"the" before country name

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 11 23:26:25 UTC 2008

On Sun, May 11, 2008 at 5:08 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> True. But it was no English speaker who chose to call the nation "La
> Ukraine" and the name continues to mean "along/around/beside/up
> against [the] border," etymologically, whether English "the" precedes
> that name or not. As long as "Ukraine" is the name of the country, any
> discussion as to whether English-speakers, by prefixing, as it were,
> "the," are somehow hurting the feelings of, or somehow insulting," a
> region that otherwise wishes to continue to be known etymologically
> as, roughly, "Border Country," just not as "*The* Border Country,"
> seems unenlightening.kraine is "the borderland" only in relation to that
> country and their interwoven histories.

But we *don't* call them "La Ukraine". Who does? In French it's
"l'Ukraine". And more to the point, the Romance languages use the
definite article with *every* country name, so they are, so to speak,
out of discussion here. I see no way of resolving the issue without
asking some Ukrainians.

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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