The discussion around the popular fast food restaurant started with the appearance on social networks of a photo of the self-service terminal in the Ukrainian McDonald's. The client is offered to place an order in Ukrainian or English.
Some social media users perceived this as discrimination against the Russian-speaking population and even called for a boycott of the chain's restaurants.
Others express gratitude for a firm language position or jokingly offer to translate the name of the dishes in Russian.
Journalist Vasyl Apasov expressed the opinion that the company got into a language dispute and ironically suggested McDonald's to “Ukrainianize the menu.”
“The last thing McDonald's Ukraine could do was get into a language dispute. Due to the clear position on language and lack of tolerance, I suggest they write the name of the restaurants in the state language - Макдоналдз, as they do in some countries and at the same time Ukrainianize the menu. Well, why not?” Apasov wrote on his Facebook.
Co-owner of Broker's Insurance Group and blogger Denys Horokhovsky believes that McDonald's is at the epicenter of a language scandal.
“I can't say that I was a regular customer of McDonald's, but sometimes it happened ... Well, another reason not to visit this institution ... In short, a boycott is a boycott. Let them feed political Ukrainians,” editor-in-chief of the Timer agency in Odesa Yuriy Tkachov wrote on his Telegram channel.
Olena Medvedev, a journalist with Strana.ua, also joined the boycott against the company's language policy:
“McDonald's Ukraine has decided to intervene in the language issue. Well...wrong choice. Boycott!”
“McDonald's decided to work only for Ukrainian-speaking people. Don't get upset. This is a subtle hint that Russian-speakers are smarter and do not eat such rubbish,” journalist Vyacheslav Chechylo jokes.
Some users compare that in Russian McDonald's restaurants you can order in six languages, while in Ukraine, customers have to choose between two.
“What is the difficulty of inscribing the menu in Russian, Hungarian, Crimean Tatar, and other languages recognized as popular in Ukraine without scandals and hatred?" journalist Maks Nazarov said.
Thanks and support
In addition to the above comments on social media, a flash mob #thankyoufor language is gaining popularity. Internet users thank the company for its fundamental position on language issues.
Thanks, McDonald’s! from today, I don’t need much persuading to eat with my kids here!
Thank you, McDonald’s Ukraine for not violating Ukraine’s language legislation. Russian language should not have any special status here!
McDonald’s is one of the few places in Kyiv, where the customers would be definitely served in Ukrainian… This is the best PR-campaign, we could ever dream!
These were the comments of the opposite cluster of social media users.
In addition, US Embassy in Ukraine also expressed gratitude for the firm stance towards the Ukrainian language.
We totally understand @McDonalds, names of food in Ukrainian sound much yummier ????— UKR Embassy in USA (@UKRintheUSA) June 16, 2020
Many thanks to the company for their firm position regarding Ukrainian language in the menus of McDonald’s stores in Ukraine.
Now we can say: “Learn Ukrainian with McDonald’s”???????? pic.twitter.com/jOXUdLQ5kQ
Reaction of the company
"In accordance with the legislation on the language, the main communication language in Ukrainian restaurants of at McDonald's is Ukrainian," the company’s press service told in a commentary for the BBC News Ukraine.
It notes that all official documentation and communication in social media are being conducted in Ukrainian, and Ukrainian is a priority language in communicating with visitors.
"However, our employees are ready to use Russian if they are asked about it," McDonald's emphasizes.