Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Степиньш Ольга
Euro 2012 got underway today in Poland and Ukraine.Yes, that’s “Ukraine” not “the Ukraine.”
So why does everyone always add the “the?”
Oksana Kyzyma of the Embassy of Ukraine in London told the BBC that it’s still a remnant of Soviet Russia, when Ukraine was called “the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.”
After the country gained independence, it called itself simply “Ukraine” in its constitution. So the “the” actually has a great deal of symbolic meaning from a geopolitical point of view.
Linguistically, putting the “the” before countries is a shorthand for the long, convoluted names of those countries.
For example, we say “the Netherlands” instead of “the Kingdom of the Netherlands,” and “the Bahamas” and “the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”
But Ukraine is just “Ukraine.”
So if you want anyone to take you seriously when you’re at the pub watching the Euros, don’t say “the.”
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