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Kyiv in Ukrainian or Kiev in Russian, what to write?

Kyiv in Ukrainian or Kiev in Russian, what to write?

Kyiv in Ukrainian or Kiev in Russian, what to write?

Two battlegrounds. As the battle for Kiev seems to be looming, another battle is being played out on social media. Since the beginning of the invasion of their country by the Russian army, many Ukrainians have been demanding that the Ukrainian transcription and pronunciation Kyiv, and not Russian, Kiev, be used to name their capital. The movement is declined via the hashtag KyivNotKiev. What a reader noticed 20 Minuteswhich actually asks us:

“Why do you write Kiev in your articles and not Kyiv? Jean-Michel M.

In reality, “this hashtag is not new, indicates Iryna Dmytrychyn, head of Ukrainian studies at Inalco (National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations). But obviously, it currently has a particular symbolism. » #KyivNotKiev is part of a larger campaign, CorrectUA, launched in October 2018 by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Its aim was then to incite English-language media and organizations to favor Ukrainian to designate the capital, as well as other cities (Kharkiv and Odesa instead of Kharkov and Odessa, Lviv instead of Lvov).

“Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire for three hundred years, then of the Soviet Union,” recalls Iryna Dmytrychyn. So the world perceived the country through this Russian lens. And Kyiv was known by its Russian name, Kiev. When Ukraine gained independence [en août 1991], Ukrainian became the sole state language. In 1995, the Kyiv transliteration was officially adopted by the government, then registered by the United Nations in 2012, informs RTBF. Two years later, “Ukraine officially asked international foreign ministers to adopt the name of Kyiv, especially in airports”, reports The world.

“Ukrainian to distance the Soviet past”

If Ukrainians are so insistent that the international community use Ukrainian words, it is “to fix this change and distance the Soviet past and the Russification of the language”, insists the teacher. This can “be compared to a process of decolonization. We saw this in the 20th century, for example for Ceylon, which became independent [en février 1948] Sri Lanka. When the people emancipate, it symbolically marks the break with the colonial past and the name given by the old masters. These ancient names remain historical realities, but cease to be a geographical reality. “For Ukraine, continues Iryna Dmytrychyn, we can consider, all things considered, that what is happening with this hashtag is part of this same process of emancipation. Ukrainians establish their own marker of identity. »

Do not speak the language of the aggressor

In 2014, the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass had already given this movement particular impetus, “because it is with the instrumentalization of the Russian language, the need to protect the rights of the Russian-speaking population, that Vladimir Putin began his aggression, notes Iryna Dmytrychy. In Ukraine, there was a certain rejection of the Russian language and the will to say: I do not want to speak the language of the one who attacked us. And today, when Vladimir Putin’s troops are at the gates of the Ukrainian capital, we understand that this hashtag is so important in a country where more than 60% of the population speaks mainly Ukrainian, 30%, the Russian. “If the Ukrainians are tense on this subject, it is because we need the solidarity and support of the international community, which requires respect for our wish that our capital be called Kyiv, insists the teacher. When you hear French people pronouncing the names of Ukrainian cities the Russian way, we perceive Russian domination. »

Euronews, The Guardianthe BBC, The New York Times… Many international and Anglo-Saxon media have chosen the name Kyiv to the detriment of Kiev. As they already have the habit of talking about Mumbai for the Indian city that we French people call Bombay. Another often-cited example: Beijing/Beijing. In France, how do we position ourselves?

“There is more resistance on the French side,” said Iryna Dmytrychy. I interpret it by their strong attachment to the French language, whose influence has been quite attacked for years by English, it must be recognized, and by the role of the French Academy, which dubs any lexicographical change. »

On our site, at the top of the section, there are two spellings, Russian and Ukrainian, for the Ukrainian capital.
On our site, at the top of the section, there are two spellings, Russian and Ukrainian, for the Ukrainian capital. – Screenshot

Mardi, Release announced opting for the Ukrainian name. A choice that was not made without reflection, the daily finally concluding that “the logic of typography and readability can bow to another, even more imperative, which is political logic”. In a dispatch, AFP recalled having decided at the beginning of the year to write Kyiv in English, in the image of the standards of the international media and the UN, maintaining Kyiv in French, transcription then majority in the media and in force at the United Nations.

The same evening, in an article entitled “Kiev or Kyiv? The dilemma of the French media, The world stated that “the question [était] currently under discussion within [sa] writing “. This is also the case at 20 Minutes. “We are thinking about the subject, in all its aspects,” says Anne Kerloc’h, editor-in-chief. We obviously take into account the strong symbolism, but also the uses and practices of readers. To date, the name Kyiv is added in brackets next to Kiev in the dedicated section, Ukrainian spellings are adopted for Lviv and Kharkiv.

Another question ? It’s here that it happens :

Source: 20minutes

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