As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine there have been a few lexical, orthographic, and semantic changes of note taking place in the Ukrainian language. They propagate alongside the flood of information, memes, and propaganda flowing over Ukrainian social media, primarily on telegram and Meta platforms. Some are more widespread than others, some may not last, but it’s curious to look at how war can change the perception of one’s neighbor in such a short period of time, with the language following along in changes in attitude.
To summarize information reported by the Ukrainian telegram channel “Gramota”:
Синонімічний ряд росія – московія тепер доповнили кацапстан, оркостан, мордор.
New synonyms for “russia”/”moscovia” (sic) are: “katsapstan”, “orcostan”, “mordor”. The latter synonyms are derived from the widespread Tolkeinian references to the invading army as a horde of orcs due to the poorly coordinated human wave attacks, slaughtering of civilians, and general disorder characteristic of the russian army. The army is also frequently referred to as “орда”, the Mongol horde which caused a great deal of destruction in the region in the past.
In addition the authors note the now somewhat commonplace writing of “russia”, “moscow”, “rf”, and “putin” in lowercase, even in some official media. (“Щоб продемонструвати свою зневагу, слова росія, москва, рф, путін ми стали писати з малої літери.”)
The use of lowercase letters to write “putin” and “kremlin” was declared official policy for informal rules of Ukrainian editing via the Minister of Culture and Political Information’s Facebook:
A new widely-used term to refer to russians of the putinist persuasion is “rashism” (рашизм) – a novel portmanteau of “russian” and “fascism”.
Змінили й правила граматики. Тепер принципово кажемо “на росії” у відповідь на їхнє “на Україні”.
This one is a little hard to explain but there are different prepositions that have been used to refer to being “in Ukraine” – during the Ukrainian SSR days when Ukraine was officially as a state inside the USSR the prefix “on” (на) was used with the locative or prepositional case with respect to Ukraine. After independence the appropriate prefix “in” (в) has been used to signify a distinct country instead of a region. Apparently some in russia still say “on Ukraine” to be disrespectful, so: “now we say ‘on russia’ in response to their ‘on Ukraine'”.
Нового значення з негативним забарвленням набуло дієслово спасати.
“A new meaning with a negative connotation was acquired by the verb ‘to save'”. As putin’s army came “to save” Ukraine from whatever it was supposedly saving them from, the word now has a sinister association.
Лягаючи спати, ми почали бажати спокійної ночі або тихої ночі. 🌙 Але тут ми не скалькували фразу “Спокойной ночи”. Це просто збіг. Ми вклали в неї свій зміст, переосмисливши значення спокою.
Going to bed, we began to wish each other a peaceful night or a quiet night. 🌙 But here we did not copy the (russian) phrase “Good night” (lit. “peaceful night”). It’s just a coincidence. We put our meaning into it, rethinking the meaning of peace.