Are you 'woke'? Not in Latvia, you're not!

Take note – story published 1 year ago

Latvia's official language agency delivered another of its entertaining verdicts on what constitutes correct usage (and what doesn't) Friday, finding the terms 'woke', 'wokeism' and related words incompatible with proper literary language.

As you cannot fail to be aware, 'woke' is a descriptive term that has become popularized in English in recent years, used to describe someone with an awareness of, or interest in, or tendency to expound views upon, subjects of social inequality and the like. Depending upon who is using it about whom, it can be used in a straightforward way or carry a moderately perjorative connotation.

The term has also found its way into Latvian political discourse, unhindered by the fact that the Latvian alphabet has no letter "W". And now the time has come for the State Language Center (VVC) to hand down its judgment on how to deal with wokeism, Latvian style.

In a tweet December 3, the VVC said: "The adjective woke in English is used to mean socially and politically conscious, one who is aware of social and political problems in the world, especially when talking about racism and inequality. Woke and wokeism are often used with derogatory meanings, so we recommend rendering them as them as sociālpolitiski atjēdzīgs and sociālpolitiska atjēdzībā. The words atjēgt and atjēgties are often used with a derogatory connotation, so it is appropriate to use atjēdzīgs to represent woke."

Anyone hoping the somewhat catchier woke might simply be transcribed as well as possible into the sweet sounds of Latvian is in for disappointment. Potential equivalents such as vouks and voucīgs are not acceptable, the VVC warns, though bearing in mind wokeism's fairly recent arrival, the word voukisms can substitute for wokeism to give other people some clue as to what you are actually talking about.

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