The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. Baltic languages are spoken by the Balts, mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe.
Scholars usually regard them as a single language family divided into two groups: Western Baltic (containing only extinct languages) and Eastern Baltic (containing two living languages, Lithuanian and Latvian). The range of the Eastern Baltic linguistic influence once possibly reached as far as the Ural Mountains, but this hypothesis has been questioned.
Although morphologically related, the Lithuanian, Latvian and, particularly, Old Prussian vocabularies differ substantially from one another, and as such they are not mutually intelligible, mainly due to a substantial number of false friends, and foreign words, borrowed from surrounding language families, which are used differently.
|ISO 639-2 / 5||bat|
east2280 (Eastern Baltic)
prus1238 (Old Prussian)
The Baltic languages are generally thought to form a single family with two branches, Eastern and Western. However, these two branches are sometimes classified as independent branches of Balto-Slavic.
(† — extinct language)
Although the various Baltic tribes were mentioned by ancient historians as early as 98 B.C., the first attestation of a Baltic language was about 1350, with the creation of the Elbing Prussian Vocabulary, a German to Prussian translation dictionary. Lithuanian was first attested in a hymnal translation in 1545; the first printed book in Lithuanian, a Catechism by Martynas Mažvydas was published in 1547 in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Latvian appeared in a hymnal in 1530 and in a printed Catechism in 1585.
One reason for the late attestation is that the Baltic peoples resisted Christianization longer than any other Europeans, which delayed the introduction of writing and isolated their languages from outside influence.
With the establishment of a German state in Prussia, and the eradication or flight of much of the Baltic Prussian population in the 13th century, the remaining Prussians began to be assimilated, and by the end of the 17th century, the Prussian language had become extinct.
After the Partitions of Commonwealth, most of the Baltic lands were under the rule of the Russian Empire, where the native languages or alphabets were sometimes prohibited from being written down or used publicly in a Russification effort (see Lithuanian press ban for the ban in force from 1865 to 1904).
Speakers of modern Baltic languages are generally concentrated within the borders of Lithuania and Latvia, and in emigrant communities in the United States, Canada, Australia and the countries within the former borders of the Soviet Union.
Historically the languages were spoken over a larger area: west to the mouth of the Vistula river in present-day Poland, at least as far east as the Dniepr river in present-day Belarus, perhaps even to Moscow, and perhaps as far south as Kiev. Key evidence of Baltic language presence in these regions is found in hydronyms (names of bodies of water) that are characteristically Baltic. The use of hydronyms is generally accepted to determine the extent of a culture's influence, but not the date of such influence.
The Mordvinic languages, spoken mainly along western tributaries of the Volga, show several dozen loanwords from one or more Baltic languages. These may have been mediated by contacts with the Eastern Balts along the river Oka.
The eventual expansion of the use of Slavic languages in the south and east, and Germanic languages in the west, reduced the geographic distribution of Baltic languages to a fraction of the area that they formerly covered. The Russian geneticist Oleg Balanovsky speculated that there is a predominance of the assimilated pre-Slavic substrate in the genetics of East and West Slavic populations, according to him the common genetic structure which contrasts East Slavs and Balts from other populations may suggest that the pre-Slavic substrate of the East Slavs consists most significantly of Baltic-speakers, which predated the Slavs in the cultures of the Eurasian steppe according to archaeological references he cites.
The Baltic languages are of particular interest to linguists because they retain many archaic features, which are believed to have been present in the early stages of the Proto-Indo-European language. However, linguists have had a hard time establishing the precise relationship of the Baltic languages to other languages in the Indo-European family. Several of the extinct Baltic languages have a limited or nonexistent written record, their existence being known only from the records of ancient historians and personal or place names. All of the languages in the Baltic group (including the living ones) were first written down relatively late in their probable existence as distinct languages. These two factors combined with others have obscured the history of the Baltic languages, leading to a number of theories regarding their position in the Indo-European family.
The Baltic languages show a close relationship with the Slavic languages, and are grouped with them in a Balto-Slavic family by most scholars. This family is considered to have developed from a common ancestor, Proto-Balto-Slavic. Later on, several lexical, phonological and morphological dialectisms developed, separating the various Balto-Slavic languages from each other. Although it is generally agreed that the Slavic languages developed from a single more-or-less unified dialect (Proto-Slavic) that split off from common Balto-Slavic, there is more disagreement about the relationship between the Baltic languages.
The traditional view is that the Balto-Slavic languages split into two branches, Baltic and Slavic, with each branch developing as a single common language (Proto-Baltic and Proto-Slavic) for some time afterwards. Proto-Baltic is then thought to have split into East Baltic and West Baltic branches. However, more recent scholarship has suggested that there was no unified Proto-Baltic stage, but that Proto-Balto-Slavic split directly into three groups: Slavic, East Baltic and West Baltic. Under this view, the Baltic family is paraphyletic, and consists of all Balto-Slavic languages that are not Slavic. This would imply that Proto-Baltic, the last common ancestor of all Baltic languages, would be identical to Proto-Balto-Slavic itself, rather than distinct from it. In the 1960s Vladimir Toporov and Vyacheslav Ivanov made the following conclusions about the relationship between the Baltic and Slavic languages: a) Proto-Slavic language formed from the peripheral-type Baltic dialects; b) Slavic linguistic type formed later from the Baltic languages structural model; c) the Slavic structural model is a result of the Baltic languages structural model transformation. These scholars’ theses do not contradict the Baltic and Slavic languages closeness and from a historical perspective specify the Baltic-Slavic languages evolution.
Finally, there is a minority of scholars who argue that Baltic descended directly from Proto-Indo-European, without an intermediate common Balto-Slavic stage. They argue that the many similarities and shared innovations between Baltic and Slavic are due to several millennia of contact between the groups, rather than shared heritage.
The Baltic-speaking peoples likely encompassed an area in Eastern Europe much larger than their modern range: as in the case of the Celtic languages of Western Europe, they were reduced with invasions, exterminations and assimilations. Studies in comparative linguistics point to genetic relationship between the languages of the Baltic family and the following extinct languages:
The Baltic classification of Dacian and Thracian has been proposed by the Lithuanian scientist Jonas Basanavičius, who insisted this is the most important work of his life and listed 600 identical words of Balts and Thracians. His theory included Phrygian in the related group, but this did not find support and was disapproved among other authors, such as Ivan Duridanov, whose own analysis found Phrygian completely lacking parallels in either Thracian or Baltic languages.
The Bulgarian linguist Ivan Duridanov, who improved the most extensive list of toponyms, in his first publication claimed that Thracian is genetically linked to the Baltic languages and in the next one he made the following classification:"The Thracian language formed a close group with the Baltic (resp. Balto-Slavic), the Dacian and the "Pelasgian" languages. More distant were its relations with the other Indo-European languages, and especially with Greek, the Italic and Celtic languages, which exhibit only isolated phonetic similarities with Thracian; the Tokharian and the Hittite were also distant. " Of about 200 reconstructed Thracian words by Duridanov most cognates (138) appear in the Baltic languages, mostly in Lithuanian, followed by Germanic (61), Indo-Aryan (41), Greek (36), Bulgarian (23), Latin (10) and Albanian (8). The cognates of the reconstructed Dacian words in his publication are found mostly in the Baltic languages, followed by Albanian. Parallels have enabled linguists, using the techniques of comparative linguistics, to decipher the meanings of several Dacian and Thracian placenames with, they claim, a high degree of probability. Of 74 Dacian placenames attested in primary sources and considered by Duridanov, a total of 62 have Baltic cognates, most of which were rated "certain" by Duridanov. For a big number of 300 Thracian geographic names most parallels were found between Thracian and Baltic geographic names in the study of Duridanov. According to him the most important impression make the geographic cognates of Baltic and Thracian "the similarity of these parallels stretching frequently on the main element and the suffix simultaneously, which makes a strong impression".
Прежде всего, это преобладание в славянских популяциях дославянского субстрата — двух ассимилированных ими генетических компонентов – восточноевропейского для западных и восточных славян и южноевропейского для южных славян...Можно с осторожностью предположить, что ассимилированный субстратмог быть представлен по преимуществу балтоязычными популяциями. Действительно, археологические данные указыва ют на очень широкое распространение балтских групп перед началом расселения славян. Балтскийсубстрату славян (правда, наряду с финно-угорским) выявляли и антропологи. Полученные нами генетические данные — и на графиках генетических взаимоотношений, и по доле общих фрагментов генома — указывают, что современные балтские народы являются ближайшими генетически ми соседями восточных славян. При этом балты являются и лингвистически ближайшими род ственниками славян. И можно полагать, что к моменту ассимиляции их генофонд не так сильно отличался от генофонда начавших свое широкое расселение славян. Поэтому если предположить,что расселяющиеся на восток славяне ассимилировали по преимуществу балтов, это может объяснить и сходство современных славянских и балтских народов друг с другом, и их отличия от окружающих их не балто-славянских групп Европы...В работе высказывается осторожное предположение, что ассимилированный субстрат мог быть представлен по преимуществу балтоязычными популяциями. Действительно, археологические данные указывают на очень широкое распространение балтских групп перед началом расселения славян. Балтский субстрат у славян (правда, наряду с финно-угорским) выявляли и антропологи. Полученные в этой работе генетические данные — и на графиках генетических взаимоотношений, и по доле общих фрагментов генома — указывают, что современные балтские народы являются ближайшими генетическими соседями восточных славян.
Though Prussian is undoubtedly closer to the East Baltic languages than to Slavic, the characteristic features of the Baltic languages seem to be either retentions or results of parallel development and cultural interaction. Thus I assume that Balto-Slavic split into three identifiable branches, each of which followed its own course of development.
I am not convinced that it is justified to reconstruct a Proto-Baltic stage. The term Proto-Baltic is used for convenience’s sake.
Allative case (abbreviated ALL; from Latin allāt-, afferre "to bring to") is a type of locative case. The term allative is generally used for the lative case in the majority of languages that do not make finer distinctions.Baltic mythology
Baltic mythology is the body of mythology of the Baltic people stemming from Baltic paganism and continuing after Christianization and into Baltic folklore. Baltic mythology ultimately stems from Proto-Indo-European mythology. The Baltic region was one of the last regions of Europe to be Christianized, a process that occurred from the 15th century and into at least a century after. While no native texts survive detailing the mythology of the Baltic peoples during the pagan period, knowledge of the mythology may be gained from Russian and German chronicles, later folklore, by way of etymology, and comparative mythology.While the early chronicles (14th and 15th century) were largely the product of missionaries who sought to eradicate the native paganism of the Baltic peoples, rich material survives into Baltic folklore. This material has been of particular value in Indo-European studies as, like the Baltic languages, it is considered by scholars to be notably conservative, reflecting elements of Proto-Indo-European religion. The Indo-European Divine Twins are particularly well represented as the Dieva dēli (Latvian 'sons of god') and Dievo sūneliai (Lithuanian 'sons of god'). According to folklore, they are the children of Dievas (Lithuanian and Latvia; see Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus). Associated with the brothers and their father are two goddesses; the personified Sun, Saule (Latvian 'sun') and Saules meita (Latvian 'Sun's daughter').Balto-Slavic languages
The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other Indo-European branch, which points to a period of common development. It is now a general consensus among linguists to classify Baltic and Slavic languages into a single branch, even though some details of the nature of their relationship remain in dispute in some circles, usually due to political controversies. Some linguists (Kortlandt, Derksen) however, have suggested that Balto-Slavic should be split into three equidistant groups: Eastern Baltic, Western Baltic (which is extinct) and Slavic.A Proto-Balto-Slavic language is reconstructable by the comparative method, descending from Proto-Indo-European by means of well-defined sound laws, and out of which modern Slavic and Baltic languages descended. One particularly innovative dialect separated from the Balto-Slavic dialect continuum and became ancestral to the Proto-Slavic language, from which all Slavic languages descended.Balts
The Balts or Baltic people (Lithuanian: baltai, Latvian: balti) are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group who speak the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, which was originally spoken by tribes living in the area east of Jutland peninsula in the west and in the Moscow, Oka and Volga rivers basins in the east. One of the features of Baltic languages is the number of conservative or archaic features retained. Among the Baltic peoples are modern Lithuanians, Latvians (including Latgalians) — all Eastern Balts — as well as the Old Prussians, Yotvingians and Galindians — the Western Balts — whose languages and cultures are now extinct.Code page 775
Code page 775 (also known as CP 775, IBM 00775, OEM 775, MS-DOS Baltic Rim) is a code page used under DOS to write the Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian languages. The other code page used for Baltic languages is Windows-1257.Curonian language
The Curonian language (German: Kurisch; Latvian: kuršu valoda; Lithuanian: kuršių kalba), or Old Curonian, is a nearly unattested extinct language spoken by the Curonians, a Baltic tribe who inhabited the Courland Peninsula (now western Latvia) and the nearby Baltic shore. Curonian was a Baltic language; some scholars consider it to have been an Eastern Baltic, intermediate between Lithuanian and Latvian, while others like Vytautas Mažiulis classify it as Western Baltic.Old Curonian disappeared in the course of the 16th century, leaving substrata in western dialects of the Latvian and Lithuanian, namely the Samogitian dialect. No written documents in this language are known, but some ancient Lithuanian texts from western regions show some Curonian influence.
Historian Marika Mägi proposes that Curonian was not originally seen as ethnic, but social category, depicting Eastern Baltic seafarers, who often engaged in piracy. She believes that early meaning of the name also included Finnic tribes living in northern Curonia and Saaremaa (historical parallel name of latter has been Kuresaar, "Kure-island"). Marika Mägi sees origin of the Curonian name in Finnic word kura (kuri, kure), meaning "something bad, despiteful, angry".Linguist Eduard Vääri Curonians argues that it is possible that Curonians were Baltic Finns. Amateur historian Edgar V. Saks has pointed out several Curonian words and names of possible Finnic origin. For example, a treaty from 1230 calls Curonian administrative divisions kiligunden (kihelkond in Estonian) and the Curonian army maleva. The elder who signed the treaty was named Lammechinus (resp. Lemminkäinen). Self-denomination of Curonians, kure, according to Saks, means 'crane' in Estonian. The attested local Finnic language, Livonian, may be the source of Finnic elements in Curonian.After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Baltic states saw a revival of scientific and cultural interest in extinct Baltic languages and tribes, including Yotvingian, Curonian, and Old Prussian.Galindian language
Galindian is the poorly attested extinct language of the Galindians, thought to have been very similar to Old Prussian. There are no extant writings in Galindian.ISO/IEC 8859-13
ISO/IEC 8859-13:1998, Information technology — 8-bit single-byte coded graphic character sets — Part 13: Latin alphabet No. 7, is part of the ISO/IEC 8859 series of ASCII-based standard character encodings, first edition published in 1998. It is informally referred to as Latin-7 or Baltic Rim. It was designed to cover the Baltic languages, and added characters used in the Polish language missing from the earlier encodings ISO 8859-4 and ISO 8859-10. Unlike these two, it does not cover the Nordic languages.
ISO-8859-13 is the IANA preferred charset name for this standard when supplemented with the C0 and C1 control codes from ISO/IEC 6429.
Microsoft has assigned code page 28603 a.k.a. Windows-28603 to ISO-8859-13. IBM has assigned Code page 921 to ISO-8859-13. ISO-IR 206 replaces the currency sign at position A4 with the Euro Sign (€).Latgalian language
Latgalian is a Baltic language spoken in Latgale, the eastern part of Latvia. It is debated whether it is a separate language with heavy Latvian influence, due to historical mutual exposure, or a distinct dialect of Latvian. Nevertheless, its standardized form is recognized and protected as a "historical variety of the Latvian language" (vēsturisks latviešu valodas paveids) by Latvian law. The 2011 Latvian census established that 8.8% of Latvia's inhabitants, or 164,500 people, speak Latgalian daily. 97,600 of them live in Latgale, 29,400 in Riga and 14,400 in the Riga region.Latgalian phonology
This article is about the phonology of the Latgalian language.Lithuanian language
Lithuanian (Lithuanian: lietuvių kalba) is a Baltic language spoken in the Baltic region. It is the language of Lithuanians and the official language of Lithuania as well as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.9 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 200,000 abroad.
As a Baltic language, Lithuanian is closely related to neighbouring Latvian and more distantly to Slavic, Germanic and other Indo-European languages. It is written in a Latin alphabet. Lithuanian is often said to be the most conservative living Indo-European language, retaining features of Proto-Indo-European now lost in other languages.Lituanus
Lituanus is an English language quarterly journal dedicated to Lithuanian and Baltic languages, linguistics, political science, arts, history, literature, and related topics. It is published by the non-profit Lituanus Foundation, Inc., and has a worldwide circulation of about 3,000 copies per issue. The first issue was published in 1954 in Chicago, Illinois. Many of the back issues are available free of charge on its website. Its ISSN number is ISSN 0024-5089.
Lituanus is abstracted in two internationally recognized abstract services: MLA (Modern Language Association) and IPSA (International Political Science Association). Over the last fifty years its most frequent editor has been Professor (now Emeritus) Antanas Klimas of the University of Rochester. The journal has featured articles by Czesław Miłosz, Tomas Venclova, Vytautas Kavolis, Jurgis Baltrušaitis, and Vytautas Landsbergis.Old Prussian language
Old Prussian is an extinct Baltic language once spoken by the Old Prussians, the Baltic peoples of the Prussian region. The language is called Old Prussian to avoid confusion with the German dialects of Low Prussian and High Prussian and with the adjective Prussian as it relates to the later German state. Old Prussian began to be written down in the Latin alphabet in about the 13th century, and a small amount of literature in the language survives.Selonian language
Selonian was a Baltic language spoken by the Eastern Baltic tribe of the Selonians, who until the 15th century lived in Selonia, a territory in southeastern Latvia and northeastern Lithuania.Semigallian language
Semigallian, or Zemgalian, is an extinct language of the Baltic language sub-family of the Indo-European languages.Sudovian language
Sudovian (also known as Yotvingian, Yatvingian, or Jatvingian) is an extinct western Baltic language of Northeastern Europe. Closely related to the Old Prussian language, it was formerly spoken southwest of the Nemunas river in what is now Lithuania, east of Galindia and north of Yotvingia, and by exiles in East Prussia.Supine
In grammar, a supine is a form of verbal noun used in some languages. The term is most often used for Latin, where it is one of the four principal parts of a verb.Vagoth
The Vagoths were a Germanic tribe mentioned by Jordanes. He located them in Scandza. Speculations about their exact identity have identified them with the Geats of Vikbolandet and with the Gotlanders.
According to Lithuanian linguist Kazimieras Būga, the name of Germans, Germany in Lithuanian and Latvian languages (“Germany”: Lith. Vokia, Vokietija, Latv. Vācija, “German (person)”: Lith. vokietis, Latv. vācietis ) is derived from the name of Vagoths (*Vāk(ia)-goth). From Baltic languages originate Finnish roots Vuoja, Vuojo and Estonian Oju, Oja in their name for Gotland: Vuojola, Vuojonmaa, Vuojanmaa, Ojumaa, Ojamaa (“maa” - land).
The Valagoths were a tribe mentioned by Nennius.Ž
The grapheme Ž (minuscule: ž) is formed from Latin Z with the addition of caron (Czech: háček, Slovak: mäkčeň, Slovene: strešica, Serbo-Croatian: kvačica). It is used in various contexts, usually denoting the voiced postalveolar fricative, a sound similar to English g in mirage, or Portuguese and French j. In the International Phonetic Alphabet this sound is denoted with [ʒ], but the lowercase ž is used in the Americanist phonetic notation, as well as in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet. In addition, ž is used as the romanisation of Cyrillic ж in ISO 9 and scientific transliteration.
For use in computer systems, Ž and ž are at Unicode codepoints U+017D and U+017E, respectively. On Windows computers, it can be typed with Alt+0142 and Alt+0158, respectively.
Ž is the final letter of most alphabets that contain it, exceptions including Estonian and Turkmen.