Comments on "UKRAINE" entry

in Webster's New World Encyclopedia.

Some time ago I was lucky enough to encounter an article on Ukraine in "Webster's New World Encyclopedia". Along with appreciating the fact of publishing of that article as well as the unbiased spirit of the exposition, I however can not stand a feeling of duty to comment on some factual mishandling, which, to my opinion, slipped in that entry. Although the ("college") edition I cite is somewhat outdated by now, I hope that my remarks, if considered, may contribute to certain improvements in future editions. I wish the Reader will take my remarks as such that come out from but the very best intentions to offer some minor help on the subject of representing the true picture of the country I inhabit, and to no extent as a case of criticism or grievance.

  1. The comments on the name "Little Russia" might be augmented to give it also the meaning of "maternal" or "concise".
  2. I cannot guess the grounds for the use of the definite article in the phrase "in the Ukraine there are distinct Ukrainian communities..." Its use may seem somewhat offensive.
  3. Please, pay attention that in fact there does not exist any "distinct community" such as "Verkhovyntsi" in any case not in the EAST of Ukraine. The word "Verkhovyntsi" derives from "Verkhovyna" which means Highlands (so "the people of Highlands") but there is no highland in the east of Ukraine! On the other hand, most of Hutsuls (this word is misspelled in the article) and some of Lemkies occupy the highland of the Karpathean Mountains, but even in the case that these two communities are for some unknown reason being distinguished out, they ought canonically be accompanied by the third one the Boykeis. The "community" of Verkhovyntsi would then comprehend the total of that part of the integrated above mentioned three, which inhabits the true highland area.
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        I also can not clearly understand the reason for distinguishing out such an ethnic geographic part of the West Ukraine as Volyn' (by means of referring to "Volynians"). It is true that in West Ukraine there exists a "canonical" division into three parts, as Volyn, Podillya, and "Galiciya" (Halychyna), but, first, "Galiciya" is not so much an ethnical region as rather the historically administrative region, and, secondly, there exist some more ethnographically distinct regions, as Polissya, Pokuttya, Opillya, Bukovyna, the Transkarpathean region, Besarabiya only in West Ukraine alone! So, there seems to be no good reason to emphasize on Volyn.
  5. Shcherbyts'kyj (not "Shcherbitsky"!) never "was ousted as CP leader". He died of rape age and of accompanying grave disease in quite a short time after his dismissal. His retirement just before his death was indeed caused by the state of his health and by  no means was it a result of rallies or any uprising.
  6. Anti-Gorbachov attempted coup in Moscow was (to my personal great sorrow) not "followed by a series of Rukh-led pro democracy rallies in L'viv". In fact the rallies in case (and the only ones) preceded the "March 1990 republic Supreme Soviet elections" and it was just owing to them that "the democratic block polled strongly in western areas".
  7. Ukrainian nation of course is "a member of the East Slavonic branch", but it is "related to Russian" not more closely than, say, to Polish. Russian nation originated from and developed under the decisive impact of the two races (the Finno-Ugric and the Ural-Altaic one), alien to the Indo-European one, whereas Ukranian nation belongs to the latter. On the counterpart, Ukrainians anthropologically tend more to the SouthEast of Europe, and even to the Middle East. Such race types as those of Pontus, as well as Dinaric, are characteristic. But also the Ukrainian type is related to the Iranian and on the other hand to Celtic culture. The latter by reason of the presence of long barrows, known as tumuli.
For the sake of the consistent approach the true Ukranian spelling of names should likely be much appreciated (see Merriam-Webster pronunciation symbols guide at I hope that these my minor remarks will help the future editions of the Encyclopedia run more closely to the adequate description of Ukraine and will provoke the Editors in Head to engage a still larger number of contributing specialists.

Roman Matsyuk.

15 Dudayev Str.
290005 L'viv



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