On Saturday January 30th, Mark Temnycky wrote an article on the topic of “Ukraine” versus “the Ukraine,” and the implication of the three letter word in post-Euromaidan Ukraine. On Tuesday, February 2nd, Mark experienced an honorable moment. Forbes contacted him – they published his piece!
The Polish term Ukrajina, or “the borderland,” first emerged during the 16th century when the Ukrainian lands were incorporated into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. By the 18th century, the French introduced l’Ukraine, and the article stuck. The usage of “the Ukraine” then became most popular when it was a territorial entity of both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. But why does the article matter?
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Ukrainian government declared in its constitution that it would hence forth be referred to as “Ukraine,” thus dropping the article. There were two justifications for this. First, in Russian and Ukrainian, the two most popularly spoken languages in Ukraine, articles do not exist, hence it seemed foolish to incorporate the article. Second, with the establishment of its independence, “the Ukraine” became a demeaning term, as it implied that Ukraine remained a territorial region of one of its former rulers.[…]