Bob Engemann brought to our attention an interesting tidbit about the use of the word Ukraine, a country that certainly has been in the news of late because of Russia’s land grab. In an email, he wasn’t fussing about this minor matter — just making us aware of the usage of a word.

The word is Ukraine. When it was a member of the former Soviet Union, the correct way to refer to that area was “the” Ukraine. With the demise of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became a country of its own. So the correct word is simply Ukraine. Drop the “the.”

Even President Obama in a number of speeches said “the” Ukraine. Other officials made the same mistake.

Bob also emailed a story in Time magazine about this matter. Time quoted an authority on this “serious” issue: “It is a country,” says William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. “The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times . . . Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine and it is incorrect to refer to ‘the’ Ukraine, even though a lot of people do.”

We don’t say or write “the” America, but we do say and write often “the” United States, which must be incorrect, according to the interpretation cited above.

To most people this is a nonissue and they aren’t excited about it. But we recognize we were wrong in writing “the” Ukraine. Why write about it? The answer is some people may find it as interesting as we did. Thanks, Bob.

Another Interesting Tidbit

You would think the Pew Research Center would have more important subjects to spend its time on, but, again, what they found out about Pope Francis probably is interesting to a number of people. He was one of the top newsmakers after his election to head the Catholic Church in March 2013. He really made news when in answer to a reporter’s question about gay priests, he said, “who am I to judge.” His comments also about poor people and the need to focus on them also was international news.

So there was renewed focus on the papacy.

Researchers used General Sentiment technology to measure the number of digital media references to Pope Francis and compared his coverage to a selection of other well-known global figures during the period of March 2013 to Jan. 31, 2014. In terms of media mentions, Pope Francis ranked just behind such international figures as President Obama, Nelson Mandela (who died in December 2013) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Pop Francis received nearly 50,000 media mentions during the period studied, according to Pew Research. That’s more than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian President Putin and other international figures received.

As far as comparing him with other internationally recognized religious leaders, Pope Francis was the leader in media mentions. He appears to be more of an attitude-changer than a dogma-changer.

What does all of this mean? Well, it’s probably interesting to some people and not a surprise to many others.