Latvian alphabet, while similar to English in some ways, has a few unique characters and pronunciation rules. This blog post will guide you step by step on how to pronounce the alphabet correctly, to aid in your pursuit of learning the Latvian language.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Latvian Alphabet
The Latvian alphabet consists of 33 letters, each with an individual pronunciation. It shares the same 26 letters found in the English language but also includes seven additional characters; these are Ģ, Ķ, Ļ, Ņ, Ŗ, Š, and Ž.
Each letter in the alphabet has its specific pronunciation, which doesn’t generally change based on its position in a word, making the language slightly phonetic.
Pronouncing the Basic Letters
Most of the letters in the Latvian alphabets bear a striking similarity in sound with the English counterparts. Here are simple guidelines: A (‘ɑː’), B (‘b’), D (‘d’), E (‘e’), F (‘f’), H (‘h’), I (‘i’:), J (‘j’), K (‘k’), L (‘l’), M (‘m’), N (‘n’), O (‘ɔ’), P (‘p’), R (‘r’), S (‘s’), T (‘t’), U (‘u’:), V (‘v’), Z (‘z’).
Pronouncing the Unique Letters
The unique characters in the Latvian language can be a bit challenging to pronounce for English speakers but don’t worry; with practice, it becomes easier. The letters Ģ (‘ɟ’), Ķ (‘c’), Ļ (‘ʎ’), Ņ (‘ɲ’), Ŗ (‘r̊ʲ’), Š (‘ʃ’), and Ž (‘ʒ’) have distinct sounds that you need to master. For instance, Ģ is similar to the ‘g’ in genre, whereas Ņ, corresponds somewhat to the Spanish Ñ.
Pronouncing the Letters with Diacritical Marks
Six letters in Latvian alphabet also have diacritical marks: Ā (‘ɑ:’), Ē (‘e:’), Ī (‘i:’), Ū (‘u:’), Č (‘t͡ʃ’), and Ģ (‘d͡ʒ’). The marks basically elongate the pronunciation of the vowels, whereas ‘Č’ and ‘Ģ’ indicate a softening of the sound.
Use these guidelines and practice regularly to master the pronunciation of the Latvian alphabet!