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Welsh Government tells translators to remove ‘derogatory’ ‘the’ from Ukraine

28 Feb 2022 2 minute read
Ukraine on a map

The Welsh Government has updated its guidance to translators to tell them to remove the “derogatory” ‘the’ from Ukraine.

The page of its searchable database of terms used by Welsh Government translators in their everyday work has been updated today to tell staff and freelancers working for the government to make the change.

That means removing the definite article ‘the’ in English and the fannod ‘yr’ in Welsh, it says.

“Note that the Welsh Government Translation Service advises against using the definite article in front of the name for Ukraine, in English and in Welsh,” the website now says.

“Ukrainians generally consider doing so to be derogatory, in any language.”

In Welsh the advice notes that using ‘yr’ could “undermine their right to be a sovereign nation”.

The use of the definite article is thought to have arisen because ‘ukraina’ originally meant ‘borderland’ and so would be translated as ‘the borderlands’. Following independence in 1991 however, the Ukrainian government explicitly requested that they would be referred to as Ukraine without the ‘the’.

There has also been a campaign to use Kyiv rather than Kiev (the capital’s Russian name) in English and Welsh, with has gained further traction as a result of the Russian invasion on Thursday.


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Rhosddu
Rhosddu
5 months ago

That was a pretty unforgivable error in both languages – the country’s been known as Ukraine since independence. As for their capital: Kyiv it is for me from now on, then.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rhosddu
John Brooks
John Brooks
5 months ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

And Moskva, Praha, Munchen, ‘Paree’, Osterreich, Deutschland etc etc?

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
5 months ago
Reply to  John Brooks

It’s called solidarity.

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
5 months ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

It’s called respect.

(Freelance CYM < > ENG translator, here)

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

It’s not. Disrespecting the rules of the Welsh language also denies Ukraine’s status as a country.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Countries beginning with a vowel take the definite article yn Welsh. To impose the English rule on Welsh is to deny that Ukraine is a country.

Nigel Callaghan
Nigel Callaghan
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

No they don’t, it’s not a rule. Some do, some don’t. Nothing to do with vowels. Yr Almaen, Yr Eidal Y Ffindir But Iemen, Awstralia, Wganda/Iwganda, Wsbecistan

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
5 months ago

Ariannin.

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
5 months ago
Reply to  John Brooks

When Ukraine’s capital city is being bombed by the Russians I can understand why they might want it to be referred by its Ukrainian name rather than its Russian one.

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
5 months ago
Reply to  John Brooks

And Caerdydd and Cymru.

You’ve got the idea.

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
5 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

No, he’s missed the point. The definite article creates a specific adverse insinuation in this particular case. I’ve never heard German or Italian complaints about “Yr Almaen” & “Yr Eidal”, so perhaps those examples don’t insinuate anything, but if they did, then it would be good manners to change them too. Otherwise, language differences in place names are harmless fun. It doesn’t worry me in the slightest that the people of Lloegr lump us with Wallachia, Cornwall and Wallonia as the presumed heirs of the Volcae in what’s now Schweitzerische (or should that be /Svizra/Svizzera/Suisse?). And, with the Cimbri having… Read more »

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Hannergylch

The definite article precedes the names of countries (except Ireland) whose Welsh names begin with a vowel. *Nothing* derogatory about ‘Yr Wcráin’.

Nigel Callaghan
Nigel Callaghan
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

As I said earlier, no they don’t. Eg Awstralia, Iemen. Full list at https://cy.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwledydd_y_byd

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
5 months ago
Reply to  John Brooks

Feel free to go ahead, if that’s what you want to do.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rhosddu
Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

Ddim yn Gymraeg. Yr Wcráin, fel yr Alban a’r Almaen, ayyb., yn dechrau â llafariad.

Nigel Callaghan
Nigel Callaghan
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Ond does dim fannod ar Awstralia, Iemen, Estonia neu Ecwador, a llawer mwy.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

You’re right, it’s in the same category as Yr Alban and Yr Almaen. My mistake.
My response to John Brooks was meant as sarcasm. Dw i ddim yn mynd i ddechrau dweud “Moskva”, a.a.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
5 months ago

Da iawn

Stub
5 months ago

Returning after many years away, I see Barri is gradually supplanting Y Barri. Is the lattet derogatory or just unused?

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
5 months ago
Reply to  Stub

Probably based on the English.

cf. (Y) Bala and (Y) Rhyl.

Definite article required in Welsh but not in English. (Although the latter actually retains part of it as in fact it’s ‘yr’ (Cym.) + ‘hill’ (Eng.) – that’s one theory, anyway.)

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

Exactly. Disrespecting the Welsh language doesn’t help Ukraine.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago

Dim byd yn ddifrïol yn y Gymraeg. Daw’r fannod o flaen enwau gwledydd sy’n dechrau â llafariaid yr Alban, yr Almaen, ayyb.

Nigel Callaghan
Nigel Callaghan
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Dim ond RHAI enwau sy’n dechrau gyda llafariad. A rhai sy’n dechrau gyda cytsain ee y Swistir, y Ffindir

Martin Owen
Martin Owen
5 months ago

The Government of Ukraine have had no problems in passing discriminating legislation against citizens (30% +) whose mother tongue is not Ukrainian (Hungarian, Russian, Yidish, Polish, Tatar, Romany, Romanian, Caucasian, and Gagauzg) This doesn’t invalidate my opposition to the Russian invasion.

Gaynor
Gaynor
5 months ago

Yet Welsh Gvt do SFA to protect Welsh names

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Gaynor

That’s the persistent irony of this lot down the Bay. Massive virtue signals when the problem is elsewhere but try getting them off their backsides when the issue arises within our own border. Last year we had a so called professional person in the capital howling about some street in Barry that was called Penrhyn something or other. That led to mass of hate speech simply because it never occurred to this clever persona that the word had a distinct Welsh meaning.

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
5 months ago

Please can the Welsh Government back off telling us how to use language. We shouldn’t let Drakeford follow Trudeau. Can’t people see the dangers of bending the knee to a Government regulating language? I’d be tempted to ban finger-wagging and pearl-clutching but I won’t. Otherwise what happens to freedom? When I speak English, I use well established English names eg Kiev as in Chicken Kiev and the Great Gate of Kiev. I do not use Russian or Ukrainian names. When I use Welsh I follow Welsh usage – see discussion below. I am irritated that the Chinese tell me how… Read more »

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