“Ukraine vs. The Ukraine,” by Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, 30 November 2006, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/10/28/ukraine-belongs-in-europe.html.
The name of a certain European country is in the news:
A Seventh Circuit opinion remarks on what to call the country (which happens to be where I was born, though it wasn’t an independent country back then):
There continues to be confusion over whether to use the article â€œtheâ€ in connection with â€œUkraine.â€ In the briefs, Gutnikâ€™s counsel uses â€œthe Ukraine,â€ while the government uses â€œUkraine.â€ Likewise, at joint remarks in January 2005, Vice President Cheney used â€œthe Ukraine,â€ while President Yushchenko, the elected leader of the country, used â€œUkraine.â€ See Press Release, Office of the Vice President, Vice Presidentâ€™s Remarks with Ukrainian President Yushchenko (Jan. 26, 2005) (Villa Decius, Krakow, Poland). We will use Ukraine, which is not only correct but is also preferred by Ukrainians themselves, see Associated Press, Terminology of Nationalism, N.Y. Times, Dec. 3, 1991, at A10, and is the grammatically consistent choice, see Andrew Gregorovich, Ukraine or â€œThe Ukraineâ€?, FORUM Ukrainian Review No. 90, Spring/Summer 1994.
I say “The Ukraine,” because that’s how I learned it; I take it Cheney learned it this way, too. Interestingly, though Russian doesn’t have articles such as “the,” there’s a similar controversy there â€” for most areas, you’d say something is in the area (“v Pol’she, v Angl’ii,” “v” meaning “in”), but for the Ukraine, you’d say something is on it (“na Ukrain’e,” “na” meaning “on”), or at least that’s how you said it when I was growing up during the Soviet era. Nor was it just a country vs. area-in-a-country distinction; you’d say “v Litv’e,” or “v B’elorussii,” but “na Ukrain’e”).
Catholicgauze, meanwhile, is standing against the tide of linguistic history.