Sunday, October 03, 2010
Take a look at this site, called Latvianstuff.com At first glance it's quite plain and unassuming, but it's actually one of the best places to learn basic Latvian online. The language lessons start here, and their structure reminds me a lot of the Lithuanian course on ikindalikelanguages.com which you can see here, in that it doesn't barrage the new student with a ton of linguistic terms and charts in the beginning, but rather brings in new concepts one step at a time. First only one type of noun declension, then another, and the same with verbs and everything else. There are a lot of mp3 files as well so listening is covered too. Considering what a good job the site owner is doing I thought I would give it a bit of extra attention.
The course also seems to be recently updated too, with the most recent lesson (lesson 12) created a month ago and an upcoming lesson 13 (not sure when).
On Latvian and Lithuanian difficulty this post (from ikindalikelanguages again) may be interesting as it claims that Latvian is the easier language to learn and gives a number of good reasons why. One of the key reasons is the almost entirely regular stress. Having studied some Estonian and having lived there for a month too, Latvian looks exactly like what I would expect it to be - a somewhat more Estonian-like Lithuanian. Words like māja (house) and grāmata (book) are obvious, but other aspects such as using the verb to be to mean to have are interesting too. In Estonian one says mul on noun (lit. on me is) and in Latvian it's man ir noun (to/for me is). The question word vai which also means or seems to be the same as the Estonian word too, which is või.
On the other hand, apparently Latvian has more Russian loanwords than Lithuanian but I wouldn't recognize those, just the Estonian.
I wrote a post about that same subject last year, but it's interesting to now see the similarities in grammar as well instead of just vocabulary. The Wikipedia page on Estonian vocabulary is also excellent, giving numerous examples of where Baltic and other loanwords have entered Estonian.
By the way, Latvia had an election yesterday.