News2023.05.26 12:02

Lithuanian language commission sceptical about renaming Kaliningrad

Ignas Jačauskas, BNS 2023.05.26 12:02

The State Commission of the Lithuanian Language (VLKK) has rejected a proposal by several MPs to stop calling the Russian exclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland ‘Kaliningrad’.

However, the commission says it is encourages the usage of ‘Karaliaučius’ – the Lithuanian version of Königsberg and the historic designation of the area – alongside its current name.

The commission says its members do not support the proposal by MPs Vilius Semeška and Paulė Kuzmickienė – both representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) – to declare that the existing name should not be used in the Lithuanian language.

‘Karaliaučiaus kraštas’ (Königsberg region) and ‘Karaliaučiaus miestas’ (the city of Königsberg) were the Lithuanian terms to refer to the area back when it was part of East Prussia until World War Two.

The VLKK said it supported the initiative to promote the usage of historic toponyms not only in historical contexts, but even in reference to the places today.

“Most of the former place names of the Kaliningrad region are Lithuanian as there were Lithuanian counties in the region since the 16th century. Historical sources include these traditional Lithuanian place names in the German spelling with German endings, for example, Tilžė - Tilsit, but all of them were replaced by Russian ones after 1946 and, for example, Tilžė is now officially called Sovetsk (Russian: Советск),” the VRKK said.

In order to preserve the historic toponyms of the Kaliningrad region in active Lithuanian usage, the VLKK approved an official list of alternative designations back in 1997.

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