Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Speaking of spelling... it's Hopak, not Gopak!!


I'd send a letter to the editor ... but sometimes a body gets discouraged. I just shook my head when I read this:

... Within a few years, Moiseyev formed a company of 100 dancers ... The company has toured over sixty countries and is internationally recognized as the premier folk dance company in the world. Just as famous today are the signature dances Moiseyev choreographed for his ensemble, which include the Ukrainian "Gopak," [sic] ...

When will people who should know better accept the fact that there is no such thing as a Ukrainian gopak and stop referring to it incorrectly?

It should be fairly easy to grasp. The word hopak (гопак) is derived from the Ukrainian verb "hopaty" (гопати) which means "to jump." Anyone see a "g" in hopaty??

To make it even more clear (hopefully), in Ukrainian, if there was such a word as "gopak" it would be spelled ґопак. And no, there is no such word in the Ukrainian language as ґопати.

So, to recap, it is гопак which comes from гопати. Spelled properly with "г" not "ґ." They are two different letters, and two different sounds. In both Ukrainian and English.

Now, anyone reading this who has ever called this dance a gopak, can you please say: "It's hopak, which comes from the verb "hopaty." There now, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Calling it "gopak" is too ridiculous for words ... and IMO insisting on doing so is just utterly plebeian.


Anonymous said...

Gopak is in Russian. There is no 'H' sound in Russian, so they must use the 'G' or 'KH' sound. But hopak is a Ukrainian word, and there is an 'H' sound in Ukrainian, so it makes no sense to refer to the word in the Russian usage.
BTW, I remember seeing books in Russian refering to Goliwood; now they mostly use KHoliwood. There's no Russian letter to approximate the 'H" in Hollywood - as Ukrainian can easily do.

Pawlina said...

Interesting. It's always bugged me when words that can be translated into English phonetically aren't, because of political egotism.

I suppose one can argue (albeit speciously) for the practice by citing examples of translations from other languages like, say, "jojoba" and San Jose. Then there are all the other foreign spellings and silent letters ...

My view on that argument can be summed up with the adage "100,000 lemmings can't be wrong."