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Baltic Online

Lesson 9: Latvian

Lilita Zalkalns, Peteris Vanags, and Jonathan Slocum

Poet, writer, literary critic and publicist Edvarts Virza (pseudonym of Edvarts Lieknis, 1883-1940) was born in Zemgale, a region known for its rich farming land and well-to-do homesteads. He was the oldest of nine children, and he passed his childhood and youth in relative affluence. His budding literary talent was nurtured by his Bohemian grandfather, who was a great story-teller, and his grandmother, who knew all about herbs and doctoring, local legends and folklore.

His parents' financial situation was such that, after finishing Bauska municipal school in 1901, Virza was able to return home and live at the "Billites" farmstead. It was in Billites that he felt best, and here he could immerse himself in Russian Symbolist and Decadent poetry and devote himself to the study of French language and literature. His first volume of poetry, The Chalice (1907), is a striking example of Latvian symbolism, a world of darkness, fateful passion and spiritual loneliness. Lighter, sunnier lyrics were published in his next volume of poetry, The Divine Games (1919). A mutual love of France and all things French bought Virza together with the noted poet, musician and translator Elza Sterste (1885-1976). She was unfailing in her support of Virza, creating and maintaining the conditions for fostering her husband's talent.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The idealization of country life and the image of the hardworking and God-fearing farmer was a common concept appearing in the neo-romantic literatures of the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The impulse to glorify pastoral life was also felt and expressed in much of Latvian literature of the 1920's and 1930's, a movement which reflected the political culture surrounding the authoritarian president Kārlis Ulmanis (1877-1942), who dissolved Latvia's parliament in a 1934 coup d'etat. Virza fully believed in the political and social ideals represented by Ulmanis; he believed that Latvia should be an agriculturally based one-party state, lead by a strong leader.

Virza's prose poem "Straumeni: The Story of an Old Farm in Zemgale through the Changing Seasons," was first published as a series in the literary monthly Daugava between 1929 and 1933, and to date has been republished and reprinted over twenty times. This prose poem represents the purest essence of the Latvian patriarchal farmstead and depicts Virza's deep devotion to and love of the Latvian soil and the Latvian farmer. This epic gains its strength from Virza's virtuouso use of language, including the use of the third person only. There is almost no conversation in the entire work. Everything takes place as though seen by the eyes of the reader, who, like a traveller, is led through fields and over meandering streams in and around the Straumeni homestead and is invited to rest under the shade of the huge, leafy old trees and listen to the story of the old homestead, of the land and the country, and of the passing of generations now gone.

Vectēvs mīlēja viens pats apkalpot savu bišu baznīcu, jo bites viņu mīlēja un padevās viņa rīcībā.

  • vectēvs -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <vectēvs> grandfather -- grandfather
  • mīlēja -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <mīlēt, mīlu, mīlēju> love -- loved
  • viens -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <viens> one, alone -- ...
  • pats -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <pats> himself -- by himself
  • apkalpot -- verb; infinitive of <apkalpot, apkalpoju, apkalpoju> serve -- to attend to
  • savu -- pronoun; accusative singular feminine of <sava> his -- his
  • bišu -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <bite> bee -- bee
  • baznīcu -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <baznīca> church -- church
  • jo -- adverb <jo> because -- because
  • bites -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <bite> bee -- the bees
  • viņu -- pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- him
  • mīlēja -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <mīlēt, mīlu, mīlēju> love -- loved
  • un -- conjunction <un> and -- and
  • padevās -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <padoties, padodos, padevos> surrender, succumb -- yielded to
  • viņa -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <viņš> he -- his
  • rīcībā -- noun, masculine; locative singular of <rīcība> at someone's disposal -- care

Varbūt tas bija tāpēc, ka viņš pamazām tuvojās tam vecumam, kad cilvēku atstāj viss, kas nepatīkams viņa miesā un garā.

  • Varbūt -- particle <varbūt> perhaps, maybe, possibly -- perhaps
  • tas -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <tas, tā> that -- this
  • bija -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <būt, esmu, biju> to be -- was (so)
  • tāpēc -- adverb <tāpēc> therefore, because -- because
  • ka -- conjunction <ka> that -- ...
  • viņš -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- he
  • pamazām -- adverb <pamazām> gradually, little by little -- gradually
  • tuvojās -- verb; 3rd person preterit reflexive of <tuvoties, tuvojos, tuvojos> approach -- was... approaching
  • tam -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine of <tas, tā> that -- the
  • vecumam -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <vecums> age -- age
  • kad -- adverb <kad> when -- when
  • cilvēku -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <cilvēks> person, human being -- a person
  • atstāj -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <atstāt, atstāju, atstāju> leave, depart, abandon -- departs from
  • viss -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <viss> all, everything -- everything
  • kas -- pronoun; nominative singular of <kas> that -- that
  • nepatīkams -- negative particle; <ne> not + verb; nominative singular masculine present passive participle of <patikt, patīku, patiku> to like -- is unpleasant
  • viņa -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <viņš> he -- to the
  • miesā -- noun, feminine; locative singular of <miesa> flesh, body -- body
  • un -- conjunction <un> and -- and
  • garā -- noun, masculine; locative singular of <garš> spirit -- spirit

Debess un gadu saules bija viņa stāvu izžāvējušas, padarot to līdzīgu ilgi un lēni kaltētam liepas kokam, no kā vecie latvieši taisīja savas skanīgās kokles.

  • debess -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <debess> heaven, sky -- the heavens
  • un -- conjunction <un> and -- and
  • gadu -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <gads> year -- over the years
  • saules -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <saule> sun, sunlight, sunshine -- the sun
  • bija -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <būt, esmu, biju> to be -- had
  • viņa -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <viņš> he -- his
  • stāvu -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <stāvs> stature, figure, frame -- body
  • izžāvējušas -- verb; plural feminine past active participle of <izžāvēt, izžāvēju, izžāvēju> dry out -- dried out
  • padarot -- verb; present active ot-gerund of <padarīt, padaru, padaŗiju> to do, make -- making
  • to -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <tas, tā> that -- it
  • līdzīgu -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <līdzīgs> similar, equal to -- like
  • ilgi -- adverb <ilgi> long, for a long time -- ...
  • un -- conjunction <un> and -- ...
  • lēni -- adverb <lēni> slow -- slowly
  • kaltētam -- verb; dative singular masculine past passive participle of <kaltēt, kaltēju, kaltēju> to dry -- cured
  • liepas -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <liepa> linden tree -- of the linden tree
  • kokam -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <koks> tree, wood -- wood
  • no -- preposition <no> from -- from
  • -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <kas> which -- which
  • vecie -- definite adjective; nominative plural masculine of <vecs> old -- the ancient
  • latvieši -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <latvietis> Latvian -- Latvians
  • taisīja -- verb; 3rd person plural preterit of <taisīt, taisu, taisīju> to make -- made
  • savas -- pronoun; accusative plural feminine of <sava> one's -- their
  • skanīgās -- definite adjective; accusative plural feminine of <skanīga> sonorous -- sonorous
  • kokles -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <kokle> kokle, traditional music instrument -- kokles

Jūnija mēnesī, kad bija spietošanas laiks, viņu arvien redzēja uz trepītēm pakāpušos rīkojamies ap kokiem, neapsegtu seju, ar dūlāgu rokā, un tur, lēni runādamies, viņš apvārdoja savas Dieva gotiņas.

  • jūnija -- noun, masculine; genitive singular <jūnijs> June -- in June
  • mēnesī -- noun, masculine; locative singular <mēnesis> month -- ...
  • kad -- adverb <kad> when -- when
  • bija -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <būt, esmu, biju> to be -- it was
  • spietošanas -- noun, feminine; genitive singular <spietošana> swarming -- swarming
  • laiks -- noun, masculine; nominative singular <laiks> time, period -- season
  • viņu -- pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- he
  • arvien -- adverb <arvien> all the time, the whole time -- always
  • redzēja -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <redzēt, redzu, redzēju> to see -- could... be seen
  • uz -- preposition <uz> on, upon -- on
  • trepītēm -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <trepītes> step ladder -- the step ladder
  • pakāpušos -- verb; accusative singular masculine active past participle reflexive of <pakāpties, pakāpjos, pakāpos> to step up -- standing
  • rīkojamies -- verb; present active am-gerund reflexive of <rīkoties, rīkojos, rīkojos> to busy one's self, act, behave -- working
  • ap -- preposition <ap> around, by, near, about -- among
  • kokiem -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <koks> tree, wood -- the trees
  • neapsegtu -- negative particle; <ne> not + verb; accusative singular feminine past passive participle of <apsegt, apsedzu, apsedzu> to cover -- uncovered
  • seju -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <seja> face -- (his) face
  • ar -- preposition <ar> with, together, and -- with
  • dūlāgu -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <dūlāgs> smoke stick -- a smoking branch
  • rokā -- noun, feminine; locative singular of <roka> hand -- in hand
  • un -- conjunction <un> and -- and
  • tur -- adverb <tur> there -- there
  • lēni -- adverb <lēni> slow -- softly
  • runādamies -- verb; nominative singular masculine present active dams-gerund reflexive of <runāties, runājos, runājos> to talk to one's self -- talking
  • viņš -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- he
  • apvārdoja -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <apvārdot, apvārdoju, apvārdoju> to charm -- would weave a spell on
  • savas -- pronoun; accusative plural feminine of <sava> one's -- ...
  • dieva -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <dievs> god -- god's
  • gotiņas -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <gotiņa> little cow -- little creatures

Neviena saime viņam neaizbēga, un ja kāda bērnus laižot taisījās uz laišanos, viņš to apmierināja, uzlaizdams tai ūdeni no šļīcenes, kas bija izmaukta no jaunas priedītes galotnes.

  • neviena -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <neviena> nobody, no one, not a single -- not a single
  • saime -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <saime> family -- bee colony
  • viņam -- pronoun; dative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- from him
  • neaizbēga -- negative particle; <ne> not + verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <aizbēgt, aizbēgu, aizbēgu> to flee -- (n)ever escaped
  • un -- conjunction <un> and -- and
  • ja -- conjunction <ja> if -- if
  • kāda -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <kāda> someone, anyone -- (a colony)
  • bērnus -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <bērns> child -- (its) brood
  • laižot -- verb; present ot-gerund of <laist, laižu, laidu> to release -- releasing
  • taisījās -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit reflexive of <taisīties, taisos, taisījos> to prepare one's self -- was preparing
  • uz -- preposition <uz> on, for -- to
  • laišanos -- reflexive noun; accusative singular feminine of <laišanās> departing -- fly away
  • viņš -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- he
  • to -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine of <tas, tā> that -- it
  • apmierināja -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <apmierināt, apmierinu, apmierināju> to satisfy, calm down -- calmed... down
  • uzlaizdams -- verb; nominative singular masculine present active dams-gerund of <uzlaist, uzlaižu, uzlaidu> to set on -- by hosing
  • tai -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular feminine of <tas, tā> that -- it
  • ūdeni -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <ūdens> water -- with water
  • no -- preposition <no> from -- from
  • šļīcenes -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <šļīcene> hose -- a hose
  • kas -- pronoun; nominative singular of <kas> that -- that
  • bija -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit of <būt, esmu, biju> to be -- was
  • izmaukta -- verb; accusative singular feminine past passive participle of <izmaukt, izmaucu, izmaucu> hollowed out, carved from -- made
  • no -- preposition <no> from -- from
  • jaunas -- adjective; genitive singular feminine of <jauna> young, new -- of a young
  • priedītes -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <priedīte> pine -- pine tree
  • galotnes -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <galotne> top, summit -- the top

Tā viņš tur kustējās balti balinātās pakulu biksēs, baltā atloku kreklā, siksnu apjozies, ar katru gadu vairāk līdzinādamies vecajam senču Dieviņam, zibinādams savas zem biezām uzacīm nogrimušās acis.

  • -- adverb <> so, thus -- so
  • viņš -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <viņš> he -- he
  • tur -- adverb <tur> there -- ...
  • kustējās -- verb; 3rd person singular preterit reflexive of <kustēties, kustos, kustējos> to move around, work -- worked
  • balti -- adverb <balti> white -- white
  • balinātās -- verb; locative plural feminine past passive participle of <balināt, balinu, balināju> to bleach -- in bleached
  • pakulu -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <pakula> coarse linen -- coarse linen
  • biksēs -- noun, feminine; locative plural of <bikses> trousers -- trousers
  • baltā -- adjective; locative plural masculine of <balts> white -- a white
  • atloku -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <atloks> collar -- collared
  • kreklā -- noun, masculine; locative singular of <krekls> shirt -- shirt
  • siksnu -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <siksna> belt -- a belt
  • apjozies -- verb; nominative singular masculine reflexive past active participle of <apjozt, apjožu, apjozu> to gird (round) -- around his waist
  • ar -- preposition <ar> with, together, and -- with
  • katru -- pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <katrs> each, every -- every
  • gadu -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <gads> year -- (passing) year
  • vairāk -- adverb <vairāk> more, increasingly -- increasingly
  • līdzinādamies -- verb; nominative singular masculine reflexive present active dams-gerund of <līdzināt, līdzinu, līdzināju> to be similar to -- becoming... similar
  • vecajam -- definite adjective; dative singular masculine of <vecais> the old -- to the old
  • senču -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <sencis> ancestor -- of his ancestors
  • Dieviņam -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <dievins> God -- God
  • zibinādams -- verb; nominative singular masculine present active dams-gerund of <zibināt, zibinu, zibināju> to flash -- flashing
  • savas -- pronoun; accusative plural feminine of <sava> his -- his
  • zem -- preposition <zem> under, beneath -- beneath
  • biezām -- adjective; dative plural feminine of <bieza> thick -- (his) thick
  • uzacīm -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <uzacs> eyebrow -- eyebrows
  • nogrimušās -- verb; locative plural feminine past active participle of <nogrimt, nogrimu, nogrimu> to sink -- sunk
  • acis -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <acs> eye -- eyes

Lesson Text

Vectēvs mīlēja viens pats apkalpot savu bišu baznīcu, jo bites viņu mīlēja un padevās viņa rīcībā. Varbūt tas bija tāpēc, ka viņš pamazām tuvojās tam vecumam, kad cilvēku atstāj viss, kas nepatīkams viņa miesā un garā. Debess un gadu saules bija viņa stāvu izžāvējušas, padarot to līdzīgu ilgi un lēni kaltētam liepas kokam, no kā vecie latvieši taisīja savas skanīgās kokles. Jūnija mēnesī, kad bija spietošanas laiks, viņu arvien redzēja uz trepītēm pakāpušos rīkojamies ap kokiem, neapsegtu seju, ar dūlāgu rokā, un tur, lēni runādamies, viņš apvārdoja savas Dieva gotiņas. Neviena saime viņam neaizbēga, un ja kāda bērnus laižot taisījās uz laišanos, viņš to apmierināja, uzlaizdams tai ūdeni no šļīcenes, kas bija izmaukta no jaunas priedītes galotnes. Tā viņš tur kustējās balti balinātās pakulu biksēs, baltā atloku kreklā, siksnu apjozies, ar katru gadu vairāk līdzinādamies vecajam senču Dieviņam, zibinādams savas zem biezām uzacīm nogrimušās acis.

Translation

Grandfather loved to attend to his bee church, by himself, because the bees loved him and yielded to his care. Perhaps this was so because he was gradually approaching the age when everything that is unpleasant to the body and spirit departs from a person. Over the years the heavens and the sun had dried out his body, making it like the slowly-cured wood of the linden tree, from which the ancient Latvians made their sonorous "kokles" [a traditional music instrument]. In June, when it was swarming season, he could always be seen standing on the step ladder, working among the trees, his face uncovered, holding a smoking branch, and there, talking softly, he would weave a spell on God's little creatures. Not a single bee colony ever escaped from him, and if a colony releasing its brood was preparing to fly away, he calmed it down by hosing it with water from a hose that was made from the top of a young pine tree. So he worked in bleached white coarse linen trousers, a white collared shirt, a belt around his waist, with every passing year becoming increasingly similar to the old God of his ancestors, his eyes flashing, sunk beneath his thick eyebrows.

Grammar

6. Dipthongs
6.1. Pure Diphthongs

There are ten pure diphthongs in Latvian, namely:

    /ai/ /au/
    /ei/ /eu/
    /ie/ (or /ia/) /iu/
    /ou/ /oi/
    /ui/ /uo/ (or /ua/)

Six of the diphthongs are found in words of Latvian origin:

    /ai/ /au/
    /ei/ /ie/ (or /ia/)
    /uo/ (or /ua/) /eu/

The first five diphthongs are the most common in Latvian. For example:

    /ai/   saime 'household'
    /au/   lauks 'field'
    /ei/   teika 'tale'
    /ie/   liels 'large'
    /uo/   noma 'rent'

(Graphemic o corresponds here to /uo/ or /ua/. See section 1.2).

The /eu/ is a result of a vocalization in Latvian words, where /v/ is transformed to /u/ if preceded by a short vowel in the same syllable. It is written as -ev, for example: tev /teu/ 'for you', sev /seu/ '-self'. In most borrowed words, the diphthong is replaced by 'ei', for example: Eiropa 'Europe', pneimonija 'pneumonia'.

Two of the diphthongs are found only in foreign loan words, for example:

    /oi/   boikots 'boycott'
    /ou/   džouls 'joule'

Two of the diphthongs are found in words of Finno-Ugric and Slavic origin, or in onomatopoetic words, for example:

    /iu/   pliukšķēt 'to splash'
    /ui/   muižnieks 'landlord'
6.2. Semi-diphthongs

Besides the pure diphthongs mentioned in 6.1, there are also semi-diphthongs (or mixed diphthongs), in which the vowels a, e, i or u are followed by r, l, ļ or m (+ consonant). For example:

    dzert 'to drink'   bars 'crowd'   cirpt 'to shear'
    kurmis 'mole'   dzelt 'to sting'   salms 'straw'
    svilpe 'whistle'   mulda 'trough'   siļķe 'herring'
    lemt 'to decide,   grimt 'to sink'   tumsa 'darkness'

The semi-diphthongs form intonational units in the same way as the pure diphthongs, and are therefore customarily regarded as diphthongs in Baltic linguistic tradition.

7. Noun Declensions
7.1. Second Declension

Masculine nouns that have the ending -is in the nominative singular belong to the second declension. The nouns of this class belong to the ija- (Indo-European ijo-) stem. They have consonant palatalization in the genitive singular and in all cases in the plural with either a -j- after the consonant at the end of the stem or the -j- merged with the preceding consonant.

The following pattern of sound alterations is established, for example:

        Nominative singular   Nominative plural
    l > ļ   gailis 'rooster'   gaiļi <*gailji
    n > ņ   spainis 'bucket'   spaiņi <*spainji
    s > š   mēnesis 'month'   mēneši
    t > š   latvietis 'Latvian'   latvieši
    d > ž   nazis 'knife'   naži
    z > ž   briedis 'deer'   brieži
    c > č   lācis 'bear'   lāči
    dz >   slēdzis 'switch'   slēdži

The following consonant clusters also alternate, for example:

        Nominative singular   Nominative plural
    sn > šņ   slieksnis 'threshold'   sliekšņi
    zn > žņ   lauznis 'crow-bar'   laužņi
    sl > šļ   kāpslis 'stirrup'   kāpšļi
    zl > žļ   zizlis 'wand'   zižļi
    ln > ļņ   alnis 'moose'   aļņi
    ll > ļļ   zellis 'fellow'   zeļļi

If the stems end with labials b, p, m, v, there is no sound alteration, and the -j- of the ending is retained. For example:

    Nominative singular   Nominative plural
    burvis 'sorcerer'   burvji
    gulbis 'svan'   gulbji
    ūpis 'eagle owl'   ūpji
    rāmis 'frame'   rāmji

If the stems end with ķ, ģ or r, then there is no sound alteration and the -j- of the ending is dropped. For example:

    Nominative singular   Nominative plural
    kaķis 'cat'   kaķi
    kuģis 'ship'   kuģi
    mūris 'wall'   mūri

In Modern Written Latvian, the sound alteration r > ŗ has been dropped. (See section 1.3). However, in older texts, linguistic texts and in texts published by Latvians living abroad this sound alteration is marked. For example:

    Nominative singular   Nominative plural
    teātris 'theater'   teātŗi
    rokturis 'handle'   roktuŗi

From a historical perspective, second declension nouns seem to form a subgroup of the first declension. Note that nouns that have retained -ja- in all cases, for example vējš<*vējas 'wind' have been grouped into the 1st declension a-stems. (See section 3.1).

Paradigm for the second declension nouns brālis 'brother', cirvis 'axe':

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   brālis, cirvis   brāļi, cirvji
Gen.   brāļa, cirvja   brāļu, cirvju
Dat.   brālim, cirvim   brāļiem, cirvjiem
Acc.   brāli, cirvi   brāļus, cirvjus
Loc.   brālī, cirvī   brāļos, cirvjos

7.1.1 The Consonant Stem

There are seven masculine nouns that belong to the consonant stem: akmens 'rock', asmens 'blade', rudens 'autumn', ūdens 'water', zibens 'lightning', mēness 'moon', sāls 'salt'. The noun sāls has a parallel feminine form, and can be inflected according to the class VI declension. The consonant stem is usually grouped under the second declension.

The genitive singular is identical to the nominative singular for the nouns of this class. The rest of the paradigm is identical to the -ija-stem declension. Paradigm for the consonant stem nouns ūdens 'water', mēness 'moon':

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   ūdens, mēness   ūdeņi, mēneši
Gen.   ūdens, mēness   ūdeņu, mēnešu
Dat.   ūdenim, mēnesim   ūdeņiem, mēnešiem
Acc.   ūdeni, mēnesi   ūdeņus, mēnešus
Loc.   ūdenī, mēnesī   ūdeņos, mēnešos

7.1.2 Irregularities

Some nouns of the 2nd declension are irregular and are declined according to combinations of a-stem, ija-stem and consonant stem paradigms.

A. The noun suns 'dog' is declined according to the brālis paradigm, except that the nominative singular is written suns.

B. The nouns viesis 'guest' and tētis 'father' are declined in all plural forms and in the genitive singular as a-stem nouns, but in the remaining cases of the singular as ija-stem nouns. For example:

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   viesis   viesi
Gen.   viesa   viesu
Dat.   viesim   viesiem
Acc.   viesi   viesus
Loc.   viesī   viesos

C. Surnames ending in -skis and -ckis as well as first names ending in -tis and -dis are not palatalized. For example, the man's name Valdis Janševskis:

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   Valdis Janševskis   Valdi Janševski
Gen.   Valda Janševska   Valdu Janševsku
Dat.   Valdim Janševskim   Valdiem Janševskiem
Acc.   Valdi Janševski   Valdus Janševskus
Loc.   Valdī Janševskī   Valdos Janševskos

However, in compound names this rule is not observed, for example: Visvaldis (Nom. Sg.), Visvalža (Gen. Sg.).

D. Nouns ending with -astis, -jis, -matis, -skatis are not palatalized. For example:

    Nom. Sg.   Gen. Sg.
    strupastis 'bobtail'   strupasta
    simtkājis 'centipede'   simtkāja
    gaišmatis 'fair man'   gaišmata
    tālskatis 'binoculars'   tālskata
7.2. Third Declension

Masculine nouns that have the ending -us in the nominative singular belong to the third declension. The nouns of this class are referred to as u-stems. Only a few nouns belong to the third declension: alus 'beer', apvidus 'region', dienvidus 'noon', klepus 'cough', ledus 'ice', lietus 'rain', medus 'honey', tirgus 'market', vidus 'middle, center', viltus 'deceit' and some proper names.

This is a closed declension and no new nouns are added to this class. The u-stem nouns have shown the tendency to migrate into the first declension. Today, for example the forms *krogus 'tavern', *cirkus 'circus', *kāsus 'dry cough' have been replaced by krogs, cirks, kāss.

The nominative and genitive singular of the u-stem nouns are identical. Though these nouns mainly appear in the singular, the plural is possible, and they are declined like the a-stems. Some of the plural forms also differ in meaning compared to the singular, for example, dienvidus 'noon', dienvidi 'south'. Paradigm of third declension noun tirgus 'market':

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   tirgus   tirgi
Gen.   tirgus   tirgu
Dat.   tirgum   tirgiem
Acc.   tirgu   tirgus
Loc.   tirgū   tirgos
7.3. Fifth Declension

The second largest group of feminine nouns belong to the fifth declension. They end with -e- in the nominative singular and are referred to as ē-stems, since in older forms the root ended with ē, for example Nom. Sg. egle < *eglē 'spruce'. In the genitive plural there is a palatization of the consonant in front of the ending, according to the sound alteration pattern shown in section 7.1 above.

The fifth declension is an open class where new nouns can be formed, for example: izvēlne '(computer) menu', blakne '(drug) side effect'.

A few nouns of the fifth declension refer to male persons, and they are declined like the feminine nouns of the 5th declension except for the dative singular, which has -em as ending instead of -ei. See example below. The same applies to male last names ending in -e, for example: Kārlis Zāle (Nom. Sg. Masc.), Kārlim Zālem (Dat. Sg. Masc.).

Paradigm for fifth declension nouns māte 'mother' (Fem.) and bende 'executioner' (Masc):

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   māte, bende   mātes, bendes
Gen.   mātes, bendes   māšu, benžu
Dat.   mātei, bendem   mātēm, bendēm
Acc.   māti, bendi   mātes, bendes
Loc.   mātē, bendē   mātēs, bendēs
7.4. Sixth Declension

Feminine nouns ending with -s in the nominative singular and in the genitive singular belong to the 6th declension. The nouns of this class are referred to as i-stems. In older forms, the nominative singular was *-is. For example: nominative sg *klētis 'granary'.

This is a closed, non-productive class containing less than fifty nouns. Many of the nouns refer to the body, for example: asins 'blood', acs 'eye', auss 'ear', balss 'voice', krūts 'breast', maksts 'vagina', nāss 'nostril', vāts 'wound', žults 'gall, bile'. Other commonly used words in this class are nakts 'night', uguns 'fire', pils 'castle', krāsns 'stove', telts 'tent'.

Place names ending in -pils belong to this declension too, for example the cities Daugavpils, Jēkabpils.

There is a palatization of the consonant in the genitive plural, according to the sound alteration pattern in section 7.1 above. For example: genitive plural klēšu >*klētju 'of the granaries'. Paradigm of sixth declension noun klēts 'granary':

Case   Singular   Plural
Nom.   klēts   klētis
Gen.   klēts   klēšu
Dat.   klētij   klētīm
Acc.   klēti   klētis
Loc.   klētī   klētīs

The present dative plural ending -īm has arisen in harmony with the ā-stems and ē-stems, for example avs 'ewe' (Nom. Sg.), avīm (Dat. Pl.), in comparison to ievām 'bird-cherry tree' (Dat. Pl.), upēm 'river' (Dat. Pl.). The older dative plural ending with a short i is still heard in some dialects, for example *klētim 'to the granaries', *acims 'to the eyes'.

7.4.1 Irregularities

Historically, the sixth declension can be regarded as being a mix of i-stem nouns and consonant stem nouns. This explains why several nouns of the sixth declension do not have palatization in the genitive plural. For example:

    Nominative Singular   Genitive Plural
    auss 'ear'   ausu
    ass 'axle'   asu
    acs 'eye'   acu
    balss 'voice'   balsu
    debess 'sky'   debesu
    dzelzs 'iron'   dzelzu
    uts 'louse'   utu
    zoss 'goose'   zosu

This is also true for the plural nouns brokastis 'breakfast' and Cēsis (the name of a town in Latvia), with their respective genitive forms brokastu, Cēsu.

This declension also has two pluralia tantum: durvis 'door' and the only masculine noun in this class ļaudis 'people'. The paradigms are as follows:

Case   Feminine Plural   Masculine Plural
Nom.   durvis   ļaudis
Gen.   durvju   ļaužu
Dat.   durvīm   ļaudīm
Acc.   durvis   ļaudis
Loc.   durvīs   ļaudīs

There is a tendency for i-stem nouns to migrate to the ē-stems of the fifth declension, for example azote < *azots 'bosom'.

8. Verb Tenses
8.1. The Simple Past Tense

In all conjugations the simple past (or preterite) is formed by adding the following endings to the past stem:

    Singular   Plural
1st   -u   -ām
2nd   -i   -āt
3rd   -a   -a

These are identical to the Subset C endings of the present as referred to in section 4.3.

The ending -u of the first person singular in the past tense has been shortened from the older -au, for example: 'I placed' liku < *likau.

The ending -i of the second person singular in the past tense has been shortened from the older -ai, or in some cases from the older -ei, for example, vilki < *vilkai 'you (sg) pulled'; vedi < *vedei 'you (sg) lead'.

Two types of preterite forms, the ā-preterite and the ē-preterite, are found in older East Baltic (i.e. Latvian and Lithuanian) primary verbs. In present-day Latvian the ē-preterite is found only in some dialects and in older texts, for example, vedēm 'we lead', vedēt 'you (pl) lead'. In Standard Written Latvian, both preterite forms have merged into the ā-preterite. In Lithuanian, both preterite forms have survived.

8.1.1 Simple Past Tense Class I (Short Conjugation)

Example of the simple past tense of first subclass verbs: infinitive: augt 'to grow'

1 Sg.   augu
2 Sg.   augi
3 Sg.   auga
1 Pl.   augām
2 Pl.   augāt
3 Pl.   auga

As a relic of the older ē-preterite, a vowel alternation occurs in verbs with -e as the stem vowel, for example, cept 'to bake', degt 'to burn', ēst 'to eat', mest 'to throw', nest 'to carry', vest 'to lead'. Whereas all forms in the present, except for the second person singular are pronounced with an "open e", all forms in the past are pronounced with a "closed e". The infinitive is pronounced with a "closed e". (See section 1.1).

Example of the simple past tense of second subclass verbs: infinitive: likt 'to put'

1 Sg.   liku
2 Sg.   liki
3 Sg.   lika
1 Pl.   likām
2 Pl.   likāt
3 Pl.   lika

Examples of the simple past tense of third subclass verbs: infinitives: zagt 'to steal', prast 'to know', skriet 'to run'

1 Sg.   zagu   pratu   skrēju
2 Sg.   zagi   prati   skrēji
3 Sg.   zaga   prata   skrēja
1 Pl.   zagām   pratām   skrējām
2 Pl.   augāt   pratāt   skrējāt
3 Pl.   zaga   prata   skrēja

Examples of the simple past tense of fourth subclass verbs: infinitives: kāpt 'to climb', pļaut 'to reap'

1 Sg.   kāpu   pļāvu
2 Sg.   kāpi   pļāvi
3 Sg.   kāpa   pļāva
1 Pl.   kāpām   pļāvām
2 Pl.   kāpāt   pļāvāt
3 Pl.   kāpa   pļāva

Example of the simple past tense of fifth subclass verbs infinitive: kļūt 'to become'

1 Sg.   kļuvu
2 Sg.   kļuvi
3 Sg.   kļuva
1 Pl.   kļuvām
2 Pl.   kļuvāt
3 Pl.   kļuva

8.1.2 Simple Past Tense Class II (Long Conjugation)

In class II verbs, the first person singular in the past is indentical to the first person singular in the present. Verbs of this class can be classified according to the -āj-, -oj-, -ēj-, and -ij- stems.

Examples of class II verbs in the simple past: infinitives: runāt 'to speak', gatavot 'to prepare', audzēt 'to grow', svētīt 'to bless'

1 Sg.   runāju   gatavoju   audzēju   svētīju
2 Sg.   runāji   gatavoji   audzēji   svētīji
3 Sg.   runāja   gatavoja   audzēja   svētīja
1 Pl.   runājām   gatavojām   audzējām   svētījām
2 Pl.   runājāt   gatavojāt   audzējāt   svētījāt
3 Pl.   runāja   gatavoja   audzēja   svētīja

There is only one verb with a -uj- stem that belongs to this class: infinitive: dabūt 'to get'

1 Sg.   dabūju
2 Sg.   dabūji
3 Sg.   dabūja
1 Pl.   dabūjām
2 Pl.   dabūjāt
3 Pl.   dabūja

8.1.3 Simple Past Tense Class III (mixed conjugation)

Examples of the simple past tense of class III verbs: infinitives: turēt 'to hold', dalīt 'to divide', audzināt 'to foster'

1 Sg.   turēju   dalīju   audzināju
2 Sg.   turēji   dalīji   audzināji
3 Sg.   turēja   dalīja   audzināja
1 Pl.   turējām   dalījām   audzinājām
2 Pl.   turējāt   dalījāt   audzinājāt
3 Pl.   turēja   dalīja   audzināja
8.2. The Simple Future Tense

In all conjugations, the future tense is formed by adding the following endings to the infinitive stem:

    Singular   Plural
1st   -šu   -sim
2nd   -si   -si(e)t
3rd   -s   -s

Historically, the future endings were formed from expanding the infinitive root with the suffix -si and then adding the personal endings, for example, do-šu < *do-si-u 'I will give', do-si < *do-s(i)-i 'you will give'.

In the second person plural, two parallel forms, ending with -it or -iet, are accepted: for example, dosit or dosiet 'you (pl) will give'. The -iet ending is generally regarded as colloquial style.

Examples of the future tense of class I, II and III verbs: infinitives: augt 'to grow', audzēt 'to cultivate', audzināt 'to foster'

1 Sg.   augšu   audzēšu   audzināšu
2 Sg.   augsi   audzēsi   audzināsi
3 Sg.   augs   audzēs   audzinās
1 Pl.   augsim   audzēsim   audzināsim
2 Pl.   augsi(e)t   audzēsi(e)t   audzināsi(e)t
3 Pl.   augs   audzēs   audzinās

All verbs ending in -st and -zt in the infinitive, form the future tense from the past stem by inserting an -ī- before the future endings, for example: infinitives: ēst 'to eat', lūzt 'to break'

1 Sg.   ēdīšu   lūzīšu
2 Sg.   ēdīsi   lūzīsi
3 Sg.   ēdīs   lūzīs
1 Pl.   ēdīsim   lūzīsim
2 Pl.   ēdīsi(e)t   lūzīsi(e)t
3 Pl.   ēdīs   lūzīs
8.3. Conjugation of Irregular Verbs būt, iet, dot

The irregular verbs 'to be' būt, 'to go' iet and 'to give' dot are former Indo-European athematical verbs (where endings are attached directly to the stem) and where certain older forms have been retained up to the present. For example, es-mu < *es-mi 'I am', es-i < *es-si 'you (sg) are'; the dialectal forms of ej-u 'I go': ie-mu or ei-mu < *ei-mi; ie-t < *ei-ti 'he, she, they go'; dialectal form of do-mu < *do(d)-mi (standard form do-du) 'I give': infinitives: būt 'to be', iet 'to go', dot 'to give'

Present            
1 Sg.   esmu   eju   dodu
2 Sg.   esi   ej   dod
3 Sg.   ir   iet   dod
1 Pl.   esam   ejam   dodam
2 Pl.   esat   ejat   dodat
3 Pl.   ir   iet   dod
             
Simple Past            
1 Sg.   biju   gāju   devu
2 Sg.   biji   gāji   devi
3 Sg.   bija   gāja   deva
1 Pl.   bijām   gājām   devām
2 Pl.   bijāt   gājāt   devāt
3 Pl.   bija   gāja   deva
             
Simple Future            
1 Sg.   būšu   iešu   došu
2 Sg.   būsi   iesi   dosi
3 Sg.   būs   ies   dos
1 Pl.   būsim   iesim   dosim
2 Pl.   būsi(e)t   iesi(e)t   dosi(e)t
3 Pl.   būs   ies   dos
9. Pronouns
9.1. Personal Pronouns

The use of personal pronouns is similar to that in English. The personal pronouns in Latvian are as follows:

    Singular   Plural
    es 'I'   mēs 'we'
    tu 'you (sg)'   jūs 'you (pl)'
    viņš 'he'   viņi 'they (masc.)'
    viņa 'she'   viņas 'they (fem.)'

As in most European languages, the plural form of 'you' Jūs is used in polite address, tu 'you (sg)' is used to address children or close friends. Personal pronouns are declined as follows:

Singular                
Nom.   es   tu   viņš   viņa
Gen.   manis   tevis   viņa   viņas
Dat.   man   tev   viņam   viņai
Acc.   mani   tevi   viņu   viņu
Loc.   manī   tevī   viņā   viņā
                 
Plural                
Nom.   mēs   jūs   viņi   viņas
Gen.   mūsu   jūsu   viņu   viņu
Dat.   mums   jums   viņiem   viņām
Acc.   mūs   jūs   viņus   viņas
Loc.   mūsos   jūsos   viņos   viņās

The forms viņš, viņa are actually archaic demonstrative pronouns, for example: viņa kalna galiņā 'that mountain top (loc)'. Today viņš, viņa are used as third person pronouns. The archaic third person *jis, however, is still currently used in Lithuanian and in some eastern dialects of Latvia.

9.2. Possessive Pronouns

The possessive pronouns for the first and second persons singular are:

Singular   Masc.   Fem.   Gloss
1st   mans   mana   'my, mine'
2nd   tavs   tava   'your, yours'

The possessive pronoun savs (masc.), sava (fem.) 'one's own', refers to the subject. For example: Viņš redz savu atspīdumu 'He sees his own reflection'.

The possesive pronouns change in gender according to the thing possessed and agree with the nouns they qualify in number and case. They are declined according to the a-stem paradigm in the masculine and the ā-stem paradigm in the feminine: mans tēvs 'my father', tava māte 'your (sg.) mother', mani brāļi 'my brothers', tavas māsas 'your (sg.) sisters'.

The possessive pronoun for the third person singular is viņa 'his', viņas 'hers'. This is actually the genitive of the personal pronouns viņš, viņa, and are therefore indeclinable: viņas tēvs 'her father', viņas māte 'her mother', viņas brāļi 'her brothers'.

In the first, second, and third person plural, the possessive pronouns are the genitive of personal pronouns mēs 'we', jūs 'you (pl)',viņi 'they (masc.)', viņas 'they (fem.)' and are therefore indeclinable: mūsu 'our, ours', jūsu 'your, yours (pl)', viņu 'their, theirs (masc. and fem.)'.

9.3. Reflexive Pronouns

The reflexive personal pronoun sev- has the following forms:

Nom.   --
Gen.   sevis
Dat.   sev
Acc.   sevi
Loc.   sevī

It has no nominative, and therefore can never be the subject. It can only refer to the subject. The reflexive personal pronoun can be used in all persons and in both the singular and plural, for example:

  • Viņi sev raksta. 'They write to themselves.'
  • Es ieeju sevī. 'I am going into myself.' (figuratively)
9.4. The Pronoun pats

The pronoun pats 'himself', pati 'herself' is used in Latvian for emphasis. For example:

  • Es to salaboju. 'I fixed it.'
  • Es pats to salaboju. 'I fixed it myself.'
  • mana māja 'my house'
  • mana paša māja 'my very own house'

Apart from the nominative singular, all other forms of pats are derived from the stem paš-:

Case   Masc. Sg.   Fem. Sg.   Masc. Pl.   Fem. Pl.
Nom.   pats   pati   paši   pašas
Gen.   paša   pašas   pašu   pašu
Dat.   pašam   pašai   pašiem   pašām
Acc.   pašu   pašu   pašus   pašas
Loc.   pašā   paša   pašos   pašās
10. Negation

There are only a few negative particles in Latvian, and negation is mainly expressed by the negative particle ne, which is placed in front of or joined to the word to be negated. For example: viņa runā 'she speaks', viņa nerunā 'she doesn't speak'.

The negation of būt 'to be' is regular, except for the negation of ir 'he, she, they are', which is nav:

  • Es neesmu skolotāja 'I am not a teacher'.
  • Mēs nebūsim birojā 'We will not be in the office'.
  • Viņš nav gudrs 'He is not smart'.

The double negation ne ... ne is translated by 'neither ... nor'. For example: Tu neesi ne Parīzē ne Berlīnē 'You are neither in Paris nor in Berlin.'

'No, not' is expressed by the particle , in contrast with the positive particle 'yes'.

With the negative pronouns, for example nekas 'nothing, not anything', nekāds 'no, none', nekatrs 'not everyone', nekurš 'not anyone', or with any other negative form, the negation is repeated with the verb or adverb and the negative statement is retained. For example:

  • Es nekur neiešu 'I will go nowhere'.
  • Nekādā gadījumā to nedrīkst pieļaut 'In no way should that be allowed'.