Third Annual Eudaimonia Lecture: Reversing Language Shift: Self-Ukrainization in Ukraine after the full-scale Invasion

On 15.05.2024, Professor Anna Verschik (Talinn University, Estonia) will give Third Annual Eudaimonia Lecture on the topic "Reversing Language Shift: Self-Ukrainization in Ukraine after the full-scale invasion". Yan Kapranov (University of Economics and Human Sciences in Warsaw/Kyiv National Linguistic University) will offer a commentary.

The lecture will be followed by a reception with live music and there will also be a livestream on Youtube. For more information and the registration, please see below.
A Ukrainian flag with bullet holes

Event information



Venue location

Tellus Stage and Youtube



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16:00-16:05: Welcoming words (Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen)

16:05-16:15: Awarding of Eudaimonia Dissertation Prize (Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen)

16:15-16:20: Introduction lecture (Mai Frick)

16:20-17:05: Lecture Self-Ukrainization in Ukraine after the full-scale Invasion (Anna Verschik)

17:05-17:15: Commentary (Yan Kapranov)

17:15-18:00: Discussion

18:00-19:30: Reception (18:15-18:45: Musical performance by Trio Elisé)


The term “language shift” refers to the situation when a person or a community abandons their first language and internalises another language. The reasons for language shift are socio-psychological (external pressure, internalisation of new language hierarchies, the wish to be accepted, economic advantages, changes in individual or collective identities). Starting from the Tsarist period and throughout the Soviet era, the official policy was that of Russification. Ukraine is a special case because since the invention of the Russian Empire Ukraine’s past was appropriated and adopted into the imperial narrative (so-called Kievan Rus etc.), and the trope of the older brother (that is, Russians) has been recurrent. On paper, Ukrainian was present but in reality, only an ethnographic version of Ukrainianness was tolerated. The idea that Russian is prestigious and Ukrainian is backward was internalised among some ethnic Ukrainians, and they gradually shifted to Russian. However, this was not Russian of Russia but a set of more or less Ukrainiaised varieties.

The emergence of the independent state in 1991 contributed to de-Russification to some extent. A deeper realisation of the linguistic reality and the reversal of language shift started after the revolution of dignity (Maidan revolution) in 2013-2014 and the hybrid military operation. Shift to Ukrainian started as grass-root activism (for instance, in the Facebook group “Shift to Ukrainian” where people described their stories), and the differences between Russian varieties of Ukraine and of Russia became prominent for the general public. The full-scale Russian aggression only intensified the process. Various poles show the increase in the use of Ukrainian, both at home and outside. The slogan Говори українською, бо ворог не може (Speak Ukrainian because the enemy cannot) renders language attitudes rather precisely.

The undoing of earlier language shift (from Ukrainian to Russian and back again) concerns not only general public but also poets and writers (for instance, Volodymyr Refeenko, Alex Averbuch, Iya Kiva). Notably, not only ethnic Ukrainians choose Ukrainian now but also members of other ethnicities.

The lecture will be followed b a commentary by Yan Kapranov (University of Economics and Human Sciences in Warsaw/Kyiv National Linguistic University) and a discussion session.


Anna Verschik is distinguished professor of general linguistics at Tallinn University. Her field is language contacts, multilingualism, and translation theory (with the focus on translations of multilingualism). She has been translating Ukrainian poetry into Estonian.


The lecture is followed by an reception with (alcoholic) drinks and food and live music by Trio Elisé, a local ensemble from Oulu.


Please register here for the lecture. The registration is only for catering purposes.


The lecture will also be livestreamed on the Youtube account of the University of Oulu .

Last updated: 26.4.2024