Consonant Changes

Latvian has generally regular changes due to palatalization. It’s most common in the 2nd declension nouns’ plural but it also occurs in some verbs, like slodzīt and mācēt in the mixed conjugation.

If the consonant or consonant pair before the ending matches one on this list, it will usually change. If not, it usually won’t. There are always exceptions, like nākt, whose k changes to c, but they’re not too common.

Whether or not a word is a verb or noun matters in the case of c and dz.

noun   c → č   :   lācis → lāči
verb   c → k   :   mācēt → māku

noun  dz → dž  :   dadzis → dais
verb  dz → g   :   slodzit → slogu

Of course, please remember that the examples show the palatalization and the word itself changing its ending to nominative plural or genitive plural (nouns) or 1st person present singular indicative (verbs).

Otherwise, the changes are the same regardless of word type.

l → ļ   : cālis → cāļi
n → ņ   : dzenis → dzeņi
s → š   : lasis → laši
z → ž   : vēzis → vēži
t → š   : bite → bīšu
d → ž   : briedis → brieži
p → pj  : ziepes → ziepju
b → bj  : gulbis → gulbji
m → mj  : kurmis → kurmji
v → vj  : zivis → zivju
sl → šļ : šķērslis → šķēršļi
zl → žļ : zizlis → zižļi
sn → šņ : alksnis → alkšņi
zn → žņ : zvaigzne → zvaigžņu
ln → ļņ : vilnis → viļņu

4 Responses to Consonant Changes

  1. Valoda says:

    The consonant changes also appears in the 5th and in the 6th declensions. But only if I know well. :)

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Quite true. The 2nd is simply where they show up the most. The 5th and 6th generally only have the change in the plural genitive. :)

      • Valoda says:

        So the changes appears (now I’m speaking only ’bout the 2nd declension) not just in the plural genitive? Hmm, that’s interesting, would you be so kind and tell me more a bit, please? :)

        Btw, I’m from Hungary and I also learn latvian, but mostly on my own, cos here (in Hungary) no one can teach you latvian language. I’ve developed my summary about consonant changes too (depends on my own observations). Can take a look on it? But only if it won’t be a huge problem for you. Thanks!

        • Cori Rozentāle says:

          See this handy chart on the declensions. The red font indicates which endings will have changes occur when possible. :)

          Basically, the 2nd changes in the singular genitive and in every case in the plural. So, if we have brālis (brother) and decline it out, we’ll get the following:
          vsk. Kas? brālis Kā? brāļa Kam? brālim Ko? brāli Ar ko? ar brāli Kur? brālī
          dsk. Kas? brāļi Kā? brāļu Kam? brāļiem Ko? brāļus Ar ko? ar brāļiem Kur? brāļos

          I took a look at your page. Looks like you’re pretty well correct, though my references don’t break out -st- or -nn- as they seem to be already classified under -n- and -s-/-t- respectively.

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