Hello to everybody!!!
The statements and considerations contained in Levo's latest post are, as far as I know, basically all correct, but, in my humble opinion, it is highly improbable that scholars (especially Latvian ones) would agree about such a definition of Latvian language as simply a Finno-Ugrianized Baltic dialect and, even more improbable, that the majority of Latvians would agree about the fact that their culture is simply a ... Finno-Ugrian Lithuanian culture.
Moreover some of Levo's claims or which Levo has quoted savour a little bit of ... "Finno-Ugrianism"...
For example ... he talked about present day "Liivimaa" (a name that could be, by and large, translated as "Livonia"), but this is a concept that nowadays lives only in Livonian, Estonian (and maybe Finnish) culture; for all other cultures is, by now, (and unfortunately taking into consideration the lot of the Livonian people) only a historical concept.
It would be really wonderful if we could still see on an earth political map ... a Livland...inhabited by Livonians, wouldn't be!!!
Levo's "Finno-Ugrianism" is of course ... natural and understandable. Many of the people that speak an Indoeuropean language suffer from "Indoeuropeanism" (included the undersigned), but if we take this not as an ideological stance, but simply as a working hypothesis ... nothing wrong!!!
Taking the above-mentioned into account I would like to examine some of Levo's considerations from an "Indoeuropean" point of view (and let's take this, please, simply as a game or an intellectual competition!!!)
On the understanding that Latvian language and culture is basically a typical Indoeuropean language and culture, we must admit that under some aspects it seems really as a "middle course" between Lithuanian and Estonian/Livonian.
The simpler explanation could be the following:
Latvians share with their Lithuanian cousins a common ethnic origin; this common origin is of course the source of related languages and many common beliefs, customs and traditions.
On the other side Latvians and Estonians/Livonians share a common historical/political/cultural evolution, due, first of all, to the contiguity of the two peoples territories; to the fact the some Latvian tribes merged with the Finnic tribes living around the Gulf of Riga, but, and above all, to the fact that starting from the German/Teutonic invasion the two peoples were englobed in a single political entity.
Starting from the XIII century and for at least 500 years for Latvians were without doubts easier to have contacts with Estonian people than with their Lithuanian cousins.
Then the fact that nowadays Latvian literary language has many similarity with Estonian could be considered a "historical incident". The Latvian standard comes from the dialect of Riga and the sorrounding territory, just the territory where the ethnic merging between Latvian tribes and Livonian/Estonian tribes were stronger.
If the standard would have come, let's say, from the Curonian territory (West Latvia and North-West Lithuania, nowadays Latvian Kurzeme) the similarity between Latvian and Estonian would have been surely less.
In my previous post, the statement: "one could suppose that the ancestors of many Latvians were ... not Baltic ... but Finnic", was a sort of a "provocation"...
...my "Indoeuropeanism" and in my humble opinion the historical, linguistic and archeaological data lead me to the conclusion that: yes, surely many Latvians have Finnic ancestors, but the majority have Baltic ancestors...at least as back in time as a Baltic ethnicity can surely be assessed (and this could open of course another puzzling question... ).
I am sure, and really do hope, that Levo, or anyone else (where are you, Latvians friends!?!) which is interested in this topic or simply likes the scientific dialectics with its never-ending contrast between theses and their confutations, will give his/her contribution to this friendly and interesting "game"...