Ethnologue: Areas: Europe


2,558,000 (1994 V. Zeps); 1,394,000 (54.5%) are Latvians. Republic of Latvia, Latvijas Republika. Independence from USSR 1991. 24,695 square miles. Capital: Riga. Literacy rate 99%. Also includes Belorussian 105,000 (4%), Estonian 3,000, Lithuanian 35,000, Polish 57,000 (2.2%), Russian 861,600 (33.5%) including 13,000 Jews (.5%), Tatar 5,000, Ukrainian 78,000 (3%). Data accuracy estimate: B. Christian, Jewish (40,000). The number of languages listed for Latvia is 5.

LATVIAN ("LETTISH", "LETTISCH") [LAT] 1,394,000 in Latvia including over 500,000 Latgalians; 29,000 in Russia; 5,000 in Lithuania; 2,600 in Ukraine; 2,000 in Estonia; 1,000 in Belarus; 50,000 in USA; 15,000 in Canada; 25,000 in Australia; 8,000 in Germany; 6,000 in Sweden; 8,000 in England; 1,000 in New Zealand; 2,000 in Brazil; 1,000 in Venezuela (1986 Valdis J. Zeps); 1,550,000 in all countries (1995 V. Zeps). Indo-European, Baltic. Dialects: WEST LATVIAN (CENTRAL LATVIAN), EAST LATVIAN (HIGH LATVIAN, LATGALIAN). Roman alphabet. Central Latvian is the basis of literary Latvian. High Latvian is the basis of literary Latgalian, which died out in the West around 1985, but has had a vigorous revival in Latvia since 1988. The two dialects are not very different, but each has a separate literary tradition. Tamian is a subdialect of Central Latvian. Latvians do not like the term "Lettish". Grammar. National language. Christian. Braille code available. Bible 1689-1995. NT 1685-1937. Bible portions 1637-1994.

LATVIAN SIGN LANGUAGE [LSL] Deaf sign language. Survey needed.

LIV (LIVONIAN) [LIV] 15 to 20 active speakers (1995 V. Zeps); 150 to 400 speakers (1986 V. Zeps); 1,500 who have some knowledge of it (1979 Valt). 8 coastal villages west of Kolkasrags in Kurzeme and a dispersed population elsewhere, mostly in Riga. Uralic, Finno-Ugric, Finno-Permic, Finno-Cheremisic, Finno-Mordvinic, Finno-Lappic, Balto-Finnic. Dialects: WESTERN LIVONIAN (KURZEME, RAANDALIST), EASTERN LIVONIAN (VIDZEME). Endangered. Eastern Livonian is now extinct. Christian. NT 1942. Bible portions 1863-1937.

ROMANI, BALTIC [ROM] 8,000 in Latvia (1995 V. Zeps); 20,000 Russian Romani in Russia; 30,000 in Poland; 100,000 in all countries. Also in Lithuania, Estonia, Siberia and Podolia in northern Russia. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Northern. Dialects: LATVIAN ROMANI (LETTISH ROMANI), NORTH RUSSIAN ROMANI, WHITE RUSSIA ROMANI, ESTONIAN ROMANI, POLISH ROMANI. Ethnic groups: Rúska Romá (northern Russian SFSR), Lotfítka Romá (western Latvia, Estonia), Lajenge Romá (eastern Estonia). Christian. Bible portions 1933. Survey needed.

YIDDISH (JUDEO-GERMAN) [YDD] 257,813 in Latvia and other republics of the former USSR (1985 Haarman), 14.2% of Soviet Jews; 215,000 in Israel (1986 estimate); 1,250,000 in USA (1991 Fishman); 49,890 in Canada; 3,000,000 in all countries, or more (1991 J. A. Fishman). 40,000 Jews in Latvia, some of whom may speak Yiddish. Latvia and all parts of the former USSR; weaker in the central regions, more concentrated on the periphery. Also in Germany, Poland, Romania, Latin America, Australia, South Africa. Indo-European, Germanic, West, Continental, High. Of the 1,811,000 Jewish people listed in the 1979 USSR census, the majority spoke Russian as their first language and virtually all others spoke Russian as their second language. About 50,000 Jews spoke Georgian, Tat, or Tajiki as their first language. Had literary status, but very little literature. There may be no Yiddish speakers in Latvia now (1995). Jewish. Bible 1821-1936. NT 1821-1950. Bible portions 1544-1939.

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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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