UEFA Champions League is going to take place in Kyiv, Ukraine starting on May 26. Over 50,000 fans expected to come for UEFA 2018 finals in Kyiv. There are several ways to write the name of the Ukrainian capital: Kiev, Kyiv, Kiew, Kijów or who knows how many more variants exist. But what is the correct version? We tried to analyse it in this article.
The regulation of Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers of January 21, 2010 establishes the rules of transliteration of Ukrainian alphabet to Latin letters. So, let’s see. Ukrainian is a state language of Ukraine, as it is stated in the Constitution of the country (art. 10). That means that the names must be transliterated to Latin from Ukrainian language version. In Ukrainian, the capital’s name is Київ. Using the transliteration rules, it will be:
К k (Ukrainian) = K k (Latin)
И и = Y y
Ї ї = Yi (at the beginning of the word) and i – in other places.
В в = V v
So, based on the Ukrainian laws, the official and correct way to write the name of Ukraine’s capital is ‘Kyiv’.
The city's name is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of its four legendary founders.
Who knows about this and uses this variant? The White House of the United States seems to know that. US Board on Geographic Names has approved the spelling and UK Foreign Office is using it as well.
This is the variant proposed by the Wikipedia on its English page informing about the capital of Ukraine.
This way of writing is a result of transliteration from the Russian language. As you might already know, a lot of Ukrainians are speaking Russian language which is the result of Ukraine being under Russia’s rule for a long time. During this time, the Ukrainian language was banned numerous times and Ukrainian speakers were sometimes punished for using their native language. After the Holodomor of 1932-1933, when Russia killed by hunger (as suggests the name) from up to 10 million Ukrainians, it also conducted policy of moving Russians to the east of the country, Donbas region. So there is no surprise ‘Kiev’ name became so widely used.
A lot of well-known media agencies still use ‘Kiev’ in their articles, arguing that this is an English transliteration and has nothing to do with Russian one and stressing that no one will recognize ‘Kyiv’ and thus the audience will not come to the page. Just like Munchen is called Munich, Kyiv should be Kiev. The Business Insider though expressed hope that Kyiv still has a hope, giving as an example how the rude variant ‘the Ukraine’ was replaced with ‘Ukraine’ with time.
But let’s not forget that Germany is not at the moment invaded by Russia and is not going through the period of self-identification. Comparing these two countries and situations seem a little bit irrelevant. The war is happening in Ukraine and people are dying. And standing for your countries’ traditions and language could be important for uplifting the spirit of people fighting for peace and democracy in Ukraine.
And while the news agencies don’t want to lose money because of now uncommon ‘Kyiv’ and the logic of selling an article is understandable. At the same time, no matter what the logic is, for Ukrainian Kiev still sounds like Russian word.
Who is using this version? The Associated Press, Reuters, the BBC, The New York Times, and many others, all use the "Russian" spelling.
Such things are changed by the efforts of people. If ‘the Ukraine’ naming has gradually stopped being used when the country gained independence, this time, when Ukraine is going through the period of self-identification, ‘Kyiv’ should have its chances as well.
Kiew may refer to the German or archaic English variant spelling of Kiev.
Kijów is the Polish way of writing the name of Ukraine’s capital.