Features of Ethno-Linguistic Identity Characteristic for Representatives of Different Ukrainian Linguistic Groups

Keywords: ethno-linguistic identity, language, mother tongue, ethnic language, ethnic identity.


The article analyzes features of ethno-linguistic identity characteristic for representatives of the main Ukrainian language groups: Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians, Russian-speaking Ukrainians and Russian-speaking Russians. The main concepts of the ethno-linguistic identity theory and ethnic group vitality are examined; individual and collective strategies maintaining positive identity through language are described; the factors influencing language expressiveness in the structure of ethnic identity are presented. The article shows that Russian-speaking Ukrainians are more competent in both languages​(Ukrainian and Russian); Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians are highly proficient in their ethnic language and have predominantly an average level of Russian language proficiency; Russian-speaking Russians are characterized by good understanding and knowledge of their ethnic language only, at the same time they are low proficient in Ukrainian. As for Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians and Russian-speaking Russians, their ethnic language competence coincides with their linguistic behaviour and attitudes. Russian-speaking Ukrainians do not show such coincidence; they are characterized by a discrepancy between the prevailing positive attitude to their ethnic language and their real linguistic behaviour. The data shows that the respondents do not choose mainly a language as a main ethnic-determining characteristic, however, in the system together with other distinctive features, it still occupies uppers rank positions for Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking Ukrainians; family ties and psychological choices are more important for ethnic identification of Russian-speaking Russians. The vast majority of the respondents do not focus on their own ethnic status, paying more attention to personal, family and professional social characteristics. Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians have the most steadfast ethnic identity, and marginal ethnic identity is predominantly observed among Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The relation between language and ethnic identity is described: correspondence between mother and ethnic language determines the respondents’ positive ethnic identity, and vice-versa, their mismatch leads to appearance of ethno-nihilistic tendencies.


Download data is not yet available.


Guboglo, M.N. (1994). Integrirujushhaja funkcija jazyka [The integrative function of language]. Sociolingvisticheskie problemy razvivajushhihsja stran – Sociolinguistic problems of developing counries, (pp. 223–239). Moscow [in Russian].

Danyliuk, I. (2005). Movni konflikty ta konstruiuvannia etnichnoi i natsionalnoi identychnosti [Language conflicts and the construction of ethnic and national identity]. Sotsialna psykholohiia – Social psychology, 3, 43–51 [in Ukrainian].

Doncov, A.I., Stefanenko, T.G., & Utalieva, Zh.T. (1997). Jazyk kak faktor jetnicheskoj identichnosti [Language as a factor of ethic identity]. Voprosy psihologii – Psychology issues, 4, 75–86 [in Russian].

Miserzhy C. (2006). Linhvistychna samoidentyfikatsiia ta sotsiokulturna samoorhanizatsiia (na prykladi bolharskoi natsionalnoi menshyny v Ukraini) [Linguistic self-identification and socio-cultural self-organization (on the example of the Bulgarian national minority in Ukraine)]. Naukovi zapysky. Kurasivski chytannia-2005. Ser. Politolohiia i etnolohiia – Proceedings. Kurashiv readings-2005. Political science and ethnology, 30(1), 298–308 [in Ukrainian].

Utalieva, Zh.T. (1995). Jazyk kak faktor jetnicheskoj identichnosti [Language as a factor of ethic identity]: Extended abstract of candidate’s thesis. Moscow [in Russian].

Berry, J.W., et al. (1992). Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications. Cambridge, etc.: Cambr.Univ. Press.

Ehala, M. (2010). Ethnolinguistic vitality and intergroup processes. Multilingua, 29(2), 203–221. https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2010.009

French, B.M. (2010). Maya Ethnolinguistic Identity. Published by: University of Arizona Press.

Giles, H., & Johnson, P. (1981). The role of language in ethnic group relations. Intergroup Behaviour, J.C. Turner & H. Giles (Eds.), (pp. 199–243).Oxford: Blackwell.

Giles, H., & Rakić, T. (2014). Language attitudes: the social determinants and consequences of language variation. The Oxford handbook of language and social psychology Publisher: Oxford University Press, (pp. 3–26). Editors: Thomas M. Holtgraves.

Giles, H., & Johnson, P. (1987). Ethnolinguistic identity theory: A social psychological approach to language maintenance. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 68, 69–99. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.1987.68.69

Giles, H., Bourhis, R.Y., & Taylor, D.M. (1977). Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations. Language, Ethnicity and Intergroup Relation, (pp. 307–348). London: Academic Press.

Karimzad, F., & Catedral, L. (2018). ‘No, we don’t mix languages’: Ideological power and the chronotopic organization of ethnolinguistic identities. Language in Society, 47(1), 89–113. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404517000781

Keblusek, L., Giles, H., & Maass, A. (2017). Communication and group life: How language and symbols shape intergroup relations. Group processes & Intergroup relations, 20(5), 632–643. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430217708864

Kymlicka, W., & Patten, A. (2003). Language rights and political theory. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 23, 3–21. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190503000163

Levesque, A., & de Moissac, D. (2018). Identité ethnolinguistique, continuité cultuelle et santé mentale chez les jeunes Franco-Manitobains: Une analyse exploratoire. Minorités linguistiques et société, 9, 185–206. https://doi.org/10.7202/1043502ar

Noels, K.A. (2014). Language variation and ethnic identity: A social psychological perspective. Language & Communication, 35, 88–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2013.12.001

Noels, K.A., Kil, H., & Fang, Y. (2014). Ethnolinguistic Orientation and Language Variation: Measuring and Archiving Ethnolinguistic Vitality, Attitudes, and Identity. Language and Linguistics Compass, 8(11), 618–628. https://doi.org/10.1111/lnc3.12105

Sam, D.L., & Berry, J.W. (2010). Acculturation: when individuals and groups of different сultural backgrounds meet. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691610373075

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The social psychology of intergroup relations, W.S. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.). Montrey: Brooks/Cole.

Abstract views: 33
PDF Downloads: 38
How to Cite
Hryshchuk, E., & Kovalenko, A. (2019). Features of Ethno-Linguistic Identity Characteristic for Representatives of Different Ukrainian Linguistic Groups. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 25(1), 49-71. https://doi.org/10.31470/2309-1797-2019-25-1-49-71