Kyiv vs. Kiev, Ukraine vs. the Ukraine, Katya vs. Kaitlin
Is it Kyiv or is it Kiev?
OK, maybe it's not that straightforward.
So using Kyiv separates Ukraine from Russia, though some say Kiev isn't necessarily only Russian, but rather it's also the English/international spelling.
The Ukrainian government uses Kyiv, as does the Canadian government, but outlets like The Associated Press use Kiev.
In other words, it's a bit confusing. But I write and say Kyiv, because from the people I've talked to, that's the spelling Ukrainians are pushing toward.
Throughout Ukraine, people speak both Ukrainian and Russian, which is especially evident here in Kyiv. We'll be at a restaurant and someone will order in Ukrainian, and the server will reply in Russian.
At dance practice with the Virsky studio group, who we're training with now, the instructors generally speak Russian. Most of the dancers do too, though some of them have been trying to speak more Ukrainian, especially around us since we're (slowly) learning the language.
Last week, a couple of the other Canadian dancers were talking to the Virsky dancers about the use of Russian versus Ukrainian language in Ukraine. One of them said she does think even at dance class they should be speaking more Ukrainian, the official language of the country, because the shift starts with them.
Where did "the Ukraine" even come from?
It's cringeworthy. It's infuriating. It's wrong.
It's Ukraine. That's it, that's all.
Using "the Ukraine" dates back to the Soviet Union, when Ukraine was called the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. "Ukraine" translates to "borderlands," and some people called it "the borderlands," so that's also where the "the" could have snuck in. But since 1991, Ukraine has gone by just the one word and the one word only.
Ukraine is its own country, and dropping the "the" signifies its independence.
There are two Kaitl(i/y)ns on this trip. Rather than one of us going by Kait, Katie, or Kaitlin, we chose new names — Ukrainian names.
So now I'm Katya (Катя) and she's Katrusia (Катрусія). And it works out. Katrusia said her dad often calls her that anyway, and I've always loved the name Katya.
Also, Kaitlin means pure, as does Katya. Kaitlin's Name Day is November 25, and so is Katya's. It's meant to be.