Latvian environmental term purvs: Problems and solutions in Latvian-English-Latvian translations of helonyms


  • Linda Ozola-Ozoliņa Ventspils University of Applied Sciences
  • Silga Sviķe Ventspils University of Applied Sciences



helonyms, wetlands terminology, term translation, contrastive analysis, purvs


When translating helonyms from Latvian to English, translators encounter several terms with synonymic meanings that can be used as equivalents of the Latvian term purvs, although they specify the type of wetland more accurately: for example, bog, fen, marsh, mire, and swamp. As natural environments may vary significantly among different geographical locations, a wetland habitat found in one region may not exist in another. Currently, there is no comprehensive classification system that encompasses all types of wetlands around the world; and therefore, the equivalence of wetland names in the environmental terminology among various languages is often unclear. The present paper investigates whether the English translations of Latvian helonyms and the Latvian translations of the United States (US) helonyms are accurate and consistent regarding the available wetland terminology in each language. A total of 21 helonyms are analysed in the study but 4 are presented in the paper: Raganu purvs, Platenes purvs, Manchac Swamp and Suisun Marsh.

The method of data collection used in the paper is term excerption, and the methods used for data analysis are contrastive and qualitative. The sources for excerpted terms referring to Latvian and the US helonyms are online tourism websites in both Latvian and English. The precision of the translation of helonyms and the type of wetland habitat were verified using the websites of the Nature Conservation Agencies of both countries and other texts related to the environment. The results suggest that when translating helonyms from Latvian to English, it is necessary to know the specific type of wetland habitat to be able to choose the appropriate English language term. In translations of helonyms from English into Latvian, the most frequently used word is the superordinate term purvs.