One thing I believe is essential in speaking another language is knowing how to say please and thank you. Whenever I go to a new country (unless I don't know I'm going, like my sudden re-routing through Sweden), I make sure I know how to say both. I may not be able to say much more than that nor be able to say it well but I've found people generally appreciate it. And, damn it, I'm going to be polite.
- please -- lūdzu
- thank you -- paldies
- thank you very much -- liels paldies
- no thanks -- nē paldies [essential for scammers in city plazas]
There isn't an easy analogue for " you 're welcome" in Latvian, but generally you can use lūdzu in its place as well.
Another common usage of lūdzu: Don't be surprised to hear someone say, " Lūdzu! " when handing you something or wanting you to hand them something (think of the waiter when he clears your plates in a restaurant for this one).