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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.

Also by this author: Why Louis Vuitton Gets the Last Laugh

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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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