William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

  • Mood:

politics and the Ukrainian language

Composed Wednesday, October 26th

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m helping one of my friends get into the Canadian-Ukrainian Parliamentary Program by polishing up her essays and simplifying instructions for her. She understood the following document quite well, and showed it to me for its comedic value. It really underscores some of the absurdities inherent in the Ukrainian-Russian language conflict.

Dear CUPP’06 Applicants,

Something that should be obvious, does not appear to be that obvious to a number of CUPP’06 Applicants.

Both the English language and the Ukrainian language contain the letter H.

And the correct transliteration from Ukrainian to English for words with the letter H, should be obvious to University students, or so we in Canada believe. And so HRUSHEVSKOHO, HORLIVKA, COPENHAGEN, HOLLYWOOD, HITLER, HOCKEY, HAWAII, HARVARD, LUHANSK,IHOR, etc is the correct spelling and not Grushevskoho, Gorlivka, Copengagen, Gollywood, Gitler, , Gockey, Gawaii, Garvard, Lugansk, Igor.

If CUPP had a program for Students from Russian universities, maybe one could excuse the odd misspelling, since the Russian language does not contain the letter H.

Kindly use the correct Ukrainian to English transliteration. Please respect your language and my language, in corresponding with us in Canada.

Ihor (surname omitted)
(position omitted)

Thanks, Ig- I mean, Ihor! Glad to see you’ve mastered the bold function on your word processor! =) Here is my own follow-up:

Dear Ukrainian speakers,

The Ukrainian language contains the letter G ( Ґ ). Therefore, would McDonald’s kindly correct their menus to have them say “Double Cheeseburger” instead of “Double Cheeseburher?” («Дабул Чисбургер») Also, Egypt and Mongolia would probably appreciate it if you’d change your maps so they didn’t read “Yehypt” («Єгипт») and “Monholia.” («Монголия») But we do want to thank people for the inclusion of G in place names such as «Калґарі» (Calgary).

Sincerely yours,
- A Canadian being driven crackers by your socio-linguistic hang-ups

* * *

In all seriousness, G is a dubious letter in Ukrainian. It’s quite rare, and I don’t mean rare like Qs and Zs are rare in English – I mean rare like affordable snacks at Frankfurt Main. (Only €5 for a Coke!) I think the problem is that it’s rare only because certain people want to distance the language from Russian as much as possible. Officially, though, it’s in the language, so why not use it? Why does it matter where the letter came from? Then again, I speak what’s essentially a glorified creole, and the Xitikx haven’t invaded Earth yet, necessitating the English-speaking world to become aggressively nationalistic about their language. “St0╖ Цs1пg ╪0ré1gп Lé╧╧érs!-!” we’ll scream in vain, as what’s left of our traditional Latin alphabet becomes subsumed by the elaborations necessary for accurate Xitikini transliterations. So maybe I’ll take my stand with the Ukrainians and stop usinh that letter, in the fiht to defend our linhuistic purity.

By the way, if someone asks you what the “non-violent” means in “non-violent civic revolution,” and makes a gesture of herself playing a violin before you can answer, is it okay to fall out of your chair? Again, you had to be there.
Tags: cwy, ostroh, russian, socio-linguistics, travel, ukraine, ukrainian

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