Is Ukrainian a language or dialect? That depends on how the war ends

The distinction between a dialect and a language – it could be Bahasa Indonesia/Malay, Cantonese/Mandarin as well – is viewed differently by linguists and political scientists.

A banner that reads "Kharkiv is Ukraine" at a march of unity against Russian threat in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Feb 5, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the number of people studying Ukrainian on Duolingo, a language learning website and mobile app, has increased by more than 500 per cent.

Most of those who are taking up Ukrainian are probably unaware that there is a long-running controversy about this particular form of speech. One side views Russians and Ukrainians as "one people", and the opposing side does not.

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