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The State Commission for the Lithuanian Language has agreed to allow original spelling of non-Lithuanian names for foreigners who become naturalized Lithuanian citizens and for the Lithuanian nationals who adopt the last name of their foreign spouse after marriage.
Lithuanian language watchdog consents to original name-spelling for naturalized citizens and mixed families
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

In other cases, the commission suggests keeping "the main principle of spelling in Lithuanian letters according to pronunciation".

The explanation boosts the possibility that last names of Polish-speaking Lithuanian citizens will still be spelled in Lithuanian characters only, without, for instance, the Polish letter w.

The commission's chairman Daiva Vaišnienė cited the interpretation of the Constitutional Court, which said that other forms of personal names could be provided on a different page of the passport.

"Such methods are possible in cases when there is no clear document providing identity. The language commission cannot say anything about this, as this has already been said by the Constitutional Court," Vaišnienė told BNS.

The conclusion of the State Commission for the Lithuanian Language was made in connection to the bills under discussions at parliament, which would liberalize the spelling of personal names.

Current laws stipulate that last names of all Lithuanian citizens can only be spelled in characters of the Lithuanian alphabet which does not include letters w, x or q. Supporters of the amendments maintain that this causes problems for Lithuanians who marry foreign nationals.

Furthermore, politicians of the Polish community in Lithuania and their supporters in Poland have long been asking to allow Polish letters in the last names of Polish speakers, an issue that has been emerging in the bilateral Lithuanian-Polish relations.

Critics say that non-Lithuanian characters would undermine the status of the Lithuanian language as the official language and, furthermore, can cause trouble in reading non-Lithuanian last names.

Under the commission's explanation, foreigners who have acquired the Lithuanian citizenship may demand that their first and last names be spelled in letters of the Latin alphabet by the example of a document issued by a foreign country. The commission cited international practice to lose some diacritical signs due to technical possibilities.

Original spelling would also be allowed for a Lithuanian citizen who has acquired a foreign last name by way of marriage and children of such spouses.

In 2010, parliament overruled a bill proposed by then Conservative PM Andrius Kubilius that would have allowed the original spelling in the Latin alphabet.

The issue was reopened after the Constitutional Court ruled in February that parliament may revise the rules, which suggest that first and last names in the Lithuanian passport can only be spelled in Lithuanian letters. Earlier rulings were that first and last names of Lithuanian citizens must be spelled in passports in the official language.

BNS
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