Welcome Address by Mr. Česlovas Juršėnas, Speaker of the Seimas at the International Conference National Language Policy: State, Society, and School


March 11 Hall, Seimas, 19 September 2008


Dear participants and guests of the Conference National Language Policy: State, Society, and School,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Let me welcome you to the Conference focusing on the problems of language, which is one of the key phenomena of human existence and national identity. In today’s globalised world languages are affected by at least two tendencies. It is more convenient to reduce the number of languages for the purpose of international communication and, naturally, national languages seek to defend themselves since they constitute a vital part of national identity. Major languages attempt to influence the minor ones, which results in the increase of the number of international words while the minor languages are trying to prevent it.


Today every tiny living being is protected against extinction. The European Union has warned Poland of sanctions for the construction of Via Baltica through the Rospuda River, its valley and waters being the home of rare species of beetles. France will not be able to clean the silt around the Mont Saint-Michel – a monastery in the Atlantic Ocean, before they move the population of miniature frogs elsewhere. And how are dying languages being preserved?


In the Soviet Union we were being prepared for the merger of nations while the language to be spoken by them was politely concealed. During the years of occupation and annexation, Lithuanians defended their language, purified it, and protected it from russification. Today, when we are free and live in a world of flourishing commercial culture, young people in particular embrace other languages with pleasure and use foreign words to express their emotions by creating a Lithuanian neolanguage. This represents a serious problem for solid institutions dedicated to regulating the use of the official language in public life and teaching native speakers correct Lithuanian.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


On its road to independence, Lithuania adopted a rather farsighted law on the official language, which also protects the rights of minority languages. Changes in life, the reality of the European Union and neighbourhood to Poland and Russia raise a number of issues related to speaking and writing. I believe that the Conference will discuss these issues and our foreign specialists and speakers will offer their advice and draw the conclusions.



I wish you effective work and interesting discussions during the Conference.


Thank you.  







 © Office of the Seimas, 2008