The "the" is gone

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - The "the" is gone. As of December 3, the Associated Press changed its style, alerting its editors, reporters and all who use the news service to the fact that the name of the Ukrainian republic would henceforth be written as simply "Ukraine."

The AP wrote: "As a result of the passage of the independence referendum in Ukraine and moves toward international recognition of Ukraine as an independent country, The Associated Press will henceforth use 'Ukraine' instead of 'USSR' in datelines from Ukraine.

"The AP will also drop the article 'the' that has preceded the word "Ukraine." This is in line with the English-language usage preferred by Ukraine's government.

That same day, The New York Times for the first time carried a dateline of "Kiev, Ukraine," in its news stories and used the name "Ukraine" without the preceding definite article.

A brief, three-paragraph sidebar headlined "Terminology of Nationalism'' noted the dropping of the article in references to Ukraine made in the official White House statement on Ukraine's referendum results read by spokesman Marlin Fitzwater to the press.

The item cited Adrian Karmazyn of the Ukrainian National Association's Washington Office who explained: "Ukrainian Americans prefer it (Ukraine) without the 'the.' "

"The article is used for regions like 'the Appalachians' or 'the Crimea,' " Mr. Karmazyn explained to the Times.

The change in The New York Times' style was foreshadowed by several articles. As early as November 18, columnist William Safire had written a commentary ("Ukraine Marches Out") datelined "Kiev, Ukraine," and had dispensed with the "the."

On November 29, Leon V. Sigal, in an "Editorial Notebook" item written from Kiev ("Plain Ukraine") observed that, "People here prefer to call it by its plain name, Ukraine, dropping the traditional article..."

The next day, a Times editorial ("Chicken Kiev, the Sequel") also dropped the definite article.

Curiously, however, in the December 2 edition of the newspaper, which reported the results of the December 1 referendum in Ukraine, The New York Times still used a dateline of "Kiev, USSR," and referred to "the Ukraine."

Meanwhile at The Christian Science Monitor, based in Boston, the dateline "Kiev, Ukraine," had appeared as early as November 8. However, reference was still made to "the Ukraine." The same was true in a front-page news story carried on December 3.

The Daily News (of New York) on Friday, November 29, published an editorial urging recognition of Ukraine - no "the."

And, at The Wall Street Journal a November 29 op-ed commentary referred to simply "Ukraine," while a news story in the same edition reported on "the Ukraine." The dateline of "Kiev, Ukraine," appeared in the Journal as early as November 20, in a commentary by the deputy editorial page editor, David Brooks. Mr. Brooks, incidentally, chose to refer to Ukraine without the "the."

The Washington Post, until December 3 clung to "the Ukraine" and "Kiev, USSR," and then switched dalelines with "Kiev, Ukraine," but still used "the Ukraine."

The Philadelphia Inquirer had made inquiries about use of the definitive article way back in September, calling The Ukrainian Weekly, among others, for input and advice. On November 20, The Weekly received a letter from editorial writer Russell Cooks who noted: "The Philadelphia Inquirer had joined the short (but growing) list of mainstream U.S. publications to take the "the" out of Ukraine. Your advice to me a couple of months ago helped make this possible."

Appended was a November 15 memo from the newspaper's Style Committee which instructed the following: "Ukraine: Do not use the definite article with the noun. The Ukraine becomes Ukraine."

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, December 8, 1991, No. 49, Vol. LIX

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