DAY 13 (unique letters and sounds)

On day 12 we learned the whole Latvian alphabet and you must have noticed 11 unique letters and sounds that can be challenging for a non native speaker. Let’s focus on those letters today.

There are 11 accented letters in Latvian language with 3 symbols attached to them to guide you on pronunciation:

  • a horizontal line over these 4 letters ā, ē, ī, ū is meant to extend the sound of the vowel and make it longer.
  • a so called roof sits on top of these 3 consonants č, š, ž and it could be comparing to an English sound ch, sh, zh
  • and the last one looks like a comma that sits under the letters ķ, ļ, ņ and on top of ģ. this marking softens the letter, similar to adding a y. For example, ņ will sound like n+y in a word “canyon”

So there you have it, those are the 11 “special letters”. Latvians like to tease foreigners by offering them to learn these word combinations. Can you say them?

šaursliežu dzelzceļš – narrow gauge railroad

žagaru saišķis – bundle of branches

žeņšeņs – ginseng

Also, to pronounce accents correctly is very important not to loose the meaning of the word. For example:

kāzas – wedding                     vs.                    kazas – goats

Watch video below to listen and practice pronunciation    


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