Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Did You Know That Ukraine…

This post first appeared as a guest post at Ktravula – a travelogue.

  • Is the second largest country in Europe? (If we don’t count Russia, which is located in Asia for the most part, anyways.) Even among my blog visitors, I have had people who refer to Ukraine as “a tiny country in Eastern Europe.” One look at the map, however, is enough to demonstrate that Ukraine’s territory is large and its population is 1,5 times larger than the population of Canada.
  • Has the most fertile soils in Europe? Ukrainian soil is so fertile that people have been known to remove the top level of soil and sell it to other countries simply because everything grows and flourishes on it.
  • Has a tradition of democracy that dates back to the XVI century? This makes Ukraine a country with the most longstanding tradition of democracy in modern Europe.
  • Started a sexual revolution around 1910? While people in the US and Western Europe had to wait until the mid-sixties for their sexual revolution, a famous Ukrainian writer and the future prime-minister of the first independent Ukrainian Republic Volodimir Vinnychenko dedicated his career as a writer to promoting the ideas of sexual liberation, free love, and the rights of women. His books were hugely popular all over Europe in the first half of the XXth century.
  • Has a strong anti-imperialist tradition? In spite of being surrounded by fiercely imperialist countries, Ukraine never followed their example and absorbed the imperialist way of thinking. Even when Ukrainian troops would repel the invaders and enter the territory of the invading country, they would turn back and leave without trying to retain foreign territories.
  • Had slavery until 1861? Under the name “serfdom”, the tradition of slavery existed and was very wide-spread in Ukraine until 1861.
  • Was the site of one of the greatest modern genocides? In 1932-3, over 10 million Ukrainians were exterminated by the Soviet government in an attempt to wipe out any resistance to the imperial subjection of Ukraine by the Soviet Union. Today, the government of Russia is engaged in endless propaganda that denies that Ukrainian Holocaust ever took place.
  • Has recently elected a convicted criminal to be its president? Viktor Yanukovich, a recently elected president of Ukraine, was incarcerated for robbery and assault in 1967 and for assault in 1970. It is said that his second crime was a rape that was eventually pleaded down to assault.
  • Does not require a definite article before its name? Many people still say “the Ukraine” instead of “Ukraine.” Not only is this grammatically incorrect, it is also kind of annoying.
  • Has one of the most melodic languages in the world? According to a study by the French Academy of Fine Arts, Ukraine has the world’s second most melodic language after Italian. I’m not sure that I agree about the entire world, but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful sounding languages in Europe. Sadly, the language is disappearing because centuries of colonial domination and propaganda cause many Ukrainians to be deeply ashamed of their cultural and linguistic heritage.

18 comments:

Pagan Topologist said...

How different are the languages ukranian and Polish?

Clarissa said...

Pretty different. Some words sound similar but that's about it. I don't understand Polish at all. And the alphabet is completely different.

Anonymous said...

What language do you speak at home Clarrisa - just curious?
It is very nice to read a highly balanced opinion of your culture, history, and tradition.
I am Indian, and I can relate to your writing, because I know that my country is definitely one of the best, with ample scope for improvement.
Also, moral psychology is primarily my area of interest. The world rarely acknowledges the Ukrainian holocaust, the dirty war of Argentina, the Ugandan genocide, the Tamil Oppression of Sri Lanka..I can go on. Come on people, all people are made of flesh and blood, with feelings and emotions. Cant imagine these things took place on the face of the earth , that most of us inhabit with the utmost freedom and liberty.
Interesting read, please keep them coming !

Reena Sienna said...

What language do you speak at home Clarrisa - just curious?
It is very nice to read a highly balanced opinion of your culture, history, and tradition.
I am Indian, and I can relate to your writing, because I know that my country is definitely one of the best, with ample scope for improvement.
Also, moral psychology is primarily my area of interest. The world rarely acknowledges the Ukrainian holocaust, the dirty war of Argentina, the Ugandan genocide, the Tamil Oppression of Sri Lanka..I can go on. Come on people, all people are made of flesh and blood, with feelings and emotions. Cant imagine these things took place on the face of the earth , that most of us inhabit with the utmost freedom and liberty.
Interesting read, please keep them coming !

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Reena Sienna. It's nice to have you here.

I speak Russian at home. I don't like it and perceive it as a language of colonial domination. That's why I have dedicated my life to learning languages.

I agree with you about genocide. None of my 128 students have heard anything about the dirty war in Argentina. This is very sad.

Anonymous said...

You don't like Russian because of colonial domination but you live in America? ERRORTHISDOESNOTCOMPUTE

V said...

That does not compute only for people who believe their country is less imperialist. Hint: these are the same people who are the most interested in the color of Clarissa's hair :) :)

By the way, Clarissa, I do not want to offend your patriotic feelings, but in Estonia they believe Estonian is the most melodic after Italian. And in Finland they believe it is Finnish. :)

Clarissa said...

Sure, but I quoted what the French said about the melodiousness of languages. If it were something said by the Ukrainians, it wouldn't have any value. But the French care equally little for Ukraine, Estonia and Finland. I think. :-)

Reena Sienna said...

"You don't like Russian because of colonial domination but you live in America? ERRORTHISDOESNOTCOMPUTE"

Anonymous,

There are several significant factors that can remind a person of colonial domination - place, language, religion, customs, features, color, food, and everything that one can relate to oppression.
Clarrisa said that she does not like Russian - because it reminds her of colonial oppression. I am sure most of us can relate to that. Most times people living in diaspora communities have such strong beliefs, which are respectable and important to them.

Further, America is a relatively new nation, with minimum association to imperialism and colonialism. It is usually seen as the land of the free.
If Clarrisa is not associating imperialism to America and is fine with living here.... well JAI HO !

Anonymous said...

its just im constantly told America is a colonist country.

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: It is but it never colonized Ukraine, so I'm not traumatized by the English language for that reason.

Reena Sienna said...

I guess I am a little strange in this regard.
I love English, I speak it the most, I am most proficient at it (I am literate in 4 Indian languages).
Though the British colonized India for 200 years, I have never thought of it as their language (guess because I don't speak it at home, I speak Tamil).
English In India- is one thing I am grateful to the British for.
Or may be not, I just believe it is my own language - since I started learning it along with my language.
Considering how notorious the British have been with colonization - I guess I dont associate them with English.

Clarissa said...

We were made to feel ashamed of our language, our literature, our pronunciation by a variety of propagandistic devices. So eventually, hearing how you are uncultured, stupid and uncivilized because you are Ukrainian, hearing all the nasty jokes about Ukrainians, makes you really resentful about the language that was imposed by such means.

Bogdan said...

Все вірно Кларисо...Усе вірно...
Я щодня спілкуюсь російською в побуті, оскільки моя дружина російськомовна але ніколи російська не стане для мене рідною.
Сьогодні в університеті ми спілкуємось виключно українською з нашими студентами. І як наслідок, багато з них вільніше спілкуються українською ніж російською. Сподіваюсь новий президент не запровадить другу державну мову, бо це буде катастрофа для нашої культури.

Для західних країн українці і росіяни одне й те ж. Але українець ніколи не визнає російську культуру, мову чи звичаї рідними. Вони є і будуть для нас чужими....

Clarissa said...

For everybody else: Bogdan, a professor from Ukraine, agrees with me in that for a Ukrainian person, Russian will always feel alien. Even though he speaks in Russian with his Russian-speaking wife, it still feels like a language that is not his own.

If the current president of Ukraine introduces Russian as a second official language, it will be a catastrophe for the country. 9Hear, hear!)

Clarissa said...

I'm glad this post is proving to be so popular both here and on the ktravula.com blog where it originally appeared. It seems like people from all continents are coming here (according to the blog statistics) to read this post. A little more visitors, and it will become even more famous that the stupid hair post.

Kola Tubosun said...

LOL @ "the stupid hair post."

Sergei said...

Greeting from Ukraine! Thank you for the wonderful post,Clarissa. I can agree with every your world and am happy to hear that folks from other countries relate to our problems. I live in the Eastern Ukraine and have to speak Russian most of the time, but it will never became native to me! I hope our President with criminal records has enough brain just to leave our language and cultural heritage alone, not to mention helping in developing them.