Volume 19, No.1 - Spring 1973
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas, Thomas Remeikis
Copyright © 1973 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


University of Rochester

In Indo-European (IE) comparative linguistics, few questions have been as widely discussed or have been the subjects of more investigations or reports than the topic of Baltic and Slavic relationships.

Why is this the case? The answer could be very long, but here we will content ourselves with mentioning only the most important reasons.

1. Both of these branches of the IE languages are very conservative, i. e., both have retained many characteristics inherited directly from the IE protolanguage. These inherited characteristics make these languages similar to each other in some cases, whereas in all of the other living IE languages, changes have occurred in the course of time, so that the similarities inherited from the protolanguage no longer seem at first glance to be similarities.

2. Both of these language groups were recorded at a comparatively late date. Whereas Hittite documents go back to about 1800 B.C., Sanskrit documents go back to about 1000 B.C., and the first Greek sources are dated at about 1350 B.C. (the so-called Mycenean Greek or Linear B inscriptions), the first written sources of the Slavic languages go back only to the 9th century A.D., and the Baltic only to 1400 A.D. (the Old Prussian Elbing Vocabulary). Therefore, there is practically nothing to attest to the course of development of these languages until the last millennium.

3. Both of these language groups have been neighbors for many centuries, i.e., they have lived in close geographical, historical, political, and cultural contact. It is evident that under the influence of these contacts one of these language groups must have had some influence on the other, especially with respect to word borrowing. The first European linguists rather superficially decided— particularly in the 19th century — the degree of affinity primarily from the lexical similarities. Today lexical similarities have almost no significance for the establishment of original ethnogenetic relationships, since the lexical stock is almost completely a creation of civilization and culture: it does not show primordial, original relationships. A clear example of this can be found in contemporary English, where the non-Germanic (for the most part Latin-Romance) words make lip more the 50 percent of the lexical system. However, from the point of view of its origin, English is most clearly a true offshoot of the Germanic (Teutonic) protolanguage.

4. In comparative linguistics, there still is no clear method for establishing the degree of original linguistic affinity. Some linguists consider some similarities more important, other linguists other similarities. No single definitive system has been developed to measure the similarities.

5. Not all linguists who have worked in this area have gone deeply into the oldest contacts between the Baltic and Slavic languages. In many instances, studies are based on personal experiences at the expense of a thorough investigation of primary sources.

We have already examined the situation in regard to this dispute up to the years 1966 - 1967 in two earlier articles.1 2 One can find a great deal on this question in the introductory sections of the monograph by S. Karaliūnas.3 We shall return to Karaliūnas' conclusions a little later. But one can get an almost complete bibliographical overview until practically 1965 by reading two special works on this question.4 5

In these two articles I especially emphasize the differences between these two language families and conclude that it is not at all possible to suppose that there ever was a Balto-Slavic protolanguage.

One must also remember—as I have already mentioned in my article in Lituanus— that during the meeting of the Fifth International Congress of Slavists (Sofia, Bulgaria, 1965) a special commission of 16 members was created to investigate this problem.6 One of these members (Professor Larin) died in the meantime. In 1968 (right before the occupation) during the Sixth International Congress of Slavists in Prague, the commission was increased by four members: Professor Erwin Koschmieder, Professor Jerzy Antoniewicz, Professor Dalibor Brozovič, and Professor Janis Kalninš. This recently supplemented commission was to concern itself with a solution to this question.

From the purely "international - legalistic" point of view, the existence of this international commission to study the relationships of the Baltic and Slavic languages would show that this problem is still unsolved. On the other hand, only rarely does a commission of this sort resolve such debatable questions. Nevertheless, the organization of this commission does show the importance of these problems and that in linguistics much attention is devoted to this question.

With this introduction, let us now see what of importance has been done on the solution to this question since about 1966-1967?

First, one must mention the latest publication of the Norwegian linguist, Prof. Christian Stang (professor emeritus of the University of Oslo). He has written a great deal on this question since the appearance of his first scientific works and articles. But all of this is summed up in his most recent large work, Vergleichende Grammatik der Baltischen Sprachen 7 Although the date of publication given for this work is 1966, it actually appeared in 1967. After a few pages about the investigation of the question of the relationships between the Baltic and Slavic languages Professor Stang comes to the following conclusions.8 Here we quote him directly:

Welcher Schluss soll nun aus alien diesen Pakten gezogen werden? Wohl dieser, dass in nachindoeuropaischer Zeit ein balto-slavisches Dialektgebiet existierte, das gewisse Variationen umfasste, und das vielleicht niemals ganz homogen war, das aber doch in dem Sinne eine Einheit bildete, dass es eine Reihe gemeinschaftlicher Neuerungen durchfuhrte, wahrend andere Neuerungen nur einen Teil des Gebiets umfassten und das spätere baltische Gebiet durchschnitten.

Methodisch bedeutet dies, dass man kein Recht hat, in alien Fallen mit baltoslavischen Grundformen zu rechnen.

Aus dieser rein linguistischen Analyse ergibt sich somit folgende Reihe von Strata: 1) Urindoeuropäisch, 2) Das baltoslavische Dialektgebiet, 3) Das baltische Dialektgebiet und die annahernd einheitliche urslavische Grundsprache, 4) Das balt. Dialektgebiet zerfiel in mehrere Mundarten, von welchen uns das Preussische (westbaltische) und das Lit.-Lett. (ostbaltische) bekannt sind. 5) Das Urostbalt. zerfiel in Urlit, und Urlett. mit den später daraus entwickelten Mundarten. Wenn ich in der folgenden Darstellung die Ausdrucke "baltoslavisch" und "urbaltisch" verwende, geschieht es mit dem Vorbehalt, der oben angegeben ist.

As we can see, Professor Stang expresses a more or less moderate opinion. He sharply rejects the theory that everything we find in the Baltic languages can be derived from the same forms from which we can derive all forms encountered in the Slavic languages. In other words, he believes, that there was at some time a dialectal area in which the Baltic and Slavic languages were in some kind of symbiotic relationship, although they were never identical. From those times, then, we would have the similarities assumed by him and which are encountered only in the Baltic and Slavic languages.

Let us point out the two of the major deficiencies of Professor Stang's hypothesis. In the first place, why does he compare only the Baltic and the Slavic languages? If his work was really a "comparative grammar of the Baltic languages" then why doesn't he compare the Baltic languages with all the Indo-European languages?9 Suppose he had compared the Baltic languages with the Germanic languages. Then he would have been forced to assume a Baltic-Germanic dialectal area, because, as we shall see later, there are even more really old innovations encountered only in the old Baltic and Germanic languages than in the Baltic and Slavic languages. Or take, for example, the Baltic and Greek languages, or the Baltic and Latin languages: everywhere we shall find innovations common to both yet not found in the other Indo-European languages.

In the second place, some of the common innovations indicated by Professor Stang are based on his own personal opinion. Take, for example, the so-called common elements in the area of stress and intonation. The most recent investigations10 show that the Baltic languages have inherited these things from the IE pro-tolanguage and that apart from this we can find no special similarities in the area of accentuation.11

Now let us proceed to the most important work on this question, not only in recent years, but in the history of this entire controversy. This is the work that two Lithuanian linguists prepared on the occasion of the aforementioned Sixth International Congress of Slavists. The work is Baltų ir slavų kalbų ryšiai. In fact, this is volume 10 of the Journal Lietuviu kalbotyros klausimai.12 In it there are two monographs, the first of which is much more important for our question. This is Simas Karaliūnas' Kai kurie baltų ir slavų kalbų seniausiųjų santykių klausimai (Some problems of the oldest relationships between the Baltic and Slavic Languages). This is an independent 100 page work which no Indo-Europeanist will be able to do without in the future.

In this monograph Karaliūnas carefully investigates the history of the relationships between the Baltic and Slavic languages, giving more space to the most important works, hypotheses, and theories. Everywhere he shows his unusually deep acquaintanceship with this question, quotes scientific works and other sources from a dozen or so languages, almost everywhere expressing his own interesting and well founded thoughts. On some especially difficult and complicated questions he gives a completely new opinion of his own, always relying on the abundant material from Baltic, Slavic, Germanic, and other IE languages. At the end he gives his conclusions, which we shall quote here:

One can interpret the oldest affinities of the Baltic and Slavic languages, i.e., the origin of those common linguistic innovations by assuming the existence of a Balto-Slavic isoglossal community (Isoglossengemeinschaft), i. e., the existence of a spatial and temporal continuum of Baltic and Slavic dialects, a continuum that arose most probably as a result of an early secondary rapprochement of different dialects.13

Thus, according to Karaliūnas, the elements common to Baltic and Slavic arose as a result of the fact that at first they were completely separate (after the split of the Indo-European protolanguage) and that later they again became close for a certain period of time.

In the following Karaliūnas has expressed himself even more clearly:


1. In the third millennium before our era in the framework of the dialects of the northern area of the IE linguistic community, the "Baltic" dialects were separate from the "Slavic" dialects. At this time the "Baltic" dialects probably had closer contacts with the "Germanic" dialects.

2. In the first half of the second millennium before our era (about 2000-1500 B.C.) the Baltic dialects probably had come closer to the Slavic dialects and had undergone with them an epoch of active contacts or a period of isoglossal community. The bundle of such isoglosses characterizing the Baltic and Slavic dialects of that period are as follows: the laryngals disappeared; the opposition of voiced and voiceless aspirates was eliminated (b:bh > b, etc.); the syllabic sonants R became iR or uR; the opposition of intonations was formed (acute: circumflex); some new suffixes arose (e.g., *-ejo- and *-tajo-); the palatal consonants k', g', were as-sibilated (Lith. s, i; Slavic s, z); IE s was changed after k, r, i u (Lith. š, Slavic ch). The change of the syllable re-sonants, the formation of the opposition of intonations and the developments of specific Baltic and Slavic morphemes and lexemes were common innovations of Baltic and Slavic.

3. In about the middle of the second millennium, before our era or later, the converg2nt development of the Baltic and Slavic languages was stopped and the parallel development began. At that time, perhaps, the epoch of contact between the Baltic and Ugro-Finnic languages began. The Slavic languages did not participate in these contacts. Such common features of the Baltic and Slavic languages as the change of the IE diphthong eu into Baltic jau, Slavic ju, the Saussure-Fortunatov law and perhaps (at a somewhat later stage) the formation of the definite adjectives and the second person singular verbal ending *-sei, were most probably parallel developments of the Baltic and Slavic languages.

4. One can interpret the oldest relationships of the Baltic and Slavic languages, i.e., the origin of those common linguistic innovations by assuming the existence of a Balto-Sla-vic isoglossal community (Isoglossengemeinschaft), i.e., the existence of a spatial and temporal continuum of Baltic and Slavic dialects, a continuum which arose most probably as a result of an early secondary rapprochement of different dialects.

In the long history of the Baltic and Slavic languages one can note that the relationships were independent, convergent, and parallel. The epoch of the Balto-Slavic isoglossal community was only one of the periods of development of the oldest relationships of these languages.14

Therefore, Karaliūnas only partially agrees with Stang. The former thinks that at some time there could have existed a secondary, later, not original, Baltic and Slavic epoch of isoglossal community. That is the most important thing. Karaliūnas believes that immediately after the separation of the Baltic dialects from the IE protolanguage, the Baltic dialects were closer to the Germanic dialects, and only later did they move towards the Slavic dialects.15 Therefore, although he does not clearly emphasize this, one cannot assume a "proto-Bal-to-Slavic language." Karaliūnas even establishes several such epochs of isoglossal community which one could imagine schematically as follows:

1. IE protolanguage (until about 3000 B.C.);
2. Dissolution of the IE protolanguage (3000 to 2500 B.C.);
3. Immediately after the split from the IE protolanguage the "Baltic" dialects undergo a period of rapprochement with the "Germanic" dialects (a-bout 2500 - 2000 B.C.);
4. The "Baltic" and "Slavic" dialects become closer (about 2000-1500 B.C.);
5. Beginning at about 1500 B.C. the Baltic and Slavic dialectal community is interrupted and Baltic and Finnic contacts begin in which the Slavic languages do not participate.

Later, as we know from historical sources, the Baltic and Slavic languages again move closer, even geographically, politically, and culturally, but as we have already mentioned above, this does not show their common ethnogenesis.

Karaliūnas' work is exceptionally important in the history of the solution of this question and one can only hope that it will be published in some important western language, because although they may be somewhat schooled in Lithuanian, many Indo-Europeanists would have difficulty in reading such a complicated work in Lithuanian. True, in the monograph itself there is a rather long resume in Russian (two large pages in very small type) and a short resume in German (about half a page in very small type), but these resumes do not show the depth, erudition, and thoroughness of the investigation of this problem.

In 1969 in Chicago, at the Symposium on Science and Creativity, Professor Antanas Salys read a very important and interesting lecture entitled "The Differences in Development of the Baltic and Slavic Languages."16 In this lecture Professor Salys also gave some interesting and, one may say, summative statistics about this problem.

One can see how differently the problem of the relationships of the Baltic and Slavic languages is solved from the fact that even those linguists who are exponents of a single protolanguage (or linguistic unity) for Baits and Slavs (after the split from the IE protolanguage) do not agree among themselves when they try to date the split of this unity into the Baltic and Slavic branches. They vary as much as 2000 years. This is how Professor Salys sums up these opinions:

Proposed dating of the Balto-Slavic protolanguage or the linguistic unity:
After the third millennium B.C. — Rozwadowski (1912).
2000 B.C. — W. Ernitz (1958).
The beginning of the second millennium B.C. — V. Georgiev (1958).
After the second millennium B.C. — R. Trautmann (1947). 
About 1500 B.C. — T. Milewski (1948). 
500-1300 B.C. — T. Lehr-Spiawinski (1954). 
7th-3rd centuries B.C. — J. Safarewicz (1945). 
After Herodotus (ca. 484-425 B.C.) — V. Kiparsky (1958). 
4th century B.C. — P. Arumaa (1964). 
About the beginning of the Christian era — A. Sobolevskij (1924), A. Vaillant (1950), 0. Szemerenyi (1957). 
1st century A.D. — H. Smith and G. Trager (1950).17

The controversial character of this entire problem becomes even clearer when one looks at the explanatory terminology used by the various linguists to express themselves on the question of the affinities between the Baltic and Slavic languages. Here we take these directly from the hand-out which Professor Salys passed out prior to his talk:18

Terms used to explain the Baltic and Slavic linguistic relationships :

prokalbė (G. Ursprache, Rus. prajazyk, Fr. langue mere, E.protolanguage, parent language, Latv. pirmvaloda), kalbinė vienybė (G. Spracheinheit, Rus. jazykovoje jedinstvo, Pol. jednošč jezykowa, Fr. l'unitė linguistique, E.. linguistic unity),
kalbinė bendrystė (G. Sprachgemeinschaft, Rus. jazykovaja obščnost', Po. wspolnota językova, E. linguistic community),
glaudi visuma (G. zusammenhangendes Gauzes), 
bendra, epocha
ar periodas (Rus. obščaja epocha, G. Periode der
Sprachgemeinschaft, E. period of common language), sambendryba (G. Verkehrsgemeinschaft, Rus. soobščnost'), ilgaamžė kaimynystė (G. jahrhundertlange Nachbarschaft), tarminė sritis (G. Dialektgebiet, Rus. dialektnyj areal), izoglosinė sritis (G. Isoglossengebiet, Rus. izoglosnyj areal), izoglosinė bendrystė (G. Isoglossengemeisch'aft, Rus. izoglossnaja obščnost'), 
pastebimai identiškos indoeuropiečių tarmės
(Fr. parlers indoeuropeens sensiblement identiques), 
paralelinė raida
(Fr. developpement parallele).

It is very interesting also to look at the distribution of opinions of the most important linguists concerning the solution to this problem. This we also find in the hand-out distributed by Professor Salys during the symposium on science and creativity:

The Distribution of Opinions of Investigators

Exponents of the Balto-Slavic protolanguage or the linguistic unity theory: 
A. Schleicher (1861), J. Hanusz (1886), K. Brugmann (1897), W. Porzezinski (1911), J. Rozwadowski (1912), A. Bruckner, (1914), A. Šachmatov (1915), R. Trautmann (1923), A. Sobo-levsky (1924, F. Specht (1934), J. Kurylowicz (1934, 1956, 1957, 1958), T. Lehr-Sptawinski (1946, 1958), T. Milewski (1948), O. Szemerenyi (1948, 1957), A. Vaillant (1950, 1955, 1957), J. Otrębski (1954, 1958), M. Leumann (1955), P. Aru-maa (1955, 1963, 1964), N. van Wijk (1956), V. Georgiev (1958), W. Ernitz (1958), V. Kiparsky (1958), E. Dickenmann (1958), P. Trost (1958).

Opponents of this theory:

J. Baudouin de Courtenay (1903), A. Meillet (1905, 1908, 1922, 1925, 1934), J. Endzelins (1911, 1923, 1931, 1951, 1952), K. Jaunius (1908), K. Būga (1910, 1913, 1922, 1924), G. Bon-fante (1935), Ch. Stang (1939, 1957, 1963, 1966), A. Senn (1941, 1954, 1966), E. Fraenkel (1950), W. Porzig (1954), A. Salys (1955), W. K. Matthews (1957), I. Lekov (1958), L. Bulachovskij (1958), B. V. Gornung (1958, 1963), J. Loja (1961), F. P. Filin (1962), A. Klimas (1967), S. Karaliūnas (1968), G. Shevelov (1964).

Those who have changed their opinions:

V. Pisani, 1932: The period of community (not a protolanguage) 5th century B.C. — 4th century A.D. But in 1949: A community is doubtful, and a protolanguage, it seems, never existed.
J. Safarewicz, 1946: The period of community (okres wspolnoty) really existed after the split of the IE protolanguage. But in 1961: the period of community is not completely certain. If it ever existed, then only in the first half of the second mil-lenium B.C. The Baltic and Slavic languages could have derived from a single IE dialect.
J. Otrębski, 1947: "There never was a Balto-Slavic protolanguage." But in 1954: The Baltic and Slavic languages come from a single Balto-Slavic linguistic group, which one must consider a unity, deriving from a single language. 1958: "The ancestors of the later Baits and Slavs spoke the same language. The inherited Balto-Slavic unity ended comparatively late, only in the first millennium B.C., most likely at the beginning of that millennium."
R. Trautmann, 1923: "Thus I base myself completely on the theory of a Balto-Slavic linguistic unity... which has been most thoroughly studied by Porzezinski, Rozwadowski and Endzelins." But in 1947: "There are really so many strong linguistic affinities that there must be a linguistic foundation of some kind or other, but it is difficult to establish anything else. Nevertheless one shouldn't emphasize the concept of 'unity'. There were diffidences, of course, at an early date and during the course of time they became even stronger."
V. Mažiulis, 1959: "I am inclined to think that... the resemblences between Baltic and Slavic are old (and even innovative)—'parallels' are unnecessary for the traditional Balto-Slavic protolanguage hypothesis (or, respectively, for the genetic unity of the Balto-Slavic languages); in the meantime one can get by with the principles of linguistic differentiation and integration which J. Endzelins has pointed out." But in 1964: The beginning of the dissolution of the oldest Balto-Slavic contacts is to be dated in the first centuries of the second millennium B.C. The Slavic protolanguage existed, but there was no Baltic protolanguage. The Baltic protolanguage existed only within the framework of the B alto-Slavonic "Ursprache." 19

In the main part of his lecture Professor Salys set forth the most important ancient differences between the Baltic and Slavic languages. These differences belong to the ancient protolanguage era, i.e., to that period of time which came directly after the Baltic, Slavic, Germanic, Indo-Iranian, etc. groups split from the IE protolanguage. Therefore, they belong to that period which linguists are inclined to think existed more or less around 2500 B.C. up to the time of the first written documents of these languages in the historical era.20 Professor Salys listed them as follows:


A. (Linguistic) features found only in Proto-Baltic (i.e., completely unknown in Proto-Slavic). >


PIE (Proto-Indo-European) long vowels *a and *o were preserved (and continued) as separate sounds in Proto-Baltic, just like in Latin and Greek.
In Slavic, Germanic and Indo-Iranian these two long vowels fell together.
Cf. Lith motė, moteris : duoti

Latv. mate

: duot

Lat. mater

: donum

Gr. (Dor.) mater

: doron


OCS. mati : dati, Skr. mata : dandm, etc.


In Proto-Baltic, the PIE cluster *sr was preserved, just like in Indie. Only later (under Slavic and/or Germanic influence?)—but only in Latvian and Old Prussian — it became sir (like in Slavic, Germanic, Albanian, Thracian and Phrygian). Cf. Lith. srovė, sravėti: Skr. sravati,


OCS. o-strovu 'island', Thracian Strymon (river, 8th, c. B.C.)...


In Proto-Baltic, one finds the suffix *-mo- in ordinal numerals. (Cf. Lith. pirmas, Latv. pirmais, O. Pr. pirmas, just like in Lat. primus, OE. forma-, Gothic fruma, Gr. promos 'forward-, front-').
However, in Proto-Slavic the suffix *-wo- was used here: OCS. privu, R. pervyj, etc. — like in Indo-Iranian and also in Tokharian.


Lith. vienuolika, dvylika (in the 16th century: liekas, antras liekas: likti) correspond to Gothic ainlif, twalif (PIE root *leikw-), but in OCS. jedinu na desete, duva na desęte, etc.


Old Prussian 1st sing, ending -mai (OPr. asmai 'I am', Old Lithuanian (Daukša) duomies) show that there was in Proto-Baltic the ending *-mai which formally corresponds with the Greek medio-passive ending -mm.


In Proto-Baltic — just like in Gemanic — the adjectival declensional system was different from the noun declension. .E. g., Lith. (dat. sg.) basam, Latv. basam, OPr. wargasmu (:kasmu 'to whom') clearly show the pronominal ending. On the other hand, OCS. bosu isi just like the noun, e.g., bogu


Baltic 1st person sing, of the present tense (in most thematic verbs) has always been a direct descendent of PIE *-o: Lith. nešu, nešuosi, Latv. nesu, nešuos: Lat. fero, Gr. phero, Gothic bėra, but in Slavic this ending was the (nasal) -y (PIE *-om) : OCS. neso, Pol. niosę.


Proto-Baltic had two frequent infixes in its present tense stem: the nasal infix and the infix -sto-. These infixes are totally unknown to the Slavic languages. Cf. Lith. anka: akti, plinka: plikti, smunka: smukti Lith. dygsta, tirpsta cf. Latvian digst, tirpst: Lith. dygti, tirpti. Latv. digt, tirpt.


Proto-Baltic did not have a separate marker for the 3rd person plural.
Cf. Lith. neša-, nešė, neš — (3rd person)
Latv. nes, nese (dial), nesis -id
OPr. imma, turri-id. 
But in Slavic: OCS:
sing. plur.
nesėtu nesotu 
Cf. Lat. laudat laudant


Proto-Baltic adjectival formative (suffix) -inga- (Lith. protingas, Latv. pratigs, OPr nigidings (:Lith. negėdingas) is totally unknown in Slavic.


The proto-Baltic diminutive formant (suffix) -l- is also completely unknown in Slavic Cf. Lith. šunelis: Latv. sūnelis: Lith. duobelė: Latv. (Eastern) dūbele.

B. (Linguistic) features found only in Proto-Slavic (i.e., completely unknown in Proto-Baltic).

1. PIE *s only in Proto-Slavic turns into x ('ch'), after k, r, i u. In Proto-Baltic, this PIE *s (even then not 100%) becomes š, just like in Indo-Iranian. Cf. OCS. virxu, but Lith. viršus, Skr. varšma, Lat. verruca (Lat. -rr- from PIE *-rs-)
OCS. uxo, but Lith. ausis, Avestan uši, Gothic auso, Lat. auris (Lat. r from PIE *s).

2. Proto-Slavic had a suffix -teli (Cf. Hittite -talla) to form nomina agentis. This suffix has never been found in Baltic. Cf. OCS. delateli, etc.

3. In Proto-Slavic, there was the stem -es used in forming the names of the parts of the body. Similar formation can be found only in Hittite. Cf. OCS. oko, uxo, telo, gen. sing. očese, ušese, telese, etc.

4. The Proto-Slavic suffix used in participle formations: -lo-is completely unknown in Baltic. Cf. OCS. neslû", etc.

5. Only Proto-Slavic had the Law of open syllables. No traces of this 'Law' could be found in Proto-Baltic. E. g., OCS. osi, synu: Lith. ašis, sūnus.

6. Proto-Slavic had a sigmatic aorist. No traces of this can be found in Proto-Baltic. Cf. OCS. nesu, byxu, molixu, etc.

7. Slavic languages underwent THREE palatalizations. Pro-to-Baltic had very little of this. Cf. OCS. vlice, druže: Lith. vilke, drauge, etc.

8. The abstract numerals in Proto-Slavic were formed with the formant (suffix) -ti: OCS. pęti, dęveti: Lith. penki, devyni, Latv. pied, devini, etc.21

For example, let us take one of the differences noted by Professor Salys between the Baltic and Slavic (pro-tolanguages), viz., the first person singular ending of the present tense. In the so-called thematic verbs22 in Baltic, in very ancient times the IE first person singular ending -o was generalized as the basic ending. This ending is retained in the form -uo- (<*-o-) in the Lithuanian reflexive verbs: rengiuosi  "I get ready," prausiuosi "I wash up," etc. On the other hand, the ancient Slavic protolanguage generalized in the first person the endings -o/-ę, which derived from IE -on/en, which in turn, derive from earlier IE -om/-em. (The Russian first person singular ending -ju/-u is a much later development: in this case, this Russian ending has nothing in common with the Lithuanian ending -u!) Therefore, if the Baits and Slavs already spoke at some time a single "proto-Balto-Slavic" language, then at least in this case (as in many others) something common would have de veloped. But here (as in many other instances) the Baltic languages show the very same developments as, e.g., Latin fero, Greek phero, Germanic (Gothic) bera etc., i.e., they developed completely differently from the Slavic languages: Old Church Slavic neso (deriving from *neson < *nesom, cf. modern Polish niosę).23

In his lecture Professor Salys listed eleven features that are found only in the ancient Baltic protolanguage and eight features that are found only in the ancient Slavic protolanguage. These differences show that it is not possible at all to reconstruct any "Balto-Slavic" protolanguage, i.e., that such a protolanguage never existed.

The latest studies on our topic (here we shall try to resume only the most important studies in their chronological order) are found in the large work dedicated to the famous Norwegian linguist. Professor Christian S. Stang, on his 70th birthday: Donum Balticum. 24  In this festschrift of almost 600 pages there are a number of articles that more or less concern one or another aspect of the Baltic and Slavic linguistic relationships, although only three articles directly investigate the relationships themselves.

In the first place we should mention Professor Alfred Senn's article "Slavic and Baltic Linguistic Relations."25 In this article Professor Senn again cautions linguists to remember the rule that lexical resemblances do not show any common ethnogenetic origin of the two languages (or language families), but only the cultural contact of one neighbor on another. Professor Senn proposes the following scheme of development of the Baltic and Slavic languages:

1. Proto-Slavs and Proto-Balts as undifferentiated from the mass of those speaking the IE protolanguage.

2. In the second millennium B.C. there already existed a linguistic community (already separate from the other IE languages which had split from the IE proto-language) that included the ancestors of the Proto-Slavs, Proto-Balts, and Proto-Germanic peoples.

3. This pre-Slavic-Baltic-Germanic community was destroyed by the invasions of the Old Persians between 1000 B.C. and 500 B.C. The ancestors of the Baits were pushed to the north of the Pripet marshes — into absolute isolation (i.e., for some time the ancestors of the Baits had no contacts with any IE group, not even with the Slavs). The ancestors of the Slavs were conquered by the Old Persians, their land was occupied and for a time they were ruled by the Old Persians. At that time the ancestors of the Slavs became the Proto-Slavs. From the Old Persians the Proto-Slavs took the word bog to denote "god" as well as the word sūto to denote "hundred." The Greek historian Herodotus (who lived in the 5th century B.C.) mentions the Scythians and the Sarmatians as the remnants of the Persian empire on Slavic territory.

4. The contacts between Slavs and Baits. In the first millennium B.C., the ancestors of the Baits lived on the northeastern edge of the IE linguistic area. In the east they reached as far as the Mordvinians (a Finno-Ugric tribe), in the north and west they had contact with Finnish tribes, and in the southwest with the Proto-Slavs (the ancestors of the western Slavs). Baltic and Slavic contacts began at that time. Before the time of Christ, the first contacts were in the southwestern direction, since the ancestors of the Baits moved in the direction of the Baltic Sea, and later (between perhaps the time of Christ and A.D. 600) the contacts between the Baltic and the Slavic tribes were formed in the east, since at that time the Slavic tribes began to push to the east and northeast.

Another article published in Donum Balticum and devoted only to Baltic and Slavic linguistic relationships is the one by Henrik Birnbaum, "Four Approaches to Balto-Slavic." 26 Here there are no new theories or hypotheses. There is no new material at all. Professor Birnbaum merely sums up the "four approaches" to the solution of this problem: (1) that there existed at one time a Balto-Slavic protolanguage; (2) that there existed a Balto-Slavic dialect area; (3) that there never was a Balto-Slavic protolanguage and that the similarities are either inherited directly from the IE protolanguage or developed in a parallel fashion, but independently of each other; and (4) that perhaps the Baltic, Slavic, and Germanic language groups can be considered to belong to the same so-called Sprachbund, i.e., the convergence theory. Professor Birnbaum himself, although not very strongly, comes out in favor of the theory of a Balto-Slavic protolanguage in this sense, that that "protolanguage" could have been more or less the Baltic and Slavic dialects that had just become separate from the IE protolanguage, while still forming the last stage of development of the IE protolanguage before the Baltic and Slavic languages each went their separate ways. He says that perhaps this is only a question of terminology and methodology.

The third article in Donum Balticum devoted to the investigation of the relationships between the Baltic and Slavic languages is by the author of these lines and is entitled: "Baltic, Germanic and Slavic." 27

First, it emphasizes S. Karaliūnas' monograph, which we have already widely quoted. Further, there are proposed some methodological considerations, of which the most important are the following: (1) one must not exaggerate the importance of the data of the ancient classical languages in solving problems of IE comparative grammar; and (2) in solving problems of Slavic linguistics, one must not always immediately search out similar things in the Baltic languages and vice-versa. Further, the author emphasizes eight old and very important differences between the Baltic and Slavic languages. One fact which is frequently forgotten even by linguists must be kept in mind: In the oldest times the Baltic linguistic area was probably considerably larger than the contemporaneous Slavic linguistic area, i.e., in those ancient times the Slavs borrowed words and perhaps other linguistic features from the Baits. If one must use the compound names for the old IE dialects, then to be linguistically consistent it would be necessary to use the term Balto-Germanic rather than Balto-Slavic, since there are more protolanguage similarities between the Baltic and Germanic dialects than between the Baltic and Slavic!

There have appeared more investigations of this problem between the years 1966 -1971, but these are not as important as those which we have mentioned here.


1 Klimas, A.: Balto-Slavic or Baltic and Slavic? The Relationship of Baltic and Slavic Languages. Lituanus 13:5-37 (No. 2) 1967.
2 Klimas, A.: Some Questions Concerning the Relationship of Baltic and Slavic, in Actes du Xme Congres International des Linguistes, vol. 4, Bucharest, 1970, pp. 689 - 715. (The Congress itself took place in 1967.)
3 Karaliūnas, S.: Kai kurie baltų ir slavų seniausiųjų santykių klausimai, in "Baltų ir slavų kalbų ryšiai." Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai (Vilnius) 10:7-100, 1968.
4 Hood, G. A.: A Bibliography of Works Dealing With the Ralationship Between Baltic and Slavic. Lituanus 13:38-46 (No. 2) 1967.
5 Bogoliubova, N. D., Jakubaitis, T. A.: Istorija razrabotki vo-prosa o balto-slavianskix jazykovyx Otnošeniax, in Rakštų krajums. Ryga, 1958, pp. 331-375.
6 The members of this commission are named in the monograph of S. Karaliūnas (op. cit., p. 7) as well as in my article (Lituanus, op. cit., p. 5).
7 Stang, C. S.: Vergleichende Grammatik der baltischen Sprachen. Oslo - Bergen - Tromso, Universitetsforlaget, 1966, 485 pp.
8 Ibid., pp. 20-21.
9 It is true that in the grammar itself Professor Stang compares the sounds and forms of the Baltic languages with the forms and words of other IE languages, but in the introductory section he talks only about the Baltic and Slavic linguistic relationships.
10 In this area, particularly important work was completed by the young and gifted linguist V. M. Illič-Svityč, who died in an automobile accident. See particularly his work Imennaja akcentuacija v baltijskom i slavjanskom (Moscow, 1965).
11 The author of these lines has already begun to write a somewhat larger and broader work on this problem.
12 Up to volume 6, Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai published varrious linguistic articles, but since volume 7 it tends to publish monographs and articles grouped around a single basic topic. The entire volume then usually bears the name of this topic.
3 Karaliūnas, S., op. cit., p. 97.
14 Ibid., p. 97-98.
15 Therefore, if one were to mark it terminologically, one would also have to use "Balto-Germanic" or "Germano-Baltic."
16 I am making use of my notes and the hand-out which Professor Salys distributed in his lecture.
17 This question is taken from the hand-out mentioned in footnote 16.
18 This quotation is reprinted from the hand-out. The underlined terms are in Lithuanian. The abbreviations in parentheses are as follows: G.—German; Rus.—Russian; Fr.—French; E.—English; Latv.—Latvian; Pol.—Polish.
19 These quotations are also taken from Professor Salys' handout. We consider it useful to quote these in full, since the printing of the proceedings of the Symposium has been delayed.
20 There is no single opinion concerning the date of the split of the IE protolanguage. The suggested dates vary from 3500 B.C. to 2000 B.C.
21 Practically all of the material on these differences has been taken from the hand-out distributed by Professor Antanas Salys for his lecture at the (Lithuanian) Symposium on Science and Creativity, Chicago, 1969. (I hereby take the opportunity to thank Professor Salys for permission to use this material.)
22 Thematic verbs are those which add to the basic root a "theme," i. e., usually some kind of vocalic sound between the root and ending.
23 This shows that when it split from the IE protolanguage (and perhaps even in the IE protolanguage area) the Baltic dialects already used IE -o to denote the first person and the Slavic dialects already used -om/-em.
24 This is a beautiful and large work in Baltic linguistics. In it are the articles of 75 scholars of many nationalities. The Latvian linguist, Professor Velta Rūke-Dravirja, practically single -handedly organized, edited, and even took care of the publication. Full title and bibliographical information: Donum Balticum — To Professor Christian S. Stang on the occasion of his seventieth birthday 15 May 1970; edited by Velta Rūke* Dravina; Stockholm, Almquist and Wiksell, 1970.
25 Donum Balticum, pp. 483 - 494.
26 Ibid., pp. 67-76.
27 Ibid., pp.263-269.