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Tue Nov 5, 2019, 06:36 PM

Why are so many who should know better now routinely using "The Ukraine" on the news

It's a name, UKRAINE! Is it intentional or ignorant. The Ukraine would refer to it as a geographic region, not a sovereign nation. Kind of like calling the Democratic Party the Democrat Party. Are they trying to minimize the annexation by Russia to just some land as opposed to a sovereign democratic nation.

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Reply Why are so many who should know better now routinely using "The Ukraine" on the news (Original post)
ToxMarz Nov 5 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Nov 5 #1
Igel Nov 5 #2

Response to ToxMarz (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 06:52 PM

1. Wikipedia has this to say on the name:

In 1991, Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its dissolution at the end of the Cold War. Before its independence, Ukraine was typically referred to in English as "The Ukraine", but most sources have since moved to drop "the" from the name of Ukraine in all uses.
Ukraine - Wikipedia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org wiki Ukraine


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Response to ToxMarz (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 07:05 PM

2. "The Ukraine" is like "The Gambia."

It was the name of the sovereign country until the Soviets had a government in place that favored annexation.

It was the name of the political unit that had a vote during Soviet times in the UN.

The banishment of the "the" was intentional in the early-mid '90s after (renewed) independence, simply because countries aren't referred to with the definite article. You'd *never* say "the France" or "the Egypt" in English, esp. if you were properly enlightened as to how degrading it was to use the definite article and lived in the United State or the United Kingdom. Note that it was something imposed, rather like the military junta in "Burma" insisted, for ethnonationalist reasons, on compelling others to call it "Myanmar". The use of "Ukraine" with the "the" to refer to the political unit before about 1993 is ahistorical and anachronistic. And, yes, there was a Ukrainian Republic that was one of the members of the USSR. (And, yes, it had its own UN vote; upon independence, it wasn't given a seat, it retained its seat. As did Belarus'.)

In other words, it was made offensive less than 20 years ago by decree and later argument, and wasn't offensive to English speakers until they were properly trained in the True Meaning of the article by people whose language has no article. They didn't try that in France, where usage is much more clear.

In favor of the anarthrous usage is that article + country combinations have been decreasing over time, faster in American English than Commonwealth English. Argentina used to be "the Argentine," we used to (even until recently) have "the Sudan". We still insist on it for country names that appear to have a common head noun.

And, yes, in Ukrainian "the United States" takes plural verbs, whereas in American English it's firmly singular. (Is it intentional or ignorant? Or is it just their language?)


(Some of us snarkily assumed that the real reason was the difficulty Ukrainian/Russian speakers have of using English articles where they belong.)

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