l. The Latvians,* Curonians, Lithuanians and Old Prussians
Balts; Jatvingians are included as one of the tribes of the Prussians.
References: Būga Liet. k. žod., LXXVIflž:, KSn., 78ff. and Gerullis,
Bezzenberger-Festschrift, 44f×. Nesselmann in his book, Die Sprache der
alten Preussen (1845), XXVIIIf., gave the name 'Balts' to these peoples
because the land inhabited by them touches the Baltic Sea (concerning
its name see Iev., 6f.).
* Translators' note: For the four parts of Latvia the
following names have been
used: Kurzeme (Endzelin's Kurzeme or more often Kursa), adjective: Curonian (from
the Latin form of Kurzeme, i.e. Curonia); Vidzeme, no adjective used (a description
has been used, usually 'central dialect of Vidzeme'); Latgale, adjective: Latgalian;
Zemgale, adjective: Zemgalian.
Curonian, Latgalian, Zemgalian, and Selonian are designations
for the languages of
ancient Baltic tribes. Their more or less complete late merger gave rise to the Latvian
language which in its dialects still preserves peculiarities of the languages (dialects)
of the original tribes. There is no Vidzemian as in Vidzeme the so-called central
dialect-which comes closest to the Latvian literary standard-is spoken so that Latvian
in a narrower sense is the language of Vidzeme. Of course, this is not always the case
because the central dialect is also spoken, e.g. in large parts of Kurzeme and Zemgale.
The proper adjective of Vidzeme would have been Livonian from the old Latin name
for Vidzeme-Livonia. English Low Latvian(s) = lejzemnieki; English High Latvian(s)
The extant Prussian texts begin as early as 1545, Lithuanian
1547 and Latvian in 1585. These were translations of the catechisms.
Grammars: J. Endzelin, Lettische Grammatik (1922); J. Plāķis, Leišu
valodas rokas grāmata (1926); J. Endzelīns, Senprūšu valoda (1943, with
vocabulary) and J. Endzelin, Altpreussische Grammatik (1944, without
The Baltic languages are divided into West Baltic (= Prussian) and
East Baltic (Lithuanian, Curonian and Latvian). The Prussian language
differs from the East Baltic languages by such grammatical peculiarities
as, for example: Pr. gen. sing. Deiwas '(of) God' - Lith. Dievo and Latv.
Dieva; Pr. ains 'one' (= Goth. ains), tirtis 'third', usts 'sixth', newīnts
'ninth' (cf. Goth. niunda), (acc. plur.) tūsimtons 'thousand' - Lith. vienas
'one', trēčias 'third' (cf. OCS. tretbjb), šēštas 'sixth', devintas 'ninth' (cf.
OCS. devetb), tūkstantis 'thousand' and Latv. viens 'one', trešs 'third',
sests 'sixth', devīts 'ninth', tūkstuotis 'thousand'; Pr. (nom. sing. masc.)
stas 'this, that', (nom. sing. fem.) stai, (gen. sing. masc.) stessei, (dat. sing.
masc.) stesmu (cf. Goth. bamma), (gen. plur.) steison - Lith. (nom. sing.
masc.) tas 'this, that', (nom. sing. fem.) tā , (gen. sing. masc.) to, (dat.
sing. masc.) tam(ui), (gen. plur.) tū and Latv. (the corresponding forms
are listed in the same order as above) tas, tā , tā , tam (cf. OCS. tomu),
tuo; Pr. subs 'self' - Lith. and Latv. pats; Pr. mais 'my, mine', twais
'your, yours (sing.)', swais 'one's own' (cf. the corresponding OCS.
mojb, tvojb, svojb) - Lith. manas 'my, mine', tavas 'your, yours', savas
'one's own' (and the corresponding) Latv. mans, tavs, savs; Pr. dat.
mennei '(to) me', tebbei '(to) you (sing.)', sebbei '(to) oneself' (cf. the
corresponding OCS. tebē, sebē), acc. mien 'me', tien 'you (sing.)', sien
'oneself', gen. plur. nouson '(of) us', dat. plur. noūma(n)s '(to) us', acc.
plur. mans 'us', wans 'you (plur.)' (cf. OCS. vy) - Lith. dat. man(i) '(to)
me', tav(i) '(to) you (sing.)', sav(i) '(to) oneself', acc. mane 'me', tave
'you (sing.)', save 'oneself', gen. plur. mūsu '(of) us', dat. plur. mums
'(to) us', acc. plur. mus 'us', jus 'you (plur.)' and the corresponding Latv.
dat. sing. man, tav, sav, acc. sing. mani, tevi, sevi, gen. plur. mūsu, dat.
plur. mums, acc. plur. mūs, jūs; Pr. dātwei 'to give' - Lith. duoti, Latv.
duot; Pr. īduns 'having eaten', - stāuns 'having stood' - Lith. ēdes 'having
eaten', stojes 'having stood' and the corresponding Latv. ēdis, stājis.
There are also differences in vocabulary; e.g. Pr. aglo 'rain': Lith. lietus
'rain' and Latv. lietus; Pr. assanis 'autumn' Lith. ruduo
'autumn', Latv. rudens; Pr. panno 'fire' (cf. Goth. fon): Lith. ugnis 'fire'
and Latv. uguns and others, see Senpr., 13 f1'. - In some lexical items
Prussian agrees with Lithuanian as against Latv.; e.g. Pr. soūns 'son'
and Lith. sūnus as opposed to Latv. dēls. Much more rarely, Prussian
agrees with Latvian and is different from Lithuanian; e.g. Pr. nabis
'navel' and Latv. naba as opposed to Lith. bamba 'navel'. Coincidences
between Prussian and Curonian are rarely noted; e.g. Pr. kerscha(n)
or kirscha(n) 'over, beyond' and Curonian place names Cērsupji2 and
Cirspene: Lith. skersas 'cross, transverse', Latv. šķērss.
The Prussian texts: Elbing vocabulary (with 802 words), which was
written same time between 1300 and 1400, Simon Grunau's vocabulary
(with 100 words) from the beginning of the l6th century, two catechisms
published in 1545, one catechism published in 1561 and some personal
and place names. Prussian died out around the end of the l7th century.
Comparing the East Baltic languages with each other, one can say
that the Lithuanian language is more conservative than Latvian; the
greater part of the sounds and forms of Latvian have developed from
sounds and forms similar to those even now used in Lithuanian. We
find the beginnings of various innovations in Lithuanian, but Latvians
have consistently brought these to completion. Partially, perhaps, this
can be explained by Finnic (Livonian and Estonian) substratum, see
FBR, VII, 176ff. The stress in Latvian has been withdrawn to the initial
syllable and along with this, old long vowels and diphthongs in endings
have been shortened and the old final ē and ā have been lost; in place
of Lithuanian (Prussian and Curonian) an, en, in, un in Latvian we find
uo, ie, i, ū; in place of Lithuanian (and Prussian) k, g, in Latvian (as in
Curonian) we find c, dz; in place of Lithuanian š (< sj), ž, č dž in Lat-
vian we have š, ž, š, ž; in place of Lithuanian š, ž, in Latvian (as in Prus-
sian and Curonian) we find s, z; in Latvian the pronominal dative ending
has been introduced into the o-stem nouns and the loc. sing. of the ā-
stem nouns has been introduced into the loc. sing. of the o-stem nouns;
r-stem nouns and u-stem adjectives have disappeared; for verbs with
the infinitive in -īt (in the present tense ā-stem), past tense stems -ijā -
have developed, for verbs with the infinitive in -uot, past tense stems
with -uoj ā- have developed; a debitive form has been created and several
innovations have been made in the choice of cases governed by the
Three dialects are distinguished in Latvian: Tamian (and the closely
parallel so-called Livonian dialects of Vidzeme), the central dialect
(which forms the basis of the literary language) and the High Latvian
dialect, see Lskf., 4ff. In Lithuanian there are two basic dialects, the
Samogitian and High Lithuanian; concerning these see Gerullis' Li-
tauische Dialektstudien and Salys, Arch. Phil., IV, 21 ff. In the Samogitian
dialect tja, dja (> High Lithuanian a, d«a) > te, de; uo, ie > ū, i
(south-eastern) ou, ei (north-western), o, e (in the Klaipēda region),
o (<ā ) > uo, e > ie. The High Lithuanian dialect is divided into
western, central and eastern dialects. The western dialects are the basis
of the contemporary Lithuanian literary language; in the eastern dialects
an, am > un, um and en, em > in, im. Of the Lithuanian dialects the
closest to the Latvian language is the Samogitian (concerning this see
Specht in the symposium Stand und Aufgaben der Sprachwissenschaft,
626R.) and of the Latvian dialects the closest to Lithuanian is the High
Latvian dialect, see Izv., XIII, 4, 176ff.
The Curonians lived not only in modern Kurzeme, but also in Lith-
uania near Rietava, Telšiai and Skuoda, right up to the Klaipeda. In
the 16th century they were no longer mentioned in Lithuania (it seems
probable that this people was Lithuanianized), whereas those who were
in Kurzeme were distinguished from the Latvians until the end of the
16th century and later were completely Latvianized. Linguistically they
were most probably intermediaries between the Lithuanian and Latvian
see FUF, XII, 59ff., IF, XXXIII, 96fi. and FBR, XX, 248ff.; we can
make this conclusion from their remaining personal names and the
Curonian dialectal characteristics.
COMMENT: Cf. also J. Endzelīns, Latviešu
valodas gramatika (Riga, 1951).
A new edition of Le. Gr. keeping the same division of paragraphs as the latter;
Mūsdienu latviešu literārās valodas gramatika,1-2 (Riga, 1959-62). Not a schol-
arly grammar but presents the modern literary standard Latvian; J. Otrebski,
Gramatyka jezyka litewskiego (Warszawa, 1956-), in progress; E. Fraenkel, Die
baltischen Sprachen (Heidelberg, 1950); M. Gimbutas, The Balts (New York,
1963). As an up-to-date survey of those people. Not a linguistic work.
2. The Baltic languages belong to the Indo-European language
(i.e. the group including Aryan, Armenian, Albanian, Greek, Italic,
Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Tokharian, Hittite, etc.). The nearest relatives
of the Balts are the Slavs. It seems that the ancestors of the Balts and
the Slavs, having become separated from the other Indo-Europeans,
remained together for a certain time. Bearing witness to the close re-
lationship between the Baltic and the Slavic languages are certain com-
mon characteristics: ur, ul, un, um as zero grade beside ir, il, in, im;
*jau from eu; some accent shifts; the first person singular pronoun forms
with mun-; the first person plural pronoun genitive form *nos(s)om; the
definite adjective formation with the pronoun *io-; the predicate in-
strumental; infinitives in -ēt(e)i with a present stem in -ī; very many
correspondences in vocabulary. The majority of features which now
separate the Slavic languages from the Baltic could for the greater part
have developed after the period when the Balts and Slavs lived together;
in addition it is necessary to keep in mind that Baltic language texts
begin only in the 16th century.
It seems that not all of the Baltic peoples have had exactly the same
linguistic relationships with the Slavs. Such an impression is created
when one observes these facts: a) the 'circumflex' for Slavs, Prussians
and Latvians is a falling intonation, but for Lithuanians a rising intona-
tion, see 5; b) Indo-European k, g(h) > Lith. š, ž but Latv., Pr. and
Slavic s, z, see 42 and 43 ; c) si > Lith. s, but Latv., Pr. and Slavic š,
see 54; d) the Lithuanians have retained Indo-European sr, but the
Slavs, Prussians and the Latvians have changed it into str, see 78; e)
Slavic and Latv. pļ, bļ, correspond to the Lith. and Pr. sequences pj-;
bj-, see 52; f) in place of Lith. and Pr. k, ģ, the Latvians have c, dz, the
Slavs č, [d]ž, see 58; g) the Latvians, like their neighbors, the Russians,
have lost tautosyllabic n which the Prussians and the Lithuanians (at
least part of them) have retained, see 51; h) the sequences dl, tl, which
are retained by the Western Slavs and in part of the Prussian dialects,
were changed into gl, kl by the Lithuanians and the Latvians, see 82.
All this would be more understandable, if the Lithuanians had not been
formerly the immediate neighbors of the Slavs; some extinct Baltic
tribes, in the south, Prussian Jatvingians, and in the east some other
tribes, cf. the ronsužs mentioned by the Russian chroniclers, could have
separated the Slavs from the Lithuanians. Of the Slavs, only the neigh-
bors of the Balts, the Russians and the north-western Slavs (Kashubians,
etc.) have retained (like the Balts) the sequences -ol-, -or-, -el-, -er- with-
out metathesis. In addition, cf. Russ. č, [d]ž < ti, di with Lith. č, dž,
from which Latv. š, ž have developed.
For literature about the Baltic relations with the Slavs see Le. Gr. ;
also J. Safarewicz, Sprawozd. Polsk. Akad. Um., XLVI,199ff., E. Fraen-
kel, Die baltischen Sprachen, 73ff. and R. Trautmann, Die slavischen
Volker und Sprachen, 12ff. A few items unite the Baltic (and Slavic)
languages with the Germanic languages; thus the dative plural ending
with m- etc., see the literature mentioned in Le. Gr. Of the Baltic lan-
guages the nearest to Germanic is Prussian, see Senpr.,12 (with the liter-
ature mentioned therein) and 14.
The Baltic languages are distinguished from other Indo-European
languages partly by their vocabulary, and in addition, by these features:
a)The Balts have retained the original sounds better
than any other
living Indo-European language;
b) i has disappeared between a consonant and a
following front vowel;
c) m has been retained, also before dental consonants;
d) the same form is used for all numbers in the third person of the
3. Influence of foreign languages. In all of the Baltic
finds the influence of the Slavic and Germanic languages, but in Latvian
the influence of Livonian and Estonian is noted also. From the old
Germanic languages the Balts borrowed only a few words, e.g. the Prus-
sians rikijs (a form of address; from Gothic), the Lithuanians kviečiai
'wheat' and the Latvians kvieši, see Būga KSn., 60f. In the last centuries
of the Middle Ages a good many words came into Latvian and Prussian
from Middle Low German; after the Reformation the High German
written language had considerable influence on the Latvian language
and the Lithuanian dialects of Lithuania Minor; see Sehwers, Die deut-
schen Lehnwoter im Lettischen (1918), and Sprachlich-kulturhistorische
Untersuchungen, vornehmlich uber den deutschen Einfluss im Lettischen
(1936), Prellwitz, Die deutschen Bestandteile in den lettischen Sprachen, I
(1891) and Alminauskis, Die Germanismen des Litauischen, I. Slavisms
entered Prussian from Polish, into Lithuanian from Polish, White Rus-
sian and Russian, into Latvian from Russian and (especially in Latgale)
from Polish; see Bruckner, Litu-slavische Studien, I (1877), Būga, 'Die
litauisch-weissrussischen Beziehunen und ihr Alter, ZslPh., I, 26-55,
Skardžius, Die slavischen Lehnworter im Altlitauischen (1931), Otrebski,
Wschodniolitewskie narzecze twereckie, czesc III, zapožyczenia slowian-
skie (1932), and Endzelin, XCuean Cmaputta, IX, 285-312. Concerning the
Livonian (and Estonian) influence on Latvian see Thomsen, Beroringer
mellem de finske og de baltiske Sprog, 252-88.
COMMENT: Cf. also E. Fraenkel, Litauisches etymologisches
(Heidelberg-Go"ttingen 1955-65); A. Summent [Zuments), Unbeachtete slavische
Lehnworter im Lettischen (Gottingen,1950); V. J. Zeps, Latvian and Finnic Lin-
guistic Convergences (Bloomington-The Hague, 1962); pp. 84-210 treat Finnic
loanwords in Latvian.
Jānis Endzelīns', Comparative Phonology and Morphology of the Baltic Languages