Latvian/Alphabet and pronunciation

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Latvian almost always is pronounced as it is written. Small letters in this section are used to identify English letters, capital letters to identify Latvian letters.

A as u in mug
Ā as a in car
B similar to English
C as ts in tsunami
Č as ch in church
D similar to English, except that it's pronounced with the tongue pressed to the teeth rather than to the gum.
E as a in apple (wide E) or as e in memory (narrow E)
Ē long variation of E, as e in where (narrow Ē)
G as g in gun, never as in gem
Ģ like D and J together
H as h in house
I as i in gin
Ī as ea in mean
J as y in you
K as k in skate
Ķ as T and J together
L as l in line
Ļ as L and J together
M as m man
N similar to english
Ņ as N and J together
O as o in morning or short variation of this sound or diphthong UO (UA)
P as p in spine
R pronounced similarly to the Spanish r
S as s in sun
Š as sh in shine
T as t in state
U as oo in foot
Ū as oo in moon
V as v in vacation
Z as z in zebra
Ž as z in seizure

Finally there are three sounds that are not included in alphabet and are not considered diphthongs either:

DZ as D and Z together
DŽ as j in join
N before G or K as ng in sing folowed by G or K respectively.

If two vowels appear next to each other they are almost always a diphthong.


Latvian orthography is phonemic, this means that some sounds might be written different as their pronounced because of relation between the two.

Voiced sounds b, d, g, z, ž, dz, dž are pronounced voiceless p, t, k, s, š, c, č (respectively) before other voiceless sounds. Similarly, voiceless sounds are pronounced voiced before voiced ones.