Mykhalchuk, Kostiantyn

Image - The Kostiantyn Mykhalchuk memorial plaque in Zhytomyr.

Mykhalchuk, Kostiantyn [Михальчук, Костянтин; Myxal’čuk, Kostjantyn], b 2 January 1841 in Zozulyntsi, Berdychiv county, Kyiv gubernia, d 20 April 1914 in Kyiv. Linguist; member of the Ukrainian Scientific Society in Kyiv (UNTK), the Historical Society of Nestor the Chronicler, and the Shevchenko Scientific Society (from 1911). He studied at Kyiv University (1859–61), was active in the university's Ukrainian hromada, and taught at the first Ukrainian Sunday school in Kyiv. Persecuted by the authorities for his Ukrainophile activities, he was kept under house arrest on his mother's homestead in 1863–6. From 1873 he worked as an office manager of the Kyiv Brewing Company, was active in the Old Hromada of Kyiv, and contributed publicistic articles under various pseudonyms (eg, Kh[okho]-l) to Kievskii telegraf, Trud, and Zaria in Kyiv, and Dilo and the journal Pravda in Lviv. In Trudy etnografichesko-statisticheskoi ekspeditsii v Zapadno-russkii krai, edited by his friend Pavlo Chubynsky, he published an ethnographic study of the Poles in Right-Bank Ukraine and the first scholarly descriptive and genetic study of Ukrainian dialects (1872). In the latter monograph he conceptualized the still-accepted tripartite (northern dialects, southwestern dialects, and southeastern dialects) division of the dialects and described subdialects within them. He also prepared the first Ukrainian dialectal map (1871).

Although Mykhalchuk did not produce a systematic history of the Ukrainian language, in several articles and reviews published from 1893 on in Kievskaia starina, Zapysky UNTK (of which he became a coeditor in 1909), and Ukrainskaia zhizn’ he examined the main questions of the historical phonetics, morphology, and origins of Ukrainian. In some of his concepts he was a precursor of structuralism. With Yevhen Tymchenko he prepared a program for the collection of Ukrainian dialectal features (publ 1908) and was elected a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. His 1886 open letter to Aleksandr Pypin in defense of the Ukrainian language was published as a brochure in 1909, and another defense, written in 1898 in reply to attacks in the newspaper Kievlianin, was published only in 1929 in the Ukraïns’kyi diialektolohichnyi zbirnyk (vol 2) of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. A collection of philological articles dedicated to his memory was published in Kyiv in 1915. His selected works appeared in 1991.

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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