Stefan M. Pugh and Ian Press. Ukrainian: A Comprehensive Grammar. Routledge Grammars. London and New York: Routledge, 1999. xv, 315 pp. Notes. Selected Bibliography and References. Index. $100.00, cloth. $40.00, paper.

For a long period of time instructors of Ukrainian in the West have been waiting for a Comprehensive Grammar of Ukrainian. It appeared only recently. Its authors claim it to be “a complete reference guide to modern Ukrainian grammar” (back cover of the book) as well as “the first reference grammar of Ukrainian published outside the [sic!] Ukraine, which will be a useful work of reference for many years” (back cover).
The content of this grammar is rather traditional: Introduction, 1) Sounds and spelling, 2) The noun, 3) The adjective, 4) The pronoun, 5) The numeral, 6) The verb, 7) The adverb and adverbial constructions, 8) The conjunction. Notes, Selected bibliography and references, Index are also included.
In Preface the authors explain some of their approaches which, from my point of view, are at least doubtful (which I will try to prove by analysis of specific examples from the textbook).
“We have made every effort to describe Ukrainian from a neutral standpoint, viz. by including some words or constructions that may be of Russian origin – if they are currently used by a reasonable number of people” (p. xiv, Preface) – state the authors. How can neutrality be measured by adding words of Russian origin? What is this “reasonable number of people”?
“The authors have consulted a great number of sources, in addition to a wide range of native speakers” (back cover). Many of the so called native speakers in Ukraine are not native speakers at all. Their first language was and continues to be Russian. Otherwise these native speakers (to whom the authors are indebted, probably, Marina Kharitonova, Olena Bekh, Serhij Moroz, p. xv, Preface) could have corrected abundantly used Russian forms in this book.
Presenting Ukrainіаn Grammatical Terms with their English counterparts the authors find the English equivalent to the Ukrainian form іменник as case (sic!), instead of the noun (p. 13). The Ukrainian forms of the English ‘hello’ – галло, галло (sic!,
p. 15), bye – бувайте па (sic!, p. 16) sound a little bit strange.
The handwritten letters of the Ukrainian alphabet are so small (pp. 18-19) that it would be difficult for a student to reproduce them.
Ukrainian grammars should be culturally loaded with Ukrainian realia (we instead find numerous Russian ones, like Нева(p. 30), Горький, Лук’янов(p. 31). Why not Лук’яненко, Лук’янчук? For the river Дніпро Russian-derived transliteration form Dniepr (pp. 53, 119, 158) is used, and even such strange one as Dniepro (p. 201, that is probably a combination of Russian Dniepr and Ukrainian Dnipro). For what reason? The authors encounter some difficulties with diminutives of personal names ending in –a/-я. Russian forms Вася, Жора,Женя of corresponding names Василь, Георгій, Євген (p. 54) are used instead of Ukrainian Василько,Євгенко. The other diminutive form Санько (p. 55) is also derived from Russian Саня. On p. 58 we find Natasha (Russian, instead of Ukrainian Natalia), Kiev (accepted Kyiv), Chernigov (instead of Chernihiv). There is no consistency in transliterating Ukrainian names: Ukrainian Pavlo is transliterated correctly on p. 105, but on p. 132 we find Russian-based transliteration Pavel. The reader/student would think that we are talking about two different names. Other examples of Russified names can be found on p. 104 – Льоня (should be Леонід, Стьопа (should be Степан, Степанко. Маша (pp. 244, 249) is not Ukrainian either (Марійка can be used), as well as for Russian Ваня (pp. 253, 256) Ukrainian Іванко can be used. For the typical and popular Russian form бабуля (p. 133) Ukrainian ones like бабуся, бабця, бабусенька, бабусечка could be used. The authors do not mention that the form мамуля (p. 133) is very rare, but other Ukrainian ones like мамуся, мамця, мамонька, мамочка could be used. Other examples of obvious Russian influence: p. 104 – вечером (instead of вечором, ввечері (увечері), p. 121 – разниця, p. 130 – таблетка, p. 206 – озарити, озаряти, p. 290 – не бажая, etc.
Another significant problem in this Comprehensive Grammar is an abundant and uncontrolled use of dubious and artificial words/terms not fixed in any dictionaries of Contemporary Ukrainian, like Словник української мови(1970-1980.11 томів. (Київ: Наукова думка) or then recent Великий тлумачний словник сучасної української мови, Уклад. і голов. ред. В.Т.Бусел (Київ: Ірпінь: ВТФ “Перун”, 2002). The word бочастий (with large sides, p. 32) opens this long list. On p. 50 we find паровидатність(evaporation), p. 135 – вітряга (вітрюга, вітруган, вітрисько could be used), безрода, безрух, p. 136 – змішка, здиханка, здих, p. 137 – заводіяка (заводій, заводійко could be used), p. 138 – недозір, недоношениця, недоріс, огорода, обіхідка, p. 139 – провірення, p. 142 – далековид, etc.
Many problems are encountered with stresses (accents), but the limitations of a book review prevent us from extensive quotations/citations.
The grammar presents dialectal, regional, diaspora, Russified, dated and artificially created forms without any delimitation or explanation. As a result the variants of Ukrainian presented are not longer spoken anywhere. The problem is that in too many cases the Ukrainian words might even be correct, but the sentence is not Ukrainian. Invisible syntactic rules are broken, the sense of Ukrainianness is obviously absent. I will quote only a couple of examples to illustrate my statement: i.e. Перед армією було тяжке діло, a clumsy Ukrainian sentence, which is difficult to understand without English translation ‘The army was faced with a difficult task (matter)’. On p. 167 we find Він сам тому винен ‘He himself is to blame for that’. On p. 185 there is another example: Цей дріт приносить телеграми хтозна з якої далини ‘This wire brings telegrams from heaven knows what distant places’. On p. 187 – Це ніяка штука ‘It’s no big deal, serious matter’.
The name Oleksa (Олекса) (pp. 101 [used twice], 239, 241, 247 [twice], 253, 291 [three times], 298) is used more in diaspora than in Ukraine.
Relying on Pickurel (1998: 242), the authors make the statement that “the use of surzhyk now tends to be decreasing” (p. 7). On the contrary, it is on the rise.
Too many rare or dialectal forms are used instead of standard or literary ones. Nothing is wrong with the general idea, but priority should be given to forms used frequently and currently in Ukraine. Among examples: p. 109 – very rare dialectal preposition замісто is used, but the contemporary замість is absent. Rare forms like крутар(p. 126), вішало(p. 130), dated розвідач (p. 126), dialectal намисел (p. 137), rare недоум, перегорода (p. 138), bookish передвік (p. 139), dialectal прослава (p. 140), rare весінній (pp. 146, 159, instead of the standard весняний) can be found in this grammar.
There seems to be no feeling of style, syntax. Abundant examples can be quoted: p. 257 – Ми користуємося життям ‘We enjoy life’. Why not Ми насолоджуємося життям(Ми отримуємо задоволення від життя)? Ми користуємося життям can actually be translated into English as ‘We are using life’. The authors stress the importance of the usage of correct Ukrainian prepositions, devoting even a separate section to this phenomenon, but then violate this suggestion themselves, through the abundant use of incorrect prepositions for specific situations: p. 123 – поза війною ‘after the war’ should be після війни, p. 154 – говориться за особливості should be говориться про особливості, p. 243 – дивитися на телебачення, на програму should be дивитися телебачення, програму, etc.
Misprints are becoming a trademark in Ukrainian language textbooks/materials and the authors of this grammar have incorporated many into this work as well: p. 117 – ходитч instead of correct ходити, p. 153 – Нью-йорку should be Нью-Йорку, p. 174 – ничого instead of the correct нічого, p. 257 – одниею instead of однією, p. 271 – польскою should be польською. Only in Selected Bibliography and References we find: p. 309 – Пісовою стежкою should be Лісовою стежкою; Маий помічник should be Малий помічник; англійский should be англійський;загальноосвітніх Шкіл should be загальноосвітніх шкіл; p. 310 – Грамматика should be грамматика (Russian, small letter, not a capital one should be used), довідник should be Довідник; Наукова Думка should be Наукова думка (There is no any necessity to capitalize the second word in Ukrainian), Kgiv should be Kyiv, Shkola should be shkola. Some other mistakes can be found on: p. 144 – народній should be народний, p. 162 – міжнародній should be міжнародний, p. 156 – підходячий should be підхожий, p. 159 – чілійський should be чилійський, etc.
I will direct the reader’s attention to some incorrect sentences: p. 154 – Сергій – це студент гірший за всіх ‘Serhij is the worst student’ (Why not to use Сергій – найгірший студент), p. 183 – Микола – це мій брат ‘Mykola’s my brother’ (Why not to use Микола – мій брат or if pointing on him Ось Микола – мій брат), p. 292 – Після того як увійти до хати, я розплакався ‘After entering the house, I burst into tears’ (The correct variant would be Увійшовши до хати, я розплакався or Після того як я увійшов до хати, розплакався. Explanations of grammatical nuances are compromised when the construction of the sentences that they are contained in are wrong: p. 238 – Не говорити було знею ‘It would have been better not to speak with her’ (The correct sentence would be Краще було не говорити з нею; Не було вам прочитати ‘You should not have read’ (The correct sentence would be Краще вам було не читати). Ukrainian syntax is constantly changing, but the authors often give examples of the 1940s (often émigré ones) as the examples of 1999! Why not to choose real modern examples? Quite often, as mentioned previously, the authors present examples containing a combination of dated Russian words or Russified words plus those from the diaspora and make it worse through the use of wrong word combinations and/or words.
And in conclusion, we hope that a better Ukrainian Grammar will finally be written in the new century.

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