Bilingualism in Latvian and Russian in the context of demographic processes in Latvia

  • Vineta Poriņa


This article deals with Latvian becoming the dominant language in Latvia. The results of the study show that the proportion of Latvians increased from 52% in 1989 to 57.7% in 2000 and to 59.3% in 2009. The percentage of the entire population who are speakers of Latvian increased from 61.7% in 1989 to 79% in 2000 and 93% in 2008 (Latvijas 2000. gada tautskaites rezultāti 2002, Valoda 2008). Since regaining independence, many positive changes regarding the de facto functioning of Latvian have taken place in Latvia e.g. the proportion of non-Latvians purporting to possess good knowledge of Latvian increased 10–15% between 2000 and 2008, whilst a similar decrease is registered for those whose knowledge of Latvian is weak. The most dramatic increase in Latvian speakers is in the 15–34 age group, which must be attributed to bilingual education; Latvian is becoming a more frequent tool of communication between Latvians and ethnic minorities. At present, the favourable conditions for the strengthening of the state language are contrary to common world practice.


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