Ukrainian in the United Kingdom: language use, attitudes, ideologies and identities in the Ukrainian community

Harrison, Katie (2020) Ukrainian in the United Kingdom: language use, attitudes, ideologies and identities in the Ukrainian community. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (5MB)


This thesis is the first detailed sociolinguistic examination of the Ukrainian community in the United Kingdom. It explores the linguistic repertoires, language practices, and language attitudes and ideologies of community members, as well as the perceived role of language in the formation of identity, and factors affecting the intergenerational transmission and maintenance of the heritage/community language. A mixed methods approach was employed, drawing on a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collected through three complementary methods: questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and ethnographic observations in a Ukrainian complementary school.

The data presented in this thesis provide evidence that, on the whole, language shift is taking place in the community, as Ukrainian tends to be used relatively seldom by community members. This is despite generally positive attitudes towards Ukrainian and community members considering it an important part of Ukrainian identity. Thus, Ukrainian appears to play a largely symbolic role in the Ukrainian community in the UK. The data also highlight the considerable linguistic diversity within the community, particularly the linguistic differences between the two waves of Ukrainian migration to the UK. For example, those belonging to the first, post-World War II (mid-late 1940s) wave of migration reported largely more monolingual linguistic practices than members of the second, post-Soviet migration wave (1991-present), whose linguistic repertoires and language practices are comparatively more multilingual. The data also reveal that community members belonging to either migration wave use different varieties of Ukrainian (labelled Diaspora Ukrainian and Contemporary Ukrainian), and that Russian also forms part of the linguistic repertoires of second-wave Ukrainians. Attitudes towards these languages and linguistic varieties were diverse, which further adds to the complexity of the linguistic situation in the community. Some informants exhibited negative attitudes towards Contemporary Ukrainian, as they considered it ‘Russified’ and ‘impure’, and positive attitudes towards Diaspora Ukrainian, which was perceived as being a more ‘authentic’, ‘pure’ variety of Ukrainian. The thesis also examines support for the transmission and maintenance of Ukrainian (the heritage/community language) in the UK, but also uncovered many of the challenges encountered in doing so.

The findings of this research contribute to our understanding of the role played by heritage/community languages in ethnic minority groups in the UK, and some of the challenges facing such groups in relation to the transmission and maintenance of such languages. It also provides a valuable insight into the linguistic diversity that exists within an ethnic minority groups, and thus challenges assumptions of linguistic homogeneity within these groups. Thus, the study contributes to our understanding of the diverse, multilingual nature of contemporary society in the UK.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: McLelland, Nicola
McMichael, Polly
Keywords: Sociolinguistics, language and migration, language attitudes, language ideologies, Ukrainian.
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 59779
Depositing User: Harrison, Katie
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2020 07:47
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2022 04:30

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View