Beginner's guide to the language of the Livs

It's not the official national language, but Livonian is a language with roots deep - perhaps even deeper - into Latvia's history than Latvian itself.

A Finno-Ugric language related to Finnish and Estonian (though also sharing some vocabulary with Latvian), Livonian is spoken by just a handful of people on the west coast of Latvia amongst the Livs, commonly regarded as Europe's smallest ethnic group.

Now Latvian speakers have the chance to learn a little about the Livonian language thanks to a new booklet being made available at libraries throughout the country.

The booklet was written by linguist and Livonian scholar Valts Ernštreits and was produced by the Latvian Language Agency in collaboration with the Liv Culture Center.

It outlines basic information about the fascinating Liv language's history, its role in Latvian, its usage and grammar.

The booklet outlines the alphabet and pronunciation peculiarities of the Livonian language, all in an attractive folding package.

We also recommend reading this fascinating interview with Valts at the Deep Baltic website for more thoughts on the inter-relations between Latvian, Estonian and Livonian.

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