• 2009-01-07
[In response to Peter Smythe, "Changing Names," TBT#636]

I disagree with Mr. Smythe's characterization of name changing being so terribly burdensome to the ethnic Russian population of Estonia. (But, I do not believe it should be forced.) This is an old story in the U.S.A. and so many other nations - perhaps most. A voluntary name change can be a wise, pragmatic decision, particularly for ethnic individuals that experience discrimination by government or the job market. If an individual wants to advance his or herself and family within the host society (and discrimination is present), a name change can assist.

One does not by this act disown their family, culture, language, history etc. Yes, there is the work of changing records, documents etc. But, this is a small price to pay for more rapid advancement of oneself and family. Millions of Americans with English family names trace their family roots back to Eastern Europe, Russia, the Mediterranean and other regions. Yet, they can still maintain pride in family history and national culture. A name change is not voluntary resignation to a gulag but can be a pragmatic decision with family interest in mind.

Vincas Mazeika

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