Ukrainian language losing ground in education and publishing


According to a study carried out by the Prostir Svobody Movement, for the first time since Independence, the percentage of school students studying in Ukrainian and of books published in Ukrainian has fallen. The Russian language dominates in television, radio and the service industry, although Ukrainian is dominant in the film industry.

The study entitled “The Position of the Ukrainian Language in Ukraine in 2012” is based on statistics, sociology and the movement’s own monitoring carried out by volunteers throughout the country.

The Ukrainian language is cited as their native language by two thirds of Ukrainian citizens and 53% say that they mainly speak Ukrainian. The report however notes that there are strong factors gravitating towards Russification and the development of an inferiority complex among native speakers of Ukrainian. The report identifies television and radio as the most powerful factors, with the service industry and printed publications also to a large extent.

During primetime viewing on the 8 biggest TV channels in October only 28% of broadcasting time was taken up by programmes in Ukrainian; 44% in Russian; and 28% - both languages. These figures are slightly better than a year ago when the percentage of Ukrainian language programmes was 22%.

On the 6 most popular radio stations, songs in Ukrainian make up only 3.4% of the broadcasting time during primetime, against 4.6% last year. Songs in Russian make up 60%.

60% of the overall number of newspapers printed are in Russian;

83% of journals;

87% of books sold are in Russian (the majority imported from Russia).

For the first time in many years the overall number of books published in Ukrainian came to less than half the number of books published in the country.

Monitoring in the 29 largest cities in Ukraine (including all regional centres) showed that in commerce and services Russian is predominant; in transport – Ukrainian; however the differences are marked depending on the region.

Overall, out of 290 eating places in 29 cities, only 50% of signs were in Ukrainian; in 46% the menu was in Ukrainian; and only in 36% did staff answer in Ukrainian in response to clients speaking Ukrainian (another 11% changed to Ukrainian in the course of the conversation).

68% of films in legal distribution are dubbed or in Ukrainian; the other 32% hav subtitles in Ukrainian.  Most of the latter are of Russian production, in Russian.

81.9% of school students studied in Ukrainian during the 2011/2012 school year, this being a drop of 0.3% against the year before.  Such a fall is the first since Independence. The authors of the survey say there are grounds for believing that once all statistical data is published, the drop will prove even greater. The authors point out that since the most Russification is aimed at first grade students, the move in favour of Russian can only increase. School students continue to mainly study in Ukrainian in 23 and 27 oblasts, with the Donetsk oblast and the Crimea being the main exceptions.

The authors also note that the legal position of the Ukrainian language “catastrophically worsened” in 2012 as a result of the highly contentious Law on the Principles of State Language Policy. They warn that if the law is not cancelled through legislative or judicial means, then the wave of Russiification will become much stronger and “will threaten not only the Ukrainian language, but the country’s independence and integrity”. 

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