Chapter published in:Contested Languages: The hidden multilingualism of Europe
Edited by Marco Tamburelli and Mauro Tosco
[Studies in World Language Problems 8] 2021
► pp. 237–245
Citizenship and nationality
The situation of the users of revived Livonian in Latvia
The last native-born speaker of Livonian, the aboriginal Baltic-Finnic language of Latvia, died in Canada in 2012. The last mother-tongue speaker on Latvian soil died some years before that. However, encouraged by Latvia’s nationality policy since it regained independence from the USSR in 1991, people of Livonian heritage are encouraged to identify themselves as Livonian even in their passports, and a new generation of heritage speakers is taking classes in the language. This is a reversal of former Soviet policy, one of benign neglect, and a refusal by the regime in the last years of the independent republic (1934–1940) to acknowledge or allow the use of the language.Becoming citizens of the new republic was simultaneous, for many people, with declaring their nationality within the new state. This chapter traces the history of this small ethnic minority’s relationship with the state – Tsarist Russian, then Latvian, then Soviet, then Latvian again – and the vicissitudes that the spoken, written, and above all taught, Livonian language had to pass through to reach its present precarious status as a marginal heritage language in a relatively newly independent state in Europe.The chapter will be illustrated with documentary evidence of the Livonian language’s use in writing and education in Latvia down to the present day.
Published online: 21 January 2021
2012 Manx and Livonian: attrition and revival in endangered languages of two European fisherfolk communities. Paper presented to the annual conference of the North American Association for Celtic Language Teachers, Bloomington, Indiana.
1994 Valsts īpaši aizsargājamā kultūrvēsturiskā teritorija “Lībiešu krasts (Līvõd rānda). Izveides mērķi un sasniegtais [Latvian national cultural-historical territory ‘Livonian Coast’: Purposes and achievements]. Latvijas Zinātņu Akadēmijas Vēstis [Bulletin of the Latvian Academy of Sciences]: Series A, 11/12: 47–50.
Sjögren, Anders Johan