Intermediate Latvian Listening Exercise: Greed Is Good

Have you ever heard Gordon Gekko’s famous speech “Greed is good” in Latvian? I bet you haven’t so take a few minutes and listen to my Latvian version of this speech!

In case you’re wondering who I am, my name is Robby and I’m a Latvian chap living in Ireland. I also happen to be a blogger and my blog is called English Harmony As you can probably guess it’s got something to do with the English language, and that’s completely correct! Having struggled with spoken English for years I’m giving advice to other foreign English speakers on my website on how to become more confident and fluent at conversational English.

Going back to the audio I recorded – there are a few things I’d like to point out. First of all, I didn’t think I would need that much time to translate the speech in Latvian. Having grasped the importance of doing away with my native language when I speak in English, I’ve severed nearly all links between English and my language so that those two can only exist in my head one at a time. Translating from Latvian had caused my English fluency issues years ago, so now I’ve gotten into a habit of thinking only in English when I speak. Translating the speech from English, therefore, presented a small challenge to me as I had to spend considerable amount of time looking for the best fitting words and phrases.

Secondly, I didn’t want to go for a mechanical, word-to-word translation as it would cut into any native Latvian’s ears. But I didn’t want to compromise the speech’s originality either so I was doing my best to alter as little details as possible. Also, taking into account you might be interested in comparing how certain words translate into Latvian, I tried not to move them around too much. Languages, however, differ quite a bit so I had to implement a few changes in sentence structure so that they sound natural in Latvian.

And in case you’re wondering why I didn’t choose an original Latvian piece of text, here’s the answer. I wanted to make it easier for English speaking folks to infer the meaning of some of the Latvian words because many of you would be familiar with the original speech.

Well, I’m well aware that apart from a few international words there are no obvious similarities between Latvian and English; yet I’m inclined to believe that, for instance, you’ll definitely memorize Latvian for “greed” which is “alkatība” simply because the phrase “greed is good” is so well known!

Mister Kromvel, es novērtēju to, ka jūs dodat man iespēju runāt kā lielākajam Teldar Paper akcionāram.Dāmas un kungi, mēs neesam šeit lai nodotos fantāzijām, bet gan politiskai un ekonomiskai realitātei. Amerika, Amerika ir pārtapusi par otršķirīgu spēku. Tās tirdzniecības deficīts un fiskālais deficīts ir murgainos apmēros. Brīvā tirgus laikos, kad mūsu valsts bija lielākais industriālais spēks, akcionāriem bija teikšana. Kārnedžiji, Meloni, vīri kas uzbūvēja šo vareno industriālo impēriju, to nodrošināja, tāpēc ka viņi riskēja ar savu naudu. Bet mūsu dienās vadībai uzņēmumā nepieder nekas!Visiem šiem vīriem, kas tur augšā sēž, kopumā ņemot uzņēmumā pieder mazāk kā 3 procenti akciju. Un kur Misters Kromvels liek viņa miljons dolāru algu? Ne jau Teldara akcijās, viņam pieder mazāk kā 1 procents!Uzņēmums pieder jums. Jā, jums – akcionāriem! Un šie birokrāti karaliski piekāš jūs visus ar savām steika pusdienām, medībām un zvejas izbraucieniem, korporatīvajām lidmašīnām un kompensācijām.Teldar Paper, Mister Kromvel, Teldar Paper ir 33 dažādi vice- prezidenti, kuri pelna divsimts tūkstošus dolārus gadā katrs. Es esmu pavadījis pagājušos divus mēnešus analizējot ko visi šie čaļi dara, un es vēl joprojām nevaru to izprast. Viena lieta, ko es tiešām zinu, ir tas, ka mūsu uzņēmums ir pazaudējis simts desmit miljonus dolārus pagājušajā gadā, un es varu saderēt, ka puse no tās naudas tika iztērēta dokumentācijai ko visi šie vice-prezidenti viens otram sūta. Liekas, ka jaunā evolūcijas teorija korporatīvajā Amerikā ir vajākā izdzīvošana. Manā grāmatā tu vai nu dari to pareizi, vai nu tu tiec izmests.Pedējos septiņos darījumos, kuros es esmu bijis iesaistīts, divi ar pusi miljoni akcionāru guva pirmsnodokļu peļņu 12 miljardu dolāru apmērā. Paldies!Es neesmu uzņēmumu iznīcinātājs, es esmu viņu atbrīvotājs!Dāmas un kungi, patiesība ir tā, ka alkatība – lai cik savādi tas skan – ir laba.Alkatība ir pareiza. Alkatība dod rezultātus. Alkatība padara skaidru lietas būtību, tā redz cauri visam un ir attīstības gara pamatā.Alkatība visās tās formās – alkas pēc dzīves, naudas, mīlestības un zināšanām – ir bijusi cilvēces augšupejas pamatiezīme. Alkatība – pieminat manus vārdus – izglābs ne tikai Teldar Paper, bet arī kādu citu grūtībās nonākušu korporāciju sauktu ASV.

I hope this gives some insight into the dark territory called the Latvian language. Why am I calling a dark territory? Latvian is a small language. There are less than 2 million native Latvian speakers in the world and I’m afraid our numbers are dwindling. Unlike some of the bigger East-European languages like Polish, Russian and Romanian, you probably won’t hear many Latvians in the streets in your country.

But if you’re interested in learning Latvian due to reasons like having a Latvian boyfriend or girlfriend, fair play to you (it’s how we say “well done” or “good job” in Ireland)!


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  • Has Latvian got any Latin roots? Some of the words look like Spanish/ French etc, even of they may not mean the same thing.

  • No Latin roots at all. Latvian is a Baltic language. I imagine that there are some loans from Latin though, probably to do with religion and science.

  • There are many loan words from other languages in Latvian, but my language definitely has no Latin roots. Just out of curiosity - can you specify which words are you talking about?

  • I'd say Latin has played a very little part in affecting my language's development over the centuries. To the best of my knowledge all nations having ruled Latvia's territory - Germans, Russians, and Swedish didn't use Latin to conduct religious ceremonies. Also, even if they did, Latvians were just peasants keeping to their own ways and thankfully no ruling nation has made a really good effort to eradicate our native language - unlike some other smaller nations which have not been so lucky...

  • While they probably mean completely different things, the actual words which look Latin are ir, es, pieder, un, bija looks like the Spanish bajo, pareizi looks like parecer in Spanish as well. I was just wondering as while I haven't properly looked at it yet, some of the words look strikingly similar. It is probably a coincidence though.

  • Yeap, it is a coincidence. I checked the Spanish words you mentioned and they mean completely different things.

  • Latvian seems like a very pretty language.

  • Hello!When learning a foreign language, it is very important to read interesting literature.We have a blog where we write about topics related with different foreign languages.https://translation-blog.tru...I would very much like to get your comments!Amelia

  • I hate to moderate and/or delete comments, especially when they are seemingly about language-related topics, but I will not stand for blatant use of my blog as a vehicle for link spam.If you want to get traffic to your blog by way of comments on mine, do it in a respectable, honorable manner: participate in discussion of the actual topic at hand. If you spam here again, you will be permanently blocked from commenting.

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