How to pronounce and spell ‘Kyiv’, and why it matters

By | February 25, 2022

The Guardian reports:

Kiev or Kyiv?

As Russian forces menace the Ukrainian capital and thousands flee, the very least onlookers around the world can do is learn how to say the name of the city under siege.

The short answer is simple: Ukrainians call their capital “Kyiv” (kee-yiv), the spelling, a transliteration of the Ukrainian Київ. The Russian version is “Kiev” (kee-yev).

The latter, based on transliteration from the Russian cyrillic Киев, became the internationally accepted name through the Soviet period and into the first years of this century, its recognisability enhanced perhaps by the eponymous chicken dish that became popular in the west in the 1970s.

But it is now associated with the Russification of Ukraine, and in recent years more and more publications, governments, airports and geographical dictionaries have switched the spelling to the Ukrainian variant.

“When I meet someone new, I like to pronounce their name the way they want it pronounced in their language, which is why I think it’s right to pronounce it ‘Kyiv’ as close to the Ukrainian as possible,” said Andrii Smytsniuk, Ukrainian language teacher at Cambridge University. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email