3.5 - Transliterating Ukrainian into English

On page 3.4 you read a simple text about the administrative structure of Ukraine. To put across the content accurately in English you not only have to understand the text, you also have to be able to transliterate the Ukrainian place names in an acceptable way into English.

In the past, for historical and political reasons, Ukrainian personal and place names were often not transliterated into western languages directly from Ukrainian, but through the languages of those nations who happened to be in power in various parts of Ukraine at various periods in its history. As a result, many people do not know the Ukrainian versions of particular personal and place names (and, in some cases, aren't even aware that these versions exist!).

Slavonic scholars will know that transliterating Cyrillic into Roman script is a difficult process. Over time, various systems have been created, mainly by libraries and standardisation organisations, to satisfy various requirements. Arguably the most user-friendly system for transliterating Ukrainian for the use of English speakers is the Official Ukrainian Transliteration System, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2010. It uses a logical system of equivalents for letters of the Ukrainian alphabet and allows for the omission of apostrophes and softening marks.

When noting down or summarising information contained in a Ukrainian text, you will also need to transliterate personal and place names into English. Practise doing this in Exercise 3.5A, using the Official Ukrainian Transliteration System. You may wish to print a copy of this for reference before starting the exercise.

You may also find it useful to be able to do the reverse, for example when using Ukrainian versions of Internet search engines such as Google. Practise this in Exercise 3.5B.

Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala