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Transliteration is definitely something of a strange thing, yet it’s especially complicated in Ukraine, where roughly one-sixth of the population is ethnic Russian, speaking Russian, and another sixth are ethnic Ukrainian, but speak Russian too. It’s become especially difficult recently, as much of the protesters within the capital are Ukrainian-speaking, taking to the streets last November when President Viktor Yanukovych – a Russian-speaker from Ukraine’s east – rejected from E.U. membership toward an agreement with Russia’s Eurasian Union.
Given past Russian domination, both during the Soviet period and before, it’s understandable that language has turned into a major problem in the united states. One obvious illustration of this is actually the Western habit of referring to the united states as "the Ukraine" as opposed to "Ukraine." There are myriad reasons that is wrong and offensive, but perhaps the most convincing is the word Ukraine arises from the existing Slavic word "Ukraina," which roughly meant "borderland." Many Ukrainians feel that the "the" implies they are simply a a part of Russia – "little Russia," as is also sometimes known by their neighbors – rather than an actual country. The Western practice of using "the Ukraine" to consult the continent – even by those sympathetic for the protesters, like Senator John McCain- can be considered ignorant at the best.
On the surface, the Kiev/Kyiv debate seems similar, though it is much less heated. A state language of the country is Ukrainian. The city, in the predominantly Ukrainian-speaking west of the nation, had its name standardized to Kyiv in Roman letters with the Ukrainian government in 1995, just four years as soon as they formally asked the globe to thrill stop saying ‘the Ukraine.’ The globe listened, to a extent – the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) approved the spelling ‘Kyiv’ in 2006 from a request with the Ukrainian government (and subsequent endorsement with the State Department).
It is not so easy, however. For instance, over time there’s been a number of different spellings in the English names to the city; Wikipedia lists at the very least nine. In 1995, Andrew Gregorovich in the FORUM Ukrainian Review argued that as "Kiev" took it’s origin from a well used Ukrainian-language reputation for the town, understanding that Kyiv as well as other potential Roman transliterations – like Kyjiv and Kyyiv – were confusing for English speakers, Kiev was just fine. The BGN still allows Kiev to be utilized, arguing that ‘Kyiv’ is just a "an exception towards the BGN-approved romanization system which is placed on Ukrainian geographic names in Ukrainian Cyrillic script."
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