LATVIAN AND LITHUANIAN: ARCHAIC LANGUAGES
Considered jointly with Lithuanian as one of the oldest and least changed among all living Indo-European languages, Latvian has more than 1.4 million native speakers living in Latvia, and another 150 thousand distributed in other places around the world.
In turn, Lithuanian, the official language of Lithuania, has an approximate number of 4 million speakers.
By Juliana Tavares
The status of being the oldest language was not earned without merit: Latvians and Lithuanians are the only Baltic people within the Indo-European family that haven't become extinct—which perhaps justifies the incorporation of cultural and historical influences of the Germanic and Scandinavian peoples that established colonies in both territories.
Technical translation into Latvian or Lithuanian, therefore, requires vast knowledge of those Baltic peculiarities. Latvia is a country with records of their inhabitants dating back to 8000 BC.
In the Cristian Era, the region became an important trade route connecting Greece to Russia and the Byzantine Empire.
All these historical facts have contributed many influences over the language.
Although the alphabet used in Latvian writing is Latin, its version is expanded and has 33 letters: the letters Q, W, X and Y are not used in modern Latvian and it is common to use the macron, a diacritical signal ( ¯ ) placed over a vowel to indicate that it is long, over the letters A, E, I and U.
Letters C, S and Z give the caron a nasal aspect that, when used over letters, indicates the pronunciations [ts], [s] and [z], respectively.
As per the letters Ģ, Ķ, Ļ and Ņ, when written with a cedilla they indicate a palatalization process of the phonemes represented by G, K, L and N.
The Latvian language also preserves many of the syntactical and morphological characteristics of Indo-European, and has many grammatical cases (normative, accusative, dative, genitive, instrumental, vocative and locative), and verbal endings.
Nouns have two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, and the basic order of the phrase elements is subject-verb-object (SVO).
Due to the declinations, there is relative flexibility in the placement of arguments in sentences.
The history of Lithuania is not much different from Latvia and, as such, it is permeated with conquest and domination.
In 1386 while united with Poland, the country formed the Roman Catholic Lithuanian Polish empire, which remain intact until invaded by Germans and Russians 400 years later.
Despite some few periods of tranquility over its history, the dominating presence of Russia had always been constant until the country's total independence in 1990.
Notwithstanding a history of battles, the language, as old as Latin and ancient Greek, remains alive and virtually the same since it first emerged.
It has an alphabet comprised by 32 letters and maintains many words from the classic languages, such as Sanskrit.
So many idiomatic subtleties in both languages means it is essential that the translation of documents in Latvian and Lithuanian be handled by a specialized team.
All Tasks, specialized in the translation of large-scale technical documentations, technical standards and technical manuals, maintains a highly qualified team to carry out projects in these languages.