Ludzī kīļ
Extinct2006 by the death of Nikolājs Nikonovs, some people with slight knowledge remain
Language codes
ISO 639-3
South Estonian language area.jpg
The Ludza area is the enclave at the bottom of the map.

The Ludza dialect or Lutsi (Ludzī kīļ) is a dialect of South Estonian spoken in Latvia by the Ludza Estonians near the town of Ludza in Latvia. Ludza is the most similar to the Seto dialect of South Estonian.[1] The Ludza dialect has been on a decline and is now extinct. It was estimated that around 800 people spoke Ludza in the year 1894, and in 1936 this number had decreased to only around 30-40 people. The last native speaker of Ludza died in the year 2006 but some people still have small knowledge of the dialect. The last native speaker of the Ludza dialect was Nikolājs Nikonovs, who was from the village of Lielie Tjapši.[1] However the last knowledgeable passive speaker Antonīna Nikonova, died later in 2014.[2]


The origin of the Ludza people is a mystery, and there are many theories about it. Lutsis themselves had many stories about their origins, one of the stories is about fleeing from Sweden. In 1893 Oskar Kallas found Ludzi speakers in 53 villages around Mērdzene, Pilda, Nirza and Brigi. There were attempts to get Ludza be taught in schools, and creating a standard written form. However these efforts were stopped by Ulmanis. And Voolaine, who was the one to attempt creating Ludza education was banned from entering Latvia. During the Soviet occupation, Voolaine visited the Lutsis again. Lutsi dialect persisted the longest in Lielie Tjapši.[3]

Current situation

The Ludza people are still mostly aware of their heritage and some can make sentences in Ludza and know a few words. The Ludza people have in recent times connected with Livonians and in 2019 a Ludza song was performed at a Livonian culture event.[4] In the year 2020 a book was published for studying the Ludza dialect called "Lutsi kiele lementar" by Uldis Balodis.[5][6] Lutsis who live in the area around Mērdzene generally have no knowledge of the Ludza dialect but areas south of the town of Ludza near Pilda have more knowledge of the language.[7]

Example of words in Ludza

Examples of Ludza

Kuningas lähäț voiska poiga oțșma = The king sent the army to look for the boy

Kost sa neoq kalaq vytiq? = From where did you get those fish?

Sǟd jo imǟ poiga sytta = Still the mother is sending the son to war.

Tulkke mäele = Come up the mountain

Annaq mulle kaq maitsaq = Give it to me to taste, too

Kșondz katenetyiskümneni tunnini maka-aiq = The priest doesn't sleep until twelve o'clock



  Labial Dental/Alveolar Post-alveolar/Palatal Velar Laryngeal
Nasal m n
Stop p  t     k  ʔ
Affricate   t͡s   
Fricative (f)  v s  (ʃ)  (ʒ) (x) h
Central approximant/Trill   r j  
Lateral approximant   l ɬ  


  1. ^ a b "Language". Retrieved 2020-12-25.
  2. ^ ULDIS, BALODIS (2019). "Expeditions among the Lutsi Estonians and the design of Language Learning Materials". University of Latvia Livonian Institute.
  3. ^ ""Maq Sinnu Sali": The South Estonian Dialect Spoken in Deepest Latvia". 14 November 2016.
  4. ^ "The Lutsis on Livonian Culture Day". Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  5. ^ "lutsin kieli – Setojen ystävät". Retrieved 2020-12-25.
  6. ^ "LU Lībiešu institūts izdevis "Ludzas igauņu ābeci" (Lutsi kiele lementar) - LV portāls". Retrieved 2020-12-25.
  7. ^ ""Maq Sinnu Sali": the South Estonian Dialect Spoken in Deepest Latvia". Deep Baltic. 14 November 2016. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  8. ^ "Topical Wordlist". Retrieved 2020-12-25.
  9. ^ "Nouns and Verbs". Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  10. ^ Balodis, Uldis (January 2015). "(PDF) Writing down Lutsi: Creating an orthography for a South Estonian variety of Latgale | Uldis Balodis". Valoda: Nozīme Un Forma 6 / Language: Meaning and Form 6. Retrieved 2020-12-26.