Latvian Language

History

The Latvian language is of the Baltic language, part of the Indo-European language family, specifically of the Eastern branch. The Latvian language is one of the only two Baltic languages that still exist, with the other language being the Lithuanian language. Latvian has shown itself to be much more open to the influences of other languages, and its language has moved forward with the times. It is sometimes referred to as Lettish, but here we will be referring to it as Latvian.

The language first clearly emerged as its own separate language from the Latgalian in the 16th century. However, it is debated as to whether the language that we now call Latvian was already being spoken for several hundred years previously as a transitional dialect or as its own language already. The Latvian language merged Curonian, Semigallan and Selonian in its creation, all of which are also Baltic languages.

The Latvian language has not changed much in the last few hundred years, with the exception of an influence from the Russian occupation of Latvia in WWII. During this time, the Latvian language was greatly affected by the severe measures that were taken to aide Russian control, such as forced deportation and immigration. Compared to 1939, when the ethnic Latvian population in Latvia was 80%, by the year 1989, this total had decreased sharply to 52%. Thankfully, that figure has risen to around 60%, thanks to a conscious effort from the current government to keep their language alive.

Popularity

Latvian is the official language of the country of Latvia. There are nearly two million speakers of the Latvian language in Latvia itself, with around 1.4 million of these being native speakers. Considering these statistics, we can see that there are a relatively high proportion of secondary language speakers of the Latvian language. This is partly because of the language policies in Latvia, which make a very conscious and specific effort to preserve and keep the language alive.

The language of Livonian used to be spoken in Livonia, which is an area in the country of Latvia. Unfortunately, the last native speaker of Livonian died in 2009, and despite the ethnic group of Livonians attempting to bring the language back, there are just not enough opportunities within the country to use it. This is why the Latvian government takes strong care to make sure that Latvian is a language that doesn’t die out the same way, by using it throughout the government and teaching it prominently in schools. Because of this, many young people are now fluent in the language of Latvian.

There are also around 150,000 speakers of the Latvian language living around the world. It is not an official language in any other country, though it is considered one of the official languages of the European Union. The language itself is regulated by the Latvian State Language Center.

Language

In Latvia, there are three dialects: the Livonian, Latgalian and the Middle dialects. The Livonian dialect is not to be confused with the Livonian language. The Latgalian dialect is spoken in the east of the country, with the Middle dialect being spoken in the central areas of the country.

The Latvian language is a fusional language, and does not follow a set rule for the formation of words. This can be a little difficult for new speakers to the language, but there are many other rules in terms of grammar, which are reassuring. There are two genders within the Latvian language, which are masculine and feminine. There is no neutral pronoun that can be used.

The word order when speaking the Latvian language does not matter so very much, but the traditional way of using the language places the word order into Subject Verb Object. The alphabet in its present form consists of 33 letters. These are still based on the Latin alphabet, though it only uses 22 of the 26 letters.

Why Learn The Latvian Language?

Latvia has a rich cultural history in terms of folklore and folk songs, with over 30,000 different recorded melodies for these songs. By learning the Latvian language, you can expand your creative and musical knowledge. The country of Latvia is also home to much wildlife, including deer, boar, moose, lynx, wolves, etc. If you have an interest in the outdoors, forests and wilderness, then Latvia is a great place to travel for a vacation. Learning the Latvian language would be an excellent idea if you plan to travel to Latvia.


1 Comment

  • #1 by Georgs on April 23 - 4:03 pm

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    Well, thank you for the kind words. I am a native latvian and proud of it. The most difficult part of our language is the grammar, I really don’t know why we had to complicate it so much, but that’s life. It is also hard for non-native speakers to learn how to pronounce it. It is good that, at least in our language, you speak as you read, not like English, where it depends on the situation. Latvian is very hard, literally very crunchy, so it is easy for us to use our diction to learn other languages, we can pronounce almost everything ,well in my case except Dutch, that’s just messed up. Chinese is a piece of cake. Knowing that, Latvian uses a lot of vowels, that is the reason behind our musical hesitance. With a lot of Ā ( AH) and Ū (UH) Ī (IH) and Ē (EH), using german way of writing. I will soon finish high school but I am having great difficulties with grammar. Even the most trained of russians never lose their accent when they speak latvian. Fun fact, I met a japanese person in Tokyo, he speaks better than many latvians! :D

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