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The Livonians are an indigenous people of Latvia and one of only two indigenous peoples in the EU. On the last Latvian national census (2011), approximately 250 individuals gave their ethnicity as “Livonian” and currently there are around 20 individuals able to communicate in Livonian. However, the actual number of Livonians is considerably greater.
Livonian heritage has had a significant, though understudied, role in the formation of modern Latvia, the Latvian language, and the Latvian nation, and has also been important across the broader Baltic region.
Though the number of Livonians and Livonian speakers is extremely small, the study of Livonian and related topics requires the same opportunities and tools as those for any other language and culture. Livonian history throughout the centuries has, however, been quite complicated and one of the main issues deriving from this is the fragmentation of Livonian-related sources, which are scattered across various institutions and countries. The rapid digitalization of society during the last decades has created new opportunities for many fields, including Livonian studies, offering new digital resources and tools.
This presentation introduces a number of integrated Livonian digital resources – vocabulary, corpora, a morphology database, a geospatially linked place name and informant database – being developed by the University of Latvia Livonian Institute along with new digital linguistic tools made for overcoming the language barrier in accessing Livonian ICH, as well as presents possibilities for research of Livonian heritage and understanding broader Baltic contexts with the help of the Livonian lens.
Valts Ernštreits is the director of the University of Latvia Livonian Institute. His research focuses on the linguistic and cultural heritage of Latvia’s indigenous people – Livonians, Livonian lexicography, grammar and literary language. His work is also devoted to the development of digital linguistic and cultural resources for Livonian and other engangered languages.