Languages spoken in Kharkov

Languages spoken in Kharkov

The official langauge of Kharkov is Ukrainian and it is the same for every other city in the country, there is only one official language.

That said, many people in and around the city speak the popular Russian language in all but official situations. Typically most eastern and some southern parts of the country will be Russian speaking while the western parts of Ukraine mostly speak the official langauge.

To a foreigner it can seem a little strange for a country to have more than one language in frequent use, so we have a created a short list of examples to explain when each language is spoken.

In what circumstances is the Russian/Ukrainian language used?

Russian language

At home
Shopping
Chatting to friends
Publicly in the street is acceptable

Ukrainian language

Any official building
Maps and official guides
Politicians
Publicly in the street is acceptable
We should point out that this is a very rough guide as there are exceptions. For example outside of cities and towns most country folk will be Ukrainian speaking, regardless of whether they live in East or West Ukraine.

Are you looking to learn the Russian language? We have some reviews of popular CD courses and books that will help you learn the Russian language.

This is a great book as it contains lots of useful Ukrainian Phrases.

Kharkov or Kharkiv?

You have probably seen both versions of the name in use on the internet and it’s the same within Ukraine itself, Kharkov is the Russian word and Kharkiv is the Ukrainian.

The letter [ i ] does not exist in the Russian language. Official websites and those created by western and central Ukrainians will use the official version while some other people tend to use the Russian version.

Which is most popular

On the internet, the word [ kharkov ] is by far the most popular of the two words, currently doing a Google search for [ kharkiv ] results in a spelling suggestion for [ kharkov ] this is because of a large number of searches for that word.

Within the country itself things are not so clean cut, in Kharkov almost all will use the Russian version while in a western city such as Lviv (Lvov) the official language is always used.

Some people. mostly youngsters, have begun to use words from both langauges to create a type of slang. This of course will confuse western tourists even more!