Latvian is a Baltic language related to Lithuanian and Old Prussian with about 1.4 million speakers in Latvia. There are also Latvian speakers in the USA, Russia, Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia, Brazil and Belarus.

The first publication to be printed in Latvian was a catechism which appeared in 1585. The first Latvian dictionary, Lettus, was compiled by Georg Mancelius in 1638. The German monks who wrote these texts used a version of the the Fractur alphabet adapted from German which was ill suited to the Latvian language. This alphabet was used until the mid 1930s, when it was replaced with a modified version of the Latin alphabet devised by Dr. J. Endzelins and K. Mühlenbach.

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