Thursday, November 12, 2015

NoTo "The"

From Newsweek:
"Why Ukrainians Hate When You Say 'The Ukraine'"

On Tuesday evening, two Republican presidential candidate hopefuls accidentally enraged Ukrainian Americans with a single word: "the." John Kasich and Donald Trump referred to Ukraine as "the Ukraine," a common but unfortunate mistake. Lindsey Graham made the same blunder at the third GOP debate.  Adding "the" before Ukraine is actually a throwback to Communism. Prior to the fall of the USSR, Ukraine was known as "The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic." In 1991, the USSR fell, splitting Ukraine from Russia and permanently cutting off that pesky "the." Because of the article's association with the Soviet Union, Ukrainians are particularly sensitive about it. "After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainians probably decided that the article denigrated their country [by identifying it as a part of Russia] and abolished 'the' while speaking English, so now it is simply Ukraine," explained Oksana Kyzyma, press secretary for the Ukrainian Embassy in the United Kingdom. "That's why 'the' Ukraine suddenly lost its article in the last 20 years, it's a sort of linguistic independence in Europe, it's hugely symbolic."  If the emotional history of "the" Ukraine is not enough, take it from the CIA World Factbook, which identifies Ukraine as such, article-free. Had the Republican candidates realized their accidental association with Communism, they likely would have corrected themselves to say "Ukraine." 
^ I don't really understand what the issue is with the word "the" when referring to Ukraine. I use it all the time for Ukraine and Crimea. The Russian and Ukrainian languages do not have a word for "the" so they (the Soviets)  couldn't use it to refer to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The word "the" was only used by English speakers and even then most officials and media outlets simply referred everything as Russians or Russia whether they were talking about the Soviet people or the Soviet Union as a whole. Not using the word "the" when referring to Ukraine or Crimea is British-English and not American-English. The Brits don't like to use the word "the" for many things. You can even hear them take a pause right where the word "the" should be as though they know they should use it, but are trying hard not to. I have British friends and have travelled around England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and always hear them and that "fake" pause. They should just say "going to the hospital" and not "going to hospital" or "going to the university" and not "going to university", etc. The Ukrainians should start using American-English and then the word "the" would be fine and has no communist relation. It would be weird to write that last sentence like this: Ukrainians should start using American-English......... Americans use "the" because it is grammatically correct and just sounds better. ^

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