Latvian: The language with three dialects

The Latvian language belongs to the Baltic family of Indo-European languages. The closest relative to Latvian is the Lithuanian language, although they are not mutually intelligible. The language has around two million speakers globally. The history of the Latvian language started in the Middle Ages when it split from Lithuanian.


3 interesting facts about the Latvian language

The Standard Latvian alphabet has 33 letters, of which 22 are unmodified letters from Latin.
Latvian has three dialects: the declining Livonian, Middle Latvian, and High Latvian that are mutually intelligible.
Most borrowed words in the Latvian language come from the German, Russian, and English languages.

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Origin of the language

The Lithuanian and Latvian languages were one dialect before the 8th century. They formed in the Baltic region and diverged from Western Baltic languages at the start of the Middle Ages. While transitional dialects existed for several centuries, Latvian consolidated these to form a separate language in the 13th century.


History of the language

The Latvian language was spoken by the Latgalians tribe and further evolved when they assimilated the neighboring languages of Curonian, Semigalian, and Selonian. Finally, the process was completed after the Livonian Crusade when the entire Baltic region adopted Christianity.
The oldest Latvian written example is a translated hymn from 1530, and the oldest book is the Catholic catechism that appeared in 1585. In the 17th century, the German Lutheran pastor, Johann Ernst Glück, translated the Bible into Latvian. Gotthard Fredrich Stender, also a priest, wrote the first Latvian alphabet book.
A national awakening in the 19th century popularized the Latvian language, and the foundation for standard Latvian was established. After that, a brief period of intense Russification lasted for 25 years. In the 20th century, modern Latvian reemerged and was standardized.

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Learning the language

It takes approximately 1,100 hours to learn Latvian as an English speaker.

How to say 10 popular words and phrases in the Latvian language

Latvian is not an easy language to learn for native English speakers. Learning how to speak the Latvian language properly in complex sentences will take some time. However, you can quickly pick up a few common words and phrases like “thank you” and “Happy birthday” in the Latvian language. If you need content writing in Latvian, you might need a professional to help you out!

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fun facts

3 fun facts about the Latvian language

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9 vowels

Latvian has nine vowels. With the exception of "o," each vowel occurs as a short and long vowel.


A negative prefix

If you want to negate the verb in Latvian, add the prefix "ne." For instance, "es saprotu" means "I understand" and "es nesaprotu" means "I don't understand."

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Don't "sveiki" strangers

"Sveiki" and "čau" are informal and friendly greetings. However, if you meet new or unfamiliar persons, it is more appropriate to use "labrīt" or "labdien" which are formal means of address.


Word Of Wisdom!

Music is a universal thing with no boundaries, whether you play inside or outside.

Andris Nelsons

Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra


Word Of Wisdom!

Oh, these quiet short moments, which so once in a lifetime a person can steal for destiny when the heart freezes and becomes dumb of happiness.

Kārlis Skalbe

Poet and writer


Word Of Wisdom!

I'm very emotional: to lose love is the same as dying.

Kristine Opolais

Opera singer

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