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The table below shows the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Latvian language pronunciations in resource articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-lv}} and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

See Latvian phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Latvian.

IPA key

Mostly based on Nau, Nicole (1998), Latvian, Lincom Europa, p. 66, ISBN 3-89586-228-2

IPA Examples English approximation
b b?ka [ba:ka][1] boat
c ???is [ce:cis] Tuesday (some dialects)
d diena [di?na], atdar?t ['ad:ari:t][1] duck
dz dzimt [dzimt] adze
d? dad?i [dadi] jug
f fosfors ['fosf?:rs][2] fast
? g?t [gu:t], ikdiena ['igdi?na][1] go
j j? [ja:] yes
? ??rbt [?e:rpt] RP due
k k?pt [ka:pt], smags [smaks][3] scat
l lai [lai] lip
? ?oti [?u?ti] million (some dialects)
m man [man], "un persona" [um?pærs?:na] (pronounced fast) man
n nav [na?] nap
? ?emt [?emt] canyon
? bungas [bu?gas][4] bank
p pipari ['pip:ari], sk?bs [ska:ps][3] spun
r "re kur!" [re?kur] rolled r
s suns [suns], mazs [mas:][3] sun
? se?i [se?i], me?s [me?:][3] ship
t tas [tas] stone
ts celts [tsælts], sods [su?ts][3] cats
t? ?etri [tetri] chop
v vai [vai] vat
x heterohromija ['xeteroxr?:mija][2] loch (Scottish)
z zin?t [zina:t] zipper
? da?i [da?i] rouge
?t? irt [?tirt], lietis [li?ti?ts] Sebastian
IPA Examples English approximation
a dak?a [dak?a] duck
a: p?r [pa:r] father
æ (vi) bed [bæd] bat
æ: b?da [bæ:da] bad
e bet [bet] roughly like face
e: ?st [e:st] roughly like pay
i viss [vis:] sheep
i: v?st [vi:st] she
? oper?cija ['?p:era:tsija][5] off
?: opera [?:pera][5] caught
u un [un] boot
u: b?t [bu:t] too
ai tai [tai][7] tie
au tauta [tauta] thou
i? diena [di?na] dear
?i vei [v?i][7] whey
ui fui [fui][7] phooey!
iu pliukis [pliuk?tis][8] free will
u? lolojot [lu?lu?ju?t][5] somewhat like Italian scuola but falling
oi ahoi [a'h?i][7][8] boycott
?u tev [t?u], Eug?nija ['?uge:nija][9] Portuguese seu
?u boulings [b?uli?ks][8] bowling
. Separates vowel clusters that are not diphthongs: neilgs ['ne.ilks], triumfs ['tri.umfs], neieiet ['ne.i?.i?t]
' Stress (stress almost always falls on the first syllable of a word and may be omitted transcribing Latvian in IPA)
: Long vowel or doubled consonant (only for sonorants)

Geminate consonants

At the time of its inception, a conscious decision was made that Latvian orthography would not show gemination/lengthening of consonants because it was unnecessary to do so. Nevertheless, single obstruent consonants (as opposed to consonant clusters) between two short vowels are always long: Atis would be ?attis? and aka would be ?akka? or ['at:is] and ['ak:a].[10] In transcribing Latvian in IPA, however, consonant length is usually not indicated. Sonorants, however, are indicated in orthography: in mamma, panna, alla?, ?erra the long sonorants should probably be indicated in both phonetic and phonemic [less precise] transcriptions: [mam:a], [pan:a], [al:a?], [cær:a].[10]


Standard Latvian has three tones called, by convention, the level (stiepts), broken (lauzts) and falling (kr?to?s,) indicated by a tilde (~), circumflex (^) or grave (`) accents, respectively.[11] Different tones are distinguished if the stressed syllable (the first syllable, in most all cases) has either a long vowel or a diphthong. Short vowels and unstressed syllables do not take on different tones.[12]

In Riga, Latvian the falling tone has been syncretized with the broken: its users differentiate only between the level and broken tones and perceive the falling tone as broken.

Tone is usually omitted transcribing Latvian in IPA.[why?][] English Wiktionary for its Latvian entries, however, uses a notation of macron, circumflex or grave accent if necessary (the tilde is already reserved for indicating nasal vowels in IPA so it is replaced it with a macron.)

See also


  1. ^ a b c An unvoiced consonant, in a compound, followed by a voiced consonant becomes voiced: atdar?t -> ['ad:ari:t] or ['ad?dari:t].
  2. ^ a b [f] and [x] occur only in loanwords.
  3. ^ a b c d e Before the masculine ending -s, voiced consonants are devoiced: smags -> [smaks]. The -s is assimilated after a devoiced fricative, producing a long consonant: mazs -> [mas:] and me?s -> [me?:]. Devoicing also occurs in compounds: labpr?t?gs -> ['lap:ra:ti:ks] or ['lap?pra:ti:ks].
  4. ^ Allophone of nasals before velars.
  5. ^ a b c The letter ?o? in Latvian orthography usually represents the diphthong [u?]): Lithuanian nuoma and Latvian noma. [?] and its long counterpart, [?:], occur only in loanwords.
  6. ^ "DIVSKA?I". Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d In closed syllables, [ai], [?i], [oi], and [ui] may be transcribed as vowel-glide sequences: tais [tajs], veikt [v?jkt], boikots [b?jk?ts], and muita [mujta].
  8. ^ a b c Only in loanwords or onomatopoeiatic words.
  9. ^ Only in loanwords and onomatopoeiatic words or as the result of vocalization in open syllables of [v].
  10. ^ a b Kortmann, Bernd (2011). The Languages and Linguistics of Europe. Walter de Gruyter. p. 5. ISBN 3110220253. Retrieved 2019. Consonant quantity is well-developed in Latvian as a result of Fennic substratum influence. Sonorants show distinctive quantity mainly in loanwords, cf. manna [man:a] 'manna' vs. mana [mana] ( of 1st ps. sg possesive pronoun). Non-distinctive quantitative variation in obstruents occurs in native words: immediately post-tonic voicless obstruents are automatically lengthened between short vowels, cf. lapa [lap:a] 'leaf' vs. l?pa [la:pa] 'torch,' lap? [lapa:] 'leaf ('. In Lithuanian there is no consonantal quantity and on the morphemic boundary geminates are shortened.
  11. ^ Mas?anska, Olga; Rub?na, Aina (1992). Valsts valoda - ? ? . R?ga. p. 11. ? ? , ? ? (~), (^) ? ? (\). ? ? , ?~ (""), ^ (""), za\les ("")
  12. ^ Kortmann, Bernd (2011). The Languages and Linguistics of Europe. Walter de Gruyter. p. 6. ISBN 3110220253. Retrieved 2019. Both Latvian and Lithuanian are pitch languages. In Lithuanian, stressed long vocalic segments (long vowels, diphthongs, and sequences of vowel plus sonorant) show a distinctive opposition of rising and falling pitch, cf. kar?t? '' vs. kárt? 'hang:irr.3'. In standard Latvian (and some of the dialects), long vocalic sequences (of the same type as in Lithuanian) distinguish three varieties of pitch: 'even', 'falling', and 'broken' ('broken pitch' being a falling pitch with superadded glottalisation). They are fully differentiated in stressed syllables only: unstressed syllables have an opposition of glottalised and non-glottalised long vocalic segments. Segments with 'even' pitch are ultra long. Neither Lithuanian nor Latvian mark pitch in their standard orthography.

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