The Livonian, or Liv, language (Livonian randa kel 'coast language') is a
member of the Baltic-Finnic subgroup within Finno-Ugric. It was until
recently spoken in twelve costal villages of Kurzeme province in Latvia. At
the beginning of the twentieth century it had over two thousand speakers,
but the dispersal of the population during two world wars and subsequently
during the Soviet period has meant that the language has not been passed on
to younger generations so that at present only about ten elderly
first-language speakers remain alive.
However, since the independence of Latvia in 1991, teaching of the language
has been resumed and other cultural activities to foster the language have
provoded an opportunity for the belated revival of the language. Livonian
is a written language, but the orthography has varied somewhat during the
period of just over a century since it was first committed to writing.