Canadian Ukrainian (Ukrainian in Canada)

Ukraine-CanadaA lot of Ukrainians came to Canada at the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. These people brought not only their excellent farmers’ skills that were in great demand in Canada then, but also their own language and preserved for over a century. The Ukrainian language in Canada has a number of distinctive features as compared to standard Ukrainian (UkrUkr). This is explained by the fact that there were relatively few opportunities to communicate with the old country (Ukraine). Moreover, Ukrainian in Canada (CanUkr) was in close contact with English and French and was influenced by them. This post concentrates on some of the peculiar features of CanUkr and reflects further on why these particular features appear in this variety of the language.

The examples below were recorded in Canada and compared to modern UkrUkr:

CanUkr                                         Eng                                   UkrUkr
1)   атачмент                              attachment                         прикріплення
2)   членкіня                                  member                              член (громади)
3)   сенйор                                    senior                                 пенсіонер
4)   реченець                                 deadline                             кінцевий термін
5)   ровер                                       bike                                    велосипед
6)   пироги                                     perogies                             вареники
7)   брати курси                            to take courses                  мати заняття (в університеті)
8)   брати автобус №5                 to take bus #5                   сісти на автобус №5
9)   супервайзер                            supervisor                          науковий керівник
10) добродійка                               priest’s wife                        дружина священика
11) моцний                                     strong, healthy                   здоровий
12) перéкуска                                snack                                  закуска
13) партія                                      party                                   вечірка
14) у долині                                    downstairs, at the bottom   унизу
15) дай в зад                                  go back                              повернися назад
16) не журися                                  don’t worry                        не хвилюйся
17) конто                                       account                              рахунок
18) фамілія                                     family                                 родина
19) мізерабельна погода               miserable weather             пасмурна погода
20) цитрина                                    lemon                                лимон
21) помаранча                                orange                               апельсин, помаранч
22) лазничка                                   washroom                          туалет
23) у п’ятій (і т.д.) годині рано     at 5 in the morning             у п’ятій ранку
24) гамер                                        hammer                              молоток
25) летючка                                    flyer                                   флаєр
26) кляса                                         class                                   заняття
27) олімпіяда                                  Olympics                             олімпіада
28) рафінерія                                  refinery                               нафто-очисна споруда
29) департамент                          department                         кафедра (університету)
30) студії/студіювати                   studies/to study                   –знавство/вивчати, навчатися
31) зважати                                   to pay attention                   звертати увагу
32) виповнювати (форму)             to fill out (a form)                заповнювати (форму)
33) візитація                                   visitation                             візит, відвідування
34) робити знімку                          to make a picture                фотографуватися
35) генерація                                  generation                           покоління
36) фарма                                       farm                                    ферма
37) конгратулюювати                   to congratulate                    вітати
38) респектувати                          to respect                            поважати
39) колеґія                                       college                                 коледж

As can be seen from the examples above (e.g. 1, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30), many CanUkr words were coined based on their English equivalents. However, there are also other tendencies in place. For instances, examples 4, 5, 16 are regionalisms (from western part of Ukraine from which a lot of immigrants came) which are not used in standard UkrUkr. Notably, certain instances of hypercorrection can be identified such as example 25; in this example, instead of UkrUkr borrowing from English “флаєр“, CanUkr uses a “hypercorrected” equivalent: “летючка“. The word “летючка” was probably calked from the English word “flyer”. Finally, it is worth noting that it is typical of CanUkr to have –ія– suffix in place UkrUkr suffix -іа- such as in example 27.

This post has discussed only a few instances of original CanUkr words (and a suffix) in hope that this will generate more fruitful discussions on the use of Ukrainian in Canada and other countries and other interesting instances of language contact and regional variety.


  1. Dmitry, Ukraine

    Thank you, very interesting 🙂

  2. Another example of hypercorrection is CanUkr “у Торонті” (in Toronto). Pay attention to the ending used in CanUkr, it is “” which can be explained by the fact that the locative case requires precisely “” ending in UkrUkr. However, in UkrUkr, words of foreign origin usually do not change their endings. Therefore, in UkrUkr the phrase should be “у Торонто“.

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