Borrowed from Old East Slavic тълкъ (tŭlkŭ, “interpreter; interpretation, explanation”) (compare Russian толк (tolk, “sense, judgment”), толковать (tolkovatʹ, “to explain, to interpret”)). The Old East Slavic term is etymologically related to Latin loquī (“to speak”). The term was borrowed into Latvian at some point up to the 13th century and was first mentioned in 17th-century sources, already in its present form.
tulks m (1st declension)
- translator, interpreter (a person who translates texts, utterances, etc. into another language)
gadījies arī bez tulka starpniecības sarunāties ar somu jūrniekiem ― it happened (= was possible) also to talk with Finnish sailors without the help of an interpreter
nepieciešamība pēc tulkošanas un tulkiem radās jau sirmā senatnē ― the need for translation and interpreters, translators arose already in ancient times
- interpreter (a person who interprets or explains difficult or mysterious things)
zvaigžņu tulks ― interpreter of the stars (i.e., astrologist)
The terms tulkotājs, tulkotāja are more recent and usually refer to people who translate written texts (“translator”), while tulks is older and usually refer to people who translate orally, or who interpret sayings (“interpreter”).