Monday, October 12, 2009

I was tuning in to random radio stations today, and caught the following exchange (RUS) about Ukraine on Radio Echo of Moscow:

К. ЛАРИНА: Юрий Иванович, большое Вам спасибо. Напомним ещё раз. Это Юрий Иванович Шаповал, наш гость из Украины. Видите, как я себя веду! Когда Вас тут нет, я говорю «на Украине». А когда Вы пришли, мне неудобно так говорить.

Ю. ШАПОВАЛ: Вы почаще меня приглашайте.

В. ДЫМАРСКИЙ: Кстати говоря, здесь единственный упрёк Юрию Ивановичу могу сделать – то, что я считаю, что не должны мы менять русский язык в угоду, извините, соседнему…

К. ЛАРИНА: Должны! Надо уважать друг друга! Что, тебе жалко, что ли? Ну-ка скажи – в Украину!

В. ДЫМАРСКИЙ: Ну, мы же Париж…

К. ЛАРИНА: Скажи – в Украину!

Ю. ШАПОВАЛ: Но заметьте, я на вас не давлю. Разговаривайте, как хотите.

К. ЛАРИНА: Спасибо большое, Юрий Иванович.

It's a wrap-up of a rather interesting talk about Crimea, and the hosts and their Ukrainian guest are suddenly discussing the correct way of saying 'in/to Ukraine' in Russian - 'на Украине/Украину' vs. 'в Украине/Украину.' We use the latter, they prefer the former. It's a bit like the English usage debate: Ukraine with or without the definite article.

Ksenia Larina, one of the hosts, tells Yuri Shapoval, a Ukrainian historian, that in his presence she doesn't feel comfortable saying it the Russian way, while the other host, Vitali Dymarsky, says that he doesn't think they should be changing the Russian language to please the neighbor - that's his "only criticism" of his Ukrainian guest. Larina tells Dymarsky we should respect one another and teasingly urges him to say it the Ukrainian way. Shapoval, however, doesn't really care how they say it: "But please note, I'm not pressuring you. Talk in whatever way you like."

It's a very telling little exchange, I guess.


  1. Were they speaking from .. Paris???

  2. I'm always amazed at how the Russians can put up with "kofe" in the neutral gender (chernoe kofe) yet vigilantly protect "the untouchable" from "v Ukraine"--which is perfectly logical according to all the existing rules of the Russian language.

  3. Anonymous -- actually in September the Science and Education Ministry issued a decree that came into force that made "kofe" both masculine and neuter.

    In any event, it is "kava." ;)

    BTW, Neeka. There is no "debate" about the use of "the Ukraine" in English. It is plain wrong.

  4. 'Kofe' has been both masculine and neuter for a very long time: I remember our Russian professor telling us about it all the way back in 1992.

  5. Так, дебату нема, але існує деяке протистояння між тими, хто робить цю помилку в англійській, і тими, хто через це обурюється.