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How do the Latvians handle foreigners' names? They butcher them into a total mess of a name. What's worse, many believe they defend their fatherland by violating someone else’s identity. This is my answer to a question on Quora.
Happy to localise to your identity
Identities? We eat them well processed, that is, we prefer them localised, Photo: Gerhard Kwak / Pixabay

What do the rules of the modern-day, 21-century Latvian language do to foreign names after they end up in the Latvian-language environment? They butcher them. There is no other word. Butcher them into a total mess of a name. It is something I have been campaigning against in my native Latvia for years and years and years.

Because spelling a person’s name is about the person’s very personal, very private, very central and very sovereign identity and no one, not a single soul in the universe has the slightest right to touch anyone else’s identity with their fingers for whatever reason. Let alone if this reason is so unbearably pathetic as a whim to “customise” someone’s name so someone can conveniently bend it left or right, up and down in agreement with some noun cases.

I wish people start suing those ultraconservative dorks behind worn, messy desks who insist on Latvians keep butchering foreign names. Suing them, not the country, although it is being done on behalf of the country. No, the country is not that dumb. Although the silly rules may surely make this impression on outsiders.

Believe it or not, butchering foreign names is perceived by many as a patriotic act in today’s Latvia and preserving the original spelling as treachery, a sign of weakness and bending to un-Latvian interference. Many people believe they defend their culture, their language, their fatherland, their identity by disrespecting, violating and butchering someone else’s identity.

This is something that is very difficult to understand and let go and it is very difficult to fight for as long as people believe in this freaking mumbo jumbo about the sacral meaning of butchering foreign names.

Read Dimitrijs Alehins' answer to How do Latvian and Lithuanian handle foreigners' names? on Quora

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