Estonian, Latvian leaders speak the same lingo

Understanding between Estonia and Latvia took a step forward Monday with the presidents of the two Baltic neighbors unveiling a new set of dictionaries translating their two languages.

At a ceremony in Riga, Estonia's famously bookish Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Latvia's Andris Berzins - who has in the past said he reads a book before bed every night - perused the pages of the heavyweight tomes of mutual understanding and presented awards to the authors of the important cultural project.

In one of the quirks of translating between Indo-European Latvian and Finno-Ugric Estonian, the Estonian-Latvian dictionary is considerably thicker than its accompanying Latvian-Estonian volume.

Publication of the dictionaries was supported by Estonian-Latvian cross-border cooperation programs and each dictionary has over 40,000 entries, which should be plenty to enable Latvians to ask Estonians why they carry their wives around and Estonians to ask Latvians if they really do have six toes.

The work, on which prominent philologists and linguists on both sides of the border collaborated represents is a completely new and modern approach, the presidents said.

An online language resource based on the work is also available at www.ee-lv.lv.

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