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 [slider title="decline me"] skola , f, 4. dekl.
    vsk.: skola, skolas, skolai, skolu, ar skolu, skolā
    dsk.: skolas, skolu, skolām, skolas, ar skolām, skolās [/slider]

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

  • sākums : beginning [slider title="decline me"] sākums , m, 1. dekl.
    vsk.: sākums, sākuma, sākumam, sākumu, ar sākumu, sākumā
    dsk.: sākumi, sākumu, sākumiem, sākumus, ar sākumiem, sākumos [/slider]

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

  • pamats : foundation, base [slider title="decline me"] pamats , m, 1. dekl.
    vsk.: pamats, pamata, pamatam, pamatu, ar pamatu, pamatā
    dsk.: pamati, pamatu, pamatiem, pamatus, ar pamatiem, pamatos [/slider]

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 [slider title="decline me"] vidus , m, 1. dekl.
    vsk.: vidus, vidus, vidum, vidu, ar vidu, vidū
    dsk.: vidi, vidu, vidiem, vidus, ar vidiem, vidos [/slider]

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 [slider title="decline me"] augsts , m
    vsk.: augsts, augsta, augstam, augstu, ar augstu, augstā
    dsk.: augsti, augstu, augstiem, augstus, ar augstiem, augstos [/slider]

  • augsta : indef. adj. high, tall [slider title="decline me"] augsta , f
    vsk.: augsta, augstas, augstai, augstu, ar augstu, augstā
    dsk.: augstas, augstu, augstām, augstas, ar augstām, augstās [/slider]

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.