One is often loneliest in the presence of others because their indifference throws the futility of one’s efforts at self-sustenance into relief. (If you spend a party reading in a corner, you come to see, no matter how good the book, that you are not fooling anyone.)
--Agnes Collard, The New Yorker, Sept.25, 2021
This writer is not attending my best kind of party.
I started this project two years or so before my mother passed away. It's a quixotic enterprise for sure; all the important people I could share this language with in the way I am hearing it in my mind have passed away. Some friends have commented that it was an excellent undertaking for Covid-19 days. It was. With all the disruptions of the past two years, it's been a good project because it can be picked at with something that resembles diligence and consistency.
Ukrainian is a tough language, not least because of the past two centuries of the land's history, torn between Austro-Hungarians and Poles and Russians and Soviets, mean that its current form (and how best to teach it!) is still a matter of some debate. Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), whose literary heritage is regarded as the foundation of Ukrainian literature--and, to a large extent, the legitimization of Ukrainian as an independent language--was jailed and exiled as a revolutionary for daring to honor his own language as a worthy medium of expression. Most late-life learners of Ukrainian quickly become aware of this political resonance in their learning choice.
All that said, it's a beautiful language, Slavic but sometimes described as "the sixth Romance language," with beautiful rolled Rs and many, many vowel sounds. The nightingale is a prized national symbol. What kind of a lunatic nation takes a tiny brown-feathered songbird as their national emblem?
In today's world, there are multiple resources online for learning Ukrainian. These are ones I've personally found useful:
--Duolingo has a short learning tree (which includes ~⅓ the number of lessons as its French or Spanish counterpart). A fine place to get started.
--Glossika has a full 5,000 spoken Ukrainian sentences--voiced by one of the harshest speakers of Ukrainian I have ever heard. It's only free for 7 days, but is a great resource for improving one's ear. Caveat: it does not exactly further one's sense of the famously poetic character of the language.
--The UK Ukrainian Language organization is an excellent source for beginning pronunciation and for reading. The first three lessons are particularly helpful--before it launches into daunting immersive mode!
--Anna Ohoiko has a beautifully put together collection of language lessons and podcasts at Ukrainian Lessons. This is a free resource, with extras that can be added for a charge. This site has been active for a few years now, so there it a lot of content.
--for flashcards, Anki has some useful language decks (though Ukrainian does not rate as one of their top languages). Access to content requires a log-in. I find the ☀️Ukrainian Language Vocabulary: Illustrated deck particularly good--because it is my own creation and reflects my personal idiosyncrasies.
These sources—they subtly contradict each other, and it is, I find, that peculiar disorderly subtlety that offers my biggest challenge to learning Ukrainian. What is this language I am learning? A Russian influenced variant? A modern artificially nationalist one? Certainly it's not the "pure" ancient tongue of my forebears.
And yet, I find myself enraptured. Between the 20th century diaspora and the last 30 years of Ukrainian independence--the culture and language are unsettled and in transition. It is a fascinating moment to participate in Ukrainian study.
Twin Cities Ukrainian Heritage Festival, "Ukrainian Fashion," September 19, 2021
Sites I recommend
These ones are maintained by long-time personal friends.
is a consummate artist. There are so many images to enjoy on this site. His carved wooden long-leaf red pine Rhinoceros (which he made for me when I was ~11 years old) is a personal favorite.
Is the U.K. based caving gear store run by serious hard-ass Tony Seddon. This link goes to the 'caves' section of the store's site--complete with alarming portrait photo of Tony ("After 7 days underground and 700m prussiking").
The Oxford University
Maintained by Steve Roberts, a guy who is extraordinary in so many ways, I'll just limit myself here to saying "Steve is a man who knows about motors."
John Bedell is an archaeologist, historian, and father of five living in Maryland. His blog is a fascinating grab-bag of historical, artistic, and political materials. This entry about work and leisure gives a good example of his voice.
This is Liz Manicatide (now Liz LaManche), principal at Emphasis Creative's personal art & graphics site. I love Liz's work, panache, and aerial artistry, which leads me to-
Flying Squirrel Consortium
Phil Servita's site, and the place to go for custom fabricated circus equipment (either freestanding or fixed point), and aerial classes, if you happen to live in the area.
Paul's site is... unique, authentic, & expressive, and pretty much exactly what I think of when I think of a website as an artform.
Metro Bikes Trails Guide
(St. Paul, MN)
"Reviews and Reports on over 70 bicycle paths in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area!"
Maintained by the tireless Seamus Flynn, and a great little site for those local to the Twin Cities area.
I enjoy the Ukrainian/Russian artisanship on this website.
Sites I enjoy
I don't know these people, but I appreciate their work.
What's That Bug?
The title says it all. A useful site for both the non-bug-phobic & the consummate bug-phobe.
Margaret & Helen
Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting…
I'm not a grandmother (or raging!), but I appreciate this site. Especially the fact-checking part.