Ruthenian, the language of Galicia


In the Real World, there are people who believe that the Ukrainian nation consists in fact of two separate nations: West and East Ukrainians. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, Mykhaylo Hrushevsky (who would later become Ukraine's first president) acknowledged the risk of West and East Ukrainians drifting apart, and did all he could to prevent this from happening. Still, the differences between the West and East Ukrainians are huge. First of all, there is a difference in religion: the (majority of the) West Ukrainians are Greek Catholic, the East Ukrainians are Orthodox. Besides, the histories of both sides differ considerably. Western Ukraine has essentially been Polish territory until it became part of Soviet Ukraine after the Second World War; even during the years of the partitions, when Poland had vanished from the map, it was ruled by Poles most of the time. Central and Eastern Ukrainians, on the other hand, have been under Russian rule for centuries. As a result, many people in the East speak Russian, and would either prefer to be part of Russia or at least stay close to it, while Western Ukraine is much more oriented to the West, and a stronghold of Ukrainian nationalism. How huge the differences between both sides are can easily be seen in Ukraine's voting behaviour during elections. For example, in the presidential elections preceding the Orange Revolution, over 90 % of the West Ukrainians voted for Viktor Yushchenko, while in parts of Eastern Ukraine over 90 % supported his opponent and archrival, Viktor Yanukovych. In this period, the possibility of secession (either of Western Ukraine from the East, or vice versa) has been frequently been mentioned as a serious possibility. Although none of this has happened (yet), the parallel with the Serbs and the Croats, who also share one language, is obvious.

In Ill Bethisad, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the very same thing might have gone a bit further, and that West and East Ukrainians have really developed into two separate nations. Galicia (including Western Ukraine) was annexed by Austro-Dalmatia in 1772, but in 1815, the Monarchy was forced to return it to a Napoleontic Veneda. Of course, even *here* Galicia was pretty much a Polish state within the Austrian part of the Monarchy, especially after 1867, but even so, the Ukrainians enjoyed some support from Vienna and had a small share of influence there. Within the Kingdom of Veneda, they lacked both. Venedic nationalism did not grow they way it did *here*, but Venedic-Ukrainian relations were bad nonetheless. And although the conditions were different for both Veneds and Ukrainians, there is no reason to believe Ukrainian national consciousness wouldn't have emerged in a similar way, mutually interacting with the situation in Eastern Ukraine. In the chaos of the First Great War, when Veneda was occupied by Germany and Hungary, the Ukrainians of East Galicia proclaimed an independent state, the West Ukrainian People's Republic (ZUNR), which sought unification with Eastern Ukraine. But instead of going down together, which is essentially what happened *here*, the Ukrainian People's Republic (UNR) had less of a problem with giving up on the ZUNR when times were tough. As a result, the UNR remained an independent state, and the ZUNR gained the status of an autonomous region within Veneda.

During the Interwar period, the West Ukrainians were defininely better off in Veneda than they were *here* in Poland. Some of them undoubtedly continued dreaming about reunification with the UNR, but it was not high on the political agenda – especially after 1937, when Ukraine became a strongly pro-Russian dictatorship. West and East Ukraine would be unified again for a short period during the Second Great War, but in a construction that was attractive to neither West nor East Ukrainians: Russia's puppet state Malorussia. After 1949, Galicia again was an autonomous region of Veneda, now part of the Republic of the Two Crowns, and until the fall of the SNOR in Russia, it was the only place where Ukrainian culture could flourish.

So, what would be the effect of all this to the Ukrainian language in Western Ukraine? Probably not much, except that West Ukrainian has been heavily influenced by Wenedyk, even more so than *here* by Polish, and let's not forget that Wenedyk is far more different from both Russian and Ukrainian than *here*. An all-Ukrainian written language is therefore less likely to have emerged, especially since the two halves spent only two very short periods together. In the Republic of Both Nations, language was not an important factor. The Ukrainians were poor, but they enjoyed all freedom to satisfy their cultural and linguistic needs. Obviously, they were aware of their connection to East Ukraine, which was still part of czarist Russia and where Ukrainian was considered a Russian dialect. But they didn't have to import their own culture from it. Likewise, during the Interwar period the Ukrainians in Galicia enjoyed a high degree of freedom, so that – again – they were less dependent on their East Ukrainian compatriots. The Venedic government was undoubtedly aware of the potential danger of influence from East Ukraine, and therefore it did all it could to stimulate a brand of local patriotism known as Rutenstwo and made efforts to codify the Ruthenian language in such way that the differences with East Ukrainian were maximal. Because typewriters, printing presses and the like were primarily developed for writing Wenedyk, it was obvious that Ruthenian orthography was the materials provided by Wenedyk.

Differences between Ruthenian and Ukrainian

Ruthenian and Ukrainian are mutually fully understandable, and speakers of both languages know that it is basically the same language they are speaking. However, there are a few differences: