Among the conflicts currently underway in Ukraine is one over the most powerful tool in the world: language. Should Ukrainians speak Russian, Ukrainian, or maybe even dabble with English?
The answer is more than just political, as the history of languages -- and efforts to suppress or impose them -- has shown throughout the world, say language researchers.
"Although language planning is considered as quite a recent discipline in language studies, it has long been practiced as part of a government activity in empires throughout history," explained Iranian language researcher Mehdi Gran Hemat of Universiti Putra Malaysia. "As examples of language policies in the 20th century, one can refer to language programs in Iran, Malaysia, and very recently after the shift of power, Hong Kong."
In Ukraine, language issues mirror the political struggle the country is facing: whether to be more Russia- or Europe-leaning -- and in neither case lose their identity as Ukrainians.
"There is a mutual bond between language and identity," said Hemat. "There are plenty of research studies that investigated the issue of language use and identity construction."