Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Let’s get rid of those three little letters before Ukraine

Until now Presseurop and its little brother Friends of Presseurop used to refer to the country between Moldova and Russia as the Ukraine. We referred to a common use in English and in many newspapers in English.

But it appeared lately that "Ukraine", without "the"is more correct, as a recent article in Time magazine explains —
“Ukraine is a country,” says William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. “The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times … Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine. And it is incorrect to refer to the Ukraine, even though a lot of people do it.” […] This might seem like politically correct oversensitivity, the kind of thing liberals leak eyewater about with a box full of weakness tissues at their side. And there are certainly some cocktail-hour conversations that would not be materially changed by the presence or absence of the word. But Taylor says that dropping it sends an important message, especially among world leaders, because “the Russians don’t really, in their gut, accept that there’s an independent Ukraine.” He cites Putin sending troops to Crimea as evidence that the Russian leader views the country as a “province” of his own.
However, adds the American weekly —
There are plenty of times when sticking a the in front of place name is perfectly acceptable, like when one is referring to a country that is a geographic area, like the group of islands that makes up the Philippines, or a region of a country, like the Northeast.
So we're going to get rid of those three miserable letters and recognise Ukraine at last. And then there is the debate around Ukraine's capital. Should it be Kiev (our choice) or Kyiv, the transliteration from Ukrainian? The issue is not clear enough to abandon Kiev. For now.

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