Solidarité Ukraine
INED Éditions. Sound Archives, European Memories of the Gulag

Childhood, social relations and languages. Languages spoken together

Did you mother speak Ukrainian to you?

Yes, always, she always spoke to me in Ukrainian. I had never been to Ukraine but I learnt Ukrainian from my mother. It isn’t literary Ukrainian, but colloquial Ukrainian. I speak it very well. In 1964, when I first went to Ukraine, I could communicate very well with people. I remember one episode, there was a newspaper on the table and my uncle asked me to read something. I had never learnt Ukrainian but I managed to translate the article from Ukrainian to Russian. Perhaps by intuition, but with no problem. It’s true that I don’t speak literary Ukrainian, but colloquial Ukrainian.


Was it strange to be speaking Ukrainian at home and Russian at school?
Oui je l’ai ressenti quand je suis allé à l’école, mais il y avait très peu de familles russes “de souche” (chisto russkie), je ne me souviens que d’une seule, Yes, I felt it when I went to school, but there were very few “pure” Russian families (chisto russkie), I can only remember one, the foreman’s family, and all the others were exiles.