To My Kindle Readers

Due to some current issues in my (and my husband’s) life, I’m not currently able to blog. While I expect to continue posting here in the future (and I am still learning Latvian), it’ll take time for the issues to get resolved. I don’t feel right having the feed up without posts for the Kindle, so I will be pulling it down until I can post consistently.

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Going to refactor how I do things here. My hours went up at work and well, classes continue. Not sure yet how I want to continue posting and I need to look at what makes me happy as a writer. We’ll see what happens.

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Wordy Weekend: Education, Part 2: Teachers & Students

So much to learn and so many fun words about it! Let’s do some more. :) Latvian is interesting in that it has different words for students at different levels of schooling.

Yes, I promise I’ll be writing more on grammar soon but grad school papers come first. So, since I’m mostly focusing my efforts on reading Latvian rather than on learning grammar, taking apart words to further solidify wordbuilding in my mind is about my speed right now. So, even if this seems silly, taking apart words definitely is not. Latvian is all about wordbuilding.

Notice here that skola (from the previous post) is used for building most of the words relating to students and teachers for grades 1 through 12.

  • skolēns : pupil, student decline me»

    Interestingly, there isn’t a feminine version of this word in use. The feminine form of student is skolniece.

  • skolnieks : masc. student decline me»

  • skolniece : fem. student decline me»

    As usual, mixed groups will take the masculine plural form.

  • skolotājs : masc. teacher decline me»

  • skolotāja : teacher decline me»

    Same as with skolnieki, skolotāji refers to both a masculine group of teachers and a mixed group of teachers. Also similarly to skolnieki, skolotāji is typically used for teachers of grades 1 through 12.

  • pasniegt : to hand, to offer, to lecture conjugate me»

    Note the palatalization change of -g- to -dz- from the infinitive to the past and present conjugated forms. Sniegt is also to hand or to offer but the prefix of pa- adds the connotation of out. So, if it is knowledge that you are handing out or offering out, then you are lecturing or teaching.

  • pasniedzējs : lecturer, teacher, faculty decline me»

  • pasniedzēja : lecturer, teacher, faculty decline me»

    At University level, you’ll encounter primarily pasniedzēji along with profesori (professors) instead of skolotāji. As you can see, this word is built from the verb pasniegt to create “a person who hands out” (knowledge) or a teacher.

  • students : masc. University student decline me»

  • studente : fem. University student decline me»

    At University level, we shift to this obvious loan-word for those attending for university degrees. Note also the typical palatatization change in the plural genitive of -t- to -š-.

skolēns, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: skolēns, skolēna, skolēnam, skolēnu, ar skolēnu, skolēnā
dsk.: skolēni, skolēnu, skolēniem, skolēnus, ar skolēniem, skolēnos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
skolnieks, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: skolnieks, skolnieka, skolniekam, skolnieku, ar skolnieku, skolniekā
dsk.: skolnieki, skolnieku, skolniekiem, skolniekus, ar skolniekiem, skolniekos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
skolniece, f, 5. dekl.
vsk.: skolniece, skolnieces, skolniecei, skolnieci, ar skolnieci, skolniecē
dsk.: skolnieces, skolnieču, skolniecēm, skolnieces, ar skolniecēm, skolniecēs Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
skolotājs, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: skolotājs, skolotāja, skolotājam, skolotāju, ar skolotāju, skolotājā
dsk.: skolotāji, skolotāju, skolotājiem, skolotājus, ar skolotājiem, skolotājos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
skolotāja, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: skolotāja, skolotājas, skolotājai, skolotāju, ar skolotāju, skolotājā
dsk.: skolotājas, skolotāju, skolotājām, skolotājas, ar skolotājām, skolotājās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
pasniegt, 2. konj. (long)
tag. pasniedzu, pasniedz, pasniedz, pasniedzam, pasniedzat
pag. pasniedzu, pasniedzi, pasniedza, pasniedzām, pasniedzāt
nak. pasniegšu, pasniegsi, pasniegs, pasniegsim, pasniegsiet / pasniegsit
pav. pasniedz, pasniedziet Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
pasniedzējs, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: pasniedzējs, pasniedzēja, pasniedzējam, pasniedzēju, ar pasniedzēju, pasniedzējā
dsk.: pasniedzēji, pasniedzēju, pasniedzējiem, pasniedzējus, ar pasniedzējiem, pasniedzējos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
pasniedzēja, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: pasniedzēja, pasniedzējas, pasniedzējai, pasniedzēju, ar pasniedzēju, pasniedzējā
dsk.: pasniedzējas, pasniedzēju, pasniedzējām, pasniedzējas, ar pasniedzējām, pasniedzējās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
students, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: students, studenta, studentam, studentu, ar studentu, studentā
dsk.: studenti, studentu, studentiem, studentus, ar studentiem, studentos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
studente, f, 5. dekl.
vsk.: studente, studentes, studentei, studenti, ar studenti, studentē
dsk.: studentes, studenšu, studentēm, studentes, ar studentēm, studentēs Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
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Wordy Weekend: Education, Part 1: Wordbuilding

Oof. Grad school. Okay! Well, one class is finally over and done with, though I’ve still got two more to write a bunch of papers for. Sadly, I haven’t been spending too much time on in-depth language studies because of my classes. :( I’m trying to accelerate my degree program so I need to fit at least one more class in this term.

So, let’s do some educational words today, shall we? There’s quite a bit of wordbuilding to do today! All of the basic roots I’m going to go over first are used heavily in other words, knowing them will help you break down bigger, more complex words.

  • skola : school decline me»

    Obviously this lends the concept of school and education to words it is combined with.

  • sākums : beginning decline me»

    This word lends the concept of the start, beginning or initial period to words it is combined with.

  • pamats : foundation, base decline me»

    When used in the plural, pamati can also mean principles or fundamentals. It’s also used in the plural to refer to the foundation of a house. As a wordbuilding word, it’s used often to add the meaning of primary, foundational, fundamental or basic.

    A common expression is tam pamatā ir…, which means this is because (of)…. It’s used to demonstrate causality and tam can be replaced with the relevant subject.

  • vidus : middle decline me»

    You use this in various ways, like ceļa vidū or in the middle of the road or combine the two nouns into vidusceļš for the somewhat idiomatic or figurative concept of midway, as in the middle ground in a compromise situation. It’s commonly found in compounds that have to do with the middle or center, as well as concepts like mediation or mediocrity.

  • augsts : indef. adj. high, tall decline me»

  • augsta : indef. adj. high, tall decline me»

    This word is really commonly confused with auksts or cold. It’s a common mistake for Latvian kids in school too, so if you confuse it, you’re in good company. The reason is because -g- and -k- sound very similarly to each other. This word is commonly found in compounds or compound phrases dealing with height (both literal and figurative), loftiness, or the top or upper part of things, like senior (higher) officials, high-pitched sounds or the thigh.

    The definite forms of the adjective are augstais and augstā.

Now, let’s combine these words together! If you can decline skola, you’re set for all of the following words, so I’m not going to decline them.

  • sākumskola : primary school; amer. elementary school

    Literally: beginning school. This type of school encompasses part of what I consider “elementary school”, generally covering grades 1 through 4. It can be combined under the umbrella of a pamatskola, depending on the area or school.

  • pamatskola : lower secondary school; amer. middle school

    Literally: foundation school, a school where you learn the foundations. A pamatskola covers grades 5 through 9. This is basically what would be considered a “middle school” more than the Western American “junior high” (which covers grades 7 through 9), as some of our schools begin middle school in grade 6.

  • vidusskola : secondary school, amer. high school

    Literally: middle school. Translating literally will not help you here! Traditionally, a vidusskola teaches grades 10 through 12. This equates to the Western American concept of a “high school”. Eastern American high schools cover grades 9 through 12, so it’s slightly different. More on “high school” below in augstskola.

  • augstskola : university, college, graduate school, higher education

    Literally: high school. Beware, this is not the same word as the (Amer.?) English “high school”. Augstskola refers to “higher education” schools at the collegiate level, though you will see schools are often named universitāte rather than augstskola. The terms are used interchangeably when referencing an institution. The related term, augstākā izglītība, means the concept of “higher education” itself.

skola, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: skola, skolas, skolai, skolu, ar skolu, skolā
dsk.: skolas, skolu, skolām, skolas, ar skolām, skolās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
sākums, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: sākums, sākuma, sākumam, sākumu, ar sākumu, sākumā
dsk.: sākumi, sākumu, sākumiem, sākumus, ar sākumiem, sākumos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
pamats, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: pamats, pamata, pamatam, pamatu, ar pamatu, pamatā
dsk.: pamati, pamatu, pamatiem, pamatus, ar pamatiem, pamatos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
vidus, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: vidus, vidus, vidum, vidu, ar vidu, vidū
dsk.: vidi, vidu, vidiem, vidus, ar vidiem, vidos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
augsts, m
vsk.: augsts, augsta, augstam, augstu, ar augstu, augstā
dsk.: augsti, augstu, augstiem, augstus, ar augstiem, augstos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
augsta, f
vsk.: augsta, augstas, augstai, augstu, ar augstu, augstā
dsk.: augstas, augstu, augstām, augstas, ar augstām, augstās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
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Counting One by One

This entry is part of a series, Numbers»

An important topic I haven’t yet covered is how to count in Latvian. For now, we’ll start with the very basics – how to count up to nine and how Latvians indicate ordinals (first, second, third, and so on).

Numbers Zero Through Nine

For the most part, this is quite straightforward. These are critical to learn early on as the digits are used in word-building quite frequently, in addition to just being handy for phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Zero is nulle. You can create nulltais, an ordinal, from nulle, the same way we can create zeroth from zero. I believe nulltais is used as jargon primarily and may not be considered a “real” word (neither is zeroth for that matter).

Viens is singular without a plural form. The remaining digits from two through nine are plural without singular forms. Ten and up are handled a little differently, so I’ll do those in another post so this one isn’t hugely long.

Every number from 1 to 9 has two endings, masculine and feminine. Except for trīs, one through nine decline like regular indefinite adjectives. (I’ll note the table for trīs at the end of the post.) Ordinals (including trīs) decline like regular definitive adjectives.

Note the different stem used for pirmais/pirmā and otrais/otrā.

Cardinals (m/f) # Ordinals (m/f)
viens – viena 1 pirmais – pirmā 1. first
divi – divas 2 otrais – otrā 2. second
trīs 3 trešais – trešā 3. third
četri – četras 4 ceturtais – ceturtā 4. fourth
pieci – piecas 5 piektais – piektā 5. fifth
seši – sešas 6 sestais – sestā 6. sixth
septiņi – septiņas 7 septītais – septītā 7. seventh
astoņi – astoņas 8 astotais – astotā 8. eighth
deviņi – deviņas 9 devītais – devītā 9. ninth

Difference between cardinal and ordinal numbers

First, a number is a skaitļa vārds. A cardinal number, or pamata skaitļa vārds is a number word that indicates the quantity of something like one, two, or three. An ordinal number, or kārtas skaitļa vārds, is a number word signifies rank, order, position, importance, or other discriminating factor like first, second, or third.

When we write ordinals using digits in English, we’ll write “2nd” or “3rd”, with an abbreviation of the last two letters of the ordinal’s written form. Latvians simply place a period after the number like so: “2nd” is “2.” and “3rd” is “3.” If a roman numeral is used (VI or L, etc.), no dot is needed but the number is still considered an ordinal. When you read roman numerals aloud, you’d use the definitive adjectival form of the number.

Cardinal numbers are written without a dot. “One” is just “1” that’s all

An important thing to remember is that Latvians use commas for decimal notation rather than periods. For example: A bottle of water’s label would read 1,5 l for the volume, while in America we’d see 1.5 L on our labels. Prices are written similarly: the same bottle of water might cost Ls 0,75.

Trīs Trouble

Trīs can be either declined specially, as shown below, or not declined at all:

vīriešu dzimte (masc.) sieviešu dzimte (fem.)
Nom. – Kas? trīs trīs
Gen. – Kā? triju, trīs triju, trīs
Dat. – Kam? trim, trijiem, trīs trim, trijām, trīs
Acc. – Ko? trīs trīs
Intr. – Ar ko? ar trim, trijiem, trīs ar trim, trijām, trīs
Loc. – Kur? trijos, trīs trijās, trīs
Entries in this series:
  1. Counting One by One
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Wordy Weekend: Independence

Man, work and grad school are kicking my ass. I’m struggling just to keep my head above water with those two, much less do my studying on the side. Periodic immersion at work in Portuguese is getting me a crash course in reading comprehension there, which makes me feel good. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time working through languages at work, which tires me out for my personal studying too.

This weekend is a holiday weekend for America – Independence Day! As usual, we’ll celebrate separating from the British by exploding lots of fireworks, grilling up as much as possible and generally having fun outside.

Let’s do some words!

  • brīvība : freedom decline me»

    I can’t think of this word without also remembering Braveheart with Mel Gibson in war paint. If you’re in Rīga, seeing the Freedom Monument (Brīvības piemineklis) is a must-do.

  • uguņošana : fireworks decline me»

    This is a noun’d verb and the root is uguns.

  • karogs : flag decline me»

    Fun fact: The Latvian flag is one of the oldest flag designs in the world and dates back to the 13th century. It also has an unusual form factor of 2:1 that makes it distinctively rectangular, an aspect it shares with the British flag. (The American flag apparently has a ratio of 10:19! The “normal” flag ratio seems to be 2:3.)

  • neatkarība : independence decline me»

    Yes, this is a negated noun! It negates atkarība: dependence. It is also related to the reflexive verb karātiesto hang.

  • svinēt : to celebrate conjugate me»

    Of course, what’s a holiday without a little celebrating? Since I didn’t get to include this at Jāņi, I thought I’d include it here.

brīvība, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: brīvība, brīvības, brīvībai, brīvību, ar brīvību, brīvībā
dsk.: brīvības, brīvību, brīvībām, brīvības, ar brīvībām, brīvībās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
uguņošana, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: uguņošana, uguņošanas, uguņošanai, uguņošanu, ar uguņošanu, uguņošanā
dsk.: uguņošanas, uguņošanu, uguņošanām, uguņošanas, ar uguņošanām, uguņošanās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
karogs, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: karogs, karoga, karogam, karogu, ar karogu, karogā
dsk.: karogi, karogu, karogiem, karogus, ar karogiem, karogos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
neatkarība, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: neatkarība, neatkarības, neatkarībai, neatkarību, ar neatkarību, neatkarībā
dsk.: neatkarības, neatkarību, neatkarībām, neatkarības, ar netkarībām, neatkarībās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
svinēt, 3. konj. (mixed)
tag. svinu, svini, svin, svinam, svinat
pag. svinēju, svinēji, svinēja, svinējām, svinējāt
nak. svinēšu, svinēsi, svinēs, svinēsim, svinēsiet / svinēsit
pav. svini, sviniet Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
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Wordy Wednesday: Jāņi

It’s time for Jāņi! This is probably my favorite Latvian holiday to celebrate. We always make Jāņu siers, šašliks, and other traditional dishes, drink plenty of beer and cider, while staying up late. In past years, I’ve not had to work the following day, but this year I work on both Jāņi and Līgo so I won’t be able to drink too much nor stay up too late. We’ll still enjoy ourselves though. I hope you’ll have a great Jāņi too!

  • ugunskurs : bonfire decline me»

    When I think of a bonfire, I think of a huge fire, but an ugunskurs isn’t required to be gigantic. During Jāņi, the countryside will be lit by thousands of ugunskuri all night long (it’s rather short in Latvia!)

  • alus : beer decline me»

    One of the so-called “uncountable” nouns like ūdens, alus is generally used in the singular. There is a plural form, but I’m not going to include it here.

  • ķimene : caraway decline me»

    The traditional and required addition to Jāņu siers! Caraway seeds are used in many traditional Latvian dishes. The singular form of the word will generally refer to a single plant while the plural will generally mean the dried seeds. These are not to be confused with cumin seeds!

  • vainags : wreath decline me»

    Both men and women wear traditional wreaths for the holiday. Women’s wreaths are made of grasses and flowers while men’s are primarily oak leaves. The vainagi can be quite sizable and everyone gets into the fun. Sometimes men’s wreaths get so big that they will go around their necks!

  • ozols : oak decline me»

    I like saying this word, it’s a lot of fun with the way Latvians pronounce their “o”. Oaks are very important culturally and symbolically. Oaks appear everywhere, it seems, from the coat of arms to decorations to fields to symbolic manifestations of masculinity.

  • meija : birch bough decline me»

    This is a bit more obscure of a word. Meija refers to a birch branch with leaves used for decoration. These are rather big branches, quite different from the little leafy bundles of birch twigs used in sauna (a “slota”). These are commonly seen at Jāņi and school graduation ceremonies.

  • meijot : to adorn with birch boughs conjugate me»

    Since the noun is somewhat obscure, there’s no better time to show the associated obscure verb.

ugunskurs, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: ugunskurs, ugunskura, ugunskuram, ugunskuru, ar ugunskuru, ugunskurā
dsk.: ugunskuri, ugunskuru, ugunskuriem, ugunskurus, ar ugunskuriem, ugunskuros Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
alus, m, 3. dekl.
vsk.: alus, alus, alum, alu, ar alu, alū Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
ķimene, f, 2. dekl.
vsk.: ķimene, ķimenes, ķimenei, ķimeni, ar ķimeni, ķimenē
dsk.: ķimenes, ķimeņu, ķimenēm, ķimenes, ar ķimenēm, ķimenēs Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
vainags, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: vainags, vainaga, vainagam, vainagu, ar vainagu, vainagā
dsk.: vainagi, vainagu, vainagiem, vainagus, ar vainagiem, vainagos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
ozols, m, 1. dekl.
vsk.: ozols, ozola, ozolam, ozolu, ar ozolu, ozolā
dsk.: ozoli, ozolu, ozoliem, ozolus, ar ozoliem, ozolos Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
meija, f, 4. dekl.
vsk.: meija, meijas, meijai, meiju, ar meiju, meijā
dsk.: meijas, meiju, meijām, meijas, ar meijām, meijās Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
meijot, 2. konj.
tag. meijoju, meijo, meijo, meijojam, meijojat
pag. meijoju, meijoji, meijoja, meijojām, meijojāt
nak. meijošu, meijosi, meijos, meijosim, meijosiet / meijosit
pav. meijo, meijojiet Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
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