Wordy Wednesday: Points on a Map

If you've traveled anywhere, you know that a good map is a boon companion. It may point out areas of interest, show you where the good museums are and direct you to the nearest hospital if you are unlucky. All of this, however, depends on your understanding it.

  • karte : map [slider title="decline me"] karte , f, 5. dekl.
    vsk.: karte, kartes, kartei, karti, ar karti, kartē
    dsk.: kartes, karšu, kartēm, kartes, ar kartēm, kartēs[/slider]

I usually remember this one by its similarity to cartography and bet that it was also borrowed somewhere back in history. It is a false friend to "cart" as in shopping cart, so be wary of that.

  • muzejs : museum [slider title="decline me"] muzejs , m., 1. dekl.
    vsk.: muzejs, muzeja, muzejam, muzeju, ar muzeju, muzejā
    dsk.: muzeji, muzeju, muzejiem, muzejus, ar muzejiem, muzejos[/slider]

There are a lot of very interesting museums in Latvia, particularly in Vecrīga. Don't miss the Latvian War Museum (Latvijas Kara muzejs) in the old Powder Tower (Pulvertornis) which has all sorts of neat stories, including lots about the badass Latvian Riflemen.

  • slimnīca : hospital [slider title="decline me"] slimnīca , f, 4. dekl.
    vsk.: slimnīca, slimnīcas, slimnīcai, slimnīcu, ar slimnīcu, slimnīcā
    dsk.: slimnīcas, slimnīcu, slimnīcām, slimnīcas, ar slimnīcām, slimnīcās [/slider]

Expect to see this one again on a future Wordy Wednesday because slims is a fun word-building word. In this case, slims or sick is combined with -nīca , the suffix which seems to indicate a basic establishment or place, to produce "a place for the sick" or a hospital.

  • viesnīca : hotel [slider title="decline me"] viesnīca , f, 4. dekl.
    vsk.: viesnīca, viesnīcas, viesnīcai, viesnīcu, ar viesnīcu, viesnīcā
    dsk.: viesnīcas, viesnīcu, viesnīcām, viesnīcas, ar viesnīcām, viesnīcās[/slider]

This is built from viesi , which means guests , plus -nīca to create "a place for guests."

  • kafejnīca : cafe, bistro [slider title="decline me"] kafejnīca , f, 4. dekl.
    vsk.: kafejnīca, kafejnīcas, kafejnīcai, kafejnīcu, ar kafejnīcu, kafejnīcā
    dsk.: kafejnīcas, kafejnīcu, kafejnīcām, kafejnīcas, ar kafejnīcām, kafejnīcās[/slider]

Similar to viesnīca and slimnīca, kafejnīca is built from kafija or coffee plus -nīca to create "a place for coffee." Kafejnīcas are similar to coffeehouses, a place where you can get a quick bite to eat, a cup of coffee or tea, light meal, that type of thing. It's different from a restaurant, however.

  • restorāns : restaurant [slider title="decline me"] restorāns , m., 1. dekl.
    vsk.: restorāns, restorāna, restorānam, restorānu, ar restorānu, restorānā
    dsk.: restorāni, restorānu, restorāniem, restorānus, ar restorāniem, restorānos[/slider]

Latvians distinguish restorāns from other types of eateries and it's a distinction to be aware of. A restorāns is generally going to have waitstaff and a full menu. It's more formal. You wouldn't probably stop here to just get a bite, you'd stop to get a full meal. For example: the little eatery you pick up a sandwich or a pastry at during the day is a kafejnīca, while the nice restaurant you take your Friday night date to is a restorāns.

It's hard to describe, but a lot of the distinction is really in the atmosphere. You'd probably pay more in a restorāns for a hopefully better (or higher-class) dining experience. You may also be expected to tip more in a restorāns because of the quality of service. It depends on the place.