For the fourth year already, the three rectors’ scholarship is awarded to a student who is the best at the languages of the three Baltic states, i.e. Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian. In the final round of the competition held on Zoom on 14 May, the committee selected the winner: Krišs Kapenieks, who has a doctoral degree in history from the University of Latvia and continues his studies in the master’s programme in Baltic philology and works as a research fellow at the Latvian War Museum. He has a strong personal and professional relationship with the Lithuanian and Estonian language.
His language interest started already as a child. His mother tongue is Latvian, but his mother, a German teacher, taught him German at home, and his grandmother taught him French. At school, Krišs learned English and Russian and then Latin at the university.
Due to his great interest in languages, Krišs has also acquired the languages of neighbouring countries. He has learned Lithuanian in a language camp, in a one-year Lithuanian language project and in a four-week Lithuanian summer course in Kaunas. This has given him sufficient language skills to use Lithuanian also for his research. In his doctoral dissertation, Krišs studied the history of Kursenieki, the inhabitants of the Curonian Spit, and now continues to study them from the point of view of linguistics.
Until 2017, Krišs spoke German with his historian friends from Estonia but then decided to learn Estonian, as well: first as an optional course at the University of Latvia and then at the Baltic Museology Summer School at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu. Although English was the working language of the summer school, Krišs used the opportunity to practice both Estonian and Lithuanian. He has also improved his Estonian skills at the Estonian language club of the University of Latvia and in the summer courses of Tallinn University in 2020.
The next scholarship competition will be organised by the University of Latvia in the 2021/2022 academic year. All students who speak the languages of the three Baltic states are welcome to participate. More detailed information about the conditions and organisation of the competition can be found here. Those interested in learning the languages of the Baltic states can do that at the language courses of the University of Tartu College of Foreign Languages and Cultures.
Further information: Tiina Kattel, Junior Lecturer in Estonian and Lithuanian, University of Tartu College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, tiina.kattel [ät] ut.ee