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Russism or not? Where did the word "fatherland" come from in the Ukrainian language and should we use it?

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Sometimes, in order to understand the appropriateness of a word, you need to look deep into the history of the language

The desire to take care of the purity of one's Ukrainian language is quite commendable. But sometimes we unfairly classify some words as Russisms and throw them out of our active vocabulary, thereby making our speech poorer.

Such words include the word "fatherland," which is used in high style texts to refer to the native land and which raises some doubts among inexperienced speakers. However, linguistics experts advise not to rush to abandon it and put it in the Russic category. Here's how they explain it.

Yes, indeed, the word "homeland" is related to the Ukrainian word " father," so it seems more inherent in our language. However, " fatherland" is derived from the Proto-Slavic *отсь, from which different languages have derived father, otec, otats, óče, otec, ojsies, and some other lexemes. Thus, we already have good reasons not to abandon the word "fatherland," since it clearly has Slavic roots.

In addition, many Slavic languages tend to alternate vowel and consonant sounds without clusters or piles of them. This makes them sound more melodious. In order to avoid such clusters, prototic sounds emerged in the process of language formation. For example, these are the iotated sounds at the beginning of words: eat, Jew, lamb. More rare is the g sound, which appeared at the beginning of a word: sharp, gun, hiccup. And it is on the same principle that the prototic o appeared, which developed from the sound o before the sounds u and o: window, street, fire, ear, eighth. And, of course, stepfather and dialectal vitez. So, as you can see, this is another solid proof that the word "fatherland" is not a borrowing or a copycat.

And finally, the third proof is the presence of the suffix -izn- in this word. This is one of the typical word-formation tools of the Ukrainian language. We find it in such words as whiteness, costliness, yellowness, straightness, curvature, compatriots.

Thus, we can consider any doubts about the word " fatherland" completely dispelled. It is a distinctively Ukrainian word and can be safely used without fear of being mistaken.

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