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Ukraines Take on Why East Is East

Published: February 5, 2014 (Issue # 1796)


: Eastern backwardness (derogatory)

I came across aninteresting exchange online incomments about aseries ofdramatic photos ofdemonstrations inKiev. Someone, presumably Russian, asked with admiration anda dose ofcondescension: - ? (And what do those valiant Ukrainians want?) Theanswer, presumably fromone ofthose valiant Ukrainians, was dry but tothe point: (We want tobreak with Eastern culture andthe Soviet mentality).

Well, that was thegist ofit, but required abit ofresearch.

Like all words ending inthe suffix /- that denote thecharacteristics ofa place, philosophy or people, is derogatory. So you know right away that it means all thebad stuff connected with Asia. But what bad stuff andwhere inAsia?

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One dictionary defines neutrally: , , (the way ofthings, theway oflife andbehavior characteristic ofAsians). But theother dictionaries I consulted are far fromneutral anddefine it as , , (lack ofculture, cultural backwardness, crudeness). Andone dictionary fromthe turn ofthe 20th century was extremely clear: , .. ; (the opposite ofEuropean customs that is, crude; theabsence ofcivilization). Yikes. Makes you appreciate (political correctness).

But I still did not know what part ofAsia was meant or, more important, what connotes toaverage folks today. So I started asking around. Formost people, refers tothe Eastern parts ofthe former Russian Empire andSoviet Union theCaucasus andCentral Asia plus theEastern cultures surrounding it tothe south andwest: Turkey andthe Middle East. Everyone excludes theFar East (China, Korea, Japan) andSoutheast Asia (India, Nepal). Some people exclude Georgia or Armenia, presumably because they are Christian.

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Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.