- March 6, 2013
The original spelling of names proposed by the Working Group
The Working Group on National Minorities, headed by the Deputy Minister of Culture Edward Trusewicz, submitted yesterday proposals for national minorities to the government. In its proposals, the group suggests the validation of the original spelling of names, bilingual place names and street names.
In the proposals, presented to a Strategic Committee of the Government, they suggest the validation of the original spelling of non-Lithuanian names, if it is desired by the interest. The accented sings from the Latin alphabet would be permitted in names spelling.
“Names are not terms and have no lexical meaning, names from one language are not the ownership of another language in which they are used, and therefore should not be changed, because it distorts their real meaning” – we read in the proposals of the working group as an argument against the constitutional doctrine, according to which the Lithuanian language is the state language.
The working group justifies the need to legalize the original spelling of non-Lithuanian names not only with the attitude of national minorities, but also with the fact that more and more citizens of Lithuania – as spouses or children of foreigners – have non-Lithuanian names.
In 1999, the Constitutional Court decided that “the first and the last name of the citizen in the passport should be written in the state language”, otherwise it would contradict the status of the Lithuanian as a state language. In 2009 the Constitutional Court approved similar proposals emphasizing that the record of the name in the original is acceptable as an additional entry on another page of the passport, and should not be compared with the record of the identity of the citizen in the state language.
According to the chairman of the working group, Edward Trusewicz, if the parliament passed the relevant law, the next step would be to ask the Constitutional Court to change the proposals. Deputy Minister of Culture said that the explanation of the Constitutional Court is also needed in case of foreigners who may get, in Lithuania, the document with the original record of the names, however, after getting the Lithuanian citizenship they no longer have the right to the document with non-Lithuanian letters of the alphabet.
Among other applications of the working group there is a proposal to validate dual names of places and streets in areas densely inhabited by national minorities. The working group, however, did not set a specific percentage thresholds – should representatives of national minorities be 10 or 25 percent of the total population. In this regard, the Strategic Committee of the Government will decide.
The working group also considered some of the issues of the unified Lithuanian language matriculation examination. In proposals, however, the group limited itself to the statement that “an introduced transitional period and preferential treatment, which were approved in the assessment instructions by the Examination Centre, shall be approved by the acts of higher legal force”. According to the working group representatives that would introduce more stability in terms of the Lithuanian language exam procedures.
The specialists from ministries of culture, foreign affairs, justice, education and science worked in the group.
Tłumaczenie Agnieszka Wiecheć w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Wiecheć the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.