I recently took a test for proficiency in the state language. I bought an app and read a lot of information in the profile chat in the Telegram about it. That is, I spent a lot of time preparing for its compilation. The questions themselves in the test were mostly easy. The topics of the monologues could also be learned in advance. Those who passed the test in the morning then shared topics of the day. Therefore, those who passed the test in the afternoon already knew what the topics would be (I went in the afternoon). In Kyiv, only 2 people in my group passed. But, it is the capital. I read that in the regions it is much more difficult and people often went to neighboring areas to take such tests.
The situation with the tests became a trigger for writing this article. Because to spend so much time on inefficient, in my opinion, things is possible only in countries like ours. 2 years ago I was already certified for the level of proficiency in the state language. The difference was that now people have them at the computer and receive an electronic certificate. But, in essence, it does not change much. It was possible to simply equate the Certificates received in 2019 to the current Certificate. Yes, it was interesting for me to improve my Ukrainian level, but I was able to afford it because now I am looking for a job and I have a lot of free time. Nationwide, these are enormous material and human resources.
Let's start from the beginning. Everything we know and can do is the result of the knowledge and skills imposed on us. We even learn to sleep or eat. Yes, there are several unconditional reflexes, that is, the abilities with which a person is born. Not so many. So, our knowledge is not only the result of our evolution, but the result of the fact that at some point someone's idea won. This is how everything in the world is built. For example, the main real task of a politician is to gain power, not to change the life of the country for the better (populism exists not only in Ukraine, but all over the world).
Therefore, language, like any other element of our lives, must improve it. But if our country is constantly getting poorer, almost half of young people do not plan to connect their lives with Ukraine in which they were born and where for 8 years of war Russia's support among our population is consistently high (about 41%) then the question arises "Are we doing everything right?" It seems to me that in any developing country or the country that wants to develop, economic patriotism should come first. So, the question is: how to make money, how to keep it in your country and how to use it most effectively. There is no unambiguous connection between language and the development of the country. There are only 2 types of countries in the world, those that "consume" other people's resources and those that "give" them away. Unfortunately, our country belongs to the second category.
So some countries have been lucky and have made their language part of their expansion in the world and "pumping" resources from other countries. For example, these are Great Britain or Spain.
There are countries where there is a foreign, borrowed language, such as Canada or Australia. We can say that this is the "language of the occupants", because once on the lands of these countries came "invaders" from England or France and almost completely destroy the autochtonous population. There are 4 languages in Switzerland. Austria speaks German - the language of a neighboring country which is much more powerful than Austria. And the Austrians consciously do not want to unite with the Germans, although they are united by language and many common points in history. If we take modern Ireland and Scotland, they are actively abandoning their native languages, in favor of "occupying" - English. There are countries where immigrants quickly learn the language of the "new homeland" (USA).
Even if you take our Ukrainian language. Try to read Shevchenko in the original. Because we are native speakers, we can do that. But, reading in Old Ukrainian or Old Slavic I think for many will not be very convenient.
I want to say that language can change constantly. And the elite must decide how to apply these changes. On the one hand, there is a request from part of the population of Ukraine for Ukrainization (and this is a good process). But there are young people who think in completely different categories than the development of their native language. Elites (primarily political), no matter what happens in the country, they only identify and develop trends that help them gain power and "pump out" resources from their people, but this is a matter for our elite. We must remember that history, in its turn, is "made" not by a passive majority, but by an active minority. Therefore, in 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity, the "patriotic forces" picked up the trends of patriotism and only used them to gain and retain power. For example, the rating of the People's Front party fell 55 times two years after the election . As soon as people saw the hypocrisy of politicians, their ratings began to fall rapidly. But the representatives of this political force have been a significant part of the government for all 5 years.
Zelenskyy is similar to his "predecessors" in many respects. This can be seen in the number of "defectors" and the continued support of such areas as the language issue. Vladimir Alexandrovich did not want to give up the "milking cow" which still gives good political bonuses.
So, language can be an element not only of the unity of the nation in the fight against the occupiers. Unfortunately, it is more likely to become a weapon in the hands of populist politicians. It is much easier to learn the language than to develop the economy and create conditions so that young people do not leave our country, but on the contrary, people from other countries want to come to us.
In my previous article, I analyzed the myth of low birth rates as a "sign of poverty". Same now. I think it is already becoming clear to many that defending Ukraine and killing the occupants can be done by native Russian speakers enjoying listening to Russian chanson and watching Russian cinema. Conversely, you can actively cooperate with Russia and engage in corruption wearing an embroidered vyshyvanka shirt and speaking Ukrainian. Language also often helps politicians to destroy their opponents and make informational "white noise". I think everyone can remember many situations when important (often negative) events in the information space were immediately replaced by other, less important, for the development of the country news. Instead of discussing the economy or raising gas prices, let people "better" discuss another "language problem" or how ex-press secretary of the President Iuliia Mendel was dressed during a formal meeting in France.
What needs to be broken?
- Reduce situations of inefficient use of funds as in the case of tests.
- As always, the question is not about money. The budget of the "Public TV" in 2021 will be almost 2.5 billion UAH (including the budgets of regional channels)). At the same time, the rating of this channel is less than 0.5% (please do not immediately compare public channels with private ones, they have a different philosophy and different responsibilities for the money spent). Instead, you can hire 100 bloggers who will simply "break" various social networks and will promote, Ukrainian content and Ukrainian culture, which will be clearly positively perceived even by young people. Also, with these funds, you can make more short films, which are now very popular on YouTube and can beat Russian sector in this area.
- Actively modernize the language. I am against the introduction of Roman alphabet, because I believe that this idea poses many threats. But you can continue gradually, in small steps to saturate our language with English and other foreign words. Up to the point that you start writing in official letters a lot of foreign words in the original (mostly in English).
Of course there should be state support for the media. But in our sitution it's like using tanks or infantry fighting vehicles at the same time abandoning drones (a great example of this is the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ). That is, to convey different content in the modern world, there are many other and less expensive, but very effective tools (social networks, You Tube, short films, etc.). At the same time, of course, TV channels themselves are needed as part of the media.
Language can increase economic expansion. When I buy foreign-made goods, I often want there to be no Ukrainian or Russian translation. The main thing is to have English description. I am consciously willing to spend more time and inconvenience for myself to understand the composition of German oil or the characteristics of a Chinese hair dryer. Once, I got a comment that it is delusional to consider the desire of foreigners to read such instructions in your language an element of language development. I will mention one situation. I recently talked to a woman from Brovary (a city in Kyiv region). In the 70s and 80s, she worked at a company that received German equipment. Its main task was to translate into Ukrainian all the documentation related to this equipment. Imagine what the company's costs were, not just to buy the necessary equipment, but also to understand how to use it. And for this it was necessary to actually promote a foreign language.
Why is language a weapon?
With the help of language you can:
- find supporters;
- suppress their opponents;
- create news;
- divert attention from real problems or causes;
- understand your opponent;
- find supporters and allies among the supporters of an opponent;
- inefficiently or efficiently use budget funds and other resources (time, people, material and technical resources, etc.);
- extract resources from other countries due to its expansion (including language).
Each of these tools can be discussed separately.
Also, migration can be viewed in different ways. On the one hand, many migrate from Ukraine (3-3.5 million Ukrainians are working abroad). On the other hand, many migrate from Poland, the United Kingdom or other countries. But these migrants are often replaced by new "citizens", in the very Poland they are mostly Ukrainians or Belarusians. At the same time, few people come to our country instead of those who left. It is possible that for many "former Ukrainians" living abroad is much more comfortable than in their homeland therefore, it can also be an element of improving a person's life if their home country does not want to change positively. Moving human resources around the world is normal. But it is better to be a country where you want to go to work, earn, study, relax or live. And not the country from which you want to escape.
Perhaps by the age of 8, we need to understand that language is just one of the tools to achieve different goals. There are countries where it enhances potential, and there are places where it is of secondary importance. Or you can just use the languages of other countries.
I'm from a Russian-speaking environment. My whole family speaks either Russian or Surzhik (mix of Russian and Ukrainian). I consciously switched to Ukrainian 4 years ago because I realized that I could not communicate or write in Ukrainian in decent way. I have another friend in Kyiv who recently switched from Russian to Ukrainian. It is clear that there are people who switch from their "childhood language" (in our country it is mostly Russian) to Ukrainian. There are people who spoke Ukrainian anyway, but improved it due to linguistic patriotism in the country. But look around. Go beyond Facebook. A lot of young people watch Russian TV series and listen to Russian music like Morgenstern. And many people find it very difficult to master the state language when there is very little motivation for it. And it's not just about young people. And it does not apply only to Eastern Ukraine. This applies to the whole of Ukraine and all categories of the population (simply young people listen more pop music, and older - chanson). Language should be like a Mercedes you want to drive, not a Zhiguli (old Soviet car) you have to drive (especially if the price in our country due to corruption and inefficient statehood may be the same).
There are a lot of Russian-speakers in Kyiv. For example, lately I have had to go to the hospital often. And most of doctors there speak Russian. When I start speaking Ukrainian with them, it looks a bit funny - doctors also try to speak the state language, but it turns out mostly "surzhik". On the one hand, I want doctors to speak Ukrainian. On the other hand, how will this affect the quality of medical services? A rhetorical question…
And this is the capital, which should be a model of statehood and everything connected with it. Therefore, in our relatively free society, a positive result of the transition to Ukrainian can occur only due to increased confidence in the government. If such a process takes place without trust, then the number of haters of language, manipulation, migration, various problems at the international level (a great example is the relationship with Hungary ) etc. increases.
Since I come from Donbass, I understand how difficult it is for people to speak Ukrainian (although in the countryside in Luhansk region you can often meet a Ukrainian speaker). For people, especially 50+ it is already difficult to change in this regard.
Another "wisdom of life". Usually people are willing to forgive a lot and start "suffering" if their leader is also willing to change. That is, many people are ready to take a "language dictatorship" positively if the authorities act positively on changes in the country. But, unfortunately, the situation in our 30 years is completely different. I was in the hospital recently and there a woman in her 70s told me with strong negative emotions about Kravchuk and the lost contributions during his presidency. That is, a person once suffered losses and may never forgive the first president for it. But she mentions Tymoshenko positively, because when she was prime minister, some of the deposits were returned to the people. People are ready to remember from their leaders only the positive if they "give" something instead of the negative. And even in 30 years to remember it.
That is, if you take something away (for example, the opportunity to speak the "language of childhood"), then you have to give something instead (for example, economic development or increasing the purchasing power of citizens).
- All our life attitudes are the result of someone's ideas imposed on us.
- There is no direct link between a country's success and what language it speaks.
- "Economic patriotism" must come first, and all other forms of patriotism are secondary.
- Ukrainian needs to be promoted, but it needs to be done using different approaches than now.
- As a result of disregarding many ordinary human factors, the number of supporters of Ukrainian statehood is not only not growing, but also decreasing.
I want to talk about another "language topic". The most popular among students in our country - philology. But this is an indicator, first of all, of the students' desire to leave Ukraine. That is, the question is not in the potential of language development (English and Ukrainian), but in whether it should be actively developed at all? Language, like everything else, is part of the identity of any person, family, people, nation, and so on. And this is perfectly normal when a person or part of the elite wants to stand out. If the Irish or Scots voluntarily give up their languages, it means that they have decided that it will be better for them as a nation. That's what our country really lacks - "philanthropy". I would even test everything from the beginning on young people. If young Ukrainians support it, then it is a big plus for implementation. Our strength should not be in uniqueness, but in the ability to make our uniqueness useful for improving the welfare of the population. If countries want to learn the language in other countries (such as English) then it's great. If, on the contrary (when young people or the able-bodied population want to leave the country en masse), it is necessary to look for other ways to improve life (as do the Germans, Scots, Irish, Austrians and others).
In general, I hope that the topic of language will gradually become less relevant and fewer and fewer politicians will "parasitize" on it. Unfortunately, only as a result of the epidemic and in connection with problems with the energy system, people begin to think completely differently. And this is due, first of all, to the loss of resources (aging of housing and all infrastructure, mass escape of investors from Ukraine, departure of the working population for earnings and youth to study abroad, etc.). We need to start actively dealing with really serious problems, not "language issues". When you put human values first and want to improve a person's life, then you start to think completely differently. And there are things, even if you don't like it, that need to be changed or abandoned.
That is, if you want to live better in our partially free country, be prepared to complicate your consciousness. In our polygamous society, it will be necessary to take into account the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, social and other views of the population. If you want to implement long-term change, then the authority of the power must also not be temporary. And every question will not be as easy as it is "painted" by our politicians.
This article still has many undiscovered topics and controversial points. It is in no way Ukrainophobic. Simply I am not one of those who "see the goal - see no obstacles". I support the development of the Ukrainian language, but through tools that increase the welfare of the population and the number of supporters of Ukrainian statehood. The purpose of the article is to show that all processes are interconnected and consideration of this issue may not be as easy as it seems. I hope there will be many, first of all, negative comments from this article. Most often, negativity or denials arise due to lack of communication. Therefore, the presence of comments and other opinions will be a trigger for me to continue discovering the topic of the "language dictatorship" and to combat the objections (institutions) that people have regarding the language.