Take that, keyboard warriors.
Also: please don’t join the Azovs.
Thanks Stephen Moran
…The Ukraine or simply Ukraine?
Anne Marie Devlin, of University College Cork, writes:
The word Ukraine may be understood in a particular way which can have a profound impact on how the country itself is viewed. For many Russian speakers, the word Ukraine is transparently broken down into two main parts or morphemes.
They are ‘u’ and ‘krai’. ‘U’ can roughly be translated as ‘at’ in English. ‘Krai’ means ‘edge’. As a result, the word ‘Ukraine’ may conjure up an image, not of an independent nation, but of a region at the edge of a sovereign country, which presumably is Russia.
This mental image of a region on the edge of a country was further solidified in Russian and Ukrainian by the preposition which traditionally accompanied the country’s name; and in English by the use of the definite article (The Ukraine).
The word Ukraine had been collocated with the preposition ‘na’ (on) instead of the more common ‘v’ (in) in both Russian and Ukrainian despite the fact that ‘na’ (on) is more commonly used for regions and ‘v’ for countries.
This may seem superficial. After all, it’s only a preposition, but feelings around it run extremely high. In 1993, the Ukrainian government formally requested that the Russian government change the preposition from ‘na’ to ‘v’ in official documentation with the aim of receiving ‘linguistic confirmation of its status as a sovereign state’. While the Russian state reacted nonchalantly, over time, the new linguistic form was adopted by many people.
However, in a 2016 study I conducted into the weaponization of the use of prepositions in Russian social media during the Crimean crisis, results strongly suggest that the use of ‘na’ vs ‘v’ was deliberately used by many people as a political football to demarcate political and ethnic faultlines.
In short people intentionally used ‘na’ to position themselves as pro-Kremlin, thus denying the sovereignty of Ukraine; and ‘v’ to position themselves as anti-Kremlin and to acknowledge Ukraine as an independent nation.
You must decide.
Kyiv vs Kiev: why the right names matter in Ukraine (RTE)