December 6, 2019

New York Times adopts “Kyiv” spelling


The “Morning Briefing” newsletter e-mailed by The New York Times on November 22 reported: “This week, The Times adopted a new spelling for Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, the Romanization of the Ukrainian Київ. The previous version, Kiev, is a transliteration from the Russian: Киев.”

The newspaper went on to say:

“The Times is rarely an early adopter in altering place names, waiting until there is a sense that most readers would be familiar with the new word. For instance, the paper quit using Bombay only in 2004, almost a decade after the Indian authorities officially recognized the city as Mumbai.

“Craig Whitney, a former foreign correspondent who went on to become our standards editor, recalled that airline flight information had been listed as Mumbai for years. ‘Clearly,’ he said, ‘we waited long enough to see if it was sticking.’

“Most Americans were introduced to Ukraine’s capital during the Soviet era, so they’ve seen ‘Kiev’ for decades. But the U.S. Board on Geographic Names switched to Kyiv in June, and U.S. diplomats have been widely heard in the impeachment hearings in Washington using the Ukrainian pronunciation (or at least coming close with ‘Keev’).”