile thief than Porky, and thinking himself smarter than he really is, he tried to get something from Russia blackmailing it with the EU and from the EU blackmailing it with Russia. He lost his bluff and should have lost his life. I am sure Putin now regrets saving this cowardly good-for-nothing scoundrel. The US does not show these scruples with Porky: they just discarded him, like a used condom. This is only natural: the problems of Indians do not concern the sheriff.

    The Party of Regions (of which Porky was one of the founding fathers, so anyone can see that it was a collection of scum) also was not Pro-Russian and not even a party in the usual sense: it was a tool of mobilizing sheeple, funded by a number of oligarchs. Many of them felt that Yanuk is stealing too much, cutting into loot they considered theirs by rights. Hence many of the same thieves that funded the Party of Regions before funded Maidan in 2013-14. One constant thing since 1991 is rampant thievery. That’s why Ukraine is where it is, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  40. @utu

    Everything came from Romans

    How come, then, that Roman alphabet came from Greek? Or that Roman Gods were borrowed from Greeks and renamed, except gods and goddesses of things that Greeks did not have, like sewers, so the goddess of sewers Cloacina was a purely Roman invention. Something does not jibe here.

  41. Mr. Hack says:
    @AnonFromTN

    One of the mainstay planks of the Party of Regions was to express the interests of Russian nationals within Ukraine including the rights of Russian speaking Ukrainians and the defense of using the Russian language. It’s main stronghold was in the Donbas area, the region where in fact Yanukovych hailed from (and you too if I’m not mitaken?) Since it’s been around since 1997 and was in its heyday from 2002 -2014, I wouldn’t be surprised if you yourself weren’t at least a strong supporter or a member of this Russian leaning party.
    Your characterization of Yanukovych as a crook and the reasons for his support of the EU seem reasonable enough. I too don’t understand why Putin still keeps him around and doesn’t boot his sorry ass out of the country. He certainly caused plenty of problems for Putin and Russia too, not to mention Ukraine.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  42. @Adam

    ‘…Why should Russia tolerate a hostile state on its borders?’

    But isn’t this a self-fulfilling prophesy? Doesn’t Russia tend to wind up regarding any state she borders as hostile? When has she managed to maintain decent relations with a bordering state for any length of time?

    On the one hand, I can sympathize with Russian reluctance to accept openly hostile Ukraines et al on her border. On the other hand, the rest of the world can hardly be expected to acquiesce in a process of infinite expansion as Russia successively finds it impossible to get along with her current neighbors, eats them, then can’t get along with the new ones, ad infinitem. This could be seen as the course of Tsarist Russia from Ivan the Terrible right through to the Revolution, then again under the Communists from the Russo-Polish War right through to Russian intervention in Afghanistan.

    • Agree: Lot, utu, German_reader
  43. @Adam

    What does Ukraine have to offer the world?

    Hotties with huge tits. Are you retarded?

    Ukraine has not even begun to harness its biggest natural resource.

  44. Anon 2 says:

    1. Names of the months

    It’s a silly argument (12 words out of tens of thousands) that proves nothing.
    In Poland from the 10th to at least 16th-17th century Latin was the language
    of the educated people, and hence heavily used in books and documents.
    E.g., Copernicus’ magnum opus was entitled De Revolutionibus Orbium
    Celestium (1543). The names of the months were also in Latin: Ianuarius,
    Februarius, Marcius, etc. The Polish names (styczeń, …) were invented later
    but apparently nobody knows exactly when and by whom. Meanwhile
    the educated people switched from Latin to French, and nobody really
    cared how the peasants referred to the months.

    2. I’m stressing the importance of Latin because Polish is probably the most
    latinized language of the major Slavic languages, due to Catholicism and the
    fact that since the Piast dynasty (early 900s AD) there was close contact
    between Poland and Rome which gave Poland early access to the riches
    of the Italian culture. E.g., the Polish-Lithuanian Republic was expressly
    patterned after the Roman Republic. The Catholic Mass (before the 2nd
    Vatican Council) was in Latin, so you had to know what “Dominus vobiscum”
    and “Oremus” meant. Many parishes still have Gregorian choirs where
    they teach you how to chant hymns in Latin, e.g., Dies Irae or Tantum Ergo.
    The oratorio is a serious musical form in Poland – you can see its influence
    in Zbigniew Preisner’s music in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s films such as The Double
    Life of Veronique. Polish law has a tradition going back at least 1000 years, and
    it’s not common law but rather it’s based on Roman law and Christian
    universalism. Latin expressions such as Mens sana in corpore sano, Errare
    humanum est, or Inter pedes puellarum est voluntas puerorum (an obscene
    expression you pick up from students when you study Latin in Poland lol) are common.
    I myself took 4 years of Latin, and am a big fan of Latin, and Latin-derived
    languages such as Italian or French, and in the U.S. you pick up Spanish
    by osmosis – it’s all around you these days.

    In Poland the love of Latin extends to almost anything connected to art,
    music, and culture in general. For example, Latin names of cities, e.g., Varsovia,
    Cracovia, or Vratislavia (or Wratislavia) are often used. For example, Sinfonia
    Varsovia is an orchestra based in Warsaw. Wratislavia Cantans (literally Wrocław
    Sings) is a choir based in Wroclaw. I’m a big proponent of transforming Polish
    into a hybrid language like English. Slavic languages are hard enough, they don’t
    need to get any harder. Hence I was relieved when ‘oświata’ was replaced in Poland by
    ‘edukacja,’ ‘skrobanka’ by ‘aborcja,’ ‘pochwa’ by ‘wagina,’ etc. In many ways
    I think Poland is culturally closer to Italy, France, Spain or Latin America.
    At conferences I often end up talking to Italians, Spanish or Portuguese – we have
    Catholicism in common, and their way of life seems very familiar to me. The
    Germanics, on the other hand, seem completely alien to me.

  45. Anon 2 says:

    Another example, this time from mathematics. The difference
    between Polish and Russian:

    English: Differential calculus
    Polish: Rachunek różniczkowy
    Russian: Differentsialnoye ischislenie

    Note that Polish, unlike Russian, uses a Slavic equivalent of the word
    ‘differential.’ One can give many similar examples, e.g., ‘integral’ is
    ‘całka’ in Polish, and ‘integral’ in Russian. I believe that the Slavic
    equivalents in Polish, invented around 1800, were a form of self-defense and
    self-assertion against the encroachment of German into Poland. The last Partition
    of Poland (i.e., the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) took place in 1795. Moreover,
    the Romantic era valorized individual languages and cultures – that’s when
    fairy tales and folk songs were being collected. As I understand, German itself went
    through an orgy of purification in the 18th century, trying to remove as much
    Latin (and French) as possible and replace it with German equivalents. In the
    19th century the Polish language was fighting for its life. Both Germany and Russia
    were determined to destroy it. For example, Maria Sklodowska (Curie) was risking
    being sent to Siberia when as a young woman she taught Polish to peasant children.
    In effect, Germany and Russia stole the 19th century from Poland. Germany, for
    example, did not allow any doctoral students from Poland to study at its universities,
    not even in the 1920s or ‘30s. Now it’s too late. The Age of Genius is over. Nobody is
    making great discoveries anymore. The Nobel prizes in physics are becoming a joke.
    The recent Breakthrough Prize was awarded for supergravity – a bunch of models that
    have no relation to reality. It’s a joke. But I digress.

    To summarize, in certain areas (e.g., months or math) Russian uses Western terms in
    contrast to Polish which employs Slavonic terms. I personally would recommend
    switching to Western terms in math in Polish but the names of the months are kind
    of quaint, and hence fun. They can stay. Thus Polish is somewhat conservative in these
    two narrow areas but otherwise it’s a very expansive and inventive language. I wouldn’t
    call it conservative at all. For example, in the last few decades Polish has been absorbing
    countless words and expressions from English. Everybody says “sorry” or “wow.” You
    see headlines, “Koniec blackoutu w Londynie,” or words like “newsletter” everywhere.
    There is now a Polish equivalent of the word ‘serendipity,’. – ‘serendypność.’

    One great strength of the Slavonic languages, which is completely missing in English, is
    the number of diminutives and augmentatives one can invent from almost any word.
    I amuse my American friends by showing them how the word “pies” (dog in Polish)
    can give rise to so many different diminutives and augmentatives: piesek, psinka,
    psiunia, psisko, piesiunio, etc. To me ‘House of Pies’ you sometimes see in the U.S.,
    referring to places that serve dessert, looks like ‘House of Dog’ lol. English is a cold
    language – expressing emotional nuances is a challenge in English in contrast to
    Slavonic languages where it’s very easy.

    • Replies: @Tom67
  46. WHAT says:

    Quite ironically, when this fake and gay pseudostate is finally partitioned for good, ukrainian as a language may be preserved best in Russia. Poles, Hungarians and whatever others will undoubtedly visit uncle Adolf-style unification reforms on khokhol, and who will even argue with it?

    That is if their fresh new clown doesn`t sell the land itself to someone else before then.

  47. Just leaving this here for fun.
    (for non-Slavic speakers, the 3 columns are same words in Russian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian)

    So yeah, lexical distance arguments are bullshit, and so are linguistic arguments in general when arguing about ethnicity. Han Chinese speak several mutually unintelligible languages, so do Kurds.
    Romanians are genetically much closer to Bulgarians than to Italians or French people. Etc etc.

    My opinion on the Ukrainian language is that it’s confused and somewhat retarded Russian (same as my opinion on the Ukrainian people).

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  48. It should also be noted that there’s more to a language than just vocabulary. There are the issues of grammar and syntax as well. It would be interesting to see how Ukrainian compares there with Russian and Polish.

  49. This graph …

    … was up for discussion a few months ago, and I set out my reservations about it in that thread.

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/ldnr-residents-to-get-russian-passports/

    Long story short: the data was calculated in the Ukrainian SSR (possible bias) in Soviet times (possible bias), and we know nothing about the methodology (possible bias).

  50. @Adam

    Ukrainian also has Turkic loanwords, though less than Russian.

    False. Ukrainian has more loans from Turkic languages than Russian.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  51. As for Ukrainian’s status vis-à-vis Russian, my impression is that literate Russians long saw Ukrainian as a Russian dialect rather than as a language. Here is Nabokov, for instance, writing about Gogol in 1944.

    I have never been able to see eye to eye with people who enjoyed books merely because they were in dialect, or moved in the exotic atmosphere of remote places. The clown who appears in a spangled suit never seems as funny to me as the one who comes in wearing an undertaker’s striped pants and a dickey. There is nothing more dull and sickening to my taste than romantic folklore or rollicking yarns about lumberjacks or Yorkshiremen or French villagers or Ukrainian good companions. It is for this reason that the two volumes of the Evenings as well as the two volumes of stories entitled Mirgorod (containing Viy, Taras Bulba, Old World Landowners, etc.) which followed in 1835, leave me completely indifferent. It was however this kind of stuff, the juvenilia of the false humorist Gogol, that teachers in Russian schools crammed down a fellow’s throat. The real Gogol dimly transpires in the patchy Arabesques (containing Nevsky Avenue, The Memoirs of a Madman and The Portrait); then bursts into full life with The Government Inspector, The Overcoat and Dead Souls.

    In his Dikanka and Taras Bulba phase (and how right he was in his riper years to ignore or reject those artificial works of his youth) Gogol was skirting a very dreadful precipice. He almost became a writer of Ukrainian folklore tales and ‘colorful romances.’ We must thank fate (and the author’s thirst for universal fame) for his not having turned to the Ukrainian dialect as a medium of expression, because then he would have been lost. When I want a good nightmare I imagine Gogol penning in Little Russian dialect volume after volume of Dikanka and Mirgorod stuff about ghosts haunting the banks of the Dniepr, burlesque Jews and dashing Cossacks.

    Nabokov’s words carry a lot of weight since he was famously obsessive in researching his Russian-English translations (notably Eugene Onegin, A Hero of Our Time, and The Song of Igor’s Campaign).

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
    , @AnonFromTN
  52. @AnonFromTN

    (eight, like Latin, whereas Russian has six)

    Despite what the schoolbooks say, Russian has many more cases than six. At the very least, Russian has a vocative and locative case that are in wide use and not studied in grade school grammar books.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  53. @AnonFromTN

    Many Russian swear words have Tatar origins.

    False and bullshit. Russian swear words are from pure Slavic stock. In fact, swear words are common and intelligible across all Slavic languages.

    “Отец” is also common Slavic and has no relation to anything Turkic whatsoever. The same word for ‘father’ is used in all Slavic languages.

  54. Despite what the schoolbooks say, Russian has many more cases than six. At the very least, Russian has a vocative and locative case that are in wide use and not studied in grade school grammar books.

    Yes and no. A case only “counts” as one if it applies all across the language. The locative case therefore doesn’t count, since it only applies to a limited set of nouns, but the prepositional case does.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  55. @Swedish Family

    The nouns that accept a locative case in Russian are not a closed class, it’s just a stylistic choice based on current (and shifting) norms. So I don’t quite agree.

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
  56. Tom67 says:
    @Anon 2

    Sorry, but you are wrong. Germany did in fact allow Polish language education before the 1st WW. It was only after the 1st WW when Poland suppressed its German minority to the point that for instance a majority of Germans in Thorun (Thorn in German) were turned into a 10% minority that there arose this strong anti Polish animus. — Just as easily forgotten today is the fact that the Reich under Bismarck was majority Protestant and the biggest inner German conflict (Kulturkampf) was with the Catholic church. German Catholics and Polish Catholics found themselves on the same side.
    Apart from that I am just sick of Russian attempts to simply ignore the fact that Ukraine does have an own language, culture and history. I am German and know Russian very well and Polish quite well. I have translated out of both of these languages into German and English.
    What you, Anon2 are saying about Latin influence on Polish is definately true. The same can be said of Latin influence on German. Finally there is the non negligable influence of German on Polish. Take for instance the word musi (must-müssen). Russian though was directly influenced by Greek through Church Slavonic and later very strongly by Polish. The influence of Polish on Russian mainly went through Ukraine from the time of Алексей Михайлович.
    Still as any translator knows the upshot of all this is that although Polish grammar is more complicated than Russian grammar it is much easier to translate from Polish into English or German than from Russian. The reason being that any formulation of abstract thought was in all three western languages directly translated from Latin (loan translation is the technical term) whereas Russian derived its abstract thinking from Greek through Church slavonic.

  57. @Tom67

    Germany did in fact allow Polish language education before the 1st WW.

    German rule over Poles became increasingly oppressive in the last 30-40 years before WW1, even in Posen province (which had a clear Polish majority iirc) German became the official language in schools, leading to much conflict:
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wreschener_Schulstreik
    Imperial Germany has often been unfairly demonized imo, but still, one has to acknowledge its treatment of its Polish majority was nothing to be proud of.

    • Replies: @Tom67
  58. @Tom67

    Apart from that I am just sick of Russian attempts to simply ignore the fact that Ukraine does have an own language, culture and history.

    There’s no such thing as “Ukraine”. “Ukraine” is a Soviet frankenstein homunculus invented by Soviet madmen precisely so that Eastern Europe has a perpetual ‘sick man’ right inside it.

    Lvov, Odessa, Kiev and Lugansk have nothing, nothing in common – not language, not culture, not history, except for some insane Soviet legacies that can’t yet die out, like a particularly virulent zombie.

    Just split this syphilic madhouse up, take Lvov and begone.

    • Troll: Mr. Hack
  59. Mr. Hack says:
    @Swedish Family

    To me, Nabokov’s sentiments sound like those of a typical Russian chauvinist. His disdain for the Ukrainian language and folklore masks the everpresent feeling of false superiority of Russian culture towards Ukrainian. Russians forget that it was those like Gogol that helped to propel them unto the world stage of culture in the 18th century. Ukrainain churchmen, scholars, politicians, musicians, skilled artisans were all drawn into building up the imperial north, to the neglect of the Ukrainian south.

  60. Mr. Hack says:
    @Spisarevski

    Pisarevski, you’re pissing in the wind again – jump before you get wet! 🙂

  61. @Tom67

    The reason being that any formulation of abstract thought was in all three western languages directly translated from Latin (loan translation is the technical term) whereas Russian derived its abstract thinking from Greek through Church slavonic.

    The influence of Greek on Russian is nil. The influence of Greek on OCS is debatable, but personally I think it’s not so important. (All those calques notwithstanding.)

    No, the reason Russian is hard to translate is because Russian is not a ‘normal’ Indo-European languages, it has a lot of innovative features that came from who knows where. (It seems that some Celtic languages are similar in ‘weirdness’ to Russian, but this is probably a case of parallel evolution.)

    Some say that a Finnic substrate is responsible — which is fun to think about — but doesn’t seem grounded in facts. For example, Russian has tones that carry syntactic (!) information. This is certainly not a feature taken from Finnic. (In fact, I don’t know of other languages that do this; maybe some African ones, lol.)

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  62. @Mr. Hack

    American saw explains “interest” of the Party of Regions in Russians and Russian language best:
    – How do you know a politician is lying?
    – His lips are moving.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  63. @anonymous coward

    True. E.g., Maidan is a Turkish word, meaning “square”.

  64. Mr. Hack says:
    @AnonFromTN

    American saw explains “interest” of the Party of Regions in Russians and Russian language best:

    Hey Professor Jannissar, learn to communicate in inteligible English, or better yet, stick to your musty testubes!

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  65. Matra says:
    @songbird

    According to a report I saw on RTE (state broadcaster) there’s nothing to worry about because some of the ‘New Irish’ from Nigeria have a real passion for the Irish language. So the language will be saved. Thank God for the immigrants.

  66. @Mr. Hack

    Glad that a typo gives a Ukie the feeling of victory. As there are no other victories, Ukies have to clutch even at minor ones. Funny.

    BTW, just saw (this is not a typo) an interesting thought expressed by a Russian blogger about Ze: “Since Ukraine is a circus, a professional clown must be at the helm”.

  67. @Tom67

    Apart from that I am just sick of Russian attempts…

    Good for you.

    As our Fuhrer once said, why don’t you instead go teach your wife how to cook schi.

    • Replies: @Tom67
  68. @AnonFromTN

    One exception is the word “otets” meaning “father”, it is derived from Tatar/Turkish “ata” meaning the same thing.

    Wiktionary has átta as Proto-Indo-European, but with just one reference (Etymological Dictionary of the Altaic Languages), so who knows?

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/%C3%A1tta

    • Replies: @Adam
  69. Adam says:
    @Swedish Family

    It also lists a bunch of cognates in other Indo-European branches, so it seems like a well attested reconstruction. As far as I know there were no Turkic loans into PIE.

  70. @anonymous coward

    The nouns that accept a locative case in Russian are not a closed class, it’s just a stylistic choice based on current (and shifting) norms. So I don’t quite agree.

    I bow to your better ear for the Russian language, but the impression the outsider gets when reading about these things is that the words that allow the locative case are a fixed lot of mostly ancient words.

    Nevertheless, approximately 150 masculine nouns retain a distinct form for the locative case, used only after “в” and “на”. These forms end in “-у́” or “-ю́”: “лежать в снегу́”, ležať v snegú (to lie in the snow), but “думать о снеге”, dumať o snege (to think about snow). Other examples are рай, raj (paradise); “в раю”, дым dym (smoke); and “в дыму”, v dymú. As indicated by the accent marks, the stress is always on the last syllable, which is unlike the dative-case forms with the same spelling. A few feminine nouns that end with the soft sign, such as дверь and пыль, also have a locative form that differs from the prepositional in that the stress shifts to the final syllable: “на двери”, na dverí (“on the door”), but “при две́ри”, pri dvéri (“by the door”). These distinct forms are sometimes referenced as “second locative” or “new locative”, because they developed independently from the true locative case, which existed in the Old Russian.[1][2][3]

    With some words, such as дом, dom (house), the second locative form is used only in certain idiomatic expressions, while the prepositional is used elsewhere. For example, “на дому́”, na domu (“at the house” or “at home”) would be used to describe activity that is performed at home, while “на до́ме” (“on the house”) would be used to specify the location of the roof.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locative_case#Russian

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  71. @Swedish Family

    Ukrainian is a language, regardless of its origins. After all, American English is a bastardized and simplified version of British English, but it is a language. Besides, Nabokov is hardly an authority on linguistics. He is right in one thing: if Gogol chose to write in Ukrainian, his impact would be about the same as if he wrote in Zulu. But Gogol hardly had choice: he was an inalienable part of Russian literature, following his predecessors and setting trends for later writers.

  72. Pater says:
    @AnonFromTN

    Not too sure about that, they lost Belarus & kept Chechnya.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  73. @anonymous coward

    The use of locative case in Russian is quite limited. Vocative case does not have a special form of a noun in Russian, whereas in Ukrainian it does. In Ukrainian school books of Soviet period it was called “vocative form” to keep the number of cases the same as in Russian. I don’t know what is the situation in Ukraine today. The Ukrainians I met recently do not appear to have any education worth the name (there were few of those, so I don’t have data for sweeping conclusions). A few people who got PhD from Taras Shevchenko Kiev University in the 21st century that I talked to are less qualified than my technicians. Again, I talked to too few to generalize.

  74. @anonymous coward

    Those in Wales who have studied PIE (first postulated by a Welshman in India) consider that Slavic languages preserve many features of PIE nouns and Brythonic Celtic (Welsh, Breton & Cornish) have preserved more of the verbal inflections. The languages in between have been more innovative and simplified many grammatical forms.

  75. @Pater

    I guess Russia kept Chechnya because its separation is impractical. There is geography, as well as the fact that more Chechens live in the rest of Russia than in Chechnya. Not to mention that when Chechnya was given a de-facto independence under Yeltsin (may he rot in Hell), Chechen Islamists invaded Dagestan.

    As to losing Belarus, the jury is still out.

  76. @Swedish Family

    …the words that allow the locative case are a fixed lot of mostly ancient words.

    No. The Russian locative denotes a hard-to-explain existential quality where something exists inside something else. The nouns that take this case usually denote an environment of some sort, not just any place. It’s an innovation and I’m guessing it came about because Russian lost the verb ‘to be’.

    The set of words that take this case is limited because the meaning of the case itself is specific and limited.

  77. Tom67 says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Yeah. Kiev is really Russian, all Ukrainian nationalists are Nazis and Russians are the best and most moral people in the world. And of course as Ukrainian is sure as hell closer to Russian than to Polish it really has no claim to be an independent language. If I wouldn´t know Russia very well I´d be mightily disconcerted. But as it is I know that there are lot´s of people in Russia who are quite able to follow Matthew 7:3: Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

    • Troll: TheTotallyAnonymous
  78. Are Russian and Ukrainian mutually intelligible? A Francophone can just about read simple Italian. How different are the grammars?

    • Replies: @AP
  79. utu says:
    @Tom67

    …it is much easier to translate from Polish into English or German than from Russian. The reason being that any formulation of abstract thought was in all three western languages directly translated from Latin (loan translation is the technical term) whereas Russian derived its abstract thinking from Greek through Church slavonic.

    Interesting. Anybody else shares this opinion?

  80. AP says:

    So, Belorussian, Ukrainian – much closer to Russian than to Polish. But superficially appears more distant on account of differential vocabulary borrowings.

    Why superficially?

    In general – Ukrainian grammar and pronunciation are closer to Russian, its vocabulary is closer to Polish.

    If you define “similarity” by vocabulary, then Ukrainian is closer to Polish. If you define it by grammar or structure, then it’s closer to Russian. Realistically, it is about equidistant.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  81. AP says:
    @Guillaume Durocher

    Are Russian and Ukrainian mutually intelligible?

    Someone with no experience of the other would not be able to understand or follow a conversati0n.
    But they could rather easily learn.

  82. Marcus says:
    @AP

    I guess you could draw an analogy of the impact of Polish rule on Ukrainian with that of Norman rule on English: it imported over half of its vocabulary from French, but structurally remained Germanic rather than Romance.

    • Replies: @AP
  83. Anon 2 says:
    @Tom67

    Leszek Kołakowski, Polish philosopher best known for his magisterial
    three-volume work “Main Currents of Marxism,” once wrote, a bit
    humorously, that Polish and German are identical languages. Perhaps
    he was looking at German translations of his works, and realized how
    easy it was to produce impeccable German translations, as compared
    to, say, English translations.

  84. Anon 2 says:

    As to the pronunciation, it’s a cliché in Poland that southern accents, say associated with
    Krakow, are more pleasant than the Warsaw accent. Hence many people loved Pope John
    Paul II’s way of speaking and singing, which is still easily available on YouTube. I must
    confess though that the Warsaw dialect, immortalized by Stefan Wiech in his numerous
    books and recordings, can be very charming, particularly because Wiech was a brilliant
    humorist. It’s charming in the sense that it represents the living, breathing speech of
    Warsaw’s prewar working class – it’s a form of life that still existed in the 1950s and ‘60s
    when people who remembered prewar Poland were still alive but is now close to
    extinction. The speech of Warsaw’s 1930s intelligentsia, on the other hand, was
    immortalized by the Kabaret Starszych Panów (Cabaret of Older Gentlemen), founded
    by Jeremi Przybora in the 1950s. Somebody should translate their poems and songs,
    like “Addio Pomidory.” This is satire at the highest level.

    Many people’s favorite Polish accent was the 1930s Lvov pronunciation. Eugeniusz Bodo,
    the star of the 1930s Polish cinema, spoke with this type of accent. You can watch him
    online in movies such as “Piętro Wyżej” (The floor above). It’s an eastern (kresowy) accent
    which softens the occasional harshness of the Warsaw accent. It’s an interesting question
    whether the presence of 2-3 million Ukrainians and Belarusians in Poland will bring back
    the prewar eastern pronunciation. To the Polish ear, for example, the Russian language
    sounds very soft and feminine, which can be charming.

    Another cliché in Poland is that the Ukrainians pick up the language very quickly
    whereas the Russians experience severe difficulty in learning Polish (or maybe are
    more psychologically resistant). But there are counterexamples. You can find
    Kristina Kurcheva on Facebook, originally from SPB, whose Polish is so perfect
    she works at a Warsaw radio station, but I suspect she moved to Poland as
    a little girl. Another example is a young woman who has a vlog on YouTube
    under the name Marain. She grew up in Moscow, but then she (and her brother)
    got Karta Polaka (Polonian’s Card), and moved to Warsaw where she is now
    a student. Her family is heavily Polish from western Belarus. Her Polish is
    so good now that she alternates between Russian and Polish in her vlog.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  85. Anon 2 says:
    @Anon 2

    Another example of the Russians who managed to master Polish
    are a brother and sister team from Siberia. They have now been
    students in Poland for 4-5 years, and her Polish, at least, is nearly
    impeccable. She even includes many colloquialisms in her speech,
    but then women are generally more fluent in speaking a foreign
    language than men. Check out their video ”Pierwsze Wrażenia
    Rosjan z Polski” (First impressions of Russians from Poland) by
    Pr. Syberyjski. Of course, they love the climate compared to
    Siberia but they are also impressed by how the disabled find it
    easy to get around in Poland, as compared to Russia.

    Here’s an interesting video, “10 reasons to run away from Russia
    to Poland 2019” (in Russian) by Bogdan. He tries to dispel the
    false idea that Russians are hated in Poland. He says that the
    Polish are decent people who are perfectly capable of distinguishing
    between the government and the Russian people.

    Finally, a Polish vlog by a good-looking Ukrainian woman, Helen
    Mazanova. E.g., check out her video “Dlaczego Pokochałam
    Polskę”(Why I fell in love with Poland). After 4-5 years in Poland
    her Polish is nearly perfect. She lives in the Opole region, which
    means she is very close to both Prague and Berlin if she wants to
    travel. Her vlog gets a lot of views, probably because of her
    beauty and femininity, a rare thing in the West these days.

  86. Anon 2 says:

    By the way, there is not a hint that Russia or Ukraine have
    a heavily Latinized culture like Poland. And this is one of
    many reasons why the distinction between Central Europe
    and Eastern Europe is valid, and has explanatory power.

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
    , @AP
  87. @Anon 2

    By the way, there is not a hint that Russia or Ukraine have
    a heavily Latinized culture like Poland.
    And this is one of
    many reasons why the distinction between Central Europe
    and Eastern Europe is valid, and has explanatory power.

    What horseradish … Well into the 19th century, Russians always read English books in their French (i.e. Latinate) translation, and still in the early 20th, the young Nabokov’s father complained that his son spoke better French than Russian.

    As for Polish culture, it’s obviously a blend of Slavonic and German culture, as you would expect after years of Teutonic influence, so I do agree that it’s more “Western” than Russian culture. Whether this is good or bad is debatable. In 2019, I think the answer is no: Eastern Slavonic culture is already plenty liberal enough, so whatever the West brings to the table will be individualist consumerism or some offshoot thereof.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  88. AP says:
    @Anon 2

    Kiev Academy was based on the model of a Jesuit school, using Latin as a language of instruction. For generations local elites studied here, and naturallty were fluent in the language.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    , @Anon 2
  89. Anon 2 says:
    @Swedish Family

    If you read my previous posts in this thread, you would have noticed that

    (1) I explicitly mentioned that the educated classes switched from Latin to French
    (250-300 years ago). Joseph Conrad (Korzeniowski), for example, a member of the
    Polish nobility, was perfectly fluent in French, and even though his novels became
    part of the English canon, he himself still spoke a heavily accented English. I was talking
    about Poland but any educated person knows that similar things happened in Russia;

    (2) The thrust of my comment is not French but Latin, and the heavily Latinized culture
    in Poland TODAY, not 300 years ago, starting with the foundation of any healthy
    society – the legal system. Poland, unlike Russia, has a noble legal tradition going
    back to the early Middle Ages, based on continental law (i.e., Roman law and Christian
    universalism). This tradition included respect for private property and Neminem
    Captivabimus which predated the English version by a couple of hundred years.
    As I mentioned before, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was explicitly
    patterned after the Roman Republic – nothing like this existed in Russia or Prussia,
    both were authoritarian states with few limitations on the power of the ruler.
    So when I speak of the Polish system and culture being heavily Latinized, I mean
    primarily the centuries-old legal system and Catholicism, although their influence
    on the language (e.g., using names like Varsovia or Cracovia) is not to be minimized
    either.

    Prussia, which for centuries was Poland’s western neighbor had little influence
    on Poland. Prussia was Lutheran, Poland Catholic, the two denominations having
    very little in common. Even today in Poland Lutheranism is regarded as a gloomy
    distortion of Christianity. No wonder Kierkegaard wrote of Fear and Trembling.
    Compare Berlin and Vienna in the 19th century – Lutheran vs Catholic, gloom vs
    joy. Poland is many things, but it’s not gloomy like Prussia or Sweden. I mention
    Prussia since Poland’s neighbor was not Germany, but Prussia – heavily militarized
    authoritarian state, frankly the opposite of the Polish-Lithuanian Republic.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    , @AP
  90. Anon 2 says:
    @AP

    Yes, I remember you mentioned this interesting fact in one
    of your older posts

  91. Anon 2 says:
    @Anon 2

    I should note that Neminem Captivabimus (1430) was an early version of
    Habeas Corpus – there is no democracy without Habeas Corpus – and the
    Kingdom of Poland had it two hundred some years befoe England.

  92. Anon 2 says:
    @AP

    My grandfather, although Polish, graduated from the Kiev Polytechnic
    before the Bolshevik Revolution. Hence I have a lot of warm feelings for
    Kiev, Zhytomir, Lvov, etc – beautiful cities.

  93. AP says:
    @Anon 2

    Poland, unlike Russia, has a noble legal tradition going
    back to the early Middle Ages, based on continental law (i.e., Roman law and Christian
    universalism). This tradition included respect for private property and Neminem
    Captivabimus which predated the English version by a couple of hundred years.

    This caused a lot of friction between Russia and Ukraine after Ukraine came under Moscow. Mazepa”betrayed” Peter according to Western legal norms (that Peter did not follow)

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - If you are new to my work, *start here*. If you liked this post, and want me to produce more such content, consider *donating*.


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Anatoly Karlin Comments via RSS