War changes language: more Ukrainian, less Russian

January 11, 2024

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from LMU, the University of Bath, and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have analyzed changes in the use of language on social media in Ukraine before and during the Russian war of aggression. “Apparently the war is causing people to increasingly turn away from the Russian language,” says Daniel Racek, lead author of the team’s study, which has been published in the journal Communications Psychology. Language plays a decisive role in the post-Soviet identity of Ukraine. Many Ukrainians are fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian. Until recently, however, only around half to two-thirds of the population named Ukrainian as their main native language.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from LMU, the University of Bath, and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have analyzed changes in the use of language on social media in Ukraine before and during the Russian war of aggression. “Apparently the war is causing people to increasingly turn away from the Russian language,” says Daniel Racek, lead author of the team’s study, which has been published in the journal Communications Psychology. Racek is a doctoral student under Professor Göran Kauermann at LMU’s Department of Statistics.

Language plays a decisive role in the post-Soviet identity of Ukraine. Many Ukrainians are fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian. Until recently, however, only around half to two-thirds of the population named Ukrainian as their main native language. Since the Euromaidan protests, sparked by the sudden preliminary decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, and the subsequent annexation of Crimea in 2013/2014, there is evidence that this proportion has increased due to that Russian military intervention.