[lg policy] Ukraine's Euromaidan: What's in a name?

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 8 20:31:33 UTC 2014

 Ukraine's Euromaidan: What's in a name?
-- Dec. 2, 2013 4:48 AM EST

 Ukraine's Euromaidan: What's in a name?

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   - [image: APTOPIX Ukraine Protest]

   Ukrainian protesters gather to march to Independence square in downtown
   Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. Thousands are expected to march in
   Kiev streets towards the Independence Square despite the fact that Kiev
   district administrative court has banned any rallies on Independence
   Square. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
    - [image: Ukraine EU Protest]

   A demonstrator holds European Union flag during a protest in support of
   Ukraine's integration with the European Union in the center of of Kiev,
   Ukraine, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. The European Union extended its
   geopolitical reach eastward on Friday by sealing association agreements
   with Georgia and Moldova, but blamed Russia for missing out on a landmark
   deal with Ukraine. In center of the small flag in the foreground is a
   Crimean Tatar symbol on the EU flag. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
    - [image: Ukraine Protest]

   Demonstrators wave flags as they gather during a rally in downtown Kiev,
   Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased
   away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying
   a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of
   anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European
   Union. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

 MOSCOW (AP) -- Soon after the current wave of protests arose in Ukraine, a
new word appeared to describe them: Euromaidan. Already in wide use as a
hashtag on Twitter, it's an intriguing invention -- linguistically rooted in
both East and West, elusive to translate and an insightful glimpse into the
country's troubled politics. Who coined it isn't clear, and it's become so
popular that it seems almost to have sprung from the collective unconscious.


The first part, "Euro," is clear on the surface: Europe. "Maidan" is
obscure to Western ears -- it's a word of Persian origin, which likely
entered Ukraine via the Ottomans, meaning "square" or "open place."
However, translating it as "Europesquare" would be technically accurate but
emotionally impoverished because both elements mean much more.


Ukraine is part of Europe geographically, but for the demonstrators and
their supporters the concept of "Europe" has the resonance of a vision,
vivid and frustratingly out of reach. To them, Europe implies genuine
democracy, trustworthy police and sincere respect for human rights.


In this usage, it refers to Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the
central plaza of Kiev. Reconstructed after the devastation of World War II,
the approximately 8-acre square is a rare Stalin-era public space -- neither
bleak nor bullying, ringed by buildings tall enough to be impressive but
not intimidating. The square's agreeable nature echoes in how Kievans talk
of it on a sort of first-name basis: "Let's meet at Maidan."

But as with Europe, Maidan is as much an idea as a place. The square was
the focal point of the Orange Revolution, the 2004 mass daily protests that
forced the annulment of a fraudulent presidential election. In that role,
Maidan became a two-syllable encapsulation of peaceful resistance and
determined action. The symbolism is powerful enough that Ukrainian media
have taken to referring to all the current demonstrations as Euromaidan,
even if they take place on a "ploshcha," another word for square.


However thrilling the 2004 protests were, the hopes attending to the spirit
of Maidan were largely unrealized. The leaders who came to power after the
demonstrations plunged into years of bitter quarreling, so severe that the
government was frequently paralyzed. In 2010, disappointed Ukrainians chose
Viktor Yanukovych as their president, the very man who was the nominal
winner of the annulled election in 2004. The heroine of the Orange
Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, was thrown into prison after being convicted
of abusing her power while prime minister. In an ironic commentary,
Oleksandra Shevchenko of the topless activist group Femen produced a series
of videos incorporating social commentary and breast-flashing under the
rubric of PMS -- Post-Maidan Syndrome.

Euromaidan's ultimate meaning is yet to be fixed -- whether it will come to
mean achievement or failure.

via google.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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