Is the Ukrainian "a" not used similarly to the Russian "a", I.e., as a conjunction to indicate dissimilar items and so better translated as "but" rather than "and" like "i"?
Hmmm, I think doesn’t always translate ‘but’. In this sentence, ‘and’ seems to work better.
‘But’ would probably be translated ‘але’ or ‘та’. It doesn’t just indicate dissimilar terms, it marks the second term as unexpected. ‘А’ just joins two dissimilar items without marking the second option as unexpected. Here’s an example:
- У цьо́му звинува́чують Окса́ну, але́/та вона́ не ви́нна. ‘Oksana is blamed for this, but she is innocent.’ (але joins two description where the second is surprising after the first one: Oksana is blamed, unexpected twist: Oksana is innocent)
- У цьо́му звинува́чують Окса́ну, а Оле́на не ви́нна. ‘Oksana is blamed for this, and Helen is innocent.’ (а joins two dissimilar descriptions: Oksana is blamed, at the same time: Helen is innocent)
- У цьо́му звинува́чують Окса́ну, і вона́ спра́вді ви́нна. ‘Oksana is blamed for this, and she is indeed guilty.’ (і joins two similar descriptions: Oksana is blamed, expected thing: Oksana is guilty)
When comparing with Russian:
- Ukrainian а = Russian а,
- Ukrainian але = Russian но,
- Ukrainian і = Russian и,
- Ukrainian та when it joins sentences = Russian но (Оксану звинувачують, та вона не винна = Оксану обвиняют, но она не виновата ‘Oksana is blamed, but she is innocent’; two sentences in one: ‘Oksana is blamed’, ‘she is innocent’) ,
- Ukrainian та when it joins words or phrases = Russian и (Оксана та Олена ви́дали кни́жку = Окса́на и Еле́на изда́ли кни́гу = Oksana and Helen published a book; this is one sentence, you can’t separate it into ‘Oksana’ and ‘Helen published a book’).
It is used the same as in Russian, at least in this sentence. It's translated as either "and" or "but" in English, since English doesn't have such a concept of a "dissimilar and".
So, thanks for pointing it out, in this sentence "but" somehow was not accepted. I added it, thanks!