Monday, August 11, 2008

How long will it take?

Sigh.

It seems to me it didn't take nearly as long for the world to make the switch from Constantinople to Istanbul, Peking to Beijing, and Bombai to Mumbai?

So why the mental block with Ukrainian cities???

Does someone need to record another hit song and post the lyrics and a YouTube video online before some people will finally get it?

So just to try and be helpful, here's a little refresher spelling lesson for the (nameless) blogger who posted an otherwise lovely writeup of Sandy's Ukrainian Kitchen in the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo.

1. It's Kyiv ... not Kiev. Has been so since 1996. Officially, even.
2. It's Lviv ... not Lvov. See #1.
3. It's Ukraine ... no "the" please. (You wouldn't say "The Canada" or "The France" ... hopefully?)

Anyone using these (and other) old spellings for Ukrainian place names is 17 years behind the times! Not cool.

The latter spellings are Soviet-era, so using them is not just incorrect. It's outdated and very passé.

Yes, I know ... change is hard and who wants to do it, especially with the little things. Problem is, if you don't do it, you run the risk of getting old and stodgy a lot sooner. And it all starts with, um, the "little" things.

So do yourself a favour, and get with the times!

10 comments:

Steve said...

Unfortunately the name conventions haven't sunk in with many of the media either. Reading Haaretz or the Guardian or Deutsche Welle, but especially Moscow Times you'll still see Kiev, Lvov (Lemberg in one case) or Kharkov or Dneproptetrovsk which straddles the Dnepr river.

Makes me upset that naming conventions aren't enforced - worse is the names are still Russianized. Too bad Ukraine doesn't have a naming convention board (part of government department) that would be a "clearing house" for disseminating the true naming convention throughout, receive and deal with complaints about wrongful usage...

But they, of course, might have a few problems themselves, particularly when it comes to the letters "G" and "H" or "H" and "KH". You'll note in Ukr, the currency is called "Hryvnia", while all translations from Ukraine itself will identify it as "Gryvnia". Or working the other way around "Hit" (as in Michael Jackson single Thriller), will become "Khit" in Ukrainian. People there still don't seem to understand that the Ukrainian language very flexible (much more so than Russian). Too bad that Ukrainians can't understand that their language, unlike Russian, does include both "G" and "H" but the "H" in Ukrainian doesn't translate into "G" in English.... it stays "H".

Sorry, had a chip on my shoulder.

Blair Sheridan said...

I'm doing my part.

A group for members and fans of Kyiv's "oldest punk band" THE C-MEN!

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=22133609054

Stanislav said...

It takes time and effort. English are less conservative, French much more (it is still "Jeux olympiques a Pékin" in French). Remember Torino vs Turin last battles... Nice people call your city as you wish -rule to me, so, I call my home town Kyiv.

Vasyl said...

Well, while everyone is doing their part, thanks, Blair, it seems that Ukraine itself is having some problems with moving from Peking to Beijing.

Stanislav, you have a point about the French, however, that seems to be that at least French Canadians are using the right spelling, and the official 2008 OG site on their French language pages use Beijing.

Anonymous said...

According to my copy of the Oxford Atlas of the World (2007 Edition), Lviv is Lviv but the capital is spelled 'Kyyiv'. As for the use of the article 'the' that I avoided in this note, Holland is commonly referred to as the Netherlands. Another example is 'the Phillippines' as referred to this past week in a Financial Times article. I would also add that the official name of our neighbour to the south under its constitution is 'The United States of America'. As we are officially a bilingual french nation, in French an article usually preceeds an noun such as L'Ecosse for Scotland. Therefore, it could be argued that the inclusion of 'the' is cosmopolitan.

Let's try to be less parochial and thin skinned with regard to spelling as language and spelling (in English) are dynamic and ever changing.

Pawlina said...

I agree, Steve, that H and G business can get very irritating... but on a practical level also can be confusing.

As for Moscow publications, Russified transliterations serve as a show of contempt for Ukrainian aspirations of independence and sovereignty. An old-world intimidation tactic intended to demoralize and destabilize... and that is, unfortunately, still in regular use today.

Pawlina said...

Thanks, Blair, for doing your part!

Stan, may you encounter only nice people who extend such respect to you and your home city. It would be about time.

Vasyl, it must drive you a bit batty to have to live amongst such inept and/or apathetic bureaucrats and politicians. Hang in there, tho! And hey, thanks for sharing that info about the Quebecois being current and up-to-date via place name spelling... and spreading around a bit of Canadian pride!

Pawlina said...

Well, Anonymous, as a broadcaster and writer, I've tried to develop a fairly thick skin. For the most part, I think I've succeeded.

Therefore, if you misspell my last name with a Mc rather than a Mac, and/or call me Pauline or Claudette, I'll still answer to your call. I'll even forgive the error. (Heck, everyone makes mistakes!)

If, however, you start to do it all the time, and have the gall to insist that there is no significant difference between a Mc and a Mac and so I shouldn't get upset when someone spells my name with Mc instead of Mac ... and furthermore that I should accept the Mc spelling as an equally correct spelling of *my* name because so many people (mis)spell it that way anyway ... well, don't be surprised if my skin wears a little thin at times like that.

Regarding Ukrainian place names in English, there actually are official standards. Just that, as Vasyl points out, even in Ukraine the practice of following them is hampered by apathy or ineptness, if not both.

As a writer and broadcaster, one of the first things I learned was the importance of getting names right ... and I don't distinguish between people's names and place names.

Neither, IMHO, should anyone else.

Ukemonde said...

Kudos Paulette or Mac. Khow ar u?

Pawlina said...

Oh Roman. Always gamming it up.

What a hoof u r sometimes... but as always, a huy after my own geart. :-)