View Full Version : Virtual Livonia - project on Livonian language and their speakers

Friday, November 3rd, 2006, 08:03 PM
Livonian is classified as a member of the Balto-Finnic subgroup of the Finno-Ugrian family of languages. Finno-Ugrian, along with the Samoyedic languages, forms the Uralic language family. The Uralic languages cover a wide geographic area from Northwestern Europe, where the closest relatives of Livonian (Finnish, Estonian, Votian, etc.) and the Sámi language are spoken, to Northern Siberia, and as far south as South Central Europe where Hungarian is spoken. Today there are approximately 24 million speakers of Uralic languages. Only Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian enjoy national status in their homeland.

Originally one of the major languages of the Baltic area, over the course of eight centuries of foreign domination, Livonian would shrink to less than a thousand speakers by the middle of the 20th Century. During the five decades of Soviet occupation, the number of people speaking Livonian would ultimately decrease to where it stands today, at less than ten. This occurred as a result of the destructive policies of the Soviet regime geared towards the elimination of this language, its speakers, and their identity. At the start of the 21st Century, most native speakers of Livonian are elderly. Of the community of approximately 200 persons registered as Livonians (in Latvia ethnicity is listed in passports) at least some portion have some further knowledge of the language. Others are learning it. However, any real revival is complicated by the fact that there does not exist a concentrated group of Livonian speakers anywhere in Latvia or elsewhere in the world. Most people registered as Livonians live in Riga and the northwestern coast of Latvia, others live scattered across Latvia and the world. Outside of Latvia, the Livonians largely live mixed with the Latvian community.

The Modern Livonian Alphabet
Aa[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/a3.gif]similar to /u/ in "cut"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/a.gif[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/a3.gif:]a longer version of the previous soundhttp://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/ae.jpg
like the /a/ in "cat"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/aegars.jpg[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/a4.gif:]a longer version of the previous soundBblike the /b/ in "bus"Dd[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/d.gif]similar to Spanish /d/, more dental than English /d/http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/dmiksts.jpg[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/g2.gif]palatalized d, similar to /dy/ in "goodyear"Ee[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/e3.gif]like /e/ in "bed"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/e2.gif[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/e3.gif:]a longer version of the previous soundFf[f]like /f/ in "fun"Gg[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/g3.gif]like /g/ in "get," never as in "George"Hh[h]like /h/ in "hello"Iisimilar to /i/ in "hit"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/i.giflike /ee/ in "feet"Jj[j]like /y/ in "year"Kk[k]similar to /k/ in "skip"Ll[l]similar to /l/ in "lawn"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/l.gif[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/l2.gif]palatalized l, similar to the pronunciation of /lli/ in "million" in certain English dialectsMm[m]like /m/ in "mom"Nn[n]
[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/n3.gif]like /n/ in "no"
preceding /k/ or /g/ as /ng/ in "gong"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/n.gif[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/n2.gif]palatalized n, similar to Spanish /http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/n4.gif/, also similar to the pronunciation of /n/ in "news" in certain English dialectsOo[o]a pure "o" sound, like in Spanish "no"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/o2.gif[o:]a longer version of the previous soundhttp://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/opunkts.jpgno English equivalent; a sound described as being intermediate between Livonian /o/ and /http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/vilniso1.jpg/
to approximately pronounce this sound, say the sound of /u/ in American English "up", but form your lips as if you were saying the /oo/ in American English "foot"
http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/opgars.jpga longer version of the previous soundhttp://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/vilniso.jpg[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/i2.gif]
[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/a2.gif]in stressed syllables, like Estonian /http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/vilniso1.jpg/, also similar to Russian /http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/bi.gif/
in unstressed syllables, like /u/ in "up"
http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/gvilniso.jpg[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/i2.gif:]a longer version of the previous soundPp[p]like /p/ in "speed"Rr[r]a rolled "r" sound, as in Spanish, and other European languages, never as in Englishhttp://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/r2.gif[rj]a palatalized or soft "r" soundSs[s]like /s/ in "suit"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/s.gif[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/s2.gif]like /sh/ in "ship"Tt[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/t.gif]like /t/ in "steady", more dental than English /t/http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/tmiksts1.jpg[c]palatalized t, similar to /ty/ in "hit you"Uusimilar to /u/ in "put"http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/u.gif[u:]similar to /oo/ in "boot"Vv[v]like /v/ in "very"Zz[z]like /z/ in /zany/http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/z.gif[http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/z2.gif]like /s/ in "pleasure"

[B][I]Basic phrases

Below is a collection of phrases useful for starting or carrying on conversations in Livonian. Livonians will no doubt be pleased at an attempt to speak their language, however, attempts at using these phrases on non-speakers will likely elicit confusion. These examples are taken from the Latvian-Livonian-English Phrase Book by Valda Suvcane. The spelling used in this book occasionally deviates from that used by Kersti Boiko in L[U]ivő Kel, which is the standard Modern Livonian orthography. Though recorded samples are not provided at this time, the Livonian writing system makes it easy for non-speakers to make a reasonable attempt at pronouncing these phrases. To learn more about the sound of each letter, please refer to the Sounds of the Livonian Language in the Language section of this site. Also remember that in Livonian, as in other Balto-Finnic languages, the accent is almost always on the first syllable of the word.



Numbers in Livonian are declined according to noun case. The examples below are the basic nominative forms, which can be used for counting or stating your phone number as in the phrase given above.


Source: http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/livonia.html (http://homepage.mac.com/uldis/livonia/livonia.html)
Livonian links: http://www.suri.ee/r/liivi/liivlink.html (http://www.suri.ee/r/liivi/liivlink.html)