Latvian Language and Culture through the Ages

January 9, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Science, Biology, Ecology
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Latvian Language and Culture through the Ages Dace Prauliņš [email protected]

Outline 

Brief introduction

Origins of Baltic languages and history of Latvian language to the present day

Features of Latvian language

Cultural heritage – folk songs, folk tales, beliefs, etc.

Number of Latvian speakers About 1.4 million native speakers in Latvia  About 150 000 native speakers abroad either exiled in 1944 or emigrated from Latvia more recently to find work  Total number of Latvian speakers slightly exceeds 2 million – includes all for whom Latvian is a second language  Only about 250 languages which are spoken by more than 1 million people in the world 

Ethnic composition of Latvia  Latvians  Russians  Belarussians

 Ukrainians  Polish  Lithuanians  Others

58.6% 28.8% 3.9% 2.6% 2.5% 1.4% 2.2%

Contact with other languages Liv, Estonian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Russian neighbouring languages  Russian, Polish, Swedish, German have been languages of cultural exchange and official transactions  Latin in Catholic religious ceremonies  From Middle Ages to the early 20th century German was dominant in education, science and administration – about 3000 borrowings from German in Latvian 

Indo-European languages

Early settlers and Baltic groups Earliest hunter-gatherers arrived 10 – 12 thousand years ago – following reindeer  More than 4000 years ago Finno-Ugric groups settled – Livs and Estonians are descendants  Proto-Baltic groups arrived in early 2000 BC – first in south, then also central and eastern parts  First split into Eastern (Prussians, Couronians, etc.) and Western (Lettgallians, Lithuanians, etc.) Balts 

Area of Baltic river names

Latvian and Lithuanian Split between Latvian and Lithuanian happened between the 1st -5th centuries and the 7th century AD  Tribes in the north had more contact with Finno-Ugric tribes, those in the south had more contact with Slav tribes – these influences caused split  It is thought that Lithuanian remained more archaic than Latvian because Slav languages also Indo-European and therefore there were more similarities 

Baltic tribes & provinces c. AD 1200

Regions in Latvia today

Beginnings of Latvian language Latvian thought to be based mainly on languages spoken by Latgallians and Semigallians  Couronian and Selonian languages extinct before they could be documented but leave traces in place names and dialects  Descendants of Livs also retained features in dialect, also in place names, e.g. –aži, -iži; first syllable stress in Latvian may be of Liv origin 

Early language standardisation  

 

Latvian not written down until 16th century Authors of first books were Baltic German clergy writing religious works in Latvian following Reformation First printed text in Latvian appeared in 1525 Among first books preserved until today are a Catholic Catechism (1585) and an Evangelical Catechism (1586) First dictionary – 1638; first grammar – 1644: German clergymen G. Manzelius and J.G. Rehehusen

Luther’s small catechism - 1586

First bible translated by J. E. Glück, published in Rīga in 1689

National awakening Early 19th century - powerful “awakening” of national identity – first newspapers printed and active cultural development  Status of Baltic languages also changed – Baltic German nobility had regarded them as “rural languages”  End of 19th century – Jaunlatvieši (new Latvians) demanded same rights enjoyed by other nations - Latvians took over research and standardisation of language – many press publications and books 

First newspaper – January 1822

Latvian Newspaper 1824; St. Petersburg Newspaper 1862

Atis Kronvalds ( 1837 – 1875) 

Instrumental in changing script from Gothic to Latin and spelling which was originally based on Middle Low German Introduced new words into language based on existing rules – about 100 still used Also suggested preferred words where several existed

Krišjānis Barons (1835–1923)  

Promoter of Latvian national awakening Collector, compiler and researcher of Latvian folk songs (dainas) An editor of the Pēterburgas avīzes - a newspaper which was very prominent in the national awakening

After World War II   

In Latvia: Latvian and Russian bilingualism language of state and its structures was Russian Percentage of Latvian language users decreased because of immigration Many studies of Latvian carried out by Commission of Terminology of the Latvian Academy of Sciences – grammar and dictionaries compiled In exile: many Latvian schools which kept language and culture alive; also secondary school (ğimnāzija) in Münster, West Germany

Language integration today 

Main goal of language policy is integration of all citizens in context of Latvian as official language while protecting and developing minority languages Many minorities have bilingual education with Latvian taught as a second language but Latvian being used more and more to teach core subjects; higher education only in Latvian Now about 50% of non-Latvians have good – excellent language skills; only 10% – 12% have no Latvian (mainly elderly)

Latvian alphabet and spelling a, ā, b, c, č, d, e, ē, f, g, ģ, h, i, ī, j, k, ķ, l, ļ, m, n, ņ, o, p, r, s, š, t, u, ū, v, z, ž  One of the most perfect Latin script-based spelling systems – based on Czech  First books printed in the second half of 16th century used Gothic letters and based on spelling of Middle Low German  Gothic letters & German spelling principles used up to beginning of 20th century  1908 – new orthography introduced but not fully used until 1920s 

Structural features of Latvian   

 

Nouns have 6 cases: nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, locative, vocative Verbs inflected for tense, mood, voice and person System of derivational affixes, e.g. dot (give): atdot (give back), iedot (give with perfective meaning), padot (pass), pārdot (sell), izdot (spend) Word order within clause relatively fluid Stress generally on first syllable of each word – long vowel may occur in an unstressed syllable

Oral traditions Very rich collection - some 3 m - of folksongs (dainas), folk tales (pasakas), riddles (mīklas), proverbs and sayings (sakāmvārdi), beliefs (ticējumi)  Folk song: 

Dainas – folk songs   

 

Not known how old they are – saved through oral tradition – probably sung Censored at beginning of 13th century by Teutonic knights Krišjānis Barons collected 218 000 in 8 volumes (1894 – 1915) – 35 000 primary + variations – his original notes and drawers shown in next slide Folklore Archive now has about 1 m – “one daina for every Latvian” Ecological, anti-war, matriarchal – talk about daily life, nature, courtship, etc.

Dainu skapis (cupboard)

Emilis Melngailis (1874 – 1954) Musician, composer and choir conductor  Collected folk song texts and melodies on expeditions through countryside 

Prof. Pēteris Šmits (1869 – 1938) 

Collected folk tales in 15 volumes, first published 1925 – 1937; categorised according to subject: animals, magic, jokes, tales with a moral, etc. Also collected 36 790 beliefs, first published in 1940 - 1941

Folk beliefs 

Katru lielāku darbu iesāk jaunā mēnesī un laimīgās dienās; vai nu otrdienā, ceturtdienā jeb sestdienā. Every big task should be started when there is a new moon and on lucky days; either on a Tuesday, a Thursday or a Saturday. Ja kaķis pārskrien no labās uz kreiso pusi pār ceļu, tad ir laime, bet ja no kreisās uz labo, tad ir nelaime. If a cat crosses your path from right to left, you will have good luck, bet if it’s from left to right, then you will have bad luck.

Proverbs and sayings 

Ja upei dibena neredzi, tad nebrien iekšā. If you can’t see the bottom of the river, don’t wade in. Look before you leap.

Ciemos labi, bet mājās vēl labāk. It’s good to go visiting, but it’s even better to be at home. There’s no place like home.

Riddles 

Liela, zila pļava, pilna zelta aitiņu un ganiņš vidū. A large blue field full of small golden sheep and a young shepherd in the middle. (Sky)

Liels kalns; caur to kalnu divi tuneli, caur tiem, tuneļiem skrien vējš aurodams. A large hill with two tunnels running through; the wind roars through these tunnels. (Nose)

References - books 

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 

Dini, P. U. (2000) Baltu Valodas (Baltic languages). Roze Gimbutas, M. (1963) The Balts. Thames and Hudson Ķēniņš, I. (2005) Latvija Gadsimtu Lokos. I. Aizvēsture un Senvēsture (Latvia through the centuries. I. Pre-history and ancient history). Raka Ķēniņš, I. (2005) Latvija Gadsimtu Lokos. II. Viduslaiki 13. -15. Gadsimts (Latvia through the centuries. II Middle ages 13th – 15th centuries). Raka Plakans, A. (1995) The Latvians. A Short History. Hoover Vīķe-Freiberga, V. (2005) Saules Balsi. Latvian Sun Song Melodies. Karogs (The three folksongs with music taken from this book)

References - websites        (culture) (folk tales) (beliefs) (folksongs) (Latvian Institute) (riddles) (M. Gimbutas’ book The Balts download)

References - illustrations         

Indo-European language family tree: Baltic tribes + provinces; area of Baltic river names: Luther’s small catechism, first Bible and its translator, Latvian newspapers: Atis Kronvalds: Krišjānis Barons: Emilis Melngailis: Šmits: Dainu skapis: Latvian regions:

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