hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

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hwyadinnguaq

hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby hwyadinnguaq » 2016-02-28, 9:42

Hi everyone, I've seen quite a few people create their own personal progress/notes threads across the forums, and I thought I'd start my own Latvian thread. (If this isn't allowed, is in the wrong place, etc., please let me know - I'm embarassingly bad at forum-ing!)

I've been interested in learning Latvian for a while, mainly because my local library has a ton of Latvian-language fiction... and to me that seems as good a reason as any to be drawn to a language. :mrgreen: I finally found a copy of Teach Yourself Latvian from the library, and I'll be working my way through it over the next couple of weeks/months. I'll post some sort of update here once or twice a week, just going over some things I've learned, what I'm struggling with, etc.

And so... the journey begins!

Week one: Sunday February 28

I signed up for the website Livemocha - I saw another user on the Latvian subforum, Elaine, mention it, so thank you very much :P - and completed the lesson on countries and nationalities, Valstis un tautības. Es esmu brits, es esmu no Lielbritānijas! The website seems like a fun way to do some bitesized lessons... but I know I'll be avoiding the speaking parts forever for a little while.

I also went through the first chapter of Teach Yourself Latvian by Terēza Budiņa Lazdiņa. It was only a few pages long but I think it was a great introduction to the language. I learned about how to spot masculine and feminine nouns in the nominative, using the locative case, and some (singular) nominative and locative adjective declensions. At the end of the chapter I had to translate some sentences into Latvian, and they were very simple but I'm still proud I got them correct. :mrgreen:

My main problem at the moment is the pronounciation - my TYS book doesn't have audio so I'm going to have to rely on other sources to learn the difference between g/ģ, k/ķ, l/ļ, and n/ņ, and the open/closed e/ē. That's definitely gonna take some practice!

Overall I think I've had a lovely, productive morning. My goals for the next few days are:

    * Review pirmā lekcija a few times and put the vocabulary into a Memrise course
    * Find some written and audio sources highlighting the differences between all those tricky sounds
    * Complete another Livemocha lesson (again making use of flashcards afterwards)
    * Try and write a few sentences!

Welp, day one of Latvian - complete. I think I'm enjoying the language already. :D

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2016-02-28, 14:26

My main problem at the moment is the pronounciation - my TYS book doesn't have audio so I'm going to have to rely on other sources to learn the difference between g/ģ, k/ķ, l/ļ, and n/ņ, and the open/closed e/ē. That's definitely gonna take some practice!


Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latvian_orthography - it lists what sounds correspond to each letter with links to articles on each sound, which usually describe how exactly the sound is articulated and give plenty of examples of its use in other languages you might allready know

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby Elaine » 2016-02-28, 14:49

hwyadinnguaq wrote:I signed up for the website Livemocha - I saw another user on the Latvian subforum, Elaine, mention it, so thank you very much :P - and completed the lesson on countries and nationalities, Valstis un tautības. Es esmu brits, es esmu no Lielbritānijas! The website seems like a fun way to do some bitesized lessons... but I know I'll be avoiding the speaking parts forever for a little while.


I was talking about the legacy version of Livemocha at the time I wrote that post. Livemocha is not that good now (at least for me). But thanks anyway for thanking me.
Native: (tr)
Advanced: (el) (en) (fr)
Intermediate: (de) (ga) (sq)

hwyadinnguaq

Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby hwyadinnguaq » 2016-03-03, 6:56

Sol Invictus wrote:Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latvian_orthography - it lists what sounds correspond to each letter with links to articles on each sound, which usually describe how exactly the sound is articulated and give plenty of examples of its use in other languages you might allready know


Thank you! The sound files have helped a lot. I'm starting to recognise the differences between g/ģ, k/ķ, and n/ņ, but l/ļ will take a little more practice and the open/closed e/ē is still a little confusing. But I've only been at it a few days, so I don't think there's much of a cause for concern yet :mrgreen:

Elaine wrote:I was talking about the legacy version of Livemocha at the time I wrote that post. Livemocha is not that good now (at least for me). But thanks anyway for thanking me.


After completing another lesson and trying out a few more, I do think it's a little disappointing. I don't really think there's anything particularly "wrong" with it, it's not just particularly spectacular, haha. Well, it seems good for picking up some topic-based vocabulary, at least, so I'll probably stick with doing a lesson or two a week.

Week one: Thursday March 03
I've completed all the goals I set on Sunday, and as of this morning I've also finished chapter three of Teach Yourself Latvian. I think I've got quite an old copy - although I can't check the publication date, some of the pages have fallen out at the front :mrgreen: - and I much prefer the layout to the conversation-based design of the more recent books. It's simpler and is letting me focus more on learning the grammar, so I'm very happy with it so far.

I'm starting to get the hang of the possessive pronouns mans and tavs and the singular and plural nominative and locative cases. I'm hoping to begin to properly recognise and use the accusative endings after repeating chapter three a few times.

Question time: According to the book, regular verbs that end in -a in the third person will take the plural endings -ām and -āt, and regular verbs that take no ending in the third person will take the plural endings -am and -at. Fair enough, but what about the second person singular ending -i? Are there any rules about whether it takes this ending or not? The table layout kind of implies that -a/-ām-/āt verbs use the -i ending, but it's not actually explained. For a reference, the conjugation table looks something like this:

es -u // mēs -ām or -am
tu -i or - // jūs -āt or -at
viņš -a or - // viņi -a or -

My goals for the next couple of days are:
    * Review chapters two and three of TYS Latvian, particularly chapter three
    * Make sure the TYS and Livemocha Memrise lists are updated and learn the vocabulary in them as well as possible
    * Keep practicing the singular/plural declensions for the nominative, accusative, and locative cases
    * Learn the regular present-tense verbal endings
    * Learn the present-tense conjugation of iet
    * Try to write something that's 150-200 words long, but keep it simple and only use regular words
    * Download some words from Forvo to practice listening to/contrasting gģ, kķ, lļ, nņ, eē

I'll probably check back in on Sunday. I'm enjoying myself already, and I think I'll be spending the day reading up on some basic Latvian culture and history to keep myself excited.
Last edited by hwyadinnguaq on 2016-03-09, 2:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2016-03-03, 8:18

hwyadinnguaq wrote:Question time: According to the book, regular verbs that end in -a in the third person will take the plural endings -ām and -āt, and regular verbs that take no ending in the third person will take the plural endings -am and -at. Fair enough, but what about the second person singular ending -i? Are there any rules about whether it takes this ending or not? The table layout kind of implies that -a/-ām-/āt verbs use the -i ending, but it's not actually explained. For a reference, the conjugation table looks something like this:

es -u // mēs -ām or -am
tu -i or - // jūs -āt or -at
viņš -a or - // viņi -a or -

I can't figure out what conjugation you mean, however usually ā makes appearance in past, sometimes it is confused with a in present as well maybe that's what they mean. -i should be the second person singular, it's not used in plural

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby h34 » 2016-03-04, 21:41

As a learner myself, I'm not really qualified to answer grammar questions but these are some rules of thumb for the formation of the present tense.

:!: Can't guarantee that this is 100% accurate, pls wait for native speakers to double-check it :!:

Basically, there are three "sets" of present tense suffixes:
-u, --, --, -am, -at, --
-u, -i, --, -am, -at, --
-u, -i, -a, -ām, -āt, -a


Verbs with a one-syllable infinitive are quite unpredictable; the verbal stem often changes. So the "procedure" to get from the infinitive to the present tense would be:
- delete the infinitive suffix -t
- (change the stem)
- add -u, --, --, -am, at, --

sāk·t (to begin): es sāk·u, tu sāc, viņš sāk, mēs sāk·am, jūs sāk·at, viņi sāk
do·t (to give): es dod·u, tu dod, viņš dod, mēs dod·am, jūs dod·at, viņi dod
brauk·t (to drive): es brauc·u, tu brauc, viņš brauc, mēs brauc·am, jūs brauc·at, viņi brauc

Verbs with an infinitive consisting of more than one syllable are much more regular:

Infinitive -ināt (and some verbs with -īt)
- delete the infinitive suffix -t
- delete the preceding vowel
- add -u, -i, -a, -ām, -āt, -a

sveicin·ā·t (to greet): es sveicin·u, tu sveicin·i, viņš sveicin·a, mēs sveicin·ām, jūs sveicin·āt, viņi sveicin·a
zin·ā·t (to know): es zin·u, tu zin·i, viņš zin·(a), mēs zin·ām, jūs zin·āt, viņi zin·(a)
gaid·ī·t (to wait): es gaid·u, tu gaid·i, viņš gaid·a, mēs gaid·ām, jūs gaid·āt, viņi gaid·a
dar·ī·t (to do): es dar·u, tu dar·i, viņš dar·a, mēs dar·ām, jūs dar·āt, viņi dar·a
las·ī·t (to read): es las·u, tu las·i, viņš las·a, mēs las·ām, jūs las·āt, viņi las·a

Infinitive -ot or -ūt (and some verbs with -āt, a few verbs with -ēt)
- delete the infinitive suffix -t
- keep the preceding vowel
- add -j- (only before suffixes)
- add -u, --, --, -am, -at, --

tulk·o·t (to translate): es tulk·o·j·u, tu tulk·o, viņš tulk·o, mēs tulk·o·j·am, jūs tulk·o·j·at, viņi tulko
dom·ā·t (to think): es dom·ā·j·u, tu dom·ā, viņš dom·ā, mēs dom·ā·j·am, jūs dom·ā·j·at, viņi dom·ā

Other multi-syllable infinitives:
- delete the infinitive suffix -t
- delete the preceding vowel
- add -u, -i, --, -am, -at, --

dzird·ē·t (to hear): es dzird·u, tu dzird·i, viņš dzird, mēs dzird·am, jūs dzird·at, viņi dzird
atbild·ē·t (to answer): es atbild·u, tu atbild·i, viņš atbild, mēs atbild·am, jūs atbild·at, viņi atbild
dzied·ā·t (to sing): es dzied·u, tu dzied·i, viņš dzied, mēs dzied·am, jūs dzied·at, viņi dzied



(Hope this doesn't make it even more confusing....)
Last edited by h34 on 2016-03-09, 11:40, edited 1 time in total.

hwyadinnguaq

Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby hwyadinnguaq » 2016-03-09, 2:38

Week Two: Wednesday March 09
There are no real updates to give so far this week. I've been reviewing nominative/accusative/locative plurals (finally managing to get all the exercises in the most recent TYS chapter correct - yay!) and have completed another Livemocha lesson. I've been practicing writing short paragraphs using the few pieces of vocabulary I've learned so far, and as I'm getting better (I think) at automatically remembering/using the case endings I might be brave and post something to Lang8 at the end of the week. (But what's more likely to happen is that I'll write an amazing draft... and keep it all to myself. :mrgreen:)

I've also been using the website Pasakas to get used to hearing Latvian. So far I've understood two whole words, 'un' and 'gaisma' - I know, I know, but please hold the applause - and most of the sounds don't seem so strange to me anymore.

I'm hoping to complete chapter 4 of Teach Yourself Latvian today, which will introduce the dative case, negations, and a few more verbs. I'll then spend the next few days hunting around for some regular verbs to learn and practice with, because I am always dreadful at remembering verbal conjugations. Nothing too exciting, but I'm still enjoying myself. :mrgreen:

@Sol Invictus: (can you quote users without quoting the entire post?? I guess I'll find out) To be honest, I'm not entirely sure which exact conjugation I meant either, I was mostly just confused as to when to use the -i ending versus a null ending.

@h34: Thank you very much! I didn't even know there was a third pattern (I assumed there were either two or four... whoops). The verbs introduced in the book don't seem so random anymore, I can definitely see where all the patterns apply. :mrgreen:

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby mak » 2016-03-09, 11:09

hwyadinnguaq, good job!

h34, everything is correct. Except people very often will say zin instead of zina.

Here is the rule for -i vs - for the 2nd person singular:

  • if it's a reflexive verb, the ending is -ies
  • if the verb belongs to the 3rd conjugation, the ending is -i
  • if the verb belongs to the 3rd or 5th group of the 1st conjugation and the present stem ends in -t, -d or -p, then the ending is -i
  • otherwise the verb takes no ending

In other words

  • if the infinitive ends in -ties, the ending -ies
  • if the 1st person singular present & past stems are the same (es zimēju/zimēju), then no ending
  • if the 1st person singular present & past stems are not the same (es lasu/lasīju), then -i
  • otherwise you should just guess and go with no ending more often than -i

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby h34 » 2016-03-09, 11:37

mak wrote:Except people very often will say zin instead of zina.
Paldies! I've edited that now.

hwyadinnguaq, I've just come across this Wiktionary word frequency list which could be quite useful if you want to concentrate on the most frequently used vocabulary first: https://en.m.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=Wiktionary:Frequency_lists/Latvian_wordlist&mobileaction=toggle_view_mobile Most words are linked to a Wiki page about that specific word with more explanations on conjugation and declension (linked with Latvian Wiktionary where some of the explanations are more detailed).

Her you can find some useful phrases (+audio):
http://www.goethe-verlag.com/book2/LV/

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby mak » 2016-03-09, 13:53

h34 wrote:Paldies! I've edited that now.

I'll just add that zina is correct but people will (including me) often say zin. Then a grammar nazi will show up and point out that zin is incorrect. Someone will respond saying that grammar is descriptive not prescriptive and that you should be able to say zin if you want to. Then you'll hear that they've heard this argument before and you should come up with another one. In the mean time another person will show up and point out that zin is incorrect.

Another one is ir/ira.

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2016-03-09, 16:21

Note that the frequency list on Wiktionary apparently is built from movie subtitles, part of which probably had been low quality fan translations, there are words on it that acctualy wouldn't be commonly used in everyday conversation.

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby mak » 2016-03-10, 8:22

Here is my Latvian word frequency list.

  • I used news articles from delfi.lv & apollo.lv from about 2012-2014
  • it's grouped by lemma so esmu/būs/bijām will show up as būt
  • I did not filter the list so you'll see numbers and punctuation
  • only words that appear 20 times or more are shown

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby h34 » 2016-03-12, 11:46

h34 wrote:Verbs with a one-syllable infinitive are quite unpredictable; the verbal stem often changes.
I'd better add that whenever these verbs have a prefix, they are (of course) no longer one-syllable verbs but still follow the same pattern:
sāk·t: es sāk·u, tu sāc, viņš sāk, mēs sāk·am, jūs sāk·at, viņi sāk
ie·sāk·t: es ie·sāk·u, tu ie·sāc, viņš ie·sāk, mēs ie·sāk·am, jūs ie·sāk·at, viņi ie·sāk

hwyadinnguaq

Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby hwyadinnguaq » 2016-03-17, 9:38

Thank you very much, h34 and mak, for your links! I've been using the 50 Languages website and the word frequency list a little this past week, and once I get myself into more of a routine I can see them becoming very valuable. Liels paldies!

Week Three: Thursday March 17
Unfortunately there's not really much to report this week, as Latvian dropped a few spaces on my priority list when I got a book to read in Greenlandic. :? That being said, I'm now starting to get the hang of reading the book, so I'm planning to jump back into Latvian at some point over the next few days.

I haven't done any more Livemocha lessons - the format is actually starting to annoy me a little - but I've completed chapter four of TYS Latvian and have been reviewing it, along with the previous chapter, quite a bit. (It always takes such a long time for case endings to sink in!) Using mak's word frequency list I've also been trying to practice making some simple, present-tense sentences, and while I know I'm still making some inflectional errors I think I'm definitely improving. I've managed to write a few 200-word passages, but I'm still not confident enough to try posting them to Lang8 or anywhere else.

So it's been a pretty slow week, but I've been practicing the topics I've covered so far and plan to start dedicating more time to Latvian once again. :mrgreen:

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Re: hwyadinnguaq - Learning Latvian

Postby mak » 2016-03-17, 20:55

Good job, hwyadinnguaq!

If I were to teach Latvian, I'd start with the past tense because it is so regular. Just memorize the past stem of each verb you learn (you're gonna need to know it anyway) and the simple past verb endings and that's it - you can make hundreds of new sentences.

skriet / skrēju
lekt / lēcu
zīmēt / zimēju
lasīt / lasīju
zināt / zināju

es skrēju/lēcu/zīmēju/lasīju/zināju = past stem + u
tu skrēji/lēci/zīmēji/lasīji/zināji = past stem + i
mēs skrējām/lēcām/zīmējām/lasījām/zinājām = past stem + ām
jūs skrējāt/lēcāt/zimējāt/lasījāt/zinājām = past stem + āt
viņš skrēja/lēca/zīmēja/lasīja/zināja = past stem + a

No exceptions!

Easy, right???

Then I'd teach the future tense which is just as regular and you just need to know the infinitive form which you already probably do.

es skriešu/lekšu/zīmēšu/lasīšu/zināšu = infinite stem + š + u
tu skriesi/leksi/zīmēsi/lasīsi/zināsi = infinitive stem + si
mēs skriesim/leksim/zimēsim/lasīsim/zināsim = infinitive stem + sim
jūs skriesiet/leksiet/zīmēsiet/lasīsiet/zināsiet = infinitive stem + siet
viņš skries/leks/zimēs/lasīs/zinās = infinitive stem + s

No exceptions!

Was that hard?

Only then (if I were a teacher) would I torture my students with the present tense.


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