• Holder Haaning posted an update 3 years, 2 months ago

    Transliteration is definitely a strange thing, yet it’s especially complicated in Ukraine, where roughly one-sixth of the population is ethnic Russian, speaking Russian, and the other sixth are ethnic Ukrainian, but speak Russian too. It’s become especially difficult recently, as many with the protesters from the capital are Ukrainian-speaking, taking to the streets last November when President Viktor Yanukovych – a Russian-speaker from Ukraine’s east – rejected from E.U. membership toward an agreement with Russia’s Eurasian Union.

    Given past Russian domination, both in the Soviet period and before, it’s a given that language has changed into a major problem in the nation. One obvious illustration of this can be the Western habit of referring to the country as "the Ukraine" as an alternative to "Ukraine." You’ll find myriad reasons until this is wrong and offensive, but maybe the most convincing is that the word Ukraine arises from the existing Slavic word "Ukraina," which roughly meant "borderland." Many Ukrainians believe that the "the" implies they are just a portion of Russia – "little Russia," as they are sometimes referred to by their neighbors – and never an actual country. The Western practice of using "the Ukraine" to refer to the nation – even by those sympathetic for the protesters, like Senator John McCain- is seen as ignorant at the best.

    On the surface, the Kiev/Kyiv debate seems similar, though it is a lot less heated. The official language of the us is Ukrainian. The city, in the predominantly Ukrainian-speaking west of the united states, had its name standardized to Kyiv in Roman letters with the Ukrainian government in 1995, just four years when they formally asked the globe to please stop saying ‘the Ukraine.’ The entire world listened, to an extent – the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) approved the spelling ‘Kyiv’ in the year 2006 following a request from the Ukrainian government (and subsequent endorsement with the State Department).

    It is not that easy, however. For one thing, through the years there was various different spellings of the English names to the city; Wikipedia lists at least nine. In 1995, Andrew Gregorovich in the FORUM Ukrainian Review argued that as "Kiev" took it’s origin from a vintage Ukrainian-language term for town, which Kyiv as well as other potential Roman transliterations – such as Kyjiv and Kyyiv – were confusing for English speakers, Kiev only agreed to be fine. The BGN still allows Kiev for use, arguing that ‘Kyiv’ is only a "an exception for the BGN-approved romanization system that’s placed on Ukrainian geographic names in Ukrainian Cyrillic script."

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