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When in Ukraine, Never Say 'The Ukraine'

Published: March 14, 2014 (Issue # 1801)


В Украине: In Ukraine

If you are having trouble understanding Russian-Ukrainian relations, take a look at Russian discussions about prepositions used with Украина (Ukraine). They will tell you everything you need to know.

Also by this author: Lawmakers Need to Brush Up on Their Russian

In case you forgot, in Russian на (on, at, in, to) is used with islands, mountains, and areas without fixed borders, like на Руси/на Русь (in or to Rus). В (in, to) is used with countries, like в России/в Россию (in or to Russia). This is a bit similar to distinction in English between "in the Ukraine," which sounds like a territory, and "in Ukraine," which sounds like a country. Before the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., the norm for most Russian speakers was на Украине. But when Ukraine became a country, the leaders requested that the Russian grammatical norm for countries be applied: в Украине. People have been arguing about it ever since.

Here is a breakdown of the main arguments.

The "tradition says" argument: мы, носители языка, привыкли так говорить (we native speakers are used to saying it this way). This would be a good argument if it were true. Over the centuries both на and в have been used. В Украине has been used by such political and cultural leaders as Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov and Peter the Great.

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The "authority says" argument: Справочное бюро gramota.ru предпочитает консервативную норму — "на Украине" (The Inquiry Bureau of gramota.ru prefers the conservative norm of "in the Ukraine"). The problem with this argument is that the most recent edition of the Rozental grammar book supports "в Украине" and the Academy of Sciences says "есть две традиции" (there are two traditions).

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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