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Question For Volgadon


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A few weeks ago, I used the article "the" when naming Ukraine. I respect you a great deal and chose to drop the article. I wanted to know why Ukrainians are hurt or offended by the article. I just want to educate myself and help correct others.

Thanks Volg...you're great.

Valentinus, first of all, that is awesome you dropped the article. The reason that the article is a sensitive issue has to do with a long history of political and cultural oppression and marginalisation, mostly by Russia, but also by Poland. Russian and Ukrainian actually have no articles, but in Russian, the preposition na (on) is used to express the idea of place being merely a region rather than an independent entity. In English, the can play a similar role. For example, one doesn't say the Germany, but one does say the Rhine. So, the reason why Ukrainians are hurt when people say the Ukraine is because behind it is the implication that they aren't an independent nation, but merely a Russian province. Even if the user had no such intention, Ukrainians are still sensitive over this point. They've struggled long and hard to be recognised as an independent nation. My wife even took place in the Orange Revolution, right from the very beginning.

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Thank you for clearing that up and I apologize for my ignorance. Let me correct a previous post. I lived in Ukraine and not "the" Ukraine. I tried to send you a PM about this issue but I was told you weren't accepting new messages. Sorry to make this public, Sir.

Have you really lived in Ukraine? That is awesome, where at?

I can't seem to fix my inbox, but I'm perfectly happy to answer such questions publicly, what with blood being thicker than water and all that.

This is a rock ballad based on a poem by Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's national poet, written in the dialect of my wife's grandmother's village.

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That is a habit of speech that could be hard to stop when speaking...it just doesn't 'sound' right without the 'the' to me. Much easier in writing as no 'the' seems the natural way to write it probably because that is how I've seen it most but heard it the other way. Interesting how what appears to be such a little thing can be used to express a huge amount of oppression.

Makes perfect sense that Ukrainians would feel that way.

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Volgadon -- Thanks for the info. A Ukrainian corrected me to drop "the" many years ago. I heard others add it, so I did too. I did not know there was some painful history behind it.

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As well as the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, and probably some others, but the definitive article is necessary when using an adjective.

The Philipines. In this case, the "the" is used to refer to the island group collectively known as the Philipines, whereas the country is referred to as Republic of the Philipines.

As far as "the" Ukraine is concerned, this is how it has been referred to from time immemorial in the English language. It is unfortunately considered a pejorative. To me, this term of art denotes a specific place and does not connote to me a mere region, but a country. I bow to the sensibilities of those who dwell there, however, and some time ago stopped referring to it in my speech and writing in that way. It still feels odd to say simply "Ukraine", however.

In fact, I am conditioned to refer to the entire Soviet Union as "the" Soviet Union. Because the "the" in this case refers to a definite country, much as "the" United States. Although I think it is more appropriate to a collective country, with many semi-independent constituent parts. Which "the" Ukraine most definitely is not, so therefore, simply Ukraine.

The English language is definitely odd.

Edited by Stargazer
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Have you really lived in Ukraine? That is awesome, where at?

I can't seem to fix my inbox, but I'm perfectly happy to answer such questions publicly, what with blood being thicker than water and all that.

This is a rock ballad based on a poem by Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's national poet, written in the dialect of my wife's grandmother's village.

I lived in Kiev for 2 years when my dad was in the military.

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I had noticed a change in the last few years in the media. But it just seemed to come out of nowhere. People just started saying "Ukraine" and I didn't know why. I tend to resist changes I don't understand, but I will cooperate now with my fellow speakers of English in adapting myself to the new way. I'm for people saying and even pronouncing their own identities as they wish. But when something changes you kind of wonder if it is for some agenda you approve or disapprove of. Good question Valentinus.

Next...does anybody know what is up with Stanford University? They used to be "the Cardinals" right? Where did this "Cardinal" without the plural business come from? Nothing against Stanford. I'm a Pac 8 guy, but some of us want an explanation for these changes in our way of speech, as was evident from the opening post. "The Cardinal"? One bird? One Catholic prelate?

3DOP

Edited by 3DOP
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