Livonian is a Finno-Ugric language of Latvia. It was the native language of the Livonian people, spoken in the northwestern region of the country. In 2013, the last fully fluent speaker of Livonian, Grizelda Kristin, died at the age of 103 in Canada. Ms. Kristin spent the last few decades of her life in Ontario, near Toronto.
ELA had the opportunity to record Ms. Kristin in late 2011. The following video contains a portion of this final interview. Zoe Dirse, a family friend and the videographer, can be heard asking questions in Latvian. Ms. Kristin’s responses are in Livonian, followed by Latvian. This footage is unedited, and the video begins at approximately the 25 second mark. An English translation can be downloaded here.
Raw footage of interview in Livonian and Latvian. Video begins at 25 second mark.
Although there are no longer fluent native speakers of Livonian, there are partial speakers who had some exposure to the language as children as well as second language speakers who have studied the language in adulthood. Some members of the community are now working towards the language’s revitalization, as discussed in this 2007 article. Julgī Stalte, a folk singer who performs with the band Tulli Lum, writes and sings songs in Livonian, and Livonian language scholar Valts Ernstreits composes poetry in the language.