The Leivu dialect is an extinct South-Estonian dialect that was spoken in North Latvia around the Gauja river spoken by the Gauja Estonians, who became extinct in the year 1988 when the last speaker Anton Bok died. However there are many recordings of the dialect. The Leivu dialect most closely resembles the Hargla sub-dialect of Võro but was influenced by the Latvian language[1] and possibly even Livonian.[2] In the year 1782, the dialect was spoken by thousands of people, in 1849 around 2600 knew the dialect and in 1935 only about 131 knew or spoke it.[3] In 1911, Finnish linguist Heikki Ojansuu went to document the Leivu dialect along with the Ludza and Kraasna dialects.[4]

Extinct1988 by the death of Anton Bok
Language codes
ISO 639-3
South Estonian language area.jpg
South Estonian, including Leivu


Due to Latvian influence, the sounds s and z have changed into š and ž. For example: suži ‘wolf’, püššü ‘gun’. There has also been a loss of the letter H in many words and it is usually replaced by a stød such as in: ra’a ‘money’, vä’ämb ‘less’.

The first syllable was pronounced longer than in other South-Estonian dialects, for example mùnà ‘egg’.

Example of words in Leivu

See also


  1. ^ a b c Pire Teras (August 2010). "Quantity of Leivu – Estonian language island in contact situation" – via ResearchGate.
  2. ^ Dahl, Östen & Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria: The Circum-Baltic Languages: Grammar and typology
  3. ^ Marjo Mela. "Läti eestlased. Ajalugu, keel ja kultuur". Eesti Keele Sihtasutus. Tallinn 2007 lk 33-34
  4. ^ ""Maq Sinnu Sali": The South Estonian Dialect Spoken in Deepest Latvia". 14 November 2016.