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The Political Correctness of Kiev vs. Kyiv

Ukraine and its grammar police insist that the name be spelled as Kyiv - in accordance with the Ukrainian spelling even though most Kievites speak Russian

This article originally apeared at Strategic Culture Foundation

The corporate media in the West has imposed another rule on journalists that is straight out of George Orwell’s 1984 Newspeak dictionary. Place names in Ukraine that have been used by journalists, historians, novelists, and others for decades are now to be spelled according to the diktats of the Ukrainian government, its diaspora activists and lobbyists around the globe, and a class of non-governmental organization employees who are well-paid to police the Internet for «violators». Among the place names in question are the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and the western Ukrainian city of Lvov. The Ukrainians and their NGO grammar police insist that the names be spelled as «Kyiv» and «Lviv», respectively. It is inevitable that these agents of political correctness will soon descend upon restaurants around the world, as well as commercial food producers, to demand that «Chicken Kiev» be changed to «Chicken Kyiv» on menus and food packaging.

<figcaption>Kiev has been and presumably always will be the correct English spelling for the Ukrainian capital. </figcaption>
Kiev has been and presumably always will be the correct English spelling for the Ukrainian capital.

Kiev has been and presumably always will be the correct English spelling for the Ukrainian capital. Pol Pot’s dictatorship in Cambodia may have insisted on calling the country «Kampuchea,» but it continued to be referred to as «Cambodia» in most countries. The dictator of the Ivory Coast convinced many that his country was henceforth to be known as «Côte d’Ivoire», the French name of the country. Only diplomatic protocol aficionados went along with the name change. The identical name game also transpired with «Myanmar,» which the Burmese military junta insisted was the only permissible name for the country, not Burma, which the country had been known as for years. Burma was a name that attached itself to World War II’s «Burma Road» campaign and «Burma Hump» airlift operations and even inspired a shaving cream product called «Burma Shave».

Peking and Canton became Beijing and Guangzhou, respectively, merely because the Chinese romanized their alphabet. There was no nationalistic fervor to change place names otherwise there would be no Peking University today. The same applies to Korean, which also Romanized and thus, Pusan became Busan. However, there remains Pusan National University in South Korea. India may insist that Bombay is now Mumbai, but the Bombay Stock Exchange remains the name for the trading operation. Nor has Bombay Gin changed its name to «Mumbai Gin». Similarly, the Madras Stock Exchange and the Madras High Court just haven’t seemed to bother changing their names to «Chennai,» as the Indian government prefers to call Madras. And one of the darkest incidents in the history of British colonial rule in India remains known as the «Black Hole of Calcutta,» not Kolkata.

Macedonia was forced to join the United Nations under the artificial name of «FYROM», or Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia», because Greece objected to the use of Macedonia, claiming it put in jeopardy its sovereignty over northern border areas, which are also known as Macedonia. For the sake of brevity and clarity, most journalists and writers refer to the country simply as Macedonia.

Ukrainian insistence on the use of Kyiv and Lviv, instead of Kiev and Lvov, is reminiscent of the «grammar fascists» of another country, Israel. There, successive Binyamin Netanyahu-led governments have insisted that place names no longer be known by their English or Arabic names but by straight transliterations of their Hebrew names. Therefore, Jerusalem is no longer Jerusalem, as Christians have known it for over two thousand years, but «Yerushalayim». And no longer will signs and other documents in Arabic use the name «Al Quds» for the city but only the Arabic text for Yerushalayim, which is pronounced in Arabic as «Urshalim,» an entirely artificial name. Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus, will be known only as «Natzrat» and not Nazareth or the Arabic name «Al Nasra». And Jaffa, the ancient Arab town that is famous for its Jaffa oranges, will, the Israelis insist be known only as Yafo. The Netanyahu regime insists that these changes are intended to drive home the point that Israel is a Jewish state and has no regard for its religious or ethnic minorities.

Some in South Africa seek to officially change the name of the city of Pretoria to «Tshwane», even though the people who live there still call it Pretoria. Tshwane is only the name for the greater metropolitan area in which Pretoria is situated. Even more ridiculous is a proposal to change the name of Cape Town to the Bantu Khoisan name of «||Hui !Gaeb», which no one but the Khoisan can pronounce correctly with the strange «click» sound phonetic symbols.

The geographical and historical revisionists of the George Soros global construct of interfering NGOs are at the forefront of the place name change frenzy, especially in Ukraine. They insist that the Donbas city of Lugansk (the Russian spelling and pronunciation preferred by the majority of the city’s Russian speakers) is Luhansk, the Ukrainian spelling. These «human rights» and «civil society» activists monitor the media for any grammar transgressions.

The «open society» name changers of the Soros world should probably be careful about what they wish for. If aggrieved peoples were to push for what they consider to be legitimate name changes, the maps of the world would become unrecognizable to many. The Chamorro people of the U.S. colony of Guam, who resent the fact that their island has been turned into a virtual American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific, already have succeeded in having their capital of Agana changed to Hagatna. The next step is to change «Guam» back to the original name of «Guahan». Similarly, the original people of the French south Pacific colony of French Polynesia want their country to be known as «Maohi Nui» and for the native people of New Caledonia, the name is Kanaky. 

The people of the Chilean colony of Easter Island insist their island is called «Rapa Nui» and not the name that a Dutch explorer conferred on the island when he «discovered» it in 1722. The people of the Samoan islands see nothing «American» about Eastern Samoa, which is known officially as «American Samoa». In fact, the people of so-called «American Samoa», while U.S. «nationals» are not U.S. citizens. In fact, they are merely American colonial subjects. And British Prince Harry may have thought he visited New Zealand’s Stewart Island, but to the native Maoris it is Rakiura.

The Maoris of New Zealand refer to their country as Aotearoa and they have convinced the government to also use the name on official publications and documents. However, if the purists who dictate policy on the use of geographic names were to be consistent, Aotearoa should be the only name used by the United Nations and the U.S. National Security Agency’s FIVE EYES intelligence alliance documents should use the security caveat of «Releasable to Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Aotearoa». In fact, the security stamps should not only refer to Aotearoa but also Kammerra, the most-generally used Aboriginal word for «Australia,» and «Kanata,» the original Mohawk, Iroquois, and Oneida First Nations spelling of their homeland, now known as «Canada». Eventual Scottish independence may see more English-to-Gaelic name changes such as that which has already seen the Outer Hebrides become Na h-Eileanan Siar.

And lest the geographic name changing propagandists get carried away, they should know that to remain pure, President Barack Obama lives on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in what was once known as the small post-colonial hamlet of Port Royal. Much of the District of Columbia could revert to that name again.

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