Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ethno-Linguistic Map of Ukraine

This map, from the Washington Post of all things, might help us all understand Ukraine a little better. Note that the red and pink parts make up what you might call undisputably Ukrainian territory, in the Woodrow-Wilson self-determination sense. That part is Ukraine, if there is such a thing as Ukraine, and you really can't argue about it, unless you're one of those people who consider Ukraine just a part of Russia. Many do.

Also note that the Crimea would seem to be Russian territory, in the ethno-linguistic sense, and it's hard to argue that it doesn't make sense for the Russians to own it.  The yellow parts are something to negotiate about.

Together with Belorussia to the North, Ukraine, also often called "Little Russia," make up two ethno-linguistic areas that can be regarded as either separate entities, or just parts of Russia that are just a little different from the rest. Culturally, there are probably differences that I'm not aware of, but I can say that linguistically, both Ukrainian and Belorussian are just variants of Russian, about as different from one another as the English dialects of Louisiana, Kansas, and Massachusetts are from one another. The difference is that the Russian variants do have different spellings (and slightly different alphabets) while the English variants don't.

Now, English doesn't have any really close relatives, except for the Frisian languages, which nobody knows much about, because they're so small. Our closest relative among the big languages is Dutch, and Dutch and English are definitely not mutually comprehensible.  My impression is that Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Russian are very definitely mutually comprehensible, and I hope any readers who know more about it than I do will comment on this.

Finally, if all this isn't enough, take a look at the red-striped part. That is the domain of the Rusyns, who are also a tad bit different. You can read about them HERE.  And their language, "Rusyn," HERE.

I wonder if Obama, or Kerry, or Madman McCain knows any of this stuff. They ought to.

I repeat, any reader who knows more than I do is invited to comment, or even to do a guest post on the ethno-linguistic aspect of the situation.

14 comments:

  1. I doubt that Obama, or Kerry, or Madman McCain knows any of this stuff, and if they did, they wouldn't care.

    As Pat Buchanan said "The two parties are opposite wings of the same bird of prey."

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  2. This is such a cursory examination of Ukraine and its properties as a state I hope no one takes seriously the offhand suggesting of this post that, based on language alone, it belongs anything less or other than in fact a whole state, within its present borders, under a single government not that of a revived imperial Russia.

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    1. The makings of the Russian Empire were an outgrowth of the Kievan state, that is to say, proto-Ukraine. In other words, Russia grew out of Ukraine and then reabsorbed it after it had been conquered by various other powers--most notably the Mongols, Tatars, and Poles. The birth of Russia is inextricably tied to the establishment of Kievan Rus' and the conversion of Prince Vladimir of Kiev to Christianity in 988. Kiev, and by extension, the whole of Ukraine has immense cultural, religious, and historical significance to Russia. The linguistic differences are more than dialectal, although there is a great degree of mutual intelligibility. I would go so far to say that the languages are much closer to each other than, say, the Mandarin, Cantonese, and Fujian variants of Chinese are. And one would not speak of Guangdong as a separate country from China, now would they?

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  3. I'm adding this comment from another site. He makes good points, though he seems not to have noticed that this post isn't pretending to be authoritative at all. Why does everybody have to refer to those who disagree with them as "spewing"? - Ex-Army

    I find this map questionable. About 1/4 of crimea, the brown area Russian forces occupied, are Tartars who are fiercely anti-russian. That they aren't accounted for at all here is questionable, and simply speaking a language doesn't make any difference. The country was once forced to be part of the USSR after all

    "and it's just a part of Russia?" Really? this article spews ignorance in my opinion. They wanted independence and had a treaty signed in 1994 that allowed Russia one naval base in exchange for recognizing it as a country. It's articles like this that make it no better than the mainstream media.

    The only reason Russia wants Crimea is because without the naval base they were allowed to have there, Russia would have no warm water navel bases. Their time as a credible military power would be over, the final nail in the proverbial coffin

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    1. I can't really say that tartars are "fiercely anti-russian". I'd like to say that they were made to be "anti-russian" with the help of their social order, which nearly all really muslim nationalities have. I'd like to say more: it's a myth that all crimean tartars are antirussian. All they want is to be a rehabilitated nation in the borders of their motherland, that historically Crimea is. And what I should say more: all this ukrainian crisis and it's geography is just strictly tied up to what we call in russian culture "sacred things", that lies in a basis of our ethnical self-indification. These ''sacred things'' are our language, our history, our heroes (our ww2 veterans),our enemies,our culture. The truth is that Ukraine cannot be just ''one nation state'' in it's present borders. And ''cultural politics'' taken by the authorities of these countries during the last 23 years was to make it ''one nation state'', and that was a real ''mental injury'' for those people who identify themselves as russians. Here I should say that being russian isnot just an ethnicity matter, it's something more and I really can't explain it in english. People are just afraid of being culturally rebuilt, we call it here a ''cultural henocide'', cause new ukrainian authorities are driven by pure nationalist ideas. Those people are ideological ancestors of german fascism and were always identified as enemies in russian culture, that's the part of our so called ''sacred things''. People want to join Russia just to be culturally and ideologically safe, cause they know that it would be the end of their lives as russians. If you really want to know why those people were afraid of it, I recommend you to see some articles on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Waffen_Grenadier_Division_of_the_SS_(1st_Ukrainian)
      http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Организация_украинских_националистов_(бандеровское_движение)
      And what people are afraid of is that those nationalist are seriously sponsored by western countries and US with the help of organisations like USAid. I recommend you to browse the russian segment of the internet if you wanna see what this conflict is all about. There you can find much more information on this theme. And yes...criseses like this one is the general purpose why we hate americans here, that's a threat to our national safety. Sorry for my english, I can understand everything clearly, but I have problems expressing my ideas in it :)

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    2. Valery, we're basing a blog post on your comment. Many thanks.

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  4. Give western Poland back to Germany, western Ukraine back to Poland, problem solved.

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  5. Interesting video on the snipers:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5qXS8Xc274

    Jewish MP in Ukraine caught with sniper rifle in his car:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl6RUgAMaiA

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  6. Thanks for the common sense. I know Russian; Russian and Ukrainian are about as far apart as Spanish and Portuguese, just different enough to be separate languages but very mutually intelligible. I think Byelorussian is a little more different but still very similar.

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  7. Uh, isn't "predominantly" greater than "mostly"? Or at least the same? Does the cartographer speak English?

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  8. I don't have any idea where you got the map. But it is biased so it may lead to wrong conclusions. There are many Russian territories where Ukrainians are majority or significant part. I mean Belgorod, Voronezh regions, Krasnodar and Taganrog, some places in Siberia (Tumen) and Far-East (so-called "Green Triangle") and others. But they are not shown on the map.

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    1. If you have a URL for a better map, I'll be glad to print it.

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    2. "This map, from the Washington Post.."
      The map refers to language distribution, but not to national population. So in regions of Russia you have mentioned, very rarely you hear speech in Ukranian, though people may understand it, but not use it in day-to-day life. I am Russian born in Crimea (Kerch), where is more south-style Russian with just a very few ukranian-like words, but with about the same accent as Ukranian. The map is missing Tatar language indeed, mostly in the cental-east part of Crimea.

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  9. I wouldn't agree with such deviding og the map. There are at least six more regions where Russian is rather popular/ If comparing with Eastern and Southern Ukraine the majority of citizen there speak Ukrainian, still these regions should be marked striped i.e. red and yellow.

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