Useful words and phrases in Latvian

girl-2771936_1920

Around a million and a half people consider Latvian to be their native language, of whom most, or ca. 1.4 million, live in Latvia. Latvian is a rare language; it is part of the Indo-European language family and together with Lithuanian forms the Baltic branch. The Latvian language began to emerge in the VII Century as the languages of the ancient Latvian tribes – the Latgalians, Semigallians and Selonians – fused, incorporating many borrowed words from the language of the Livonians, a Finno-Ugric tribe of Latvia.

Also, shades of the German, Scandinavian, Old Russian and Latin languages have influenced the Latvian language over the course of the centuries.

It is worth remembering that Latvian is related to Lithuanian, yet the languages are not mutually freely intelligible to their speakers. Whereas in the third Baltic country, Estonia, the completely different Estonian language is spoken, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric family. It also has to be noted that in Latvia, especially in Riga and the second largest city, Daugavpils, a large segment of the local population are ethnic Russian and thus, speak Russian.

While travelling in Latvia, some frequently used Latvian phrases may come in handy:

Expressions of politeness

Thank you – Paldies

Please/you’re welcome – Lūdzu

Good morning – Labrīt

Good day/afternoon – Labdien

Good evening – Labvakar

Hello/greetings – Sveicināti

Good-bye/see you again – Uz redzēšanos

Good night – Ar labu nakti

Cheers! – Priekā!

Useful words

Yes – Jā

No – Nē

Taxi – Taksometrs

Bus/coach – Autobuss

Shop – Veikals

Police – Policija

Currency exchange – Valūtas maiņa

Hotel – Viesnīca

 

Source: Latvia Travel

How Long Does It Take to Master Latvian?

dav

Latvian (latviešu valoda) is one of the two surviving Baltic languages (the other one is Lithuanian) which form a special subgroup within the Indo-European languages. Latvian is considered one of the most unchanged Indo-European languages spoken today and is roughly as old as Sanskrit. The Baltic languages are of particular interest to linguists because they retain many archaic features believed to have been present in the Proto-Indo-European language.

How Long Does It Take to Master Latvian? 

In order to learn the communication phrases used by tourists in daily situations a couple days in the language course will suffice. However, if you want to master written and spoken Latvian more properly, you should allow one to three years. In order to achieve an academic level, you will need at least five to seven years.

Is It Possible to Master It Faster?

With time and motivation you can master Latvian faster. The more time you dedicate to learning the language, the faster you will achieve the result. Daily communication in Latvian will be a great advantage. And do not forget the media (radio and television), press, cultural events, music, and films in Latvian.

Does Your Mother-Tongue Affect Your Mastery of Latvian?

If you speak Lithuanian or it is your mother-tongue, you will learn Latvian easier and faster. People proficient in Slavic and Germanic languages will see similarities with the Latvian grammar system and words loaned from these languages. The Baltic languages are more closely related to Slavic, Germanic, and Indo-Iranian (in that order) than to the other branches of the family.

Some important tips in order to master Latvian faster:

  • Learn each new word in the context it is used in.
  • Repeat what you have learned often because repetition is the mother of learning;
  • Use both real and virtual Latvian language domain;
  • Use the media (TV, radio, music, literature, social media platforms) in Latvian;
  • Read fiction in Latvian, start with easy Latvian;
  • Let yourself make mistakes, use the language, jump in the Latvian language river for a swim! You can do it!

⭐️Kāpēc izvēlēties Baltic Media® valodu kursus?

⭐️Ko par  Baltic Media® valodu kursiem saka klienti?

⭐️Kāpēc izvēlēties tiešsaistes – online valodu kursus?

⭐️Valodu kursi jauniešiem, pusaudžiem un bērniem

⭐️Valodu kursi klātienē un online uzņēmumiem un valsts iestādēm

⭐️Valodu kursi online un klātienē privātpersonām – privātie kursi

⭐️Uzzini vairāk par Baltic Media® valodu kursiem – Kontakti

How Many Classes Does It Take to Master Latvian?

Each language learner is different, however, you can see roughly how much effort and time you will have to dedicate to learning the language below:

C2 – 60 classes (C2/1) + 60 classes (C2/2)

C1 – 60 classes (C1/1) + 60 classes (C1/2)

B2 – 60 classes (B2/1) + 60 classes (B2/2)

B1 – 60 classes (B1/1) + 60 classes (B1/2)

A2 – 48 classes (A2/1) + 48 classes (A2/2)

A1 – 48 classes (A1/1) + 48 classes (A1/2)

Source: Baltic Media Valodu mācību centrs.

Answers to the 5 Most Common Questions about the Latvian Language

bruce-mars-559223-unsplash

Photo by  Bruce Mars on Unsplash

Every year on the 21st of February UNESCO celebrates the International Mother Language Day to mark the richness and diversity of the thousands of languages spoken across the globe.

As someone whose mother tongue is shared by roughly 2 million people in the whole wide world, I often encounter questions about the Latvian language. I asked my Latvian friends about their experiences and, while there may be no such thing as a silly question, we all get asked the same things over and over again.

Wonder no more – here is the ultimate guide to all you ever wanted to know about the Latvian language!

1. Do you have your own language?

Well yes, we do. Non-native speakers included, roughly 2 million people on the planet speak Latvian. That is approximately the population of Paris, France or around one fourth of the population of London, UK.

2. Is it similar to Russian?

No, not really. I am sure that both Latvians and Russians who have encountered the other language after the age of six will vouch for that. Latvian and Russian may belong to the same branch of the Indo-European language family tree but that does not mean that the two are similar. If proximity in the language tree is any indicator, a native English speaker should have an easier time understanding a German or a Dutch speaker than a Latvian would have understanding a Russian.

3. What is it similar to then?

The short answer: Lithuanian, yet the two are not mutually intelligible. As most people who ask this question don’t know more about the Lithuanians either, let me expand on this.

The descent of the language outlined in linguistic family trees is one thing, but when we talk about, e.g., similarities of words, history can be just as important. Through conquests and trade links over the past centuries the Latvian language has been strongly impacted not only by the Russian neighbors but also by the Germans, and it shares some similarities with Estonian and Finnish. Curiously, 9 times out of 10 speaking Latvian here in Northern Germany has resulted in questions whether my conversation partner and I come from Sweden or Denmark.

4. Do you use the Cyrillic alphabet?

No, we don’t. And the reason for this is purely a matter of history. Latvian was only a spoken language until mid-16th century when the efforts of Protestant pastors produced first texts in Latvian, starting  with the Lord’s prayer. As not only the clergy but also the upper class at the time were German speakers, the Latvian alphabet was based on the Latin alphabet and used the old German shrift.

The modern day Latvian alphabet was born in the early 20th century and has its peculiarities. It does not have the letters  Q, X, W, and Y but makes up for this shortage by having 11 other letters – long forms of vowels like Ā or Ē, soft forms of consonants like Ļ or Ķ, and consonants like Š that replace “Sh”. Which brings us to the next question:

5. What is up with the “Latvianising” of foreign names?

The meme on the right is not a joke, a foreigner can have a difficult time recognizing their own name by the time the Latvians are done with it. In addition to having a slightly different alphabet (see previous question), all male names typically have to end with an “S” and all female names with an “A” or an “E”. There are some exceptions but these are few and far between.

In addition, adapting foreign names to Latvian is necessary to make them usable in normal sentences. You see, the Latvian language has seven grammatical cases and while, e.g., in German these are constructed with the help of articles, in Latvian it is the end part of the word that has to change – something that is not possible unless the word ends “correctly”.

Source: Let the journey begin. Read full article here.

Latvian Language and more 2019

img_1168Photo by Baltic Media

Travel and study together with your family or friends, invest in your self-development, and spend a fabulous time with your beloved ones.

August 16 – August 25, 2019

The leading Nordic-Baltic language service company Baltic Media, in cooperation with the University of Liepaja, offers an intensive Latvian language and culture program in the mesmerizing city of Liepaja, located on Latvia’s beautiful Baltic Sea coast.

Liepaja is a fantastic place to learn Latvian as it has everything from a beautiful seaside to market stalls offering fresh local produce to the Great Amber Concert Hall, a new architectural landmark of the city: www.latvia.travel/en/city/liepaja-8

This intensive Latvian language and culture program provides:

  • solid instruction in learning the Latvian language (28 academic hours) at two levels – beginners (A1) and pre-intermediate (B1);
  • specially designed course materials;
  • cultural activities, including tours of the city and movie séances at an outdoor cinema featuring Latvian movies;
  • 3 day/2 night weekend trip to a B&B with amber hunting along the sea coast and yoga on the beach.

mike-erskine-144525-unsplash

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

Cost:

  • 595 EUR includes tuition, course materials, coffee and snacks, cultural activities, tours, and a 3 day/2 night stay at a B&B (meals and yoga instruction included).
  • 200 EUR for person for those who want to participate only in the cultural activities (without tuition costs).
  • 575 EUR early bird special price if you enroll by April 30.

For more information, please e-mail us at: kursi@balticmedia.com.

We encourage you to pack your travel bag, bring along your friends, and spend 10 amazing days discovering the beauty of the Latvian language as well as the unique culture and nature of Latvia’s beautiful sea coast. It will be your best summer ever.

Source: Baltic Media Valodu mācību centrs

Nine suggestions on how to get the most of your Latvian language classes at the Baltic Media

sdr

Nine suggestions on how to get the most of your Latvian language classes:

  1. If you wish to get the most of your language classes, there is one indispensable requirement, one essential infinitely more important than any rule or technique. This magic requirement is: a deep, driving desire to learn. We teach Latvian using learning by doing approach wich makes language acquisition more effective.
  2. Read each chapter of the text-book, go back and reread again, again and again.
  3. Stop frequently in your reading to think over what you are reading. Ask yourself just how and when you can apply each grammar rule, each new word. Memorize new words, lear words in phrases, keep reviewing these words untill they are storaged in a long term memory.
  4. Read with the pencil, pen, magic marker or highlighter in your hand. Marking and underscoring a book makes it more interesting, and far easier to review rapidly.
  5. Keep your learning materials on your desk in front of you every day. Glance through it often. Keep constantly impressing yourself with the rich possibilities to practice your language.dav
  6. Remember that learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.
  7. You are attempting to form a new way of thinking, thinking in a new language.
  8. Check up each week on the progress you are making.
  9. Make a lively game of mastering new language!

Good luck! Your Baltic Media Language Centre Team

Author: Iveta Grīnberga, Head of Latvian Language Programs.

If someone tells you that the Latvian language is a small language, don’t believe it.

Brivibas piminkelis 18. novembris 2018

Freedom Monument, Riga, Latvia. November 18, 2018.  The Freedom Monument is a memorial located in Riga, Latvia, honouring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence. It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia. Source: Youtube.

There are approximately 7,000 living languages in the world. Two thousand of these languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers. Latvian is spoken by about 2 million people, thus placing it in the category of large languages.

Latvian is a modern, developed language used in all spheres of life. It is also one of the European Union’s 24 official languages. An important condition in the development of a language in the era of information technology is its usage in computer programming and the internet. A recent advancement has the development of machine translation for Latvian language; there are programs that transform spoken Latvian to written text etc.

Latvian language continually develops. Today new Latvian words are created not only in Riga, but also in Brussels and Luxembourg. In the past 20 years, about 100,000 new words have entered the Latvian language of which 5,000 are used on a daily basis. Not that long ago we didn’t know what is a “zīmols” (brand name), “lielveikals” (supermarket), “e-pasts” (e-mail), “i-banka” (internet bank), or a “blogs” (blog) or “čats” (chat). It should be admitted that a few of the creations of linguists or translators have not worked out, but most adhere to Latvian grammar rules and sound alright. As we already have words such as “dzīvot” (to live) or “ceļot” (to travel), why wouldn’t we be able to say “laivot” (boating), “talkot” (doing community service), or “nūjot” (Nordic poling). Sometimes familiar words develop new meanings. For example, the word “mākonis” (cloud) doesn’t necessarily mean what is above our heads on a rainy day. We can now store information “mākonī” (in the cloud). And what has happened to “pele” (mouse)? Now it lives on our desk?! Last year alone translators working in Brussels created 500 new words in Latvian, about a word and a half a day. Those who adapt will survive…

Author: Iveta Grīnberga, Head of Latvian Language Programs at Baltic Media Language Training Centre