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Mar 5th 2009 3:43AM I would like to express my opinion about all this...
First of all, Russian is a Slavic language while Latvian - one of the two remaining (along with Lithuanian) Baltic languages. LATVIAN IS NOT A SLAVIC LANGUAGE!!! Therefore I would like to ask you not to put those two languages in the same basket and tell the world that they're the same. They're not... Their structures are pretty similar, some words from Russian has flooded in Latvian (as well as from German!), but the languages are DIFFERENT. And... therefore ->
Secondly, not all Latvians understand Russians and vice versa. Only those that have learned the other language can understand it. I have never been thought Russian at school or anywhere else, but I am forced to hear Russian on TV and hear people talking around me - so I have picked up the basics and understand the gist of it, but not enough to speak fluently and understand everything. In the same way Russians pick up Latvian... however, there is a wast and strong dislike of Latvian language among many Russians (I'm not saying all of them - many know Latvian very well).
Third, which is just a normal thing, the lady at the shop might not understand Russian. I don't think it was hate towards you because of you not speaking Latvian. If she was young, it's most likely she didn't understand you. Young Latvians prefer English and German, or even French at school.
Fourth... I've come into a situation when I am abroad and communicating with someone and once he/she finds out that I'm Latvian, they start speaking Russian as if I was Russian or obliged to know this language. At situations like this I feel sorry that so many people does not know that the language for Latvians is Latvian, not Russian. I don't feel happy, of course,... would you when you're in such a situation? I feel proud of my heritage (which is pure Latvian) and want others to respect that.