Transliteration is obviously somewhat of a strange thing, but it is especially complicated in Ukraine, where roughly one-sixth of the population is ethnic Russian, speaking Russian, and another sixth are ethnic Ukrainian, but speak Russian too. It's become especially difficult recently, as many of the protesters within the capital are Ukrainian-speaking, taking towards the streets last November when President Viktor Yanukovych - a Russian-speaker from Ukraine's east - beaten down from E.U. membership toward a deal with Russia's Eurasian Union.
Given a medical history of Russian domination, both in the Soviet period and before, it's a given that language has become a big problem in the united states. One obvious illustration of this can be the Western practice of speaking about the country as "the Ukraine" as opposed to "Ukraine." You'll find myriad reasons that this is wrong and offensive, but maybe the most convincing is that the word Ukraine emanates from the previous Slavic word "Ukraina," which roughly meant "borderland." Many Ukrainians think that the "the" implies they are simply a a part of Russia - "little Russia," as they are sometimes described by their neighbors - instead of a real country. The Western habit of using "the Ukraine" to refer to the country - even by those sympathetic towards the protesters, like Senator John McCain- can be considered ignorant at the best.
On the surface, the Kiev/Kyiv debate seems similar, even though it is way less heated. The state language of the us is Ukrainian. The town, inside the predominantly Ukrainian-speaking west of the nation, had its name standardized to Kyiv in Roman letters by the Ukrainian government way back in 1995, just 4 years when they formally asked the planet to impress stop saying 'the Ukraine.' The world listened, with an extent - the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) approved the spelling 'Kyiv' in the year 2006 following a request by the Ukrainian government (and subsequent endorsement by the State Department).
It's not that simple, however. For instance, through the years there has been many different different spellings of the English names for that city; Wikipedia lists a minimum of nine. Back 1995, Andrew Gregorovich with the FORUM Ukrainian Review argued that as "Kiev" took it's origin from an old Ukrainian-language name for town, which Kyiv as well as other potential Roman transliterations - including Kyjiv and Kyyiv - were confusing for English speakers, Kiev was only fine. The BGN still allows Kiev to be utilized, arguing that 'Kyiv' is just a "an exception on the BGN-approved romanization system which is applied to Ukrainian geographic names in Ukrainian Cyrillic script."
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