Lithuania, Lithuanians and our language

Kazimieras Garšva

Language data show that the name of Lithuania existed around the 6th century. The same name was recorded in the Quedlinburg Chronicle in 1009 at least 500 years later. In descending order, four areas of the Lithuanian language that have existed since that time are distinguished. They were gradually turning into Slavonic ones mostly from the east side. Aina near Minsk, Obolcai (Oboltsy) near Orša (Orsha) are probably the old Lithuanian-speaking islands, baptised in 1387 by the rulers of Lithuania.

The idea of preserving Lithuania and its main distinguishing features, such as Lithuanian language and ethnic culture, was alive all the time. During the restoration of the Lithuanian state (the first Republic of Lithuania), we distinguish three periods: (1) consideration of the future of the nation and the state (M. Daukša, S. Daukantas, M. Valančius and other public figures), (2) creation of specific outlines of the state (J. Basanavičius, V. Kudirka, A. Smetona and others), and (3) creation of the state in 1905–1918. Thus, the state was basically restored.

The First Republic of Lithuania better solved the issues of nationality, preservation of citizens, national communities. The Second Republic of Lithuania has not received any compromises from the Polish party for 30 years. In order to achieve territorial autonomy, they required to violate the Constitution and laws: to change the state language system and to perform Polonisation of Lithuanian names, as well as to introduce a second (regional) language, although in Lithuania they have the best conditions in the world to uphold their culture and education.

Now, regardless of the wishes of 100,000 citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, because of the spelling of allegedly non-Lithuanian personal names, they want to change the alphabet, spelling, and pronunciation of the Lithuanian language. Under the guise of the wishes of the minority of the population (some non-Lithuanians), an attempt is made to violate the interests of the majority of the population (Lithuanians and national communities using non-Latin alphabets) and the system of the state Lithuanian language. Such an arrangement does not exist in many democracies. This would partially return the spelling of the Lithuanian language to the times of the occupations and separate it from the closest spelling of the Latvian language.

Slavicisation and Germanisation of Lithuanian place names and personal names lasted almost 1000 years. Such a policy should not be carried out by the Republic of Lithuania, which is obliged by the Constitution and laws to defend and protect the state language
Writing the name and surname in the common national language in no way violates the right of a person to a personal name, the inviolability of a person's private and family life. Many Lithuanians spoke and partly still speak a dialect, but their names are officially written somewhat differently (common language). Over the course of 800 years, the surnames of Lithuanian residents have been written in at least six languages (six different alphabets), but the identity of Lithuanians has not changed from that alone. Personal names are not only part of the family's private life; they are also part of language, culture, state life and history.

Writing personal names in a non-state language, it not the right of the minority to a personal name would be implemented, but it would violate the right of the majority of citizens and the state to statehood. The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania considers it a priority that the LITHUANIAN PEOPLE, which created the state of Lithuania many centuries ago, preserved its spirit, native language, script and customs; and it declares: Lithuanian shall be the state language (Article 14). Personal names are part of the language; they are proper nouns that are written for Lithuanian citizens without any linguistic exceptions (in the Lithuanian alphabet) and obey all the laws of Lithuanian spelling and declension.

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania emphasised: According to the Constitution, it is intolerable that these rules, inter alia establishing the writing of non-Lithuanian personal names (name and surname) in the passport of a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania, would be established without assessing their impact on the common Lithuanian language, the uniqueness of the Lithuanian language, inter alia on the writing of Lithuanian personal names. As a result, the impact on the common Lithuanian language would be enormous. By adding over 50 non-Lithuanian letters to the 32 Lithuanian letters in personal names and entering them into registers and information systems, the alphabet of the state language would be changed. The spelling and pronunciation systems of the state language would be fundamentally changed: until now, the sound of the Baltic languages is denoted by one letter, which would now also denote two sounds (which are pronounced differently in different languages), and some identical sounds would be denoted by two different letters.