This paper deals with the language used in Latvian settlements in Siberia. It is based on the author's observations and on data gathered during three ethnolinguistic expeditions to Lejas Bulana, in the Krasnoyarsk District, in 1991 and 2004, as well as to Timofejevka, in the Novosibirsk District, in 2006.
An analysis was carried out to assess the extent of the Latvian language in these areas, which are separated from their ethnic territory. The study focussed on the language skills of different generations, depending on their education, religious identity and amount of communication with Latvia. The situation is better in Lejas Bulana, where in recent years teachers have been coming from Latvia. However, this community is losing its young generation to big cities, where their exposure to Latvian culture is lost, and thus little by little they begin to forget the Latvian language
Latvian and Lithuanian share a large number of related lexical items in their standard varieties, but even more so in their dialects. Even though the traditional regional dialects are relatively well-preserved both in Latvia and Lithuania, nowadays they are disappearing. For this reason, a project called Atlas of the Baltic languages was initiated in 2006, with the aim to study both Baltic languages from a geolinguistic point of view. Altogether, five volumes are planned for the Atlas of the Baltic Languages, presenting the dialectal vocabulary in thematic groups: flora-related vocabulary; fauna-related vocabulary; human physical qualities and kinship terminology; housing and settlement; natural phenomena, time, weather, etc. The selection of the lexical items for the Atlas of the Baltic Languages is based not only on words of common origin in Latvian and Lithuanian, but also on related semantics, therefore all volumes will include semantic maps as well.
This article is focused on the analysis of surnames used in the eastern part of Latvia, i.e., Latgale, the history of which to a certain extent differs from other regions of Latvia. This is due to almost 300 years (1629–1917) of isolation from the territory inhabited by other ethnic Latvians, during which this region was under Polish and later Russian rule. During this 300-year-long separation, Latgale developed its own culture, a written tradition based on the local Latvian dialect, etc. The introduction of surnames for the Latvians of Latgale also differed from other regions. As Latgale is a multi-ethnic region, the system of surnames used there reflects not only the peculiarities of the local sub-dialects in vocabulary and semantics, but also contacts with other languages – Lithuanian, Estonian, Polish, Russian, Belarusian.
This article is based on research results acquired within the framework of the project “Latvian surnames in archival materials. Latgale” directed by the Latvian Language Agency. Its main objective was to systematise Latgalian surnames registered in the 1935 census. The research data were summarised in a book “Latvian surnames in archival materials. Latgale”, compiled by historian Ilmārs Mežs. This book comprises about 4000 Latvian surnames from Latgale. Each surname is provided with statistical information and a description of its historical place of origin (sometimes even a particular village). Whenever possible, one or several versions of the meaning of each surname are given.