Minister urges people to report violations to Language Inspectorate

Tõnis Lukas.

PHOTO: Peeter Lilleväli / Põhjarannik

Estonian Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas said that the situation where Estonians must switch to a foreign language to use simple products and services, such as cab rides and food delivery, has become intolerable and urged people to contact the Language Inspectorate if they come across any establishments that consistently ignore the Language Act.

“If you are consistently served at an establishment in such a way that no Estonian is used – any other language is offered except for Estonian – then take this matter to the Language Inspectorate. Perhaps we’ll need to turn the Language Inspectorate into a Language Board, give it more powers to put things in order,” the minister said, speaking on the “Reporteritund” radio show on Vikerraadio.

“In any case, we must protect our language and keep an eye on who’s coming here – so that all new immigrants are integrated, and if they’re not, we should see that they leave the state of Estonia,” Lukas said.

Lukas said that he has lately been thinking while walking around in central Tallinn if all the foreigners he sees indeed go to a local university and are interested in learning Estonian, the English-language online news portal of public broadcaster ERR reports.

“In several places in the city center, in Tammsaare park, I can’t help but wonder – as do many people – if these young men there, who are likely not overly integrated into the Estonian culture, indeed are young nuclear physicists studying at universities here , or if some immigrants arriving here are actually unwilling to learn Estonian and are employed by all sorts of Bolts and Wolts, despite the fact that they cannot speak any Estonian at all, and we, Estonians must communicate with them in other languages to get our food or mail or take a cab,” the minister said.

Lukas noted that everyone would do well to stay vigilant.

“I believe preserving Estonian culture is worth the effort,” he added.