I read with interest your Newsletter, but am puzzled by your choice of transliteration of Ukrainian names via the Russian variant.
As you know, Russian does not have the letter H in its alphabet.
During J.Stalin's reign, the letter H was dismissed from use in Ukrainian, and apparently the Russian transliteration into English, implemented for all languages in the Soviet Union.
Ukraine is now an independent country and there is no need to continue the Stalinist practice of transliteration from Ukrainian to English via Russian.
I am certain that the Minister of Justice Serhiy Holovaty spells his name and uses the transliteration form Ukrainian directly to English.
In your November 9,2005 article about the meeting of the National Commission on Democracy in Ukraine you have russified the names of most of the individuals. Should you not show more respect for both the English and Ukrainian languages and correctly spell:
Hopefully, when you have the opportunity to write about north American place names, etc. you will correctly refer to Harvard University and not as some Russian sources Garvard University, Hollywood Ca. and not Gollywood CA, Hamilton ON and not Gamilton On, National Hockey League and not National Gockey League, etc.
Director, Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program
From the juridical point of view you are quite right. Ukraine is an independent state with the Ukrainian language as a state language. Our President and authorities officially speak Ukrainian, conduct meetings and declare statements in Ukrainian.
But there is another side of this issue.
First, I do not want to go deep in the history, but, in short, we were speaking Russian for a long period of time and Ukraine was treated as Russian speaking country. That is why all Ukrainian (in fact, Russian) personal names and Ukrainian geographical names are known in the world in Russian transliteration: Sergey, not Serhiy; Mikhail, not Mikhailo; Vladimir, not Volodimir; Kiev, not Kyiv; Kharkov, not Kharkiv; Lvov, not Lviv; etc.
Besides, I do not want to offend anybody, but we get complaints concerning transliteration of name from Canadian – Ukrainians only, but never from citizens of other countries. It is worth to mention that the USA, Britain, Germany, Switzerland and others also read our news. So “should we not show respect for” all readers?
Second, in your letter you wrote:
“During J.Stalin's reign, the letter H was dismissed from use in Ukrainian, and apparently the Russian transliteration into English, implemented for all languages in the Soviet Union.
Ukraine is now an independent country and there is no need to continue the Stalinist practice of transliteration from Ukrainian to English via Russian.”
Some comments to the extract. Despite the fact of declaration of Ukraine’s independence and declaration of the Ukrainian language as a state one, Ukrainian did not come into every family. Small percent of Ukrainian citizens speak correct Ukrainian and correct Russia. The majority speak the so-called “surgic” – blend of Russian and Ukrainian word, in which Russian words prevail. The majority of ForUm’s readers are Russian speaking audience (see the rating of Ukrainian and Russian pages of our site). Consequently, Russian page contains more news and analytical materials. So, we do not translate from Ukrainian to English via Russian, we translate from Russian to English.
Third, I did not understand your examples.
“National Hockey League and not National Gockey League” – word “hockey” is not a personal name.
“Harvard University and not as some Russian sources Garvard University , Hollywood Ca. and not Gollywood CA ” – we are arguing about transliteration of originally Ukrainian names, but not about transliteration of English names into the English language.
Спасибо за Вашу активность, Ваш вопрос будет рассмотрен модераторами в ближайшее время