Ukraine: Language Wars

Oct 12, 2023 | Military/War, Videos


The Ukrainian language is a symbol of national identity in the country, and it has become increasingly more important to embrace and promote its usage since the war started between Ukraine and Russia. The pressure to break away from Russian influence has led to increased levels of derussification, which includes discarding the use of Russian as a dominant language. This phenomenon is having a large impact on many levels, from politics and lawmaking to everyday life.

As Ukrainian language is becoming more prominent, learning it is becoming a priority for many people living in Ukraine. A new documentary, “Speaking in Tongues”, follows seven Ukrainians who are learning Ukrainian for the first time. It examines their struggles to learn the language while also exploring why they are doing it, as well as their personal reflections on what it means for them to be bilingual and how that impacts their view of their own identity.

The documentary offers an insight into the lives of those who are trying to relearn or learn Ukrainian for the first time and provides an important perspective into this highly charged conversation about language choice in Ukraine today. It also brings out very different experiences from different generations, showing how the linguistic landscape has changed over time as well as how attitudes towards certain languages can shift within families or social groups.

By watching “Speaking in Tongues” viewers will gain insights into this complex topic and develop a better understanding of why embracing Ukraine’s native tongue is so important for many Ukrainians today. This documentary is an opportunity not only to get informed but also to reflect on our own identities and how we relate to languages that we speak or have learned throughout our lives.

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David B