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Not too late to Learn the Latvian language?
Home Reference & Education Language
By: Charlene Lacandazo Email Article
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The Latvian or Lettish language, which is the official language in Latvia, is spoken by 1.5 million people in Latvia alone. Latvian is an inflective language with several analytical forms, three dialects, and German syntactical influence. There are two grammatical genders in Latvian. Each noun is declined in seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, and vocative.

Interestingly, the Latvian language was originated from the Baltic language family, such as the Semigallian and Selonian languages. One of the oldest records of written Latvian is from a 1585 catechism. Aside from Lithuanian, the Latvian language is considered to be one of the most archaic Indo-European languages spoken today.

The Latvian language uses a Latin-based, though modified alphabet. In addition, it is an official language of the European Union. There are three dialects in Latvian: the Livonian dialect, Latgalian, and the Middle dialect.

Latvia is a country with long historical ties with Germany, Russia, Poland, and Sweden. During the Soviet occupation on 20th century, many Russians have immigrated into the country without learning the Latvian. Hence, today there are only about 60% of the population whose mother tongue is Latvian.

Russian people who migrated to Latvia did not accept the consideration of learning the Latvian language, which does not only affect their communication but also their cultural diversity. As Latvia regained its independence in 1991, and declared Latvian the official language of the country, many people who were not native Latvian speakers were affected by the language policy.

As the Latvian language policy was implemented in Latvia, government offices and educational institutions required Latvian people to pass the criterion of professional Latvian language standards. Through this language policy, it is necessary for native Latvian and non-native Latvian speakers to be able to participate both in political and social life. However, the lack of Latvian knowledge may limit people‘s communication and information, which may lead to ethnic conflict.

The thing is, one language is needed for great and clear communication. Therefore, the Latvian language policy is necessary both for people or the country itself and promote saving the Latvian language.

The dominance of the Russian language is pretty much obvious, since there was no any requirement for Russians living in Latvia to learn the Latvian language. Now, that Latvia regained their independence from the Soviet power, there is a demand for the approval of Latvian, which means that the Latvian language will be even more popular, and the Lettish language should be given respect and consideration. Unfortunately, the Latvian language proficiency of the people in Latvia is decreasing. Hence, it may be somehow alarming.

Latvian language is an important factor in communicating with Latvian people. The language situation in Latvia today is an indication that people with other national languages should respect the Latvian language policy; and I guess, it’s not too late for them to learn the Lettish or Latvian language.

Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a translation agency that specialises in Russian translation services and any type of certified translations.

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