Russians want an end to name-calling

  • 2007-09-20
  • By TBT staff and wire reports
RIGA - A campaign entitled "Reclaim Your Name!" has been launched in Latvia, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

Reportedly, its purpose is to prevent 'distortion' of the names and surnames of Russian-speakers when they are transcribed into Latvian. The practice is one of the peculiarities of the Latvian language where visitors are often amused to see that 'Eltons Dzons' will be performing a concert or that 'Breds Pits' has a new film out. Any foreigners who have had to fill in paperwork or apply for permits of various sorts will undergo a process of having their name 'Latvianised' at some point, often with interesting results.

But the Russian-language campaigners don't see the process as amusing or merely an unusual aspect of life in Latvia. The campaign leaders believe "a person has the right to decide himself how to write his name and surname."

"Private companies do not object to the correct transcription of the names and surnames in the passports of Russian-speakers. This also refers to the booking of airway tickets, hotel rooms, to payments for telephone conversations and other services," Chairman of the "Get Back Your Name!" organisation Ruslan Pankratov told Itar-Tass.

What seems to have eluded the campaigners is the rather more obvious fact that in converting names from the Cyrillic to Latin alphabets, some sort of conversion is inevitable. Additionally, it is standard practice for the Russian authorities to routinely perform exactly the same sort of transcription 's but in the opposite direction 's when visitors obtain visas or other official documents. Or pay a visit to the cinema in Moscow and there's a good chance you may be able to watch oscar-winner 'Helena Miranova' in her portrayal of the Queen of England.