To preserve and maintain the cultural and historical heritage of the state in society, the first road signs of the names of the cultural and historical regions, settlements, towns, and villages in the Livonian and Latgalian languages are currently installed on the State roads in Kurzeme and Latgale. The name signs of 94 towns or villages and 136 settlements in Latgale will appear on more than 50 state roads in two months.
On social media, as with every issue regarding the state language, there is some dispute. The clash of opinions affects the municipality of Balvi, where the road sign in Latgalian has been repeatedly painted over.
The local government said in a written response to LTV that it had not previously been informed of the installation of the new signs, so residents' wishes on the matter have also not been heard.
Sergejs Maksimovs (Latgale Party), Chairman of the municipal Council of Balvi, pointed out that “the municipality has not approached those implemented by the project with an official notification to stop the process of installing these signs. There has been public discontent about the sign installation as it was not previously informed about."
The State Language Center said the signs are placed in compliance with the requirements of regulatory enactments and do not constitute a threat to the national literary language.
Agris Timuška, the chief linguist of the State Language Center, explained that "we can remember the cases in Rīga, some of the writings were not taken with joy at all, for example, instead of the diacritic over [the i in] Rīga, there was a heart at the incentive of the former [Mayor of Riga] Nils Ušakovs. But it also passed and had no lasting negative impact".
The initiative on road signs in the language of Livonian and Latgalian writings came about from the Latvian Historic Lands Law, which was adopted in 2021. Road signs are one way to bring the norms of the law into society and the environment.
"This should be done by promoting and restoring, using place names in Latgalian written language, including road signs, place and street names. Similarly, in Livonian," Timuška said.