Language watchdog urges more use of Latvian at work

The Latvian State Language Center (VVC) has released a public appeal to residents, calling on the more conscientious use of the offical state language in the work- and marketplace, reported news wire BNS Friday.

The government agency charged with implementing national language policies claims it has received complaints about staff communicating in Russian and other foreign languages amongst themselves in the presence of customers at public retail stores and markets.

The VVC also suggests that state officials granting interviews to the media use only Latvian rather than foreign languages. “In the view of the VVC officials giving interviews to the media, especially those registered in Latvia, should use only the Latvian language, thus demonstrating their respect for the state and its official language,” the recommendation states.

While the law doesn’t regulate which languages are used in informal communication, the VVC pointed out that salaried personnel performing their professional duties in the presence of customers could not be construed as informal communication.  

“Thus it is also impermissible that workers performing their duties converse in a foreign language,” regardless whether in the presence of customers, passengers, clients, and other members of the public.

The VVC also underlines the fact that Latvia has begun its Presidency of the Council of the EU, thus the state is obliged to support the use of one of the EU’s official languages.

“Let us not forget that Latvia is the only place on earth where the Latvian language is guaranteed to live and develop, and the narrowing of its use inside the national territory should be seen as a threat to its status. Therefore we urge all employers to discuss with their employees the significance of the State Language Law, as applied to the workplace, and also all state officials to use the state language in their interviews to the media.”

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