Linguistics. The origins of language study in Ukraine date back to Kyivan Rus’. The Izbornik of Sviatoslav (1073), which was transcribed from the Bulgarian, contained a chapter ‘On Images’ by the Byzantine author G. Choiroboschos. We do not know whether the contemporary treatise ‘On Letters,’ by the Bulgarian monk Khrabr, transcriptions of which are dated not earlier than the 15th century, was known at the time, and have no information about linguistic works of local origin.
A somewhat more independent approach to language studies was adopted in Ukraine only at the end of the 16th and in the first half of the 17th century. This development was conditioned by the polemics (and the resulting polemical literature) over the Church Union of Berestia and by the needs of education. Ideologically, it was grounded in the project of reviving Church Slavonic and Greek; hence, attention was focused on preparing grammars and dictionaries of these languages. Besides primers and elementary school textbooks, some important grammars were published: Khramatyka slovens'ka iazyka (Grammar of the Slavic Language, 1586), Adelphotes (1591), Lavrentii Zyzanii’s Slavonic grammar with a small dictionary (1596), Meletii Smotrytsky’s Slavonic grammar (1619), and Pamva Berynda’s Slavonic-Ruthenian lexicon (1627). For some time these works determined the grammatical and lexical tradition not only in Ukraine, but also in Muscovy (later Russia) and Serbia and to a certain extent even in Romania. Based on Western European textbooks of Latin and Greek by Donatus, Álvarez, Lascaris, Moschopoulos, and others, they mechanically combined medieval scholastic traditions with elements of humanistic grammar. No observations about vernacular usage were made.
In the early 19th century, as universities were founded and romantic-national ideas spread in Ukraine, language studies underwent a renewal and adopted new methods and subjects. Because of Ukraine’s colonial status, the development of philology in Ukraine was in some ways distinctive. As state-supported and -controlled institutions, the universities in Ukraine were Russian, Polish, or German-Austrian, not Ukrainian. The study of the Ukrainian language—called the Little Russian dialect under Russia and Ruthenian under Austria-Hungary and Poland—was not forbidden, but neither was it encouraged. Furthermore, treated as provincial, the universities in Ukraine were constantly drained of their most talented young scholars by universities in the imperial capitals. Thus, Izmail Sreznevsky and Dmitrii Ovsianiko-Kulikovsky were drawn away from Kharkiv to Saint Petersburg, Aleksei Sobolevsky from Kyiv to Saint Petersburg, and Aleksander Brückner from Lviv to Berlin.
To overcome these obstacles to the development of linguistics in Ukraine, central academy-like institutions were set up. In the 19th century there were only three such schools in Ukraine: the school of philosophical linguistics at Kharkiv University, the Franz Miklosich school in Galicia and Bukovyna, and the Oleksander Potebnia school at Kharkiv University. Only the last originated in Ukraine; the first emulated German and Russian examples, and the second was transplanted from Vienna.
Philosophical linguistics, which was inspired by the French encyclopedists and influenced to a slight extent by the German Romantics, was cultivated in the first two decades after the founding of Kharkiv University (1805). Its adherents were interested in universal grammar, the origin and development of languages, the value of language, and the poetic and rhetorical uses of language. Their main works were Ivan Rizhsky’s Opyt ritoriki (An Essay on Rhetoric, 1796; 2nd ed 1805; 3rd ed 1822) and Vvedenie v krug slovesnosti (Introduction to the Sphere of Language, 1806), Illia Tymkovsky’s Opytnyi sposob k filosoficheskomu poznaniiu rossiiskogo iazyka (The Empirical Method for the Philosophical Study of the Russian Language, 1811), and Rozumnyk Honorsky’s and M. Paki-de-Sovini’s writings.
Romanticism in linguistics is associated with Izmail Sreznevsky at Kharkiv University and Mykhailo Maksymovych at Kyiv University. Sreznevsky initiated research on the history of Ukrainian and Russian and on Slovenian dialectology. Maksymovych was interested primarily in the history of the Ukrainian language and other Slavic languages. Occasionally, he adapted the facts to fit his national-romantic theory. Other representatives of Romanticism were not associated with any university, but were autodidacts and dilettantes. They discovered and introduced into scientific discussion many facts about contemporary Ukrainian, but most of their generalizations and historical speculations were unscientific. Nonetheless, a number of Ukrainian grammars were produced by amateurs, such as Oleksii Pavlovsky (1805, publ 1818), Mykhailo Luchkai (1830), Ivan Mohylnytsky (1823, publ 1910), Yosyp Lozynsky (before 1833, publ 1846), Yosyp Levytsky (1834), and Ivan Vahylevych (1845). Rozprava o iazytsi iuzhnoruskim i ieho narichiiakh (Treatise on the South Ruthenian Language and Its Dialects, 1849) by Yakiv Holovatsky, the first holder of the chair of Ruthenian philology at Lviv University, can also be included among these grammars.
More serious scientific research began with the arrival of Petr Lavrovsky at Kharkiv University in 1851 and of Antoni Małecki at Lviv University in 1856. The former worked mostly in the history of Russian, the latter in Polish grammar, but both used comparative Slavic materials. Together with Aleksandr Kochubinsky at Odesa University (from 1871) they were representatives of positivist, preneogrammarian linguistics.
The first members of Franz Miklosich’s pragmatic school in Ukraine were Omelian Ohonovsky, holder of the chair of Ruthenian philology at Lviv University (from 1874), and his successor to the chair in 1895, Oleksander Kolessa. At Chernivtsi University, Stepan Smal-Stotsky (1885–1918) and Omelian Kaluzhniatsky (1875–1914) promoted this linguistic school in Bukovyna. Unlike their teacher, these scholars were not interested in comparative studies but in the history of the Ukrainian language.
Oleksander Potebnia, holder of the chair of Russian language and literature at Kharkiv University (1874–91), was the only noted linguist of the period at a university in Russian-ruled Ukraine with a clearly defined Ukrainian identity. Specializing in the field of general linguistics, he embraced the ideas of J. Herbart and R. Lotze’s school of psychology and developed an original concept of language bridging linguistics and literary theory. His followers, including Dmitrii Ovsianiko-Kulikovsky, Vasyl Khartsiiev, B. Lezin, and Oleksa Vetukhiv, were grouped around the serial Voprosy teorii i psikhologii tvorchestva (8 vols, 1907–23). The Russian Aleksei Sobolevsky, who taught at Kyiv University (1882–8), regarded Ukrainian as a Russian dialect and proposed the theory of Kyiv’s ‘Great-Russian’ origins. Political circumstances prevented two remarkable Kyiv linguists from pursuing university careers: Kostiantyn Mykhalchuk expounded highly original, quasi-structuralist ideas on the history of Ukrainian phonetics, and Pavlo Zhytetsky wrote the first history of Ukrainian phonetics (1876) and historical surveys of literary Ukrainian of the 17th and 18th centuries (1889, 1900).
In Slavic linguistics the chief neogrammarians in Ukraine were Aleksander Brückner at Lviv University (1878–81), Stepan Kulbakin (1905–19), Ya. Endzelin at Kharkiv University (1911–20), O. Lukianenko at Kyiv University (1907–20), and Boris Liapunov at Odesa University (1903–23). In general linguistics the school was represented by the phoneticist Aleksandr Tomson at Odesa University (1897–1932) and the Sanskritologists F. Knauer at Kyiv and V. Schertzl at Kharkiv (1870–84) and Odesa (1884–96) universities. Mykola Hrunsky of Kyiv University (1915–41) and Volodymyr Rozov (1903–16), who in 1913–14 read the first course in the history of the Ukrainian language at Kyiv University, were less consistent in their neogrammarian approach. At this time the dilettantes in Ukrainian linguistics, such as Volodymyr Naumenko in Kyiv, Ivan Verkhratsky in Lviv, and Ahatanhel Krymsky, an Orientalist in Moscow, adhered to old philological ideas. In 1906 the first department of Romance and Germanic languages in Ukraine was set up at Kyiv University. The first studies in Romance linguistics were Stepan Savchenko’s works on the genesis of the Romance languages (1916) and the history of Provençal (1918).
The Revolution of 1917 marked a turning point in the development of linguistics in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (est 1918), along with the universities, became an important center of learning. Ukrainian linguistics became for the first time a distinct discipline in institutions of higher learning. During the period of Ukraine’s struggle for independence (1917–20) and the subsequent years of Ukrainization, Ukrainian linguists in Soviet Ukraine had to prepare textbooks of Ukrainian for students and adults, compile high-quality dictionaries (see Lexicography and Terminology), and normalize Standard Ukrainian and its orthography.
In the process of normalization two groups with radically different tendencies emerged: the ‘ethnographic’ group—including Yevhen Tymchenko, Serhii Smerechynsky, and Olena Kurylo (until 1925)—which based itself on the principle of purism; and those who rejected this romantic-nationalist approach—including Oleksa Syniavsky, O. Kurylo (after 1925), Mykola Sulyma, and Kostiantyn Nimchynov. The first syntheses of the results of normalization were Syniavsky’s Normy ukraïns'koï literaturnoï movy (The Norms of Literary Ukrainian, 1931) and vols 2 and 3 of the Russian-Ukrainian dictionary (1927–33) published by the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN).
At the same time research was actively conducted in Ukrainian dialectology and the history of the Ukrainian language. Besides descriptions of particular dialects, significant attempts at explaining the genesis of Ukrainian dialects were made by Vsevolod Hantsov, Olena Kurylo, and Ivan Zilynsky. Descriptive studies of particular literary monuments and analyses of the language used by individual writers were published. Petro Buzuk (1927) and Yevhen Tymchenko (1930) wrote the first comprehensive histories of the Ukrainian language, and Mykola Sulyma (1927) wrote a history of the literary language. Vol 1 of a historical dictionary of Ukrainian (2 parts, 1930–2) came out under Tymchenko’s editorship.
Although research on the Ukrainian language prospered in the early Soviet period, other areas of linguistics were neglected. In general linguistics only Leonid Bulakhovsky’s Osnovy movoznavstva (Foundations of Linguistics, 1928–9) was published during this period. Also in the early 1930s Olena Kurylo tried to transplant some of the achievements of structuralism to Ukraine. Comparative Indo-European linguistics was almost completely neglected. The little that was published in comparative Slavic linguistics was written by Bulakhovsky (on Slavic accentology, particularly frequency in Czech) and Mykola Hrunsky (on Church Slavonic). In Oriental linguistics only some textbooks appeared, eg, Ahatanhel Krymsky’s Tiurky, ïkh movy ta literatury (Turkic Peoples, Their Languages and Literatures, 1930), T. Kezma’s Arabic grammar (1928), and T. Hrunin’s Turkish grammar (1930). Eliahu Spivak and M. Shapiro of the VUAN Hebraist Commission conducted research on Yiddish. Romani dialects were studied by Oleksii Barannykov (1931).
The Stalinist terror of the 1930s put an end to the development of Ukrainian linguistics. Almost every noted linguist except Leonid Bulakhovsky and Mykola Hrunsky was repressed, or perished. The newly founded Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR became a tool of Russification. Except for Hryhorii Levchenko’s work on literary Ukrainian of the first half of the 19th century (1939, 1946) and Bulakhovsky’s university textbooks of Russian, not one serious work on Ukrainian, Russian, Slavic, or general linguistics appeared during the 1930s and 1940s.
In Romanian-ruled Bukovyna during the interwar period linguistic research at Chernivtsi University died out completely. In Polish-ruled Galicia, Lviv University became an important, though up to 1939 exclusively Polish, linguistic center. Among the noted linguists who worked there were the Polonists Kazimierz Nitsch (1917–20), H. Gaertner (1926–35), and W. Taszycki (1929–41, 1944); the Slavists Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński (1922–9) and Zdzisław Stieber (1937–9, 1944–5); the Indo-Europeanists A. Gawroński (1917–27) and J. Kuryłowicz (1929–45); the Germanists W. Dołmajer (1913–32) and O. Kuryłowicz (1932–9); the Romance linguists E. Porębowicz (1899–1931) and Z. Czerny (1924–46); the Anglicist W. Tarnawski (1924–41); the classical philologists S. Witkowski (1902–35), R. Gansiniec (1920–46), and J. Kowalski (1920–45); and the student Polonists S. Bąk, Władysław Kuraszkiewicz, T. Milewski, Stefan Hrabec, and Karol Dejna. The chair of Ruthenian philology was occupied for the first time by a Pole, Jan Janów (1927–45). Linguists associated with the Shevchenko Scientific Society, including Oleksander Kolessa, Ilarion Svientsitsky, Vasyl Lev, Kost Kysilevsky, Jaroslav Rudnyckyj, and Ivan Pankevych, conducted research in the spirit of Franz Miklosich and V. Vondrák, concentrating mostly on dialects and literary monuments. The society’s research program expanded with the arrival from Prague in 1933 of Vasyl Simovych, the author of pioneering structuralist works in the history of the Ukrainian language and of interesting works in onomastics. Ahenor Artymovych, a professor at the Ukrainian Free University in Prague, also used the structuralist method. The Ukrainian Scientific Institute in Warsaw was another secondary center for Ukrainian linguistics. It published several works by Galician linguists, such as Mariia Pshepiurska-Ovcharenko, V. Lev, and Mykola Pushkar, and supported the work of Ivan Ohiienko and Roman Smal-Stotsky. Ohiienko, a representative of the ‘ethnographic’ tendency, propagated the methods of the Kyiv philological school and published Ridna mova (1933–9), the first popular Ukrainian linguistic journal. Smal-Stotsky studied specific grammatical categories of contemporary Ukrainian using A. Marty’s psychological approach.
After the Second World War and particularly after Joseph Stalin’s death, the number of linguists and their publications in Soviet Ukraine increased. Movoznavstvo, the journal of the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, was revived in 1941 under Leonid Bulakhovsky’s editorship and raised its scientific standards. Several new linguistic serials were founded: Ukraïns’ka mova v shkoli (1951), renamed in 1963 Ukraïns’ka mova i literatura v shkoli; Dialektolohichnyi biuleten’ (9 issues, 1950–62); and Leksykohrafichnyi biuleten’ (9 issues, 1951–63). The Lviv branch of the AN URSR published Doslidzhennia z movy ta literatury (2 vols, 1954–7) and Doslidzhennia i materialy z ukraïns’koï movy (6 vols, 1959–64). Many collections of articles were published, including Slov’ians’ke movoznavstvo (Slavic Linguistics, 5 vols, 1958–67), Filolohichnyi zbirnyk (Philological Collection, 1958), and Slavistychnyi zbirnyk (Slavistic Collection, 1963). Collections dealing specifically with dialectology, syntax, the history of Ukrainian grammar, lexicology, onomastics, and stylistics appeared. The most important synthetic works on Ukrainian that appeared in the decade after Stalin’s death were Bulakhovsky’s book on the origin of the Ukrainian language (1956), Lukiia Humetska’s survey of the word-formation system of the Ukrainian language in 14th- and 15th-century official documents (1958), Stepan Bevzenko’s book on the historical morphology of the Ukrainian language (1960), Antin Gensorsky’s studies of the language of the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle, and Fedot Zhylko’s dialectological research.
Despite a considerable growth in the range of subjects studied and a budding interest in methodological problems (particularly Illia Kucherenko’s studies in the methodology of morphology), linguistics in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1960s still had many shortcomings. Political bias and propaganda continued to mar many works, particularly Ivan Bilodid’s (ed) Kurs istoriï ukraïns'koï literaturnoï movy (A Course in the History of the Ukrainian Literary Language, 2 vols, 1958–61). When the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR was subordinated to the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1963, the publication policy of its institutes, including the Institute of Linguistics, changed drastically. Most periodicals and series were abolished and replaced by occasional collections of articles on specific research questions or individuals such as Oleksander Potebnia, Taras Shevchenko, or Mikhail Lomonosov. Only the bimonthly Movoznavstvo survived. The publication programs of universities also suffered severe cuts. The only remaining linguistics periodical that served all the republic’s universities was the annual Ukraïns’ke movoznavstvo (est 1974). The precarious situation in linguistics was illustrated by the dictionary of the language of Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovianenko’s works (3 vols, 1978–9) that was issued by Kharkiv University in only 350 copies, none of which appeared in bookstores. Thus, the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and the Institute of Social Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in Lviv became the only serious publishers in Ukrainian linguistics.
During the years 1964–84 the Institute of Linguistics explored some areas that previously had not been systematically studied: the intonation of the contemporary vernacular (four collections of articles), the peculiarities of speech (three collections), and onomastics (six collections). In 1966–70 it published four collections of articles on statistical and structural methods in linguistics. Subsequent collections on topics such as the philosophical questions of linguistics (1972) and language and time (1977) were marred by propaganda. Most of the studies dealing with the Ukrainian language were in dialectology: altogether, seven collections of articles on Ukrainian dialects appeared. Only three collections were published on the morphology of modern Ukrainian, one on syntax, four on lexicology, two on the history of linguistic studies, and one on the history of Ukrainian. More monographs than before were published on historical subjects, but generally, the Ukrainian language and its history were underemphasized. The only exceptions to this rule were (1) a series of publications of Middle Ukrainian texts, such as 14th- and 15th-century charters; dictionaries by Lavrentii Zyzanii, Pamva Berynda, and Yepifanii Slavynetsky; grammars by Zyzanii, Meletii Smotrytsky, and Ivan Uzhevych; and 16th- and 18th-century chancellery documents, but no religious texts; and (2) comprehensive textbook series, such as one on Modern Standard Ukrainian (5 vols, 1969–73) edited by Ivan Bilodid et al, and the one on the history of Ukrainian (4 vols, 1978–83) edited by A. Hryshchenko et al. Some valuable reference works appeared also; eg, a dictionary of 14th- and 15th-century Ukrainian (2 vols, 1977–8) based on the language of old charters, edited by Lukiia Humetska and Ivan M. Kernytsky; the first three of seven volumes of a Ukrainian etymological dictionary (1982–), edited by Oleksander Melnychuk et al; the first two volumes of a three-volume atlas of Ukrainian dialects (1984–), edited by I. Matviias et al; a dictionary of Ukrainian hydronyms (1979), edited by Kyrylo Tsiluiko et al; and an eleven-volume Ukrainian dictionary (1970–80), edited by Bilodid et al. The almost complete restriction of research to the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and the emphasis on collections of articles and collectively prepared reference tools made creative individual scholarship in linguistics almost impossible. Soviet linguists became merely executors of a centrally prescribed program, subject to the dogmas of political ideology. Hence, scholarly discussion was virtually nonexistent in Soviet Ukrainian publications.
Another major change in Ukrainian linguistics was brought about by a shift in Soviet nationality policy and language policy. At the all-Union conferences on teaching Russian held in Tashkent in 1975 and 1979, it was announced that as the universal medium of communication in the USSR, Russian must become through education the ‘second native language’ of all non-Russians. Accordingly, the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in Kyiv began feverishly publishing books to promote the Russian language in Ukraine. As a rule its publications were in Russian and bore titles (in translation) such as The Russian Language—The Language of International Communication and of the Unification of the Peoples of the USSR (1976), A Comparative Study of the Russian and Ukrainian Languages (1975), The Culture of Russian Speech in Ukraine (1976), The Russian Language as a Source of Enrichment of the Languages of the USSR (1979), and The Functioning of the Russian Language in a Close Linguistic Environment (1981). The institute also began publishing, only in Russian, books on general linguistics.
In the West, linguists concentrated mostly on problems of Ukrainian grammar and stylistics (eg, J. Barnstead, C. Bethin, Vasyl Yashchun, Panteleimon Kovaliv, Victor Swoboda, et al), the history of Ukrainian (George Yurii Shevelov, Bohdan Struminsky, P. Wexler), etymology (Jaroslav Rudnyckyj), dialectology (Oleksa Horbach, Struminsky), Old Ukrainian texts (Horbach, Swoboda, George Perfecky, I. Gerus-Tarnawecka), and onomastics (Jacob Hursky, Wolodymyr Zyla). (See also Dialectology, Grammar, Ukrainian language, Lexicography, Lexicology, Morphology, Orthography, Standard Ukrainian, Stylistics, and Syntax.)
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[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine