Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

LJ LED THE WORLD ON (THE) UKRAINE PROBLEM Here's an old LJ.com post pulled from August 8th, 2003:

THE GREAT LIBERTARIAN DEBATE: IS IT THE UKRAINE OR UKRAINE?

To Hell With Political Correctness, May The Ukraine Stand Forever! Daniel McCarthy weighs in first:

The country is called "the Ukraine." Just like "Vegas" is LAS Vegas, not just "Vegas." It's pretty simple really.

As long as I have been alive, it has been "the Ukraine." It was "the Ukraine" long before I was born as well. Now, however, certain neotericists would like to rechristen the country "Ukraine." Why? What possible, logical, a priori reason can there be to call it "Ukraine"? There is none.

It's a thymological question, not a praxeological one. Since it has always been the Ukraine it should remain the Ukraine. There's no good reason to change it.

Experts agree. Consider the words of Joseph F. Foster, Associate Professor of Antrholopology at the University of Cincinnati, who writes:
It is politically incorrect. It is however perfectly grammatical English. To stop saying "the Ukraine" and start saying "Ukraine" is about as silly and unEnglish as to have stopped saying "the Argentine" and started saying "Argentine". It would make more English sense to say "Ukrainia". I however always say "the Ukraine". I also say "the Argentine" and "the Arkansas". And I am from, as the song goes "Down in the Arkansas", proud of it, and do not feel that my native State is in the least slighted by having a definite article -- or having it omitted, as is done my most Americans. I also say "The Gambia" and I believe so do the Gambians. So if this be political incorrectness, make the most of it.
Ukrainian does not even have a definite article -- many languages do not -- but I am simply not willing to allow a language which has no article to be forced upon me as a model for how I ought to use or not use the definite article in English. To me, making an issue of insisting that American and British say "Ukraine" instead of "the Ukraine" or "Ukrania" is carrying political correctness to its absurd end and I cannot understand the willingness of many fellow linguists to go along with such rampant and goofy prescriptivism.

Now, nothing of interest is ever completely easy. The term 'u kraina' means 'at the border', or in the border region. There has somehow developed the notion that saying 'At Border' is OK but saying 'the at Border' puts us on the side of the Colonialists and the Big Bad Great Russians who want the Ukraine back. To impute that kind of political awareness and motivation to British and American English speakers is silly, unfounded, and a near total misapprehension of the nature of language, culture, and their relations. The amazing thing is that some linguists and cultural anthropologists who would not tolerate such prescriptivism about English are so patronizingly willing to conform to it and comply with it when it comes from a "developing" country. Or from Americans who are courting favor with that developing country to enhance their own careers.

What we have here in part is a false issue raised by a political activist group who want to enlist the rest of the world into their particular agenda. Most Americans neither know nor care about the peculiar relations among the Russias -- Great, White, and Little, or Byelorussia, Velikaya Russia, and Ukrainia, or Little Russia. The thinking is that if A and B are having a dispute about which C is neutral and disinterested, and B can force C to talk about it the way B wants it talked about, then B has forced C to become an interested party on the side of C. So this isnt really about language and grammar at all -- it is about an attempt to force Americans to get envolved in a local dispute between Russia and Ukrainia over political control, cultural dominance, and bruised egos.

Oh, by the way, Russian doesn't have a definite article either. So this business about trying to proscribe English "the Ukraine" is really goofy and unwarranted
.
So there you have it. On the analogy of such other time-honored names as "the Argentine" and "the Levant,” and "the Sudan," the Ukraine stands as "the Ukraine." It means "the lands at the border." In English, it should have the definite article. The only acceptable alternative is Ukrainia, which is nice and Latinate as well. Take your pick -- English (the Ukraine), or neo-Latin (Ukrainia).

It’s "Ukraine," Stupid!


Andrei "Dr. Dre" Kreptul refutes the foolish rant of McCarthyisms:
My fellow counterpart Daniel McCarthy, while well-versed in the ideological errors and nostrums of the neo-conservative movement which he so passionately rails against (check it out here) is absolutely and utterly wrong on whether one ought to refer to the country of Ukraine as "the Ukraine" or "Ukraine."
As a Canadian of Ukrainian descent myself, I can say with ultimate certainty that the consensus on this issue is that "Ukraine" is the proper moniker for the country known as Ukraine. Just ask any prominent member of the Ukrainian community anywhere in North America and they will tell you that "the Ukraine" is wrong and makes no sense. Everytime my fellow Ukrainians hear "the Ukraine," they cringe with disgust and their rage leads to them to want to shoot peoples' heads off. Frankly, that kind of passion and dedication to "Ukraine" over "the Ukraine" is good enough in my books.

Clearly, the correct referent is "Ukraine." If you don't believe me, just go to www.ukraine.org and it becomes crystal clear that "Ukraine" is the correct word to use. To verify that I’m right, just go to www.infoukes.com/faq/the_ukraine/ and you will see that "Ukraine" is it, baby!

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