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I NEED HELP IN UNDERSTANDING LATVIANS

 
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 12:48 pm
steissd wrote:
Latvians like ice hockey as well. In the Soviet period they had quite a decent ice hockey team in Riga.
By the way, do Catalonians respond when they are being addressed in English? And who are Castilians? Are not they just "regular" Spaniards, since Castilia is an area in Spain?


Um, to some, Castilia is Spain, Catalania is Catalania, Galicia is Galicia... and that's leaving out the Basques.

Baezer should know this in much greater detail than I can give you, I expect.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 12:50 pm
By the way, Russification has nothing to do specifically with Stalin: he was not an ethnic Russian himself, and he spoke with heavy Georgian (not American) accent all his life. It is quite natural for any empire to try to achieve the linguistic, cultural and behavioral uniformity of its citizens, and the USSR was not an exception.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 01:07 pm
Russification process: Stalin era.
"Marxism and Linguistics", book by Josif Dhugazhvili, AKA Stalin, goes to the point.
The fact that Stalin was from Bakú, made him feel somewhat inferior to his Russian comrades, and while he tried to benefic his native land, in other aspects he wanted to be more Russian than Russians.
Language unification comes with national unification. The problem here is that there, in authoritarian regimes, there is forced language unification.


Basque, Catalan and Galician were forbidden in Spain during the Franco dictatorship. You could speak your language only at home. When freedom came, it was -for some- payback time, and official use of the formerly forbidden language was among the top social demands.
Catalonians are not against the Spanish language -which they all know perfectly-, but are often aggresive against its use by Castillians (inhabitants of Central Spain, mainly Madrid), who they see as their former linguistic oppresors.
I suppose the same thing happens with Basques.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 01:18 pm
In the 1920s the Soviet authorities adopted the policy of"korenizatsiia", which meant extending education among nationalities by their own national languages.
For the central political leaders, this policy was merely a means for spreading the official policy to the masses.
In the localities, however, some activists tried to use this policy for nationalistic purposes.

Since the leadership didn't like this, Stalin forced the spread of Russian language, for unification, as fbaezer pointed out above.


Quote:
I suppose the same thing happens with Basques.

As far as Spanish friends told me, this is clearly so.

(And from my own experience I know that it is true in French Basque.)
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 01:19 pm
Well, Stalin was not from Baku (he led a Communist organization there in 1905, though), he is from a Georgian (non-U.S.) town Gori, while Baku is in Azerbaijan. By the way, are Catalan and Galician the real languages or just versions of Spanish?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 01:27 pm
steissd

You'll find here some short notices about

Languages in Spain
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 01:57 pm
Sorry about the mistake in Stalin's biography.

Walter's link is simple and accurate.

I can only add that Valencian sounds, to my ears, exactly like Catalonian.

Catalonian is almost as different from Spanish as Italian is.

"No tinguis por, que tota l'illa és plena de sons,
i de brogit i dolços aires, que t'afalaguen sense fer cap mal." (Catalonian)

"No tengáis miedo. La isla está llena de ruidos,
sonidos y tonadas que nos deleitan sin dañarnos"
(Spanish)

"Non avete paura. L'isola e piena di rumori, suoni e toni che ci deleittano senza farci del male"
(Italian)

"Be not afraid. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not".
(English)

William Shakespeare


I believe Galician is closer to Spanish, but even closer to Portuguese.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 02:17 pm
Another interesting example, showing all the differences of the
Ibero-Romance Subgroup
is the text of the Pater Noster on this webside.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 03:31 pm
As an ethnic Latvian, I suppose I should disqualify myself from commenting on the (non-stereotypical) description of the 'typical' Latvian provided by our host on this thread. I'm probably atypical in that I have a strong chin and absolutely no aptitude for anything mechanical or scientific. I try to avoid even having to change a flat tire if I can get somebody else to do it (what's AAA for, after all?). That seems like a complicated mechanical activity to me.

But you're dfinitely right about one thing -- best beer in Europe. Unfortunately, this is a well-kept secret. If Aldaris, the major brewery, tried to concentrate more on exports, it might be a great boost to the Latvian economy.

Steissd, my most recent visit to Latvia was a couple of years after yours -- 1993, I believe it was. My experience was, strangely, the exact opposite of yours. I am fluent in Latvian but speak virtually no Russian. I had difficulty communicating with some sales people in Riga. Ditto for asking directions.

Keep this thread going, folks. I promise to read everything you post.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 04:07 pm
Quote:
Tribute. Tendance. Love.


Three seemingly simple things, which set an abiding value on the accomplished.

It is tribute to century-by-century collected experience, which our ancestry has transferred from generation to generation. Today we are the ones to take charge of our history.

It is tendance to fundamental values - to arts, which exalt us to the skies, to science, which secure progression, and to nature, which spares no expense on its bounties. We live in a rich land, from which we take and to which we also give.

It is love to those we work for - to everybody, who appraises our service.
We are united in tribute, tendance and love.
And it is the most important treasure we have.


Quite funny actually that Andrew mentioned Aldaris and I'm giving the link now :wink:

ALDARIS brewery

(And thus, we get connected to ice hockey, the Opera ...)
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 04:30 pm
Fine link, Walter. Thank you.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 04:49 pm
roger wrote:
I have to wonder if they don't share an interesting trait of Native Americans. Each one of them, of course, walks in single file.
Come to think of it, I've never seen Latvians walk four across, like my old posse in college. Usually two at a time, next to each other. Single file is best for hiding ones tracks, but with the advent of the electronic KGB that would serve no purpose.

In the 80's my cousin was jailed for six months because he displayed red and white flowers in front of his house. The Latvian patriotic colors were not tolerated at the time.

It's amazing that the Latvian Freedom Monument was never destroyed in downtown Riga, except perhaps the Russians liked to use it to photograph everyone who comes to see it, and then tail them home. Good fodder for their political files.



patiodog wrote:
Never been there. It sounds like somewhere with good bread.
Latvian bread _is_ quite good. Dropping by a bakery in the countryside is an excellent way to spend the afternoon. A few long tables, a few pints of beer, and fresh warm bread still dusty with flour!

Latvian dark rye is unique and unheard of in the U.S., but many Latvians here buy the "Kilkus" Lithuanian dark rye instead. It comes very close.



Sugar wrote:
Any contact I have had with them are incredibly pleasant and they are very technically savvy and have a great work ethic. It's always a pleasure to deal with my contacts there.
Also my experience! A number of American software companies hire offshore programmers from Latvia. They don't have very much experience with business and capitalism, but engineering tasks that require intense focus and dedication are right up their alley.

The Peace Corps sends volunteers to Latvia for two main projects: To teach English, and to give business advice. Latvians have excellent technical skills and manpower if they can just harness it!



steissd wrote:
I visited Latvia in May 1990, three months prior to having left the USSR. At that time the separatist trend there was very strong, and the fact of my speaking Russian made me some problems: the salespersons in the shops tended to ignore me pretending to having not understood ...
This is a very interesting point! I visitted Latvia for the summer of 1995, and had similar experience as an English-only speaker. Many people were fascinated to talk with a real live American (all things American were very fashionable at the time), but just going about my business it seems people are very meek and quiet, politely evade questions and real contact. I think there is a public face that is very protective and reclusive, and a private face that takes some familiarity before they will speak openly. Just my theory.

The great problem, of course, is that Russians outnumber Latvians within Latvia, due to the USSR's forced settlement policy after WW2. Also, because Latvia had a higher standard of living from the rest of USSR, a great number of admirals and generals chose to retire there. I feel badly for the Russians not allowed to vote, but the native Latvian culture has constantly faced extinction, so it is difficult to know the best path.

The language and the people go back 3000 years so I'd like to see them continue, just for European diversity if nothing else.



steissd wrote:
Latvians like ice hockey as well. In the Soviet period they had quite a decent ice hockey team in Riga.

I agree. One Latvian named Ozolins, plays for the San Jose Sharks, and I've seen a couple others around the NHL. Latvia once medalled in the Olympics ... Anyone remember if it was for biathlon or archery that they got the Gold?



Setanta wrote:
I could get into nekkid skiing, too . . . no doubt about it . . .
My grandfather used to get into ice swimming. Cut a series of fish-holes in the ice, and place a bottle of Vodka next to each. Swimmers go under the ice, from hole to hole, drinking a shot at each along the way. Think of the liabilities that would stop it today! Oh, for the good old days...

There's definitely something to those Northern genes. I can easily work outside in a blizzard with only a T-shirt. And if I don't get at least 18 hours/day of darkness in the winter I get very depressed! :wink:



Merry Andrew wrote:
But you're dfinitely right about one thing -- best beer in Europe. Unfortunately, this is a well-kept secret. If Aldaris, the major brewery, tried to concentrate more on exports, it might be a great boost to the Latvian economy.
Aldaris is indeed excellent beer! Perhaps they borrowed some ideas from the Germans while they were "visitting" and improved upon them. Or perhaps it is all locally grown ingredients, unique to the region. I don't know.

You can occassionally find Aldaris sold in the U.S., but you have to call a few dozens places to find it. Or just look for all the Latvian cars parked in front!
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 May, 2003 05:54 pm
There was this LATVIAN girl in highschool!!! WOW now she could kiss!!!!! hubba hubba hubba
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 12:59 am
CodeBorg

I'm not that sure about your remark, "Russians outnumber Latvians within Latvia".

Having looked at several websites, including the embassady, this seems to be correct:
57% Latvian, 30 % Russians and the remaining are more or less equally distributed among Ukrainians, Lithuanians, White Russians (Bela Russians) as well as other minor ethnic groups.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 02:31 am
From all the data I have, Walter is right. Russians do not outnumber Latvians in Latvia, but they do constitute a very large minority. Their presence is most noticeable in the major cities, especially Riga where they might have a slight majority, although it's probably more like 50-50. Also, Russians -- and anyone else -- can get Latvian citizenship and the right to vote. There is, however, a Latvian language requirement before citizenship is granted and many Russians (most Russians?) have been either unwilling or unable to learn the Latvian language. It is hardly surprising that a people on the verge of extinction would insist on maintaining their identity by maintaining language requirments. It is the most important indicator of group membership. And, incidentally, I have met a number of ethnic Russians, both in Latvia and as visitors to the USA, who speak Latvian quite well. They have full rights of citizenship. The ones I met here in the USA all work for the Latvian government in one capacity or another.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 03:27 am
Sorry, I definitely misstated that! I have old data from random conversations, plus I was concerned, so I just spent four hours researching to see if I was also influenced by propaganda. I'm far from being an expert, as I was born and raised in the U.S.

I've repeatedly heard that Latvian natives were around 48% of the population, but that was in the early 90's. I also recall that figure on some literature when I voted there in 1995. But exclaiming "A minority in their own country!" was always one of those statements used to provoke action, heh.

I found some migration studies, and it looks like many Russians have been emmigrating. The U.N. claims 52% native Latvians back in 1989 ... pretty close to 48% anyways, but I'm still looking.







SOME DETAILS found in a large PDF file (7.7MB, 133 pages) at
http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/ewmigration/E-W_Migrationreport.pdf

Page 82 has an informative yearly migration table. Adding up the figures, it looks like from 1990 to 1998 that 226,000 people left and 49,000 arrived, for a net decline of 177,000.

That's almost 10% of the population leaving the country, shown as mostly to Russia. And about 2% of the country newly arriving, with many Latvian ex-patriots returning home.

That's a big shift in numbers, but many Russians have likely been disgruntled by their non-representation and uncertain status. Then page 83 says:
Quote:
The strong immigration experienced during the Soviet period resulted in an ethnically diverse population in Latvia. The number of ethnic Russians increased from 147,000 in 1945 to 906,000 in 1989. In 1989, Latvia had one of the highest proportions of Russians living in non-Russian states (34 per cent) and one of the lowest proportions of titular nationals (52 per cent). The direction of flows changed in the late 1980s, when military personnel and other non-citizens began to repatriate to, mostly, the Russian Federation and Belarus. Data on the ethnic composition of Latvia's outflows indicate that 85 per cent of those who migrated to the Russian Federation between 1990 and 1998 were Russian nationals. Return migration of ethnic minorities was still the dominant component of outflows from Latvia in the late 1990s, though the proportion of returns declined from 80 per cent of all flows in 1997 to 70 per cent in 1998 (OECD 2001a). However, Latvia still hosts considerable communities of Russians and other minorities. Framing laws to regulate legal status of these foreigners is the main concern of Latvia's authorities regarding migration policy. A Naturalization Board was established in 1994 to review applications of non-citizens who wish to obtain citizenship through naturalization.

I don't know if 52% "titular nationals" includes all previous citizens, or just those of Latvian descent. Ancestral Latvians may be quite less.

Also, a nice profile at the CIA World Factbook, with 2002 data:
http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/lg.html
Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2%

I'll try to post other info links as I find them... Got any juicy ones?
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 04:00 am
codeborg

So your father is Latvian! ... Aha, now I see where you're coming from! The old problem of trying to understand one's parent/s! Oh I know that one well!!!! Confused Very Happy

But just to balance this out a little, let me tell you of my first ever true love ... A Latvian/artist person ... The relationship lasted 6 years & had a huge impact on me ...
How's this for a Latvian?: Romantic, deep thinker, lover of animals, reader of poetry to the beloved (me! Very Happy ), constant giver of gifts, writer of beautiful, thoughtful letters, cooker of fantastic meals for the beloved & friends, & enthusiastic celebrator of "Olga's Day", during which one felt wonderfully priveleged & loved! .... I could go on, but you get my point! Latvians come in all shapes, sizes & varieties ... Just like anyone from any other culture! Very Happy
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 08:49 am
off-topic, but reaching back: i seem to remember that there was a different alphabet in use in galicia when i was there (in addition to the latin alphabet) -- something that looked almost keltic on some of the older signs.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 10:02 am
Basque (Euskara), looks strange as well:
http://www.omniglot.com/images/writing/basque.gif

However, if Galician really has another alphabet - I don't know:

Writing systems
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 May, 2003 10:19 am
Merry Andrew wrote:
...many Russians (most Russians?) have been either unwilling or unable to learn the Latvian language.
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