Latvian or Lettish (lĕtˈĭsh) [key], a language belonging to the Baltic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Baltic languages). The mother tongue of close to 3 million persons living chiefly in Latvia, Latvian first became that country's official language in 1918, the year in which Latvian independence was won. In the pronunciation of Latvian, stress is placed on the first syllable of a word. Grammatically, both nouns and verbs are highly inflected. Since 1922, Latvian has used the Roman alphabet (supplemented by several diacritical signs) for writing. The oldest surviving texts in Latvian date from the late 16th cent.

See T. G. Fennel and H. A. Gelsen, Grammar of Modern Latvian (1980).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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