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Why saying "The Ukraine" is OK
Posted July 20th, 2009 - 12:54 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
I see that in the group guidelines
it says "Ukraine", without article 'THE', is correct!!!
No I say "you are wrong"
yes Andrew Gregorovich wrote a big article on this http://www.infoukes.com/faq/the_ukraine/

- I could do a whole 1 hour lecture about why I disagree with him, but here is a simple explanation.
- The Moon, The Sun, The Artic, The Maldives, The Gambia, The Fens, The Himalayas, The Kop, The Crimea ..etc. etc.

- It is that it's nothing to do with Ukraine, but is to do with the way English works. English "is a "stupid language" with no control authority nor logical system. You can try to tell me there are grammar rules but actually the truth is there is no correct format, rather things become accepted when enough people use them and it is perfectly possible for 2 different options to be accepted at the same time.

- Generally places have "The" if a thing like "Island", "reef", "Republic", "State" is part of their name, but also 1 in 2000 places have "The" for no obvious reason. Note how rivers and seas always have "The" yet lakes and mountains don't. (The Black Sea, but just Baikal !)

.. see "stupid language", but enjoy your time in Ukraine never"the"less

Do I have a right to tell people how to say the name of "their" country ?
I think some Ukrainian politicians have a campaign for the "The" to be dropped,
.... but they have no right to to tell people how to speak English. English language is a wild animal that just evolves on it's own.

- Anyway I tell students English language is not a set of rules, but better learned by copying ... so don't look for "rules" in English just open your mouth and speak.

Let me know if you want that 1 hour lecture

Posted July 20th, 2009 - 1:48 pm by from Madrid, Spain (Permalink)
I want it:)

Each language has certain grammar rules, and they make the language correct. Of course, there is also a different Russian language, the one you read in classic books or any more or less intelligent books, and the one youth speaks today...And even though millions of Russian and Ukrainian people speak that Russian half slang - half normal language, it doesn't make their language correct...

What do the Moon, The Crimea, the Maldives have to do with Ukraine? The is used in front of them because a certain grammar rule is applied. And I don't believe there is any grammar rule in English that would make THE in front of Ukraine correct.

Same with putting THE with the names of the seas and rivers, but there is not The with the lakes. The is used with the mountains, but no the with a mountain or a mount...Those are rules.

I think that they started using the in front of Ukraine when we were a part of the USSR, which grammatically made sense. And now they don't use it because Ukraine is an independent country.

Honestly, I don't really care if people say The Ukraine or Ukraine...some people sometimes have no idea what I'm talking about :) hahah so it might be as well Lake Ukraine or the Ukraine Mountains to them :)))

I love English, and I love people and I love that English helps me meet people and break the barriers. It doesn't matter much to me if they speak a perfect English or if Ukraine is an African village to them - I will tell them it's not :)

But if we talk about grammatically correct way to refer to Ukraine, let's stick to grammar rules then....

But by no means I want to stick into an argument :) I'm just curious :) and pardon me for my far from perfect English :))


Posted July 20th, 2009 - 1:59 pm from Bologna, Italy
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Posted July 20th, 2009 - 2:15 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
There are a couple of reasons, which I think are overlooked in terms of your explanation. The first and perhaps most important is the fact that since 1991 there has been a change in how you say 'in Ukraine' in Russian and Ukrainian. Although many people still use 'na Ukrayini', the correct variant in the modern language is 'v Ukrayini'. Although Ukrainian does not, as you point out, have articles, it does distinguish between being in places based on whether they are country, island, etc. The shift to using 'v Ukrayini' reflects the shift to treating it as a nation and not merely a part of the USSR. So in English, this would be from being the Ukrainian SSR. There is no doubt that conceptually, this also has a shift in English. To be a republic of a union and a single sovereign state have different implications politically and linguistically. Natasha has already explained the linguistic reasoning perfectly correctly. The Gambia remains an anomaly because it refers to a country/river, the Maldives are a collection of islands, etc.

English is not the only language that has exceptions to its rules or elements that are difficult for non-native speakers to grasp. EVERY language as it is a 'living thing' has anomalies in its evolution, which can be difficult to explain and fall outside of the grammar rules.
The English language is no more of a 'wild animal' than any other language. All of them evolve and are influenced by numerous factors, be they technological advances, world politics or neighbouring languages and cultures. An example of this would be the growing trend to speak American English, which clearly reflects the USA's dominant political and economic position (whether you are a fan of it or not) in recent times.

I think you are assuming that 'correct' refers to a grammatical correctness, when in fact the group is referring to a political correctness. You would not call any of the other former SSRs 'the', for example Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan. So why should Ukraine continue to be singled out for 'the', when it is no longer an SSR, but a sovereign nation? In addition, many countries following a period of rule by some form of empire or system often either change their name entirely or make a shift to reflect a change into their language, rather than that of the occupying force. Take for example, in the case of the USSR, Belorussia, as it was often known in English in the Soviet era. This is the name for the country in Russian. It is now most commonly written in English as Belarus, which reflects the Belarusian language.

Language is absolutely inspearable from context, be that political, cultural, economic. The debate on political influence on language is not a new one, see for example, Bombay/Mumbai. However, other names change in English because we revise them not in their native language, but in English, see Peking/Beijing. As you quite rightly point out, changes to languages come when they become widely accepted. This can develop through the media or government and filter downwards or may also take the form of a bottom-up shift. Neither way can be considered to be 'correct' or 'better'.

I think that your conception of the English language is a rather limited one. It clearly does have a set of rules and I would be out of a job if it didn't! I spend a large amount of time editing English-language publications. Communication in a non-native language is something entirely different. If your students are looking to go and actively speak English, then certainly getting practice in active use of the spoken language is crucial. However, without some knowledge of grammar rules they would never be able to get by. The fact is that if speech is really grammatically incorrect, it can alter the meaning of a sentence or have no meaning entirely.

Going back to 'the Ukraine' - I am quite happy to say that I will never refer to this country as that. I think it is disrespectful to Ukraine as a sovereign nation, as it implies that it is still somehow less than other countries or attached to another. You can argue for anomalies, grammar, etc. but to my knowledge, a sovereign continental nation should always be referred to without the definite article. Just as I am not likely to call Germany, 'the Germany' or France, 'the France', I will also not refer to Ukraine as 'the Ukraine'. I will also continue to correct this is all publications I edit!

Posted July 20th, 2009 - 5:02 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
I'm sorry English does not have rules ..even if other languages do

- all that counts is how people use it
if 20% of people use it one way and 80% another then that is enough weight for both to count. You can only say to a student that something is "wrong" when a tiny minority use it that way. check with English linguists if you like

Note that all the time meanings change to mean something 180 degrees different as in the phrase "begging the question" , which today doesn't mean what it used to ..neither does the word "gay"

- In other things I might not "know what I am talking about" ...but in this case I do

Posted July 20th, 2009 - 5:38 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
For rules, please understand 'widely accepted conventions, which allow accurate conveyance of information'.
Therefore, if editing, I would clearly correct the following sentence thus,
'My boyfriend went with bus when saw old friend' to
'My boyfriend was travelling by bus when he saw an old friend'
The first does not use the past continuous, has an incorrect preposition and is missing an indefinite article. To make the sentence sound better to my ear, I also changed the verb.
With language what counts is not only how one person uses it, but how another person understands it! The widely accepted conventions in a language develop for this reason, so that the user and listener understand the same thing. You gave an explanation of this by mentioning how different words gain different meaning over time. We have just had an example of this in this discussion, as we were understanding 'rules' differently, I think?! I personally would interpret them as being a convention widely accepted at a given time, but not something that could not be shifted and changed over a period.
Again, I have to say that English is no different to any other language in this respect. What shapes and changes it over time are different factors, which shift these widely accepted conventions. Linguists, linguistic anthropologists and many other people have made the study of these shifts and changes the purpose of their professional lives. I, for one, think they are fascinating. However, I'm not sure that everyone will agree! We all know that when we are studying a language, one of the must frustrating things is having to come to terms with all the exceptions to the 'widely accepted conventions' we learn in our lessons. However, it is part of the process of language-learning and one which in my humble experience is often greatly eased by being able to spend long periods of time in the country or culture.

Posted July 21st, 2009 - 12:02 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
Getting back to Ukraine
- It would be OK if the writer said something like "We prefer that people say "Ukraine" and not "the Ukraine, because of 1... 2.. 3.."
- What is not OK is expressing it so emphatically as if there was a language authority making rules.

- This kind of question arises quite often in radio programmes about the use of English like the excellent BBC Radio 4

programme "Word of Mouth" http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qtnz/episodes/2008

- Again and again listeners write in with questions like "I hear some people say X and other people say Y which is correct"
and again and again the experts brought on explain that in cases where 2 or 3 alternatives are in common use.. it is not correct to say that one way is wrong, but rather both X and Y are acceptable.
- So that's why when I read "the Ukraine is wrong", I knew that was a very questionable statement.

- It's not a big deal, but I am sure in an entrance exam for Cambridge or oxford University you wouldn't be marked wrong if you used ""The Ukraine"
Note how the BBC itself very frequently uses "The Ukraine" as does the Cambridge University website ..seems the majority of websites use "The Ukraine"

- Grammar rules : I am aware that many learners and teachers which to regard English as a fixed mathematical structure and it gives them great comfort to be able to go their big grammar book and check on page 3467 what the correct "usage" is, but this is not the normal way linguists regard the English language.
(check in a grammar book what the word "cool" meant 40 years ago and then try to tell learners that unless they use it an way to mean cold or make cold then "they are wrong" ....no language is more fluid)

- I could you a list of 200 place names which use "the" some of them will also be commonly used without the "the". Yes we could dig deep in the history and grammar books in search of a "correct reason" for the "the", but it's a waste of time when you can tell from the weight of common use.

- Yes I understand that politicians have changed the name in Ukrainian to reflect that it is not part of the Soviet Union, but the use in other languages is irellevant to what we say in English ... Quite simply no politician can make rules about English although they can express a preference.
- I found this : "However, the media in Russia mostly use traditional na Ukraine, in some cases defending it as correct usage and discounting the Ukrainian government's authority over the Russian language." www.answerbag.com/q_view/50763 I think this is what is behind the strong argument.
(there is also an argument in Russian here http://www.efl.ru/forum/threads/24256/all/)

- "The Gambia remains an anomally" ..No if you look you will find another 100 anomolies I named some in my original quick list the Congo, the Lebanon etc

- I am not saying that English has no rules at all, rather that 1. the rules are not fixed in concrete and 2. especially in the case where there are 2 popular usages : then we can't say one is the rule and the other isn't.
I could express English as a list of 20,000 grammar "rules" and I am aware many countries teach languages by focusing on grammar, but it is accepted that for English the communicative approach is much more effective as students speak automatically without the hinderance of having to think about "grammar rules" ..Most native speakers are not aware of of 95% of grammar rules, but neverless will guess the "correct use" of even made up words automatically.

- from the "Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names" : the Ukraine (and now as a state the ‘the’ is omitted), and is derived from the Russian okraina ‘(land) on the edge’, thus ‘borderland’ from u ‘beside’ and kray ‘edge’ to denote the territory between the open steppes of Russia and Asia to the east etc.etc.

- Using "the", I think also allows to imagine a country as it's full borders including areas which maybe under the control of other nations.

- I don't believe that the word "the Ukraine" was not used in English before Soviet times, Wikipedia seems quite clear on this.

- of course Wikipedia has a whole page on the matter .. I should have looked there first
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_Ukraine " Ukraine without the the, and this has become the more common styling."

- I will continue to use the first word that comes out of my mouth until someone gives me a good reason otherwise.

- Me I don't care what you call the country of my birth I am a citizen of the world. Note that if you ask 1000 Americans how to say my name "Stew" 999 will give a different pronounciation to the one I most other people use ..no big deal it doesn't bother me

..it's only a name.

Posted July 21st, 2009 - 12:11 pm by from Seoul, South Korea (Permalink)

Some Americans and old Filipinos still call my country "P.I." or the Philippine Islands, using the old name before this archipelago of 7,101 islands became a republic in 1946. However, a name change did occur and we now call the country simply "The Philippines" (as it is a group of islands; while adjectives in English are normally not modified according to gender or number, the pluralization of this adjectival noun can be traced to French, i.e. iles Philippines) or the Republic of the Philippines.

It ticks me off when people still insist on calling it "P.I." So I can imagine how Ukrainians would feel to have their country called "The Ukraine". It's not even a campaign as you say it is. The change occurred way back in 1991, when Ukraine became an independent country as Natasha mentions in her post.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_Ukraine#cite_note-5

I echo Kathryn in her argument: "Going back to 'the Ukraine' - I am quite happy to say that I will never refer to this country as that. I think it is disrespectful to Ukraine as a sovereign nation, as it implies that it is still somehow less than other countries or attached to another. You can argue for anomalies, grammar, etc. but to my knowledge, a sovereign continental nation should always be referred to without the definite article."

The UK might not like the renaming of Burma to Myanmar, but that's who the country is now called and it's just a matter of time before Myanmar becomes universal and Burma, a quaint historical anomaly. Certain Indians themselves might prefer to continue calling Chennai by the old name of Madras, or Kolkata by Calcutta, but time will tell and unless there are official reversals, then Chennai and Kolkata will most likely become universal as well.

You yourself said English does not have any logic. This lack of logic often transforms itself into a virtue: English can accept and absorb anything, by repetition. Peking, for example, or Siam -despite its widespread use in the literature of its days and a lingering attachment to those names for a while by colonialists and romantics- had to cede to Beijing and Thailand. It's just the way things are.

So in the end, despite your insistence to use the definite article (and most certainly it's "OK" if you mean to say if YOU in particular want to use, most certainly you're free to do so), Ukraine without the definite article would most likely go the way of these precedents and become final and immutable as long as the Ukrainian people do have a say in what to call their own country.


Posted July 21st, 2009 - 12:13 pm by from Seoul, South Korea (Permalink)
The UK might not like the renaming of Burma to Myanmar, but that's who the country is now called and it's just a matter of time...

...that's how the country is now called ...


Posted July 21st, 2009 - 12:14 pm by from Seoul, South Korea (Permalink)
The UK might not like the renaming of Burma to Myanmar, but that's who the country is now called and it's just a matter of time...

...that's how the country is now called ...


Posted July 21st, 2009 - 2:06 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
Actually the "UK" if you mean UK government doesn't really care what countries choose to call themselves, but once again there is no rule saying using "Burma" is wrong.

- However it is common among most people in that country called Myanmar to actually call it Burma ..to show how dispeased they are with the military dictatorship which imposed the name Myanmar. Most people identify themselves with a tribal group not with the whole country which is like another European Union of states.

For me .. Myanmar or Burma both are OK

Posted July 21st, 2009 - 2:25 pm by from Madrid, Spain (Permalink)
and still I haven't been convinced to put The in front of Ukraine :)))

actually, like I said, I don't care so much if people say The Ukraine or Ukraine, but quoting Wikipedia:
However, usage without the article is now more frequent,[6] and has become established in journalism and diplomacy since the country's independence

Just like Derek said, for Ukrainians it might be an important issue, and it might be our way of telling the world that we're independent now. You know, Ukraine has always been torn between different neighboring countries, and it's our just about the first time in centuries to be totally independent. I think that is the main reason why so many of us are so passionate to say Ukraine :))

I was an exchange student to the US 10year ago at the age of 16. On my very first day there on a way home from the airport my host-father said something about The Ukraine...and I asked him to say Ukraine because we're an independent nation :) since that day he respected it, and would even correct his friends who would say the Ukraine...

I've never been a huge patriot - right, i'm a citizen of the world....but we were taught that in school - we are Ukraine without The :)) because we're independent now :))

But maybe, as a Ukrainian, I put more emotion into this name rather than objective reasons for it to be called one way or another

Posted July 21st, 2009 - 2:27 pm by from Madrid, Spain (Permalink)
Sorry, I misspelled the name :) Deric instead of Derek ( I was just talking over email to the client named Derek)

Sorry, Deric :)))

Posted July 22nd, 2009 - 9:51 am by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
"It would be OK if the writer said something like "We prefer that people say "Ukraine" and not "the Ukraine, because of 1... 2.. 3.."

A kind remark from moderator:

1. It would NOT be OK if the writer said something like "We prefer that people say "Ukraine" and not "the Ukraine...

2. It would be OK if you say "the Ukraine" in THE England, [...]UK or anywhere you want but not in our country and not on this group. IT"S EASY, ISN'T IT???

3. It's not a matter of English (American!!!, Indian or Zimbabwean English) grammar but of basic respect, pls, follow it!

Thank you!

Posted July 22nd, 2009 - 7:34 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
It's weird to see a lot of people from all around the world arguing the spelling of Ukraine :-)

Anyway, English speakers are extremely rare inside Ukraine, so in a way this is a mute point. Putting that to the extreme, there's no conventional way to write the name of Chernigov in Japanese just because nobody tried yet.

And exactly because the convention is not strong enough, applying the common rules would be the best bet: Uzbekistan Bahrain Ukraine.

However, if one feels strongly in favour of particular spelling, they should just write a big interesting novel with the preferred spelling all over the pages. Literature is one of the big resolvers for philological disputes.

Posted July 23rd, 2009 - 8:56 am by from Brigg, England (Permalink)

- I see I made a mistake hen I saw the phrase "Ukraine without "the" is the correct" I thought he/she meant in a grammatically correct sense, but I understand that they meant in a Politically correct sense. I still say one can't change the conventions of standard English use by making prouncements.


- What they could have said is this ... Not part of "The" Soviets anymore

-The official name of the country is now Ukraine not "The Ukraine". The government decided this in year ???? to make an emphatic statement that Ukraine is not part of The Russian or Soviet empire anymore. This originates mainly from the way the media in Russia mostly use traditional "na Ukraine", which in Russian language implies Ukraine is not a in a country in it's right. Many patriotic Ukranians believe that using "the" in in English is the same thing. So if you want to do business with those more patriotic parties then make sure your business card doesn't have the word "The Ukraine" on it.

------ I don't like the way people generalise about whole nations saying "the Americans" implying citizens all feel the same, when you travel you realise the world is techicolor not just black and white stereotypes, so I won't say "the ukrainians feel" as I am certain not 100% of citizens agree. Remember only a few years ago the majority of the Eastern populatin wanted to break away and rejoin Russia.

- Actually the 3rd person I asked said ..."I think Ukraine is part of Russia ... the old Soviet times were better .. I put "The Ukraine" on my business card .. and my friends were shocked"

- the 2nd person said ... "politicians here are all thieves I don't care what the name is"

- the 1st person said ... "politicians here are all thieves I don't care what the name is ... I'm going to emmigrate"" request that people

I have no idea how the real percentages pan out.

over and out ...stew ...off to Dnepropetrovsk

Posted July 23rd, 2009 - 9:56 am by from Kyiv, Ukraine (Permalink)
I've read your posts about what is correct "The Ukraine" or "Ukraine". The topic could have been accepted if it was one from French guy, not from a man from England (English sarcasm). There is surely a great amount of difference.

- Usually people with lack of geographical and/or political knowledge use "The" prefix in names of unknown or very abstract areas where they are going or referring to. For instance I could have used "The England" meaning some area of GB where is a Quinn and some stupid lords.

- Whereas educated one, using rules, would have said "Ukraine" saying about biggest (may be not the best from one's point of view) country of Europe and on the territory of The Europe.
In case you want to debate, we can discuss it privately. There is no sense of making flood here.

Posted July 25th, 2009 - 12:21 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
Stewart, you're making it worth reading, really funny comments! :-)

Think about it: those three wise men gave you the precise answer, but you've chosen to ignore it.

Ukraine residents couldn't give a dropped MigMac of English spelling.

The country is huge, there's a lot of real-life problems, as you know. Many problems vitally important for you are just irrelevant inside there.

African hunger, loss of lives by British troops in Afghanistan, California wild fires, negative equity for mortgage owners, MPs expenses, institutional racism... Sorry to be rude, but the correct English spelling is just another entry in this list.

Posted July 23rd, 2009 - 10:31 am by from London, England (Permalink)
"I see I made a mistake hen I saw the phrase "Ukraine
without "the" is the correct" I thought he/she meant in
a grammatically correct sense, but I understand that
they meant in a Politically correct sense. I still say
one can't change the conventions of standard English
use by making prouncements."

So basically as I posted four days ago:

"I think you are assuming that 'correct' refers to a grammatical correctness, when in fact the group is referring to a political correctness."

Just as a final note, I would have hoped that anyone joining this group would have been well aware that Ukraine is no longer part of the Soviet Union, coming up for 20 years after the collapse!

Posted July 29th, 2009 - 6:05 am by from Seoul, South Korea (Permalink)
Just a small note to O O, which sounds like I'm splitting hairs...

While you cited it as an extreme example just to make a point, I must say that having lived and worked in Japan as a journalist, Japanese language conventions get pretty quickly established in standard-setting-crazy Japan. In the same way there's a BBC standard, in Japan there's an NHK standard on certain matters pertaining to the use of expressions, pronunciation or grammar. In print media, the Yomiuri Shimbun (I think it's still the newspaper with the biggest readership in the world), Kyodo News (where I worked) or Nikkei business daily, for example, all combine to establish conventions in spelling every year. For a place name like Chernigov the spelling has been quickly established in accordance to the Ukrainian pronunciation of the place name and NOT the Russian one: チェルニーヒウ (from Чернігів). Anyway, there's a list of accepted geographical names (a kind of style guide) that the media adhere to. Of course, for certain place names, the "convention" might be reviewed and changed. (I do remember the names of Zurich and Dusseldorf being revised to reflect a more natural German sounding approximation of those cities' names in Japanese.)

If this could be an object lesson for Stewart, I must say that the Japanese media has the sense to actually follow what Ukrainians subscribe to instead of continuing to use an old name or imposing their own pronunciation. Doing otherwise would not be respectful to the people, as already been repeatedly said here.

You may cite Ukrainians who say this or that because they are tired of politics, but that's beside the point. I think you wouldn't find any right-minded Ukrainian at all -from the right or the left bank of the Dnieper- who would choose to call their own country "The Ukraine" if they actually knew what such an appellation entailed. And it is clear what the article "the" does entail - it's anachronistic and considered a symbol of continued subservience to Russia. Let's not even start with Little Russia or Малая Россия.:(


Posted July 30th, 2009 - 12:59 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
- Apologies for the posting title I should have added "in a grammatical sense", as my post was about English grammar not a political sense that I was unaware of at the time ..so it can appear more provacative than it was intended to be. I

- EVGENIY SUHEEH thankyou for your clear point. Finally someone makes the grammar point which was absent from the original Guidelines which were short and therefore confusing. .. Your point appears to be that people use "The" when the place is unknown or it's an abstract idea.

- Are you taught in Ukrainian schools that there is a clear rule in the English Language that : sovereign states never begin with "The" ?

- I am not criticising you for having this belief and I am sure that the teacher who gave you this "rule" is also a very intelligent teacher and the source that he got it from is also a good person. However if I believed this grammar convention or rule was correct I wouldn't have started this debate.

- 1. Your idea that abstract places use "The" - I like this one - It does seem that many place names conform to this idea of an area with no fixed boundaries like The Himalayas, The Fens, but some places with fixed boundaries do have "The" I can easily find exceptions like "The Ivory Coast", "The Lebanon", as well as hundreds of place names in English "The Wirral, The Shambles, The Mumbles etc" . I gave many examples above. Whereas patagonia a region partly in Argentina and partly in Chile doesn't have "The"

- In the last few hundred years people have traditionally used "The Ukraine" in English language, now in light of the Ukrainian governments proclamation many people use "Ukraine" ... it makes no difference whether the people are educated or not.
- By the way saying a topic is acceptable from a French guy but not from a British is clearly a racist statement .. No big deal

- I see the guidelines now say
"that Ukraine is not a notion of a territory or an abstract place, it's not an acronym but the name of sovereign state thus it's complete ignorance to mention the name of the state with article "THE"."
- Again I am not criticising you for having this belief and I am sure that the teacher who gave you this "rule" is also a very intelligent teacher.

- "Reverse engineering" is when you take apart someone elses machine in order to understand how it works.
- As I note below sometimes grammar experts try to "reverse engineer" English by looking at common usage patterns and try to say "see there is a rule". Unfortunately these many exceptions can often be found so these "rules" don't stand up to close analysis
- Let me rephrase your rule.
1. Territories use "The" - well sometimes yes sometimes no - like "The Yukon" sometimes no like Greenland has recently become independent from Denmark but "the" was never used
2. Abstract places use "The" - see above
3. Sovereign states don't have "The" ... at least half a dozen country names traditionally use "The" in their title The Congo, The Ivory Coast, The Lebanon, The Gambia, The Maldives, The Netherlands (note that most countries which have a plural in the name or another thing (noun) like Republic also use The)
4. Place name with acronyms use the e.g. The USA - yes this "rule" pretty much stands up except have you ever heard anyone say "The GB" ? No. The PNG ?(Papua New Guinea) My guess is the "The" is there because of the "thing" in the country name e.g. republic, state etc not because it's an anacronym. See how above EVGENIY "correctly" used GB without "The "the" above as it always appears.
- If you want to look for a pattern you can see that place names which are plurals always seem to have "The" e.g. The Rockies, The Maldives etc This might explain why people would say "Greenland", but "The Greenlands" or in a direct translation of Ukraine "Borderland" or "The Borderlands"

in reply to Kathryn Cassidy

Kathryn - yes in these long wordy posts I did miss what you said about "political correctness", nevertheless the wording of the original guidelines was so short it was natural to assume it was because of grammar especially since the Netherlands man who added the question "but why is it The Netherlands and the Crimea ? also seemed to be saying "it's a grammatical point"

- I don't understand what you mean with your final phrase, where have I expressed a political point about the Ukraine and the Soviet Union ? in this forum I want to keep just to the grammar.
... life is too short to discuss Ukrainian politics here.

Posted July 30th, 2009 - 1:04 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)

"I am just a man who's intentions are good,
Oh Lord please don't let me misunderstood" ... 1960's song

- I just spoke to an expert on cross cultural studies about how people communicate differently in difficult countries.
- May I commend the CS organisers for organising the group meetups and discussions. I hope that they do some positive things to educate foreigners on Ukrainian culture like organise Ukrainian film nights " Ukrainian rock and roll nights" and perhaps Ukrainian language classes

-I didn't come here to try to win a war or criticise, put anyone down or provoke anger ... Rather I started this thread to help :

The original guideline said something like "saying the Ukraine is wrong saying Ukraine without the 'the' is correct" and someone had written underneath it "yes I am from The Netherlands and we say the Crimea"

- The rather short statement was confusing to at least 2 of us foreigners as it appeared to be rewriting the conventions of English language I first I thought about changing it myself, but then I thought no better start a discussion cos that would do 2 things.

- 1. Hopefully someone would come forward with a better more detailed explaination on why using Ukraine without the "the" is "correct"
- 2. It's an excellent example of English Language : i.e. Students thinking that English is like a computer language and asking "what is the correct way to say X" , when in fact often X, Y, and Z are acceptable today and perhaps another way Q will be acceptable in 10 years time.

- When I put forward my explaination about "the Ukraine" in English grammar I said like I always do that "English is a stupid Language", I didn't say that people who believe a different opinion are stupid nor that I am better than them nor that Ukraine is anything other than a 1st class independent country. Nor am I saying "Native speakers are automatically better than Ukrainian teachers". We all know that 99% of native speakers know almost nothing about English grammar as they learnt from copying their mothers and Ukrainian teachers know much more of the technical details and are underpaid compared to native speakers. Indeed I would never say that people who hold different views are stupid, because 5-6 years ago I myself used to say "of course English has rules, it's obvious ". However since then I have heard the new views of experts which I think work better so now I am trying to pass on the ideas on to you . That what you call rules I calll conventions or traditions, because they are unlike computer languages where we have rules that are clear before we begin to use it English is different people began just to speak and conventions began to arise later. Once these conventions are in place, it became possible for linguists to "reverse engineer" the language patterns and say there are rules. Look they say rivers have "the" and lakes don't "this is a rule". Indeed in future use we can often think of these conventions as rules; if we go to the Planet Jupiter we will use such conventions in naming the rivers and lakes.

- But actually not all these rules bear close analysis ;I myself have done reverse engineering to find a "grammar rule", when use seems to follow a pattern. However later over time I have found an exception to the rule, and then another and realized that the rule is not strong. ... And I think the so called rule EVGENIY SUHEEH states is like this.

Please send me your insults
- In British culture we are first to critise ourselves... am I not often like Mr Bean ?
- Furthermore since country is now as you pointed out and a "free country" , we should be free to make any argument as long as it's not directly insulting. Let's stick to the facts In the forum please attack the argument not the person. Personal comments in public forums are unecessary - I don't mind being insulted if it helps you get rid of your anger so you can mail insults to me directly so they don't clutter the forum.
Please don't demonise : please don’t assume my opinions are very different from your own.
- I guess it maybe a point of difference in cultural communication, but people here seem to make assumptions about my political feelings assuming that because I have an opinion on grammar different to them that I must have a political opinion 180 degrees to their own. Politics is not so simple as people think; but in general I very much support the preservation of "mother- tongue" culture and think in countries like Ukraine and Latvia etc that there should be some attempt to correct for the imperialism and injustices of the past when Russian culture/language was pushed forward so a slight balance towards ethnic Ukrainian language is acceptable

Another couple of observations -
- 1. I find it ironic that people celebrating this name change which signifies cutting the links with soviet times seem to use soviet techniques to supress discussion on it. - Yes 21 years since the end of Soviet occupation and now we can have a discussion about English grammar without fear of punishment or ridicule.

- 2. It's ironic that it's often the case in many countries that the common man is expected to wave the flag to celebrate the end of imperialism and colonial oppression when he was ruled by a priviliged elite of foreigners, yet ironically now he is ruled over priviliged elite of his own countrymen and his situation hasn't changed very much .. But George Orwell wrote about that in the book Animal Farm 60 years ago

Mario Bianco said .. "By the way, we say The Moon because there is only one of them, like The Queen of England, the Sun etc.: this is another rule!" .. Mario look at the planets there is only one Jupiter etc. and note that there is a moon for most planets. More probably the word "the" is traditionally used when the place name is more of a "thing" than just a place name. Also see how in the phrase "The Queen of England" there is a thing (or noun if you want to get technical) and you would also say "The City of Boston" or just Boston.
yes Mario English is English and Italian is Italian the problem for your students is a common one they are thinking in Italian and trying to change it to English when they are 2 different languages. Furthermore Italian has easy logic to follow and English doesn't so learning by copying is more effective.

Kathryn Cassidy said "but to my knowledge, a sovereign continental nation should always be referred to without the definite article" .. "I think it is disrespectful to Ukraine as a sovereign nation, as it implies that it is still somehow less than other countries or attached to another."
...- No there is no such rule that Sovereign states don't have "the", so there is no implied disrespect or implication that it is anything less than a full country when people use "the". (how many times a day do I say that Ukraine seems better than the UK). I think your rather obtuse rule which is surely an example of reverse engineering the language. I haven't got time to run a full analysis on the "the" and old empire states, but it is irrelevant as "The Ukraine" was used before the Soviet Uniion or Russian empire times.

- If people ask me to refer to their town in a particular way I will to respect them. Also if they can convince me that the vast majority of people also feel that way. I would out of respect abide by that feeling... but the way I speak to myself my grandmother is between me and her.
- You say there are rules and you use them in your work, but notice how the industry reference books use the phrase "style guide" rather than "rule".

- As I say in English common usage is more important than digging up some strange rule, but one possibility is that just as English has strange customs when words begin with a vowel i.e. use "an" it might also have strange customs to deal with the vowel sound "yoo" to me the yoo sound is always connected with "the" so this makes a strongly wired connection between "yoo" and "the" in the brain. It seems to trip off the tongue better . The university, the union, the Urals, the usual, the Yukon, the UK, The USA, Can anyone think of any exceptions which are places names ?

THYTHIA said ... "despite your insistence to use the definite article " - No I said grammatically both otions are acceptable that's all. I don't insist on "The Ukraine" at all, perhaps myself I use it less than 10% of the time.

- The Passion in this debate - Is it possible people have been through some Soviet style brainwashing at school ? (hang on, I'll put my armour on, now)

- Taras Povorozniuk - "It would be OK if you say THE England" "you wouldn't like "The England""
- Ironically by your logic it should be "The England". When one of your fine * policemen stopped me today he couldn't find the word England in my passport, because my passport doesn't have the word "England" or "English" in it anywhere.
* Note the word "fine" has 2 meanings - so this is an English joke.

- People use 12-20 different names to mean the country : Pommieland, Limeyland, Blighty, Great Britain, The British Isles The Mother Country, WetandMiserableland etc.etc. I call it Yobland on my own webite (yob is a kind of hooligan)
80% of the time people use words which are not technically nor politically correct like "England. "... Let me explain :

- There used to be a place called England with it's own parliament, own army, own royal family etc. , but 350 years ago the King of Scotland came down to London to take over. The 3 areas on the large Island called Great Britain : England, Scotland, Wales joined the other Island of the British Isles : Ireland to became part of a new country called The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Today England has no parliament, no army, no royal family, no seat at the united nations; so it's not a country in the full sense of the word ... It's like a state within the UK although it does have some England sports teams.
.. Name a recent primeminister born in England ... (both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were born in Scotland)

- In Russian people say "Anglia"
Is there a note on the CS UK group sayiing
"saying attention Russian speakers saying Anglia is wrong, as it is the name of a kingdom in the East which used to occupy 12% of the UK area ?".. No of course not

- The very idea that I get offended if people get the name wrong is funny
"north of England" . "you mean Scotland ?"
I understand that many people think England and the UK are exactly the same thing. Everyday I say "I am from north of England" and people reply "you mean Scotland ?" duh !

- People do feel strange when they tell foreigners they are from Belfast, Edinburgh or Cardiff and the person turns around and tells their friends "ah he's from England"

- When you ask what country most often I don't say England I say The UK as technically the name in my passport is "The United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

- Taras Povorozniuk said "It's a matter of respect" - In British culture we respect people by telling them the truth. To the people we don't repect we say "yeh, yeh whatever you say is correct"
As I have said I don't believe in English grammar terms that using "the" implies any disrespect. By not using "the" we can say we are repecting the views of Ukrainians who prefer us not to use "the"... and if you believe the number is say 95% of Ukrainians then you absolutely right to insist on requesting people not using "the" in this forum. But I still say that.

- Please permit me to make another cultural obsevation about different intercultural communications styles
In the UK if you put a sign on the bridge saying "Don't jump from this bridge" what do you think the kids do ?
..They jump because you have given them a "why ",
Whereas if you put a sign saying "Don't jump from this bridge, it makes the crocodiles angry".. this sign is effective
(Signs in the forest saying "no fires" were also found to be ineffective, but changing the wording really reduced forest fires)

It would be great if in your guidelines you could put such a "why" explanation about the feeling about the "the Ukraine" as this would be repecting peoples custom of receiving explanations with instructions instead of just orders.

- But please don't be offended if some people use "the Ukraine" as it what they so often hear on their TVs and read in books, they absolutely imply no direspect to your country. Indeed they are showing respect by coming here to experience the culture and spend their money.

Posted July 30th, 2009 - 1:12 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
sorry an error I left one sentence unfinished "But I still say that" was meant.. to be

..But I still say that there is no rule in English grammar that says sovereign states never begin with "the"

Posted July 31st, 2009 - 8:08 am by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Honestly, Stewart! Use your energy in productive manner. Better to come for 1 semester to teach "British culture" at British Council rather than to write such endless message.

I didn't read it all what but I MUST SAY:


This is my personal position to keep guidelines changes available for all users in order to improve them instantly!
But I'm watching the wording of the relevant guidelines to be preserved and I point it once again: there is no "previous" guideline! The only one was and is which you can read right now!

Due to my remark I still can't see the reasons for this discussion but propose to close it!


P.S. Welcome back to Ukraine at any time!

Posted August 3rd, 2009 - 10:02 am by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
- Again apologies for the post title ...Again i am only talking about grammar.
- Perhaps I deleted the Netherlands guys words about "The Netherlands", "the Crimea", when I was thinking about editing the guidelines or maybe a similar set appear somewhere else on CS.

- Anyway .. I support your policy of asking people to say "Ukraine, not "the Ukraine", but I can't believe you want to keep the same wording. Look I was at the school the other day saying "adnin, dva, drei, chitri" with the children so who am I to comment on anyone's English, but if you want to get across the message "please don't use "the Ukraine" it could be written in a much much better way.

Firstly you miss strongest 3 arguments that people should drop the "the'
1. That it's the official government policy
2. That it has very popular support and people feel strongly about it
3. That since none of the historical works provide a reason for using the "the", then there is no clear reason why the naming convention should be different from the ther countries that don't use "the"

- And yet you put forward a grammar argument which is so wrong it greatly damages your own argument. Just as you see red when I say "The Ukraine", I see red "when I see those 3 gramamr points, which as I say don't stand up to close analysis. Many other people will feel the same. So if you keep the wording ..other stubborn people like me will argue with you in future.

You try to argue that since Ukraine doesn't belong to an exception group it should not have "the" like most place names, yet you only mention the 3 exception groups and as I said these don't stand up to close analysis. There are many many exception groups maybe 30 in which place names take "the" and even if you Ukraine isn't in any of themthere are other exceptions which don't conform to conventions anyway. e.g. the Matterhorn is a mountain yet it takes "the" when the convention is "mountains in the singular don't take 'the'"

- English grammar is your weakest argument.
There is this mistaken belief that using "the" regulary means a place is a colony. I know this is not true, but in debate you can't prove a negative. If someone could state clear evidence of theis rule then that would be a strong argument, but I note even on the main place for this debate the Wikipedia Ukraine name page .. no one states such a rule. To me that is at least strong evidence it doesn't exist. Although it may exist in other languages such arguments rarely appear on English linguistic pages.

- And then unfortunately many people like me will think your phrasing "thus it's complete ignorance to mention" is rude and aggressive.
Is that similar to how you would phrase it in Ukrainian ? Telling someone that because they didn't know something they are ignorant seems very insulting so it won't motivate them to comply.
- Would I say "you are in complete ignorance if you use the word "England" and "the UK" to mean the same thing" ? no of course not

- Yes wrap up the debate .. to most people it's boring .. I've been in the East 3 weeks now and have only met one person who was against "the" the others all said they didn't care.

Posted August 3rd, 2009 - 10:05 am by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
oh - the Lonely Planet Guidebook says that the common pronounciation for the Ukranian money is "incorrect" ..shall we start a discussion about that ?

..OK maybe not

Posted August 3rd, 2009 - 11:40 pm by from Seoul, South Korea (Permalink)
Stewart: The Lebanon? What part of English grammar do they actually teach that? The only way it's called that is in The Human League song of the same name. Anyway, since the name of that country is derived from the Semitic root lbn, meaning "white" for the snow-capped peaks of Mount Lebanon, I doubt there would be an obligatory "The" preceding the name of this country.

Sasha: Which particular politicians "have cashed in on that [issue] profusely"? Can't an independent country decide what to call itself, regardless of what is traditionally correct grammar in Russian or English? For example, Turkmenistan does not want to be called the "Republic of Turkmenistan" nor Ukraine, "the Republic of Ukraine" and asked all Embassies to recognize the official and formal name of those countries to be simply Turkmenistan and Ukraine. Appellation is only partly about grammar or conventions; it may also be normative or by decree. I don't understand why it would be "ludicrous" that Ukrainians feel offended if foreigners paid no respect to the name preferred by the Ukrainians themselves?

O O: Nothing on katakana for this small Kyiv Region town. You got me with that one.

Guys, the dropping of the article "the" in Ukraine's official English name needn't be taken as a step-down by Russians or as an error at all by language purists. I mean, in addition to the Burma/Myanmar name change, Ivory Coast decided that it wouldn't stand anymore for the English version of its name and thus preferred the French name Côte d'Ivoire to be used in all languages from 1984. This may not be acceptable to a lot of people. But by persistence, people will eventually and gradually accept the change. Even Russians.;)


Posted August 4th, 2009 - 4:55 pm by from Brigg, England (Permalink)
Deric are you trying to wind me up ?
"The only way it's called that is in The Human League song of the same name." a quick search on domains registered in Lebanon you will see many of them mention that name
this one gives the history of the name
from "the Mount Lebanon"

- note that The Yemen has often been used an now the official name is The Yemen Arab Republic also known as North Yemen or Yemen
- as I explained before often in English there is more than one "correct" answer

- In fact in Arabic many many place names take "the" like El Iraq

Posted August 4th, 2009 - 8:45 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Many thanks for your proposals, Stewart!

Now you may check updated guideline. I hope you don't mind about the link to your profile which I left. I you wish to remove this link, just do it and leave the word 'update' solely.

I have changed the wording of initial guideline so that to satisfy all "sensitive" members.

I disagree on your "lack of grammatical proof" remark but I'm too busy to discuss your every statement so let it be like that. I'm grateful for your valuable inputs.

Posted August 1st, 2009 - 10:24 am by from London, England (Permalink)
Thanks, Deric. I love this kind of care for details.

Guess that was a stupid one to use Chernigiv: it's mentioned in Ilya Muromets, was bound to be 'found in translation'.

I should use some other place as an example, Rzhischev. Or has it been formally spelled in katakana to??? :-)

Posted July 25th, 2009 - 12:53 pm by from Iron, United States (Permalink)
It sounds cooler, too.

Posted July 26th, 2009 - 6:54 pm from Kyiv, Ukraine
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Posted July 31st, 2009 - 8:54 am by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
I bet that my comment will give another twist to this highly-wise discussion. The premise of the previous post was like UkrAinsky means okraina (outskirts) ...

don't you know (and if you are a native Ukrainian you surely know it better) that KRAI - KRAINA in many Slavonic languages means COUNTRY, land, BIG TERRITORY - like Krasnodarsky Krai, Primorsky Krai, Rodnye KRAYA -

So the above mentioned tyrade is simply a strain of ideological character...

Basically, it is ridiculous to try to explain grammar and linguistics by ideology, whether it's "polically correct" (LOL - в Украине politically correct (на Украине), на Украине politically incorrect (на Украине) - any linguist will roll with laughter after this kind of explanations...

but the politicians have cashed in on that profusely and managed to convince the Ukrainians in that - just like with the Ukraine and Ukraine... what's heck does it have to do with independence (it's the language - not a newspaper or authorities...)...

incredible that the people believe, really trust all that rubbish. While those "native speakers" never tried even at the back of their minds to insult or underrate or show any disrespect to the locals...

Back to the topic. The weird allergic rash the Ukrainians get when hear "the Ukraine" can be basically explained by the fact - I know that because I was taught it, too in Moscow:
yet since the SOVIET UNION's times we were said that the "THE" article is used in the British English because Britain, damn colonialists, considered Ukraine as the territory, not the country. This is what I learnt in a Moscow institute.

And many there in Ukraine truely believe in this concept and feel humilated if referred as to the Ukraine, - the concept ludicrous, IMHO.


Again, f. ideology.

Posted April 22nd, 2010 - 2:45 pm from Sevastopol, Ukraine
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Posted April 23rd, 2010 - 11:06 am by from Cork, Ireland (Republic of) (Permalink)
when did the Dutch discover America before Columbus?

Posted April 23rd, 2010 - 12:20 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Dear All,

I beg you to do not participate in this clearly provocative and counterproductive discussion with a person who does not deserve it! That is exactly what he wants! Our ignorance is the best remedy for him!

I've already taken all appropriate measures so that this person will be responsible for his actions.

Thank you for understanding!


Posted July 22nd, 2010 - 7:34 am by from Cork, Ireland (Republic of) (Permalink)
thanks for completely freaking out Taras . Is it not a valid point for discussion about the competition of American and Russian influences in Ukraine? It is a divided nation where emotions run hot as we can clearly see.
No country is not independent unless it can carry out sovereign acts . The waving of a flag is not enough, that is called a puppet state. What happened in eastern Europe is that the American puppet state system was extended east. Any country that actually tries to be independent for real like Serbia will be carpeted with bombs or get sanctions, economic warfare. People are poor in Ukraine because of imperialist institutions like the IMF which siphon off wealth from around the world.

Your steps seem not to have worked against me :)
and I worry that you react so violently.

It is little Stalins who try to censor everyone when they get the slightest authority who are responsible for the low level of chat on the internet and in society in general.


Posted July 22nd, 2010 - 10:26 pm by from Cordoba, Spain (Permalink)
I'm an English teacher, and I can say to you all with authority that it's actually grammatically correct to say 'A Ukraine'.

For example:
I am going to a Ukraine.
He lives in a Ukraine.

Anybody trying to tell you otherwise is an idiot who doesn't understand English.

Posted August 5th, 2009 - 8:53 am from Oslo, Norway
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Posted August 5th, 2009 - 1:40 pm by from Seoul, South Korea (Permalink)
"Deric are you trying to wind me up ?"

Man, you have the gall to say that! Your entire post here is a wind-up. If there is more than one correct answer in English, who are you to say then that your "The Ukraine" is grammatically the correct one.

Gone are the days when British English ruled and thank goodness for that! When you've got so many "Englishes" winning one literary prize after the next, then perhaps we shouldn't be too dogmatic.

Let's end this silly useless thread and just agree that Ukrainians have every right to call their country what they want.


Posted August 5th, 2009 - 2:49 pm by from Kyiv, Ukraine (Permalink)
You're not the first one to say that English has no strict rules, no official vocabulary, grammar or whatsoever. If that's so, then then it's up to me to decide what is good English, and what not.
However, English does have some sets of grammar, spelling and vocabulary. It has a variety of sets, two of them, mostly taught in schools around Europe, are Oxford and Cambridge (mostly Oxford) English.
Every country decides about the name of itself, as part as the UN rights. It's called autonomy. There may be different opinions, like between Russia and Ukraine, but since Ukraine became independent, it can choose its own name. If English doesn't respect that, then it doesn't respect autonomy.

Posted April 19th, 2010 - 9:08 am by from Cork, Ireland (Republic of) (Permalink)
Sounds like the usual crypto-pro-American anti-Russian jingoism to me.All these former Communist states and their alleged independence are jokes and they changed one master for another.

Posted April 21st, 2010 - 8:12 am from Cork, Ireland (Republic of)
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Posted April 22nd, 2010 - 2:03 pm by from Mantua, United States (Permalink)
Why bash America? The Term Jingoism was coined by the British to describe Russian Foreign Policy. American Foreign Policy is a far cry From the Russian Jingoism (Aggressive Foreign Policy) We do not have a Master plan to convert any country or subject any country. If it wasn't for the United States Standing up against the Russian jingoism all of Europe would be under Russian control. To say they changed one Master for another is not correct. The people of eastern Europe can now as a Free people associate with whom ever they want if they decide Tomorrow they don't want America or Americans in their Countries that is their RIGHT as FREE PEOPLE and America will not Attack them,Bring in the Secret Police,Starve them to Death (Stalin-1930's) the same can't be said of their Former Masters.

Posted April 22nd, 2010 - 2:26 pm from Sevastopol, Ukraine
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Posted January 29th, 2013 - 11:27 pm by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
Applying some positive thinking: Apparently the only important issue in Ukraine is the name of the country?

Ukraine must be a paradise... Or maybe people have given up solving real problems (which are plenty), and now spend all their energy discussing an article, which doesn't even exist in Ukrainian or Russian?

And of course, Ukrainian imperialists have no right to tell the English when to say "the" or not. It wasn't some big conspiracy. Shakespeare also calls the Danish town Helsingør Elsinore. Should I sue every publisher, or demand that all copies of Hamlet Prince of Denmark be burned, because he's "insulting" the Danes? Get a life...

I generally don't use the "the" and I also say "v Ukraine" instead of "na Ukraine". And fortunately, normal citizens of Ukraine don't care too much.

- In a parallel way here in Denmark, we also see a transition from saying "on Greenland" to "in Greenland" (the first version implying it being just a dot and what's going on there is not so important - event though it's actually 5 times as big as Ukraine). But we never fought over it, and if the Greenlanders are happy with it, I'm happy.

So with the right attitude, big issues become almost irrelevant.

And by the way I enjoyed reading the English gentleman's learned comments, but then the criticism got too shrill.

Posted January 30th, 2013 - 8:36 am by from Kyiv, Ukraine (Permalink)
Radiofoot, 'a' is wrong, simply because there is only one Ukraine that is a country. 'U kraina' literally means 'on the edge', so if you say 'I'm going to a Ukraine', you say (in a bad way) that you are going to 'an edge', whatever edge that may be.

'The Ukraine' is an English translation of what Russians mean with 'na Ukraine', on the edge.

But I would say that a people has the right to choose the name of their own country. There's usually a historical, cultural and nationalist reason for it. 'Russia', because it's probably an old Variag word for 'people', 'America', because they had the idea of uniting American countries, 'England', because it was where the Anglians lived, and 'Ukraine' because it was on the edge of the Russian lands.

Now for a Ukrainian, Ukraine is not on any edge, it's the center of their world, hence, it's normal that they don't like being called 'on the edge', but like to separate the original meaning, from the actual name.

If you say, that it should be 'The Ukraine', because that's the way most English speakers say it, then maybe it would be a good idea to make them say 'Ukraine' instead. That way, 'Ukraine' becomes correct, and 'The Ukraine' incorrect... just following your logic.

As for 'The Gambia', it refers to the river, 'The Maledives' is a plural, like 'The Fens', 'The Netherlands', 'The United States'...

Posted January 30th, 2013 - 8:46 am by from Kyiv, Ukraine (Permalink)
And since 'The Netherlands' popped up already: In Dutch it's 'Nederland', single, not plural. If we use plural, we refer to a region, containing north of France, Belgium, and Current day Netherlands, because it simply means 'Low countries' (by the North Sea).

Posted February 1st, 2013 - 7:46 am by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
Actually Danmark/Denmark means the "border area where the Danes live" (seen from Germany/Central Europe). "Mark" was used for other border-areas as well: Ostmark, Mark Brandenburg, Steirmark etc. Most Danes don't mind being on the border of Scandinavia and Central Europe; we try to take the best of each.

And probably I shouldn't give advice on how to annoy someone, but Russians don't like being reminded, the Kiev was flourishing hundreds of years before (northern) Russia. And it becomes even worse, if you say that there was a least some influence from Scandinavian Vikings when forming the first proto-states.

- You could also just call Ukraine "Middle Kingdom", but then again there's no king, and probably a lot of people ( would get annoyed... :-)

Posted February 2nd, 2013 - 1:21 am by from Zrenjanin, Serbia (Permalink)
Ok, you are from Denmark. I will get back to name of your country.
I do not understand you point??? ... we all know that Kiev was the Russian capital in 12 Century.

About Denmark, the root of the name is DAN ... which in Slavic language means day. And you know that you have periods of year when in Denmark you have no night. So ... lets go even further. Why par of the Germany was called 'Prussia' ... P-Russia?!?!
I guess you got my point. And the point is something some non visible force try to dive Slavic people.


PS ... why Berlin film festival have Golden Bear price?
We all know that bear is totemic animal of Russia.

Posted February 2nd, 2013 - 2:53 pm from Usak, Turkey
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Posted February 3rd, 2013 - 9:34 pm by from Feodosiya, Ukraine (Permalink)
Hello Stewart Green !

I hope you´re doing well there in Brigg, England or Turkey or so.
Oh shit, I´m so sorry Stewart.
Of cause I meant "THE England" ha ha ha...

cheers :))