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Katelyn Murphy

on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of Surzhyk

Background & Emergence of Surzhyk
How does the controversy over the classification of Surzhyk reflect the greater identity of Ukrainians?
Ukrainian Perspective & Conclusion
What Surzhyk says about identity:
Uncertainty about perceiving surzhyk in Ukraine's national identity is correlated with uncertainty about its classification.
Surzhyk emerged when Ukrainian peasants from the end of the 18th century came into contact with a Russian-speaking environment.

Where is it most prevalent?
Ukraine: eastern, south, central (and border countries)


I. What is Surzhyk?
General understanding:
- Contains components of Ukrainian and Russian languages
Ukrainian Independence from the Soviet Union
in 1991

Separate nations led to separation of languages

(Gogol’) was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist, novelist and short story writer. Born in a Ukrainian Cossack village in the Russian empire. (Wrote based on his upbringing in Ukraine (culture and folklore), but also criticized the Russian empire)
(Do you) think in Ukrainian? (Then) write in Russian!
What is the status of both languages now?

"No longer a dispute between Ukranian and Russian languages, but between the standard languages on the one hand and non-standard varieties on the other" (Bernsand)
What is Surzhyk's role in
Ukrainian National Identity?
Nationalist Language Ideology:

"strives to cleanse the Ukrainian language
of surzhyk elements by raising the linguistic
awareness of Ukrainian speakers" (Bernsand)

-Importance of native language in national identity
Differing perceptions of Surzhyk:
Nationalist Language Ideology
Public's interpretation

A an inconclusive relationship between language and nation
Compared with Singlish, surzhyk is not as strong as a national identifier. Like Singlish, the public accept but it is stigmatized by older generations and some scholars.
"The term Surzhyk originally meant a
mixture of wheat and rye flour, which is considered a lower grade flour" (Podvesko,1962).

Now it means "mixture"
this general meaning has degrading connotations.

The Russian Empire's emergence in 1721: one of the largest empires in world history

imposed strict limits on Ukrainian language & culture: prohibited its use and study

Succeeded by the Soviet Union
In the Soviet Ukraine in the early 20th centry, Ukraine's language experienced a revitalization of cultural identity called Korenization or "indigenization"
Public's Perception

"Estonian and Catalan survived in the face of authoritarianism most people did not accept the officially sanctioned public visage." (Skerrett, 2010)

The public, especially younger generations have accepted surzhk as a social norm.
What we discovered:
more disagreements on its classification than there are conclusions
looking at various perspectives and studies:
different component definitions
Classifications of Surzhyk:
mixed language, codeswitching, “mixed-lect”
Need to classify?
All efforts (0f classification) to better understand subject & draw conclusions for similar studies and languages
Beauty of language: it varies, classification a tool to understand how we (use language to) communicate
• Interview:
• When asked about his views on Surzhyk Interviewee claims:
• hard to say he’s wrong if he can be understood
• Shortening time it takes to say smth
• Using “lingo” that is already in technical language
• Not a matter of being correct, but rather modern/current (and understood)
• Interviewee: Right to freedom of speech; entertainment form
• Host: it unites people, pulls them closer together (bonus: unites rich and poor)
• What IS the point of pure language/speech? Why do we need literaturniy yazik?

• One out of 10 Ukrainians speaks a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian
(research based on Kiev international institute of sociology, Fall 2012)
• Based on the constitution of the republic the language of the state is Ukrainian. In 2012 non-state languages were allowed to be appropriated according to new law, including Russian, which was given regional status (meaning it can be used in business or by government when addressing the people). Thus according to law, Russian received an official status throughout cities and regions of Ukraine.
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