How Ukrainian is ‘A Short History of Tractors’?

I was reading Marina Lewycka’s ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ and noticed something very odd on page 11:

The Ukrainian flag is two oblongs of colour, blue over yellow — yellow for the cornfields, blue for the sky.

Cornfields – really? Certainly different than the Ukrainian teaching I’ve received at my elementary schools.  The Wikipedia entry on the Flag of Ukraine sets the record straight:

The color blue of the Ukrainian Flag represents the color of the sky, and yellow symbolizes the lush golden wheat fields of this country.

It’s not terribly difficult to imagine why:

And while it’s a good novel and has won all sorts of awards, Marina you’ll have to do a better job when you represent us!

5 thoughts on “How Ukrainian is ‘A Short History of Tractors’?”

  1. Possibly something that got lost in translation. In English English wheat has also traditionally been called corn (eg John Constable’s famous ‘Cornfield’ painting), but in American English corn only means maize – a different plant altogether.

  2. Although in the same paragraph she writes:

    “… and a hawthorn hedge dividing it from a wheat field which rolls onto other wheat fields…”

    If you do a search within the book you’ll find references to both corn and wheat fields, so I would lead towards the author’s intention of corn meaning maize.

  3. Hm, I don’t have the book in hands right now, but I will check how it was translated in brazilian portuguese too.

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