Do you learn the Ukrainian language and want to sound more natural?
Here are some useful tips for you from Ukrainian language teacher.
1. Work on your pronunciation
Phonetics is a very important part for second language learners. You may know a lot of Ukrainian words, but you are pronouncing them wrong and are being misunderstood by others. Just recall how difficult it is to listen to a person who ignores English language phonetic rules.
Communicate with native speakers, listen to podcasts, music, and watch YouTube channels or TV in Ukrainian. Repeat after speakers. Remember: only practice makes perfect, nothing else.
2. Use exclamations and a strengthening word “a”
Exclamations are used a lot in the Ukrainian language. They emphasize our emotions and attitudes. To sound more natural, you need to use them in your speech.
Some examples of emotional exclamations:
“ой” (like “oops”), “овва” (shows your surprise), “отакої” (expresses negative surprise), “агов” (like “hey”), long “ааа” (you just remembered or realized something), “ех/ох” (show your regrets), etc.
3. Use diminutive forms of Ukrainian words
In Ukrainian, we like to use diminutives a lot. Many nouns and nearly all personal names have diminutive forms. Usually, the diminutive form of a word is formed by using diminutive suffixes: -ик, -ичка, -инка, -ина, -иця, -ок, -очка etc.
For example: кіт – котик (a cat – a kitten), собака – собачка (a dog – a puppy), квітка -квіточка (a flower – a small flower).
Names: Софія – Софіїчка, Марина – Маринка, Тетяна – Тетяночка.
4. Be aware of local dialects
To feel more confident as a speaker you need to know the “real language” of a place you are living in. You know that the Ukrainian language is very diverse and people speak differently in every region.
For example, if you are planning to stay in the Lviv region, you need to know what “кобіта” (a woman, a girl), “канапка” (a sandwich) or “кнайпа” (a bar, a restaurant) means.
5. Recognize slang words, and even jargon of different social groups you are communicating with
All over Ukraine, you will probably hear some youth slang words like: “жесть” (trash, hardcore), “капець” (end, trouble, breakdown), and “блін” (damn). These words come from Russian youth slang.
Of course, we don’t recommend you to use slang words a lot, but at least you need to understand their meaning because being with locals you will hear them a lot.
In the next blog posts, we will tell you more about each of these tips!
What tips do you use to sound more natural in Ukrainian? Please write your answer in the comments below.