- May 20, 2013
Juozas Bernatonis: Linguistic issues should be settled by linguists
Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis announced that the government would return to the issue of the spelling of non-Lithuanian surnames in official documents the following week. Minister Bernatonis expressed his conviction that the spelling rules should be prepared by the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language (Valstybinė lietuvių kalbos komisija).
“The Seimas does not ask the commission to take care of issues that are beyond the latter’s capacity. We would like to acquaint ourselves with conclusions drawn by the Commission because this is both a legal and linguistic issue,” said Minister Bernatonis.
Today (on May 20, 2013), during the government meeting, the ministers discussed the proposal made by the Ministry of Justice, according to which the Seimas should commission the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language to draft a normative legal act that would determine the basic spelling rules of surnames of non-Lithuanian origin. The issue was postponed. Minister Bernatonis said that “a similar solution” would be examined by the government after a week.
Minister Bernatonis announced that, before the government resumed the discussion of the project, the representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of National Defence, as well as members of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language would discuss ways of improving it.
In the meantime, in the seat of the government on Monday, Daiva Vaišnienė, the chairwoman of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language, said that, according to the Commission, the surnames of Lithuanian citizens should be written down in accordance with the Lithuanian alphabet. According to Vaišnienė, this is also the position taken by the Constitutional Court.
“The Ministry of Justice has long looked for a way that would not contradict both the ruling of the Constitutional Court and valid legal acts. It is not easy to do it as one could notice during today’s government meeting. Moreover, the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language respects the ruling of the Constitutional Court which says that surnames of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania have to be written down with letters of the Lithuanian alphabet,” said Vaišnienė.
According to Vaišnienė, other opinions could be examined if one were able to find a political and legal solution in the case. “The State Commission of the Lithuanian Language is not authorised to pass a legal act which would regulate the spelling of surnames in documents. It is statutes that regulate it,” said the chairwoman of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language.
Tłumaczenie by Elwira Łykus w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Elwira Łykus within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.