Ukrainisch-russisches und russisch-ukrainisches Code-Mixing. Untersuchungen in drei Regionen im Süden der Ukraine

Ein dreijähriges Forschungsprojekt im Rahmen des D-A-CH-Programms von FWF und DFG

  • Gerd Hentschel University of Oldenburg (Germany)
  • Tilmann Reuther University of Klagenfurt (Austria)


The Ukraine is a multilingual state, with a predominantly bilingual constellation: Ukrainian and Russian. Both languages function as donor languages for a mixed code called Surzhyk. This code may exist in two variants, reflecting the history of the Ukraine.

“Prototype Surzhyk” stems from the times of Russian political dominance: Over almost two centuries people adapted themselves to a Russian-speaking environment. This “old” Surzhyk has developed in a way resembling so called ‘dialect levelling’ on the basis of Ukrainian. Though still quite variable, a certain stabilisation of Old Surzhyk is observed, since adults have used it among themselves and with their children in informal communication over several generations. The second variant, here called “Neo-Surzhyk”, is of younger origin. It evolved with people who used to practise mainly Russian, but -- due to the language politics of the Ukraine after 1990 -- had at least partially to turn to Ukrainian. Neo-Surzhyk thus has either a Russian base or at least a higher Russian share.

The central research question is whether there is a clear differentiation between two mixed codes based on the same two closely related donor languages? Or is there a gradual transition between groups of speakers with different sociodemographic backgrounds?

The methodological approach consists in corpus linguistic description, combined with analytical methods of quantitative variationist sociolinguistics, correlated with sociodemographic data. In addition, in-depth interviews on individual linguistic biographies will be analysed qualitatively, in order to correlate quantitative findings with qualitative data