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The Language Situation in Lviv during the Interwar Period

The Language Situation in Lviv during the Interwar Period
1 Devonshire Place, Room 108N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Apr 18th, 4:00 pm End: Apr 18th, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Slavic Studies (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Liudmyla Pidkuimukha, Kyiv Mohyla Academy

The Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine and the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies presents

The Language Situation in Lviv during the Interwar Period

Since its foundation Lviv has been situated on a border of different cultures and languages. Throughout its existence, the city belonged to different states. The dominant national structure changed in accordance to it. In addition to Polish, Ukrainian, German and Jewish population, there existed an Armenian minority and the Czechs, Russians, Belarusians and Tatars were represented in small numbers in Lviv during the interwar period. My research demonstrates how ethnic situation influenced on formation of Ukrainian language. The texts by young writers of the "Twelve" literary group, which functioned in Lviv during the inter-war period, were chosen for analysis. The study showed that a full-structured multifunctional Ukrainian language was utilized in the social and cultural space of the inter-war Lviv. Its vocabulary included words to denote the concepts and realities in different spheres of public life, urban space, household activities and forms of etiquette communication. The Ukrainian authentic vocabulary and significant borrowings from the languages in the same territory comprised the basis for Lviv koine.

Moreover, my research describes the subculture of batyars and their language. The batyars were the name of the lower-class inhabitants of Lviv (the "elite of Lviv's streets"). A typical batyar in common imagination was usually financially challenged, but also an honest and generous urban citizen with a great sense of humor. The batyars spoke their special language which was called Balak or Batyar Slang. The active use of "balak" was observed till 30th of 20th century, it was even fashionable to use "balak" during this time on the pages of humorous papers, in films and in broadcastings.

My research also discusses school and sport slangs in Lviv during the interwar period. Despite the big share of borrowings from other languages, the Ukrainian vocabulary formed the main part of school and sport slangs. Pupils and students tried to avoid using Polish. As Yurij Shevelev wrote, at this time in Lviv the Ukrainian language was not only the language of communication but also the language of struggle.

Dr. Liudmyla Pidkuimukha is an Assistant Professor at the Ukrainian Language Department, Faculty of Humanities, the National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy" (Kyiv, Ukraine). Liudmyla has completed her PhD thesis, entitled Lexical Characteristics of Western Region Variety of Standard Ukrainian Language (Based on Lviv Writers' Texts 1-st Half of XXth Century), which is focused on language situation in Lviv during the interwar period and is rooted in both social sciences and humanities. The interwar Lviv is the central focus of this research because Liudmyla finds it very interesting to compare ethnic situation with language situation during this period, to study state and status of the Ukrainian Language at that time Lviv. Liudmyla is particularly interested in the literary production of theinterwar period and in the modern Ukrainian prose. Besides linguistics, Dr. Pidkuimukha is interested in cultural, historical and urban studies.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact Olga Kesarchuk at 416-946-8497


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