Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jan Widacki about Poles and Lithuanians

Gazeta Wyborcza has the following article that provides the opinion of Jan Widacki:
* in English
* in Polish
* in Lithuanian

This whole affair does not look serious. I guess one could say that it could be described as barely civilized.

The issue revolves about two items:

1. The so called "forced assimilation" of Poles. This is related to the current school reform that increases the education in Lithuanian in the Polish minority schools - from 5% now to about 30%. Which I believe still would be better than the minority schools in Poland. Nevertheless, Poland has problems with it.

2. The second item revolves about the Lithuanian Constitution, no less. The Constitution declares that the official language in Lithuania is Lithuanian. Therefore, in the official documents as they relate to Lithuanian citizens only the Lithuanian alphabet is used. Even though the Lithuanian alphabet is based on Latin alphabet, in dropped several letters (x, q, w). This is not unique, just to wit the Polish alphabet does not have "v", for example. Now in the documents the names are written based on "as pronounced" basis. So, "Waldemar Tomaszewski" is written as "Valdemar Tomaševski", and this apparently causes a considerable discomfort to this person. I can see that - and I think he should be accommodated - there is no harm to anybody, perhaps save some bureaucrat who got lost in his or her Kafkaesque world of bureaucratic laws or procedures and has a difficulty deciding whether a person's name belongs to the Lithuanian language or not.

This "letter issue" should have been resolved long ago, IMHO. Even though the Constitution says that the official language in Lithuania is Lithuanian, there is no harm if the Latin alphabet letters are used in passport. I would not accept the use of "ł" or other "funny" letters that are not in Lithuanian alphabet (Lithuanian language itself has enough of these "funny" letters, so why complicate matters?), but why not use "w" or "q"? There is no harm that people write their names based on Latin alphabet letters. Stupidity of some Lithuanian bureaucrats and/or politicians is partially responsible for soured relations between Lithuania and Poland.

I would think once this silly letter issue is put behind, the recent decision regarding minority schools in Lithuania would be very easy to defend. There are 120 Polish minority schools in Lithuania (out of ca. 170 Worldwide outside of Poland) and a Polish university - and yet the Polish minority in Lithuania is significantly smaller than e.g. in Germany. What kind of assimilation are you talking about, panowie?

Although you never know - perhaps some other problem would pop up and Poland's foreign minister would be unhappy again?

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