Well, we got through the first day of the impeachment hearings with no problem. I stayed very attentive during the opening statements and through the round of initial questioning by the more professional counsel of the two sides.
But once we got to the five minutes a piece for each member of the committee (the in search of a sound-bite portion of the program), my mind started to wander.
So when did Kiev become Kyiv, and get a one syllable pronunciation? Where did “keef” come from? Have I been so provincial all these years, not knowing the right way to say it? Were waiters (excuse me, servers) thinking I was a bumpkin when I ordered chicken Kiev?
And when did the Ukraine become just Ukraine? After all, if the definite article is good enough for THE United States and THE United Kingdom, why isn’t it good enough for Ukraine?
Well, come to find out, I’m just less than three decades behind the times. Which is par for me. It seems the use of “the” suggests a territory rather than a sovereign nation. Someone will need to explain that to Queen Elizabeth II. So, I stand corrected, as Ukraine has been independent since 1991. Someone else will need to explain that to Putin.
Seems the Kiev/Kyiv issue has Russian undertones. But then what doesn’t these days? Kiev is the Russian word, Kyiv is the Ukrainian. Excuse me, Kyiv is Ukrainian. (No unnecessary usage of that pesky article.)
Granted, I don’t recall many conversations about Ukraine or Kyiv over the years, but they are at the center of this impeachment. Do what you like, but I’m going to deadname Kiev and “the Ukraine” and then show absolute righteous indignation at anyone who has not been versed on these subtleties as a signal of my virtuous support of the Ukrainians. Excuse me, just plain Ukrainians.
In that vein, Xi Jinping needs to drop whatever he’s doing to let me know if it is offensive that we’re still ordering Peking duck instead of Beijing duck. The good people of New Orleans, beset as they are by blown football calls, should let us know officially how to pronounce their city’s name. A city so rich in diversity should be able to give us something at which to take offense, more than just side eyeing tourists we say “N’Awlins” or “New Or-leens.”
What about Missouri? Is it “rah” or “ree”? And St. Louis. Is it Jerry Lewis, or meet me in St. Louie, Louie? How about Louisiana? It was named after a different French Louis, so there’s some latitude there. Does it start with “Lose-ee” or “Loo-weez-ee”?
At least there’s some give and take with these two states. Mispronounce Nevada while you’re there—well, just don’t.
Only those with the most pronounced Texas twang pronounce Dallas as “Dal-lis” with a hard accent on the first syllable. It’s “Dal-lus,” and it rhymes with “phallus.” Which explains Reunion Tower.
All in all, I think my takeaways from day one of the impeachment hearings were at least more interesting than scoring any political points that were made. Besides, there’s more to come.
I was just about to say that I’ll be eagerly awaiting President Xi’s answer to my question about the duck when I found out that the bipartisan U. S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has recommended—among other things—that he be referred to as General Secretary Xi. “The commission made the decision to start referring to Xi Jinping using the title by which he derives his authority: General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. China is not a democracy, and its citizens have no right to vote, assemble or speak freely. Giving General Secretary Xi the unearned title of ‘President’ lends a veneer of democratic legitimacy to the CCP and Xi’s authoritarian rule.”
Well, how about that tai chi, Xi. But I’m still wondering why there isn’t a schwa symbol on my keyboard.