Language wars

“We must thank fate (and the author’s thirst for universal fame) for his not having turned to the Ukrainian dialect as a medium of expression, because then all would have been lost,” wrote Vladimir Nabokov in his 1959 study, Gogol. He continued: “When I want a good nightmare, I imagine Gogol penning in Little Russian dialect volume after volume….” What he calls the “Little Russian dialect” is none other than the Ukrainian language, which is about as close to Russian as Spanish is to Italian.

Many Russian writers and intellectuals have shared Nabokov’s dismissive attitude toward the Ukrainian language. There are repercussions to having these kinds of mindsets. It is suggested in the article that linguistic prejudice is a major component in Russia’s present conflict with Ukraine. Putin has said that he attacked Ukraine to protect Russian-speakers in the Donbas, in the east of the country.

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