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The Latvian language


Latvian, or “latviešu valoda”, is the official language of the Republic of Latvia and is one of the two living Baltic languages, the other being Lithuanian.

History of Origins:

  • Baltic Roots: Latvian, like Lithuanian, is a member of the Baltic group of the Indo-European language family. The Baltic languages are among the oldest in Europe and have retained features not seen in other Indo-European languages.
  • German Influence: Due to the historical German presence in Latvia (such as the Livonian Order), the Latvian language has borrowed numerous German words and even grammatical structures.
  • Soviet Influence: With the Soviet occupation after World War II, there was an influx of Russian speakers into Latvia, resulting in some loanwords and phrases entering Latvian from Russian. However, the language has maintained its core Baltic features.

Number of Speakers:

  • As of the last count, there are approximately 1.75 million native Latvian speakers in the world.
  • Most Latvian speakers reside in Latvia, but there are smaller communities of speakers in other countries due to emigration.

Official Status:

  • Republic of Latvia: Latvian is the sole official language of Latvia. It is used in government, education, and media.
  • European Union: As Latvia is a member of the European Union, Latvian is also one of the 24 official languages of the EU.

Example of Text:

“Visi cilvēki piedzimst brīvi un vienlīdzīgi savā pašcieņā un tiesībās. Viņiem ir saprāts un sirdsapziņa, un viņiem jāizturas citam pret citu kā brāļiem.” 
(Translation: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”)

Usage and Importance:

  • In Latvia: Latvian is vital for all areas of daily life in Latvia. It’s used in business, education, the media, and everyday communication. The government has made significant efforts to promote its use and increase its prevalence, especially after the restoration of Latvian independence in 1991.
  • Diaspora: Latvian communities abroad, especially in countries like the USA, UK, and Australia, often host Latvian language schools and cultural events to keep the language and culture alive among emigrants and their descendants.

English Words in Latvian:

Due to globalisation and the influence of English, Latvian has adopted several English words, often with a Latvian twist in pronunciation or spelling. Examples include:

  • “kompiūters” (computer)
  • “internets” (internet)
  • “hobijs” (hobby)

Latvian Words in English:

While there are no commonly used Latvian words that have been fully absorbed into everyday English, some specialists or researchers familiar with the Baltic region might recognise specific Latvian terms. It’s more common for English speakers to recognise Latvian names, such as famous historical figures or current celebrities.

In Conclusion:

The Latvian language, with its deep historical roots and unique Baltic features, symbolises national identity and pride for the Latvian people. Despite the influences of powerful neighbouring languages and globalisation, it has retained its distinct character and thrives in modern Europe.

Translating content into Latvian is vital for businesses who wish to communicate with Latvian speakers in Latvia.

At Brightlines, we only use Latvian translation specialists who have used Latvian since birth. We offer a number of Latvian translation services, including consultancy, quality assurance, copywriting, voiceovers and production services.

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Our translation services - FAQ

Do you use native translators?

Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.

How long will the translations take?

The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.

What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?

All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.

Which languages can you translate into?

We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.

I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?

Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.

Does the translation need to be proofread?

Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.

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If you need Latvian translations, get in touch with our team, or get a quick quote.