Of Language(s) in Ukraine

On September 26, 2016, we gathered at House of Literature in Oslo with four invited writers from Kharkiv — and about one hundred audience members — to hold an open discussion on languages in contemporary Ukraine. Our event, “Is Language a Boundary?”, was part of the larger National Science Week (Forskningsdagene) organized by the Research Council of Norway. This year, the overarching theme was borders and boundaries.

We’ve had multiple requests for a podcast, so here it is — an even 89 minutes of conversation with Serhiy Zhadan, Yuri Tsaplin, Oleh Kotsarev, and Andrei Krasniaschikh. Moderated by Tanya Zaharchenko, with English translation by Iryna Sabor.

Time is, of course, a limiting factor in this situation, and there is surely more to discuss, especially given the complexity of the subject. I talk a bit about this in my introduction at the start of our event. This is, hopefully, not the last conversation to be had.

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Original event listing

What is it like to speak Ukrainian in east Ukraine today? What is it like to speak Russian? What if you wanted to write, publish and perform in either one of those languages in the context of the ongoing war? Join us for a frank discussion with four prolific writers from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s major cultural hub and second-largest city. Their personal experience communicating or performing in Ukrainian or Russian, before the war and now, is the focus of the evening.

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I am grateful for the support of my department, ILOS (Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages).

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