Dialectology. Active interest in and studies of Ukrainian dialects began in the early 19th century, during the period of romanticism and increasing interest in folk culture and folk oral literature. Searching for a national language ‘uncorrupted’ by literary influence, the Romanticists (Oleksii Pavlovsky, Mykhailo Maksymovych, Ivan Vahylevych, Mykhailo Luchkai, Yakiv Holovatsky, and others) turned to dialects, without taking into account the extremely localized nature of the material. In the second half of the 19th century the neogrammarian school of linguistics, which based itself on the positivist world view, began to compare dialectal data with old literary documents to establish the genesis of dialects and languages (Kostiantyn Mykhalchuk, Yevhen Tymchenko). Oleksander Potebnia, Omelian Ohonovsky, and others took a position between the romantics and the neogrammarians. The phonetic school, to a certain extent an offspring of the neogrammarian school, went to an extreme in the studies of Olaf Broch, Olena Kurylo, and Maik Yohansen: the slightest variants, often individual differences in pronunciation, were noted down. Such zeal for utterly exact phonetic transcription prevailed after the First World War, particularly among Western Ukrainian and Polish investigators of Ukrainian dialects.

Linguistic geography, founded by J. Gilliéron at the end of the 19th century, which denied the very notion of dialect as a unity and concentrated attention on the spatial distribution of words and word forms, found no followers among linguists who studied Ukrainian dialects, but it stimulated the mapping of dialectal phenomena and the preparation of dialect atlases. The first work of this type was Petro Buzuk’s dialect geography of the Poltava region (1929). Cartographically, the most important works of later years were those by Ivan Pankevych (on Transcarpathia, 1938), Karol Dejna (on the Ternopil region, 1957), Vasyl S. Vashchenko (on the Poltava region, 1957), Zdzisław Stieber (on the Lemko region, 1956-64), Yosyp Dzendzelivsky (on Transcarpathia, 1958-60), and Samuil Bernshtein with others (on the Carpathian Mountains region, 1967). An all-Ukrainian atlas under the general guidance of Fedot Zhylko, conceived in three volumes, remained unpublished in the archives of the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in Kyiv and of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in Lviv (work on two volumes was completed between 1948 and 1969; work on the third was stopped in 1973).

The demand for the complex study of dialects as closed systems, prompted by the structuralist trend in linguistics (Oleksa Syniavsky, 1929), found almost no followers in Ukraine before 1940 because structuralism was proscribed in the USSR. In the 1930s and 1940s Soviet Ukrainian dialectologists were afraid to study archaic dialects and devoted most of their efforts to a dilettante enumeration of the influences (often only alleged) of the standard language on dialects (V. Danilov, I. Omelianenko, Liudmyla Rak, and others). After the Second World War, however, structuralism made its way into Ukrainian dialectology—for example, in the studies of Fedot Zhylko, Tetiana Nazarova, and, most consistently and conspicuously, Liudmila Kalnyn (Opyt modelirovaniia sistemy ukrainskogo dialektnogo iazyka [An Attempt at Modeling a System for the Ukrainian Dialectal Language], 1973).

Starting in the late 19th century, the study of dialects gradually became concentrated in the departments of Ukrainian and/or Slavic philology at the universities of Lviv, Cracow, Lublin, Prague, and Kyiv (see Lviv University, Kyiv University), and in national and local scientific institutions such as the Philological Section and the Ethnographic Commission of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the Ukrainian Scientific Society in Kyiv, the dialectological commission of the second division of the Russian Academy of Sciences (later the Moscow Institute of Slavic Studies), the dialectological commission of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, and eventually the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (now the Institute of Linguistics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine).

The accumulation of data made possible attempts at the synthetic classification of Ukrainian dialects and the tracing of their historical roots. The first attempt of major significance was made by Kostiantyn Mykhalchuk as early as 1877. His proposed classification of Ukrainian dialects into northern, southwestern, and southeastern (with further subdivisions) was disputed by Aleksei Sobolevsky (1892), Nikolai Durnovo (1915), and Ivan Zilynsky (1916). After certain modifications it was successfully defended and developed by Vsevolod Hantsov (1924) and subsequently accepted by Zilynsky (1933). It is generally acepted today. Virtually all questionnaires for collecting dialectal data were compiled on the basis of this classification, including those of Mykhalchuk and Ahatanhel Krymsky, and Mykhalchuk and Yevhen Tymchenko, 1909; Oleksa Syniavsky 1924, 1927; Tymchenko, 1925; Mykola Nakonechny, 1941; and Borys Larin, 1948, 1949. The last was used as the basis for the all-Ukrainian atlas prepared in Kyiv and Lviv.

By now hundreds of studies have been written on individual dialects, dialect groups, and particular features of various dialects. Some of them can be singled out as works of a synthetic character: those of Petro Buzuk and Vasyl S. Vashchenko on the Poltava region; of Vsevolod Hantsov, Olena Kurylo, Fedot Zhylko, and Tetiana Nazarova on Polisia; of Karol Dejna on Podilia; of Jan Janów and Bronyslav Kobyliansky on the Hutsul region; of Ivan Pankevych and Yosyp Dzendzelivsky on Transcarpathia; of Mariia Pshepiurska-Ovcharenko and Władysław Kuraszkiewicz on Podlachia and the Sian region. Besides traditional studies in phonology and word inflection, pioneering works in dialectal word formation (Ya. Zakrevska, 1976) and syntax (Stepan Bevzenko et al.) have appeared. Among dialectal dictionaries the most important are those of Polisia by P. Lysenko (1974) and of the Boiko region by Mykhailo Onyshkevych (published only in parts in various symposiums). The most important general surveys of Ukrainian dialects are F. Zhylko’s Narysy z dialektolohiï ukraïns'koï movy (Essays on the Dialectology of the Ukrainian Language, 1955; 2nd edn, 1966) and Y. Dzendzelivsky’s Konspekt lektsii z kursu ukraïns'koï dialektolohiï (Conspectus of Lectures for the Course in Ukrainian Dialectology, 1965, 1966). T. Nazarova edited Hovory ukraïn'skoï movy: Zbirnyk tekstiv (Dialects of the Ukrainian Language: A Collection of Texts, 1977).

Mikhal'chuk, K. Narechiia, podnarechiia i govory Iuzhnoi Rossii v sviazi s narechiiami Galichiny. Trudy Etnografichesko-statisticheskoi ekspeditsii v Zapadno-Russkii krai, 7 (Saint Petersburg 1877)
Sobolevskii, A. ‘Opyt russkoi dialektologii. III. Malorusskoe narechie,’ Zhivaia starina, 1892
Mykhal'chuk, K.; Tymchenko, Ie. Prohrama do zbyrannia diialektychnykh odmin ukraïns'koï movy (Kyiv 1910)
Zilyns'kyi, I. ‘Proba uporiadkuvannia ukraïns'kykh hovoriv,’ ZNTSh, 117-18 (1914)
Hantsov, V. ‘Diialektolohichna kliasyfikatsiia ukraïns'kykh hovoriv,’ ZIFV, 4 (1923) (repr, Köln 1975)
Zilyns'kyi, I. ‘Do pytannia pro diialektolohichnu kliasyfikatsiiu ukraïns'kykh hovoriv,’ ZNTSh, 141-3 (1925)
Zilyński, J. Opis fonetyczny języka ukraińskiego (Cracow 1932)
Zilyns'kyi, I. Karta ukraïns'kykh hovoriv z poiasnenniamy (Warsaw 1933)
Kuraszkiewicz, W. Zarys dialektologii wschodnio-slowiańskiej z wyborem tekstów gwarowych (Warsaw 1954)
Zhylko, F. Hovory ukraïns'koï movy (Kyiv 1958)
———, (ed.) Ukraïns'ka dialektna morfolohiia (Kyiv 1969)
Karaś, M. (ed). Studia nad dialektologią ukraińską (Cracow 1975) [materials of I. Zilyns'kyi]
Zakrevs'ka, Ia. Narysy z dialektnoho slovotvoru v areal'nomu aspekti (Kyiv 1976)
Shevelov, G. A Historical Phonology of the Ukrainian Language (Heidelberg 1979)
Zilyns'kyj, I. A Phonetic Description of the Ukrainian Language (Cambridge, Mass 1979)
Latta, Vasyl. Atlas ukraïns'kykh hovoriv Skhidnoï Slovachchyny (Bratislava 1991)
Rieger, Janusz. A Lexical Atlas of the Hutsul Dialects of the Ukrainian Language (Warsaw 1996)

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

List of related links from Encyclopedia of Ukraine pointing to Dialectology entry:

A referral to this page is found in 27 entries.