Ukraine vs. the Ukraine

With all the focus and media attention on the situation in Ukraine, I figured it made sense to address this.Why do some people use the article “the” before Ukraine and others do not? After all, you wouldn’t say the Italy or the France or even the Russia. So why, then, do so many people insist on saying the Ukraine?

As it turns out, there’s a reason for that. The word “Ukraine,” which translates to “borderland” or “on/near the border,” describes an area of Eastern Europe that used to be part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was commonly referred to as the Ukraine region – much as we, in America, would speak of the Midwest, the Great Plains or the East Coast.

However, in 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became an independent country. As it was no longer a region of the USSR, it thus became, simply, Ukraine. Now we know.

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One Response to Ukraine vs. the Ukraine

  1. Lusia says:

    Hello! I humbly beg pardon, but you are not absolutely right about the genesis of the word “Ukraine”. We first heared of the name “Ukraine” in the last quarter of the XII century (“Hypatian Codex” of “Primary Chronicle”). Scholars take few versions on the origin of “Ukraine” – not only as the derivative of “borderland”, but also as the derivative of “earthy heaven”, “territory with its own border”, “land” (related phonation in Ukrainian), as the derivative of ethnicon “Ukrainians” (Slavic “ukry”). Furthermore, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is an artefact formation and has no concern with the name of Ukraine.

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