Mircea C. MARIN, PhD*
Abstract. Our essay considers the function of countries names within the process of nation-states building. While starting from a contemporary debate concerning the use with or without definite article of the name of (the) Ukraine we hypothesize that the etymology of a country’s name is relevant for the success of its entire national narrative both in the eyes of others and the people it addresses. Thus, we postulate that the name of a country is the core of any national narrative – everything that the national narrative says about the nation, the people which are supposed to form the nation, the state of the nation, the territory of the nation, its foes and its friends in the international community. We conclude that, while foreign policy decision are based on cold and hard arguments, being rather insensitive to aspects like the names of countries, human groups are, the study of the etymology of a country name being able to deepen the understanding of facts.
Keywords: Ukraine, Russia, Cossacks, national identity, etymology