Word for the Travel Wise (02/24/06)

LatviaFlagBefore Neil joined our team here I never gave much thought to these distant, far eastern lands mentioned in his thorough and ongoing Red Corner series. Sure I’ve been to Budapest, checked out some of those old dusty (and rather interesting) Communist statues that once stood in the city, but that was all by accident and never would I have imagined people planning trips to Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Slovenia or staying overnight in a Latvian prison. Sure, I may have offered whatever little bit I’d heard through the grapevine on places like Prague, but Neil is the real go-to-guy. While most of you seem rather tuned into these posts if you’ve been missing them by chance I suggest you start looking out. He’s got my attention.

Today’s word is a Latvian word used in Latvia:

cirvis – axe

Somehow I thought this word went well with Neil’s blurb on Latvia’s most notorious prison, Karosta and staying overnight there – if you so desire. Spending a night in a cramped jail cell certainly isn’t my cup of tea, but perhaps it’s yours or say you mistakenly end up there and wish to break free from being behind the less than shiny bars. A ‘cirvis’ or axe wouldn’t be my first recommendation or device of choice in escaping, but what would I know about the slammer or breaking out of one?

To learn Latvian online for free you’ll need to be resourceful. Start with this Latvian Institute website full of info on the country and a short page dedicated to the lang and some common words which include axe, broom, pea, and beard. The Latvian tourism site has few, but far more useful in terms of greetings. If you’re more about face-to-face language practice head to the American Latvian Association’s annual meeting this coming April. As always find out who on My Language Exchange would be willing to help.