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Kyiv or Kiev? Why the spellings of Ukrainian cities matter

Kyiv or Kiev? Why the spellings of Ukrainian cities matter


Kyiv or Kiev? Why the spellings of Ukrainian cities matter

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked questions over why Ukrainian cities have historically been transliterated after their Russian versions.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the world to use the Ukrainian spellings of Ukraine’s cities.
  • Tensions between Russia and Ukraine over language goes back centuries.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn into question the spellings and why they matter.

In March, Ukraine asked the world to practice its spelling.

“High time to finally discard the outdated Soviet spelling of our cities and adopt the correct Ukrainian form,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a tweet, adding the hashtag #KyivNotKiev.

As the war between Russia and Ukraine rages in its second month, a leader’s focus on spelling might seem trivial. But Ukrainian language experts said the distinctions between Russian and Ukrainian spellings and pronunciations, particularly of cities, are vital to recognizing the two countries as separate. 

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