A Country Rich in Resources – Latvia and its Language

One of the Baltic Countries - Latvia and its Language

October 2, 2017

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Latvian Translation

Hello. I am Yucchi, a fledgling translator who transferred last autumn from a different field. I've only just started in translation so I have much to learn, but I'm studying hard with the help of my seniors.

I think there are few people who can identify where exactly Latvia is. To be honest, I couldn't either. So, I would like to briefly introduce Latvia to those who, like myself, are not familiar with this country.

What Kind of Country is Latvia?

Looking at the map on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, one can see Latvia located to the south of the Scandinavian peninsula and facing the Baltic Sea, sandwiched between the two other Baltic states, Estonia and Lithuania. It shares borders with Russia and Belarus, and has been occupied by Russia, Sweden, and Poland. It has historically flourished as an important center for trade, and the capital, Riga, is a sister city to Kobe in Japan. The official language is Latvian, but there are many Russian speakers too.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, half of Latvia's land is covered in forest, which is used for forestry, one of their major export industries. Thanks to the warm current that flows over the Baltic Sea, the land is relatively warm despite the high latitude. Learning that Latvia's main agricultural products include wheat, barley, potatoes, and milk, I was immediately reminded of Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido. Latvia is a member of the EU, and has adopted the Euro currency.

Facts to Know about Latvian

The Latvian Language

According to the BBC and the Japan Latvia Music Society, Latvian belongs to the Baltic languages in the Indo-European language family, and is the official language of Latvia. Latvian is also spoken outside of Latvia in countries such as Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden and Russia. The Latin alphabet is used, with some additional symbols that are not in the English alphabet. I was a bit reassured when I learned that the letters were the same as in English!

The spelling and pronunciation correspond with each other, so generally you can read it straightforwardly. However, there are a few pronunciations which you need to be careful about. There are nine vowels, and the accent of a word is most often placed on the first syllable. According to a website on Latvia called latvianstuff.com, there are male nouns and female nouns, and they have six case inflections. Verbs also have six forms which change depending on the whether it is first, second or third-person, singular or plural. It seems like a lot of work is needed before getting used to the different inflections.

Business and Communication

According to business manner websites like kwintessential.co.uk and businessculture.org, Latvian people tend to be calm, and rarely get emotional. Furthermore, they are reserved and do not mind silence in conversations. When communicating with people, they value good manners and consider it rude to interrupt when someone else is talking. They do not like long meetings, and so they get straight to the point and tend to wrap up early. When having a meeting with Latvians, you should be sure to prepare well beforehand.

Beautiful Forests, Culture, and History

Before doing research I barely knew anything about Latvia, but now I've discovered a few similarities between Latvia and Japan, like the fact that their main agricultural products are alike with Hokkaido and that the people are calm and reserved, comfortable with silence. This has led me to develop a sense of familiarity towards Latvia. With its beautiful forests, unique culture, and historical buildings, Latvia has now become another of the countries I wish to visit. I think I will now become more attentive to words like the Baltic Countries and the Latvian language!

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