*inspired by the question on Tripsofa.com I saw today - Do you typically pack a dictionary when traveling foreign countries?
(Click on to see answers)
I guess a dictionary is one of these things we usually want to take with us, but forget. I speak Latvian (which is useless abroad, but helps to deal with German, because Latvian has huge influece from German language), Romanian (which works perfect only in Romania, but helps to understand easier other Romance languages like Italian, Spanish), I understand well Russian which is great help for visiting Slavic countries and not only - when I was living in Romania with no local language skills I suddenly discovered that in a shop it’s easier to find what I need reading what’s written on products in Bulgarian as it is also Slavic language and I can read cyrilic script. Unfortunately I don’t speak so good Russian, but I have English and it works quite well! Well, that’s also true - hitchiking 4000 km in Eastern Europe I had no chance to speak English, but also in Poland Russian language kind of works as Polish is also Slavic language just with Latin script.
For short term visits I think you just need some basic phrases like ‘Hello’, ‘Thanks’, ‘Cheers’, ‘Bye’ etc. And if you learn to ask something in a foreign language with no accent, you will get an answer in a language you don't understand! :) My grandmother used to say that it will be the end of the world when all people around the world will speak the same language. Well, it’s not going to happen so soon...
Anyway - about Latvian language: it’s in the group of Baltic languages where are just 2 lucky – Latvian and Lithuanian – languages. (Estonian is not related to these languages). These languages are the sole survivors of a separate family of Indo-European origins and have kept thousands of years old connection to the Sanscrit language. I have heard that Latvian is considered as a very difficult language, I guess it’s because of our grammar, but I have personally met people who have learnt Latvian after spending one year in Latvia working togeather with locals. There is a huge influence from Russian and German languages in Latvian language. Around 2 million people are living in Latvia and ~3 million Latvian speakers you will find in total around the world. Sounds kind of exotic.
Here is your little English – Latvian dictionary:
Hello / Hi – Sveiki (Latvians also use ‘Čau!’ like ‘Ciao’ in place of ‘Hi’ or ‘Bye’)
Thanks – Paldies
Please – Lūdzu
How are you? – Kā tev iet?
My name is... – Mani sauc...
What’s your name? – Kā tevi sauc?
Nice to meet you – Priecājos iepazīties (this one usually seems too difficult for foreigners, so do not bother yourself trying to remember it)
Where is...? - Kur ir...? / Kur atrodas...?
Enjoy your meal / Bon appetite – Labu apetīti
Goodbye – Atā / Uz redzēšanos
Good night – Ar labu nakti
Cheers! – Priekā!
Any other important word or phrase I need to add here? (In the picture: ‘veikals’ – ‘shop’)