Registering 170 000 words and word combinations, VTSSUM is recommended by Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science. Its compiler, project leader, and chief editor is V.T. Busel.
The compilers of the dictionary present first the literal meaning of a word, and, secondly, its figurative meaning, even if the latter is more widely used and acceptable than the former. Semantically speaking, this is the most concise and justified approach: it leads to better understanding of the primary or nuclear meaning of a word and then to a better grasp of its figurative meaning. The terminological meaning, if available, follows the two previous meanings.
The new dictionary finally reinstates the letter ‘g’ in the Ukrainian language (pp. 204-5).
New Words, Word Combinations, and Expressions
Considering their very limited and strained financial resources and the small group of co-workers, the authors did a truly magnificent job.
Neologisms, which appeared to describe new facts and a new way of life, are registered in VTSSUM: limitchyk is a colloquial term for a worker who is hired by an enterprise on the basis of his limited passport registration (p. 490). Likvidator is a ‘liquidator of effects of the Chornobyl accident’ (p. 490). Some words that are used in diaspora Ukrainian are registered in the dictionary for the first time: hvyntokryl ‘helicopter,’ hvyntokrylyi ‘of helicopter, adjective’ (p. 175).
VTSSUM adds many previously unregistered words starting with the prefix anty ‘anti,’such as antydepresant ‘antidepressant.’It registers 124 such words while Slovnyk ukrains’koi movy (SUM) (1970-80) has only fifty-two.
Many new internationalisms, borrowed mostly from English, are registered for the first time in VTSSUM.
Economic and social change in Ukraine has been attended by many “evils of capitalist society,” which have led to the introduction of a suitable terminology in which to discuss them. The problems of increased use of drugs, alcoholism, homelessness are drawing public attention (for example, words built by combining the root narko ‘drug’ with another word (noun, adjective, and so on) became popular).
Ukraine’s technological development is reflected in VTSSUM. For example, it contains words with the component avto that are not found in SUM: avtovidpovidach ‘answering machine’, avtovokzal ‘bus station (terminal)’, avtozapravka ‘gas station’, avtoklub ‘autoclub’, and so on (another 135 words).
The authors of the new dictionary eliminated ideological connotations, which distorted the meaning of words. The business lexicon is deideologized as well.
The new dictionary contains entries for new business terms that are currently used in Ukraine and expanded entries for business terms that were listed in the preceding dictionary. Some examples of completely new entries are: marketynh ‘marketing’, marketynhovyi ‘marketing, adjective’ and marketoloh ‘marketologist’ (p. 510).
VTSSUM does not register some widely used neologisms that reflect certain Ukrainian phenomena. Words that are connected with a specifically Ukrainian context are especially interesting and should definitely be included in any dictionary of contemporary Ukrainian. The dictionary omits afhantsi ‘Soviet soldiers, now Ukrainian citizens, who participated in the military campaign in Afghanistan,’ a word that is widely used in the mass media today. Chornobyl’s’kyi ‘Chornobyl, adjective’ or chornobyl’tsi ‘Chornobyl residents or liquidators of the Chornobyl catastrophe from various parts of the former Soviet Union’ are not listed.
VTSSUM reflects the use of slang or jargon in everyday discourse only to a very limited extent.
I have not been able to find any reviews of this dictionary in Western journals (My review of this dictionary appeared in Journal of Ukrainian Studies 31, nos.1-2 (Summer-Winter 2006). The dictionary is an indispensable tool for those teaching and studying Contemporary Ukrainian, especially at an advanced level. It is the most complete linguistic reflection of Contemporary Ukrainian available today.
P.S. Enlarged edition of this dictionary appeared in 2005.
* Review of Velykyi tlumachnyi slovnyk suchasnoi ukrains’koi movy/Ukladach i holovnyi redaktor V.T. Busel [Large Explanatory Dictionary of the Contemporary Ukrainian Language/V.T.Busel (ed.)] Kyiv-Irpin’: Perun, 2002. 1440 pp. Ukrainian. Cloth.