With a mere 1.5 million native speakers and only 3.2 total speakers you have to be a pretty dedicated linguist to want to get to grips with the tricky Latvian language. Still, if you're desperate to be a member of this elite club (ie. you got hitched to a Latvian wife and can't understand what she's shouting at you) then read on for a few pointers!
The Latvian language is one of two Baltic languages, the other being Lithuanian, that evolved from Indo-European. Latvian boasts a hearty 35 letters, 22 of which you will find in the English language and 13 of which look suspiciously familiar except for the curious dots and dashes floating above and below. Clever people refer to these 'extras' as diacritical marks, but no need to tax yourself - just know that they affect the pronunciation of the letter in question.
Here are a few handy phrases that are sure to see you through ninety nine percent of situations you might encounter in Riga... Remember the stress always falls on the first syllable!
I don't understand Vai Jus runajat angliski?
Do you speak English? Vienu alu, ludzu
One beer, please Es tevi milu
I love you Cik jums gadu?
How old are you? Kolosāls
Terrific Jūs esat brīnis
You're wonderful at dancing!
How much does it cost? Ludzu, rekinu
The bill please
When it comes to grammar there's more than enough to keep you busy for a decade or two. Nouns boast a healthy six declensions and six cases (just think of the permutations!) and whereas verbs only come in three simple and perfect tenses there's always the five moods to consider. Probably you can feel a thin film of perspiration on your forehead by now, but no need to panic just yet. Take a peak at our simple words and phrases and you'll have plenty to help you through a long weekend!
If you've got some good ideas on how to make our language section better, let us know!
bieber girl from United States Reply
i want to learn this language
Steve 'rooms for Lett' Christie from United Kingdom Reply
My woman, the love of my life, speaks beautiful Latvian and if you heard her you'd think you'd tuned into Angel FM (...oooerr...I'm in love)
ALESSANDRO ZULLO from Italy Reply
I speak perfect German. Is this language still used in Riga as a spoken or even commercial language
Cesar from Mexico Reply
I just moved to Riga and I need to take a Latvian language course, preferably intensive. I appreciate any information and a good apartment rental hint too.
seb from United States Reply
how you say , sweetheart to your latvian girlfriend ? or baby ? or anything nice !!
Sofija from United States Reply
"tev ir skaistas acis" means "you have very beautiful eyes"
Dissapointed from Estonia Reply
there is nowhere to click for listening???
Vic from Latvia Reply
All I know is that I like this language very much. My wife (latvian) tells me I have it easy for I am spanish speaker, compared to english-spoken people that seem to have so much problems to get the concepts of latvieðu valoda...I don think it's in extinction: the identity of this country is such so strong... :)
latin from Latvia Reply
Hi I moving to Latvia-Riga and I wanna know where can I go for to learn me this languages ///not body know???
Elsipelis from Latvia Reply
Btw, Latvian language is the most similar language to old Sanskrit.. our nation has very deep roots and interesting history.
Aivars Klavins from Australia Reply
All languages are beautiful including Latvian.It's good for each individual to extend themselves either by language or other skills, for their own self esteem.For those comments against the Latvian language "have you learnt another language" you believe to be more useful to improve yourself? Or can you ONLY write disparing comments?
Michele dollfuss from Sweden Reply
click and listen does not work
andyrias from Sweden Reply
one of the most interesting languages of europe, not of the dying kind, I think baltic languages will have a revival in the near future. It is a key to many questions in linguastics. Besides its a cool language, spoken by few, but so cool!!
Raj from India Reply
Latvian language is really a great language i knows this language bcoz of my best friend who is from latvia
Javier from Spain Reply
Latvians have their own language, kept for ages and closely realted to original Indo-European. Americans and Australians do not even have a self language nor culture, and some of them cant even be aware of other different people existing all arround. Latvian language is useful and hard to learn as well. Surely not as extended as other languages, but handy to interact with Latvians (as you ignorants, cant speak Russian either). They say learning hard (inflected) languages keeps your brain younger for longer, so there might be a cure for you.
angela from Australia Reply
can you give us the latvian equivalant of 'do you have a single brother' "would you like to live with me in australia", and 'can we take our clothes off now'
my name is ... from Australia Reply
Who would want to learn a dying language, spoken only by 2 mil people? :)) that's a good joke
Iļja from Latvia Reply
Latvian has 11, not 13, "special" letters (with diacritics). "R with cedilla" is used only in diaspora, and even with this that would be only 12. Writing examples without diacritics is totally senseless, at least not without a pronunciationguide.
John Murphy from United States Reply
I like Latvian I was in Riga Jan 2007 to meet a friend she became ill so I didn't get to see her much (10 Min the day I had to go home) I didn't have a hard time talking to Latvians as for a lot of them also speak some English and if not they were steel willing to try to help me and understand what I needed or help.
Jim from United States Reply
I think it is good to know a second language fluently. Having travelled abroad, I feel lost not knowing the language.
Victoria from Benin Reply
it's a beautiful language! y'all must be some sweethearts over there! i would love to see riga and ride my bike.
Larisa from United States Reply
It's a beautiful language! I have spoken and understood it all of my life. No one should pay any attention to the low-class, non-cultured comments of some of these people.
Eliana from United States Reply
I think it's a terrible language to learn. Nobody needs it anyhow, except Latvians.
anitra from Australia
You poor arrogant fool, yes it hard to learn but so is any foreign language if you are not interested or ignorant