Lithuanian language watchdogs have called on politicians to adapt existing laws to protect the country’s language from encroaching English influence, and learn to live side-by-side with it.
“We can be happy about [the existing] law but it was created at a time when there was no internet, […] ads,” Donatas Smalinskas, deputy head of the State Language Inspectorate, told reporters on Friday. “Can we demand for information in Lithuanian language to be included next to the brand’s [name] if it’s not regulated by the law?” Smalinskas, together with Audrys Antanaitis from the State Lithuanian Language Commission (VLKK), called on politicians to regulate the use of English-language and pass laws on contentious non-Lithuanian name-spelling issue. Read more: Brussels urges Lithuania to solve name-spelling issue
Smalinskas also said that ride-hailing services, such as Bolt and Uber, that see a large shrere of non-Lithuanian drivers should demand their employees to speak Lithuanian. On January 31, 1995, the existing law on language was adopted and has been in force ever since. It states that the Lithuanian is the only state language and must be used in officials documents, instutions, foreign-language films should be translated into Lithuanian or have subtitles, and other provisions. “This law protects something that other countries don’t,” said Smalinskas. “Lithuanian language was declared the national language on November 18, 1988, when […] there was a need to leave the occupation’s [Russian] language zone of influence.” “The ideology of the  law is simple: the state language is the only thing that connects all of us Lithuanians,” said Antanaitis.
Politicians have so far failed to consider the new version of the Law on State Language, produced by a working group back in 2006, said Smalinskas.
Meanwhile, Audrys Antanaitis, chairman of VLKK, believes Lithuania needs to learn to live side-by-side with the English language, but avoid expanding its official use in the country.
“We need to learn live with the English language as it’s pushing its way to every area it shouldn’t be,” he said, adding that “the discussions on some second state, auxiliary language, about regional state languages should be ended [as] Neither the Constitution, nor any law envisages it”.
Lithuania should also adopt a low on the spelling of personal names, he said. The spelling of non-Lithuanian names, especially among the Polish minority in Lithuania, remains a point of contention between Vilnius and Warsaw. Read more: Divisive Polish-minority issue escapes Nausėda’s promises in Warsaw meeting
State Language Inspectorate is a watchdog supervising the correct use of the Lithuanian language, where as the State Lithuanian Language Commission (VLKK), establishes rules and regulations.