Share Tweet Pocket Add to Bookmarks
You're reading: Ukrainian language deserves primacy in all spheres of life

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Sitting in an immigration office another day, I had to answer a few questions in order to extend my stay in the United States. An officer with a peculiar name, Mr. Ennis, was a grey-haired civil servant with a vacant look on his face. He began the procedure by looking at my application documents. “You were not born in Ukraine,” was his first reaction to my file. “You were born in the U.S.S.R.,” he added sternly, crossing out what I had written.

Mr. Ennis was technically right: Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union in 1982. But does that make me Soviet when it comes to defining nationality? Avoiding trouble, I didn’t ask him, but the thought crossed my mind. I am glad he left my Ukrainian-ness without further questioning.

It so happens that we are haunted by the ghosts of our geopolitical past through most of our life. Being labeled Soviet may sound derogatory to some people, but to others, it’s a part of identity that’s not worth fighting with. In my reports on culture, I circumvent sensitive subjects by referring to them as Slavic to please the crowd. Yes, I try to stay neutral. Because if I say that it’s a truly Ukrainian habit to drink tea leaving a teaspoon in a cup until you finish, someone would argue that Russians tend to enjoy this eye-poking experience just as much. 

Exclusive article

Sign up or subscribe to view more articles.
See All Plans
$5.95
Monthly plan
Get unlimited article access, anytime, anywhere.

Subscribe
$60
Yearly plan
Access all the exclusive content on KyivPost.com and the complete online archive.
Subscribe
Advertisement

Add comment

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.
Attention

Add a picture
Choose file
Add a quote
Attention

Are you sure you want to delete your comment?

Attention

Are you sure you want to delete all user's comments?

Attention

Are you sure you want to unapprove user's comment?

Attention

Are you sure you want to move to spam user's comment?

Attention

Are you sure you want to move to trash user's comment?

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: