Latvia's State Language Centre has imposed a fine on Riga municipality for scandalously replacing a diacritical sign in "Rīga" with a heart. The municipal authorities thus wanted to spice up the large "Welcome to Riga" sign on the entrance to the city.
Riga sign. Photo BNN

The SLC has also requested to restore the diacritic which signifies a long vowel in the sign, as reported by lsm.lv.

SLC spokeswoman Laura Velzete-Skudra says an administrative act was filed this week against the responsible official. As part of this act, it is now obligated to restore the original look of the sign. A fine has been applied as well.

The SLC supervises the compliance with the Law on State Language, which includes rules on proper spelling in public signs.

According to the law, the name of the Latvian capital city, ‘Rīga’, must be spelled with a diacritic. The heart is not a an acceptable replacement for it, notes Velzete-Skudra.

A number of public figures have signed a public letter to Mayor of Riga Nil Ushakov, expressing their protest against the "distortion and blurring" of the visual design of the sign on the outskirts of Riga.

"We oppose having the sign on the border on Riga coloured and removing the lengthening sign and replacing it with a heart symbol divided into two halves, which, according to the Transport Department’s opinion, serves as a suitable replacement and one of the main promotional elements in the advertisement of Riga as Europe’s culture capital. Such 'recognition' and 'symbol' are inappropriate and humiliatingly primitive not just in terms of the status of Europe’s culture capital, but also Riga’s own reputation," reads the public letter signed by 57 residents of the Latvian capital.

Authors of the letter requested municipal authorities to restore the original design by artist Valdis Celms and to compensate the damage done to the artists and make sure the the sign remains protected from other unprofessional attempts to change its design.

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