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Ukrainian language
 
The DneprThe Ukraine was the heart of the Russian civilization, and Kiev, the modern capital of the country, was the first center of the Russian state. At that time, tribes that inhabited European Russia spoke one Old Russian language with some dialectal peculiarities. In the 13th century small semi-independent principalities of the Kiev Russia were conquered by the Mongols, and shortly afterwards, in the 14th century, Polish kingdom and Lithuanian principality occupied these lands, dividing them. Since then and until the 17th century, when the Ukraine rejoined the Russian state, Ukrainian was developing separately from Russian and Belorussian, under the influence of Polish, particularly in phonetics and the dictionary.

Ukrainian is now spoken throughout the Ukraine, in parts of Poland and Slovakia, and by various groups in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. Distinctive Ukrainian traits first appear in 12th century manuscripts, becoming notably more pronounced in writings after the fall of Kiev in the 13th century. Modern literary Ukrainian developed from the colloquial language of the 17th and 18th centuries. Of the three East Slavic languages, Ukrainian is farther from Russian than is Belorussian. Besides some details of word formation and syntax, Ukrainian has several vowel and consonant sounds that are absent from both Russian and Belorussian. It also shares certain sounds with Belorussian, however, and these two languages are linked by transitional dialects. Ukrainian is written with the Cyrillic alphabet.