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Russian or Ukrainian?

Here is a question I got from one of our readers. He was kind enough to let me post it as well as the answer on the website.

I’m corresponding with an Ukrainian girl and I would like to speak
her language to get closer to her.  I guess she speaks more
ukranian than russian, but I think that learning russian would be more useful to learn because
it’s spoken by a wider population from the FSU.  What do you think, should I learn ukranian or
russian?

This is a very good question.

Many Ukrainians are rather nationalistic (not in a bad sense) and patriotic and don’t want to be associated with Russians or Russian culture. Unlike Belorussians and some other FSU nationalities, they get offended if someone calls them “Russians”. I have friends from Ukraine who know Russian very well, but prefer to speak to me and other Russians in English even though their English skills are not that great. Usually people from the Eastern part of Ukraine prefer to speak Russian (even though they are fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian) and they are not nationalistic whatsoever and people from the Western part -  speak Ukrainian. But of course everything depends on a family or on a person, so you have to get to know the girl better before hiring a tutor or purchasing a course.

Russian would be more practical to learn, but if the girl considers herself to be 100% Ukrainian and is very proud of her heritage, learning Ukrainian will definitely impress her more.

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1 Comment so far

  1. Oksana@Women from Ukraine on April 6th, 2011

    If you’re going to be with an ethnic Ukrainian girl, wouldn’t it be nice to speak her own language, get to know her family, etc? If not, Russian is more practical.

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