Latvian: Historical Relationships to other Languages
The Latvian language is related to most of the languages of Europe (as well as some languages of India, Pakistan, Iran, etc.).
The language most closely related to Latvian is Lithuanian. However, Latvian is also related to:
When we say that languages are "related", we mean that: they all descend from a common ancestor language.
- English, German, Swedish, and all the other Germanic languages
- French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, and all of the other Romance languages
- Russian, Polish, Serbian, and all of the other Slavic languages
- Welsh, Irish, Scots Gaelic, and all of the other Celtic languages
- Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and all of the other Indo-Iranian languages
- and many more
All of the above languages are descended from a language which linguists call Proto-Indo-European. This language was never written down, and has long been extinct. Linguists consider that it was spoken (by the Indo-Europeans!) from about 8,000 BC to 4,000 BC (although these dates are debatable).
One way to compare languages which are, presumably, related is to look at "cognate" words. Cognates are sets of words in different, but related, languages which apparently descended from the same ancestor word.
Table of Cognates
Take a look at the following table. It shows a number of words in Latvian, and their "cognates" in some of the other Indo-European languages (parts of words in red are the related parts of the words. If the whole word is in red, the whole word is related.
meaning||English ||English ||English ||French||Russian||German
|(directly from its Germanic ancestor language)||(borrowed from Latin)||(borrowed from Greek)|
|sirds||"heart"||heart||courage||cardiac||cor ||serdce||Herz |
|tievs||"thin, stretched" ||thin||tense, tendon||tone, hypotenuse ||ténu||tonkij||dünn |
|vêjs'||"wind"||wind||ventilate ||vent||veter||Wind |
|sêdêt||"to sit" ||sit||sedentary, siege||asseoir, être assis||sidet' ||sitzen |
|acs||"eye"||eye||oculist, monocle||optic, myopia
|brâlis||"brother"||brother||fraternal ||frère||brat||Bruder |
|stâvêt||"to stand" ||stand||statue, stature, station ||static ||stojat'||stehen |
Links to sites about the Latvian language