Volume 38, No.3 - Fall 1992
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester 
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1992 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


The Pennsylvania State University

My first real contact with Lithuanian literature came in the fall of 1950 when I entered the University of Pennsylvania as a graduate student. My professors during the first semester were Alfred Senn (seminar in Slavic philology), Vincas Krėvė (Russian conversation and composition; Soviet Russian literature), Franz Rosenthal (Arabic), Carlton Coon (anthropology) and Antanas Salys (Bulgarian). Since in those days (and even now to a great degree) departments of Slavic languages are small each faculty member had to perform many tasks. Therefore Prof. Salys taught the course in Modern Bulgarian; in this course we used the Grammatika bolgarskogo jazyka (Grammar of the Bulgarian Language) by the famous Russian Slavist S.B. Bernstein.

Prof. Salys had arrived at the University of Pennsylvania after the end of World War II at the invitation of Prof. Alfred Senn, who in the late forties had been delegated the task of creating a Department of Slavic Languages. In addition to inviting his former student Prof. Salys, Prof. Senn also invited Vincas Krėvė and Pranas Skardžius, although according to rumor, the latter declined, not wishing to work with Prof. Senn.

My very first impression of Prof. Salys was favorable. He was extraordinarily careful and thorough and he gave us students a good grounding not only in Bulgarian, but in general linguistics as well at the same time. He spoke rather slowly, but loudly and clearly. Although he had a slight accent in English, nobody had difficulty in understanding him. (This was different from Vincas Krėvė, whom I never really heard speak English. Since during my first year at Penn I knew no Lithuanian I always spoke Russian with Prof. Krėvė. Prof. Krėvė knew Latin very well and apparently could read English easily, but I have the impression that speaking English was extraordinarily difficult for him.)

Prof. Salys always seemed relaxed and friendly and willing to spend endless amounts of time explaining points of grammar and/or linguistics to us uncomprehending American students. My permanent impression of him is that of a man with a smile on his face. In my second semester I had many of the same courses that I had begun in the first semester (but with Vincas Krėvė instead of Soviet Russian literature, I had Old Russian literature in which Krėvė labored to explain the intricacies of the medieval Russian epic. The Tale of Igor.) And instead of anthropology I began the study of Old Prussian (my first Baltic language) with Prof. Salys. Somehow the University of Pennsylvania book store had succeeded in getting some copies of J. Endzelin's Altpreussisch Grammatik (Riga, 1944), which we used as a text-book. I still own the copy which I purchased then and I note on the inside cover: Auflage 1000. It must be a bibliographical rarety by now. There were only five or six students in the class but I remember only two others, a certain William Gibbon, a native American like myself, and Antanas Klimas whom I met in 1950 and who has been my friend ever since. It was perhaps hard for Prof. Salys to explain elementary Baltic philology through the medium of Old Prussian, but apparently he finally felt somewhat successful, because once he told me that he thought that I was beginning to understand what he was trying to say. I always studied hard and got fairly good grades, but nothing was easy for me and frequently I did not understand immediately the point of a lecture.

After one year at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1951 I transferred to Columbia University where I studied with the famous French linguist, Andre Martinet. In the spring of 1952 I was called into the army and only in the fall of 1954 was I able to return to the University of Pennsylvania. I soon found myself in Prof. Salys' Lithuanian, Polish and Old Church Slavic courses. In the Lithuanian course in 1954-55 there were four students, among whom was my good friend Samuel Levin, now a well known American professor of English linguistics in New York City. During that academic year often at around 3 p.m. Samuel Levin, Kostas Ostrauskas (sometimes also Vincas Maciūnas) and I would meet in the anteroom of the University of Pennsylvania library for a relaxing chat. The three of us, i.e.. Levin, myself and Ostrauskas called ourselves "The Lithuanian Patriots' Club" the motto of which was: Chicago today: the world tomorrow. Our textbook in the Lithuanian course was written entirely in Lithuanian and we used it primarily for studying paradigms, since no comprehensive English language text of Lithuanian was then available. I believe that this was the text-book prepared by the Rev. J. Starkus, but I can no longer locate my copy, so I am not certain about this.

Prof. Salys realized the problems of a Lithuanian grammar in Lithuanian for English-speaking students so he translated for us much of the grammar during the class periods. I think that all of us in the class got excellent training in Lithuanian grammar, although Prof. Salys did not stress conversational Lithuanian. He corrected our written work promptly and with care, never tiring, it seemed, of pointing out our elementary mistakes. In his class we read some mimeographed Lithuanian texts some of which eventually were published as the second volume of Prof. Senn's Handbuch der litauischen Sprache (Heidelberg [1957]: Carl Winter). From the mimeographed prepublication copy of this book Kostas Ostrauskas recorded on my tape-recorder Lazdynų Pelėda's Piršlybos which I listened to faithfully a number of times trying to learn spoken Lithuanian. From this course Levin remembers particularly the saying: Aklam kelio neparodysi "You can't point out the road to a blind man" (now in Senn, Handbuch II 19) and whenever I see Levin, he repeats this saying to me. I am afraid that he might think that this proverb applies to me.

Prof. Salys' conducted his courses in Old Church Slavic and Polish with the same methodical care that he used in his other courses. Although when he lectured, he followed the American method allowing students to interrupt at any time to ask any kind of questions. One student asked him once how he had learned Polish and he replied that he had learned by listening to Polish radio broadcasts while he was still living in Lithuania. He was always willing to spend time with students and seemed relaxed and friendly. I saw him somewhat upset only once, when a policeman had given him a traffic ticket for illegal parking. Prof. Salys claimed that his car was the only one ticketed in the entire block and that other cars were illegally parked also.

At first Prof. Salys was to be my dissertation supervisor, but because of some administrative problem it was finally decided that Prof. Senn would be my advisor. Nevertheless I frequently went to Prof. Salys for help and both Prof. Senn and Salys participated in the final examination for the doctorate. You might imagine my confusion when the problem of the Lithuanian word kunigas 'priest' came up. Prof. Senn insisted that there was never a nasal element after the second vowel of this word, i.e., never *kuningas or the like, but Prof. Salys thought otherwise. During the examination I was asked my opinion on this matter. In order to avoid having to take sides, I answered that there was something to be said in favor of both views.

After receiving my doctorate in 1956 I went to work at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Still I kept in touch with Prof. Salys and after I left Pennsylvania he suggested to me that with his help I might translate into English Endzelins' Baltu valodu skanas un formas. He thought that we could add some Lithuanian paradigms and that then he could use the book for his Lithuanian course, for which there was no textbook in English. He found for me the Lithuanian translation Baltų kalbų garsai ir formos prepared primarily under the leadership of Jonas Kazlauskas and I began this project. Finally Prof. Salys withdrew and I finished it with the help of the Latvian linguist B. Jegers. This project lasted a long time and was finally published in 1971 with the title Janis Endzelins' Comparative Phonology and Morphology of the Baltic Languages (The Hague, Paris: Mouton).

I wrote to Prof. Salys regularly and was able to see him fairly frequently, particularly after I moved back to Pennsylvania and taught, first at Lafayette College in Easton and then later at The Pennsylvania State University where I am currently located. He advised me and lent me books from his personal library for my 1963 article "Lithuanian" (pp. 287-300) in the volume Current Trends in Linguistics ed. by Thomas A. Sebeok (The Hague: Mouton). At this time neither one of us knew what the A. stood for in A. Sabaliauskas. Prof. Salys told me that he thought that the first name might be Albinas, so our good friend Algirdas Sabaliauskas appears as Albinas Sabaliauskas in that article.

Searching through my files I found that I still have about a dozen letters from Prof. Salys starting from 1966 through March 27, 1972. Prof. Salys was always very interested in helping Lithuanian linguists travel if possible. On December 30th, 1966, he wrote that neither Kazlauskas nor Mažiulis could 'stick their noses' abroad (nei Kazlauskas, nei Mažiulis negali 'nosies iškišti' užsienin). Still he wondered why Prof. Kubilius announced publicly at the opening ceremonies of the University of Vilnius that Kazlauskas and Mažiulis were definitely going to the United States and France respectively. Evidently Prof. Kubilius was playing politics. Without Moscow's agreement. Prof. Kubilius announced this publicly so that it would be embarrassing later for Moscow not to let them go. And the refusal would once again show Moscow's stupid stubbornness and lack of trust even in its own official party members. Both Kazlauskas and Mažiulis are party members and probably became such out of considerations for their careers. If they still won't let them out, then everybody in Vilnius will talk a lot about this and "will curse the 'russkis.' I should mention here that neither Prof. Salys nor I thought that there was anything reprehensible about being a party member. We thought that it was just a fact of life that anyone who wanted to try to keep Lithuanian culture alive in the Soviet Union had a better chance at this if he were a party member. I remember that in the 70s I tried to encourage some of my Lithuanian friends in Lithuania to become party members. On the other hand, please don't think that I was ever a Communist or subscribed to the Communist views. I think that many of my colleagues at Penn State consider me to be extraordinarily conservative. (Man tik kiek keista, kad rektorius Kubilius per Vilniaus univ. mokslo metų pradžios iškilmes... suminėjo kaip tikrus faktus, kad Kazlauskas ir Mažiulis vyksta į JAV ir Prancūziją. Matyt, rektorius čia politikavo. Neturėdamas Maskvos sutikimo, viską viešai paskelbė ir išgarsino, kad Maskvai paskui būtų nepatogu neišleisti. O neišleidimas vėl dar parodytų Maskvos kvailą užsispyrimą ir nepasitikėjimą net oficialiais partijos nariais [abu Kazlauskas ir Mažiulis yra partijos nariai ir bus įstoję greičiausia karjeros sumetimais]. Jei vistiek neišleis, visi Vilniuje apie tai daug kalbės ir keiks 'ruskius.')

On April 5-6 of 1968 the first Conference on Baltic Linguistics ever held on the North American continent took place at Penn State University. I had invited an array of distinguished speakers: Antanas Klimas, Leonardas Dambriūnas, Gordon B. Ford, Eric P. Hamp, B. Jegers, Alfred Senn, Calvert Watkins, Warren Cowgill, Valdis Zeps, Henning Andersen, James W. Marchand, Joseph Lelis, David Robinson, Jonas Kazlauskas, Vytautas Mažiulis and Antanas Salys. All of those invited were present, except for David Robinson (who was out of the country at that time), and Jonas Kazlauskas and Vytautas Mažiulis who could not get permission to travel to the United States. Antanas Salys read his paper, "Some Remarks on the Development of Lithuanian Dialects," but unfortunately never submitted it for publication, so it does not appear in the volume Baltic Linguistics (University Park and London, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1970), a volume which was dedicated to Alfred Senn whom we called 'the Nestor of Baltic studies in the United States' (preface). On the other hand, however, we were fortunate to be able to publish Jonas Kazlauskas' paper, "On the Balto-Slavic Dative Plural and Dual" (pp. 87-91). Several other papers not read at the conference were also included in the volume. Later also we were fortunate in having a very favorable review written by V. Mažiulis.

I have noticed that Prof. Salys' hand-written letters to me are in Lithuanian and the typed letters are in English. This is explained by the fact that the departmental secretary at the University of Pennsylvania typed his letters in English, but apparently not those in Lithuanian. Before my first trip to Lithuania he wrote in English (Aug. 2,1968): 'I hope you will meet many of my former colleagues and students, e.g., Balčikonis, Kruopas, Ulvydas, Senkus, and many others. Please convey my greetings. Give my regards also to the director of the institute Korsakas.'

I had written to him about Prof. Kazlauskas' book and Prof. Salys replied (in English) on Aug. 9,1968: 'Kazlauskas' book is very interesting and stimulating. I completely agree with his procedure: the philologist's first task must be to explain the forms from the internal development of the language and only then make some conclusions concerning Common Baltic or Indo-European.

'However, the title of the book is misleading and wrong. It should be Klausimai or as Germans would say "Beitrage" of [to - WRS] the Lithuanian Historical Grammar. The work is actually a PhD dissertation. He was promoted this spring and a PhD in the Soviet Union means a lot as far as salaries are concerned. The misleading title, of course, is more impressive than the Klausimai would be and maybe it was better for his career.'

I had sent Prof. Salys a copy of the rather illiterate March 10th, 1970, letter from L. Bažanov to the (then) vice-president of Penn State, Prof. Paul Althouse in which Bažanov wrote: 'Because of Prof. Jones Kozlauskas' (sic!) academic duties at the University of Vilnius, he will not be able to go in the near future to Pennsylvania State University to give lectures for a course on the Lithuanian language. Yours truly, L. Bažanov, Chief of the administration of foreign relations of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education of the USSR.'

On getting a copy of this letter Prof. Salys wrote to me on the 30th of March, 1970: 'The conclusion is that university president Kubilius didn't succeed in breaking through Moscow's 'steel curtain.' And of course, you can't break through a wall with your forehead. The only good thing is that Moscow finally answered. The phrase 'in the near future' would seem to indicate that maybe something will come of it. Or maybe he is just trying to allay your disappointment.' ('Išvada: Rektoriui Kubiliui nepasisekė pralaužti Maskvos 'plieninės' uždangos. Ir, žinoma, kakta sienos nepramuši: Tik gerai, kad Maskva, pagaliau, atsakė. Tas posakis (bližaisei budushchem) lyg leistų spėti, kad vėliau gal kas ir išeis. Ar bent tik taip bando guosti Jus nusivylus.)

In a letter dated April 10, 1970, Prof. Salys wrote: 'Don't worry about Bažanov's letter. You can take the original with you to show to Kazlauskas. It is a public document and nobody can reproach anyone for that. Even in a letter you can now express regret that Bažanov has informed you that Kazlauskas is so 'loaded down' with work. Advise him to take care of his health and not to overwork, because there are so few good linguists.' ('Dėl Bažanovo laiško galvos sau nesukite. Galite pasiimti ir nuvežti Kazlauskui parodyti (patį originalą). Tai yra viešas dokumentas ir dėl to niekas negali nieko prikaišioti. Galite ir dabar laiške apgailestauti, kad Bažanovas Jums pranešė, kad Kazlauskas taip Vilniuje "perkrautas" darbu. Patarkite, kad saugotų sveikatą ir nepersidirbtų, nes gerų kalbininkų juk tiek maža.')

Prof. Salys helped me prepare for my first visit to Lithuania in 1968 and then later in a letter dated 1 June 1970 he asked me to take some illegal books for Prof. Korsakas. At that time I was a neophyte to the Soviet customs inspection and I felt very uneasy about doing this, but I thought that since I had been his student it was really my duty. So I put the books in my suitcase under some books in English. After landing at Sheremyetevo I was in a state of pure panic when the customs officer inspecting my suitcase picked up the Lithuanian books and looked at them. I believe that he assumed that they were in English since they were in the Latin alphabet. He then looked me straight in the eye and asked: 'Yest u vas knigi na russkom yazyke? (Do you have any books in the Russian language?)' I could then reply truthfully 'U menya nyet nikakikh knig na russkom yazyke (I have no books in the Russian language).' Later I became quite accustomed to importing illegal books in Lithuanian into the Soviet Union and I consider that in a way I continued the noble tradition of the early knygnešys 'smuggler of illegal Lithuanian books.' Prof. Salys also gave me a model U.S. military Sabre Jet airplane to take to the son of a relative. I worried about this also, because I thought that the sight of even a toy U.S. military airplane might upset the Soviet customs officials. I finally compromised by removing the U.S. Navy insignia which clearly identified the toy as a military airplane.

(Later I brought through Soviet customs a few volumes of Prof. Salys' own collected writings without difficulty. I even recruited my daughter Roxanne into this noble service. In 1986, neither she nor the Soviet customs officer examining her luggage could figure out the place of publication of Vol. Ill of Prof. Salys' Collected Writings even though the outside cover clearly shows Roma. Luckily, neither of them was an accomplished polyglot, so after a conversation in limping English she was allowed to take the book with her and eventually deliver it to Vilnius.)

In the aforementioned letter of 1 June 1970, he did say he was uncomfortable asking me to take the items with me, but that perhaps later he could return the favor. ('Man net nesmagu užsikarti Jums su tuo siuntiniu. Bet gal kada vėl lankydamasis Lietuvoje (maždaug po poros metų) galėsiu Jums ką nuvežti.')

Prof. Salys mentioned that he had gotten, although rather belatedly, an invitation to the Baltists' Conference in Vilnius in 1970. He was suspicious that the departmental secretary had mislaid the invitation. He writes that Prof. Kazlauskas is inviting him to the same conference. I was supposed to thank him very much. However, Prof. Salys' pocket did not allow him to fly to Lithuania every year. He writes that you have to wait, and save for a trip at a later date. In any case he said he would write soon about everything to them. And he wanted me to please give them (the Kazlauskas family) best wishes. He said that they are both such kind, simple, sincere people. If I would succeed somehow or other in inviting them to America he wanted me to say that he and his wife would be delighted to have them as guests. He wrote further that K. Korsakas rules the Institute [of Lithuanian Language and Literature-WRS] with a 'firm hand.' If you need anything, address yourself to him.' ('Beje gavau labai pavėluotai J. Kazlausko (labai malonu) III. 30. rašytą laišką įtariu, kad mūsų sekretorė buvo kažkur užmetusi. Kviečia, žinoma, ir į tą baltistų konferenciją. Jam nuoširdžiai padėkokite. Tačiau nė kišenė neleistų kasmet Lietuvon skraidyti. Teks palaukti, pasitaupyti kelionei vėlesniam laikui. Aš jam pats netrukus visais reikalais parašysiu. Dabar tik perduokite nuoširdžius mūsų abiejų sveikinimus. Jie abu tokie malonūs, paprasti, širdingi. Jei juos Jums pavyks vienu ar kitu būdu atsikviesti Amerikon apsilankyti, pasakykite, kad pas mus bus mieli svečiai... K. Korsakas savo institutą valdo labai "tvirta ranka". Jei ko Jums reikės, kreipkitės į jį.')

After Prof. Kazlauskas' death I received a letter (Dec. 28th, 1970) in which Prof. Salys wrote: The list of speakers at Kazlauskas' funeral is extraordinary... Neither the university president Kubilius nor Korsakas, not even a single (word unclear), who works in the area of Lithuanian studies (and there are a number of them)... in general they want to pass over Kazlauskas' death in silence. But, apparently, since rumors began to spread, they could no longer remain silent and "Tiesa" (XII.4) published that fabricated version of the death. But they were silent for two whole months. ('Kazlausko laidotuvių kalbėtojų sąrašas ypatingas... Nebuvo rektoriaus Kubiliaus nei Korsako, taip pat nė vieno (word unclear), kur dirba litauanistikos srityje (o jų yra keletas)... Juk ir apskritai Kazlausko mirtis norėta negirdomis praleisti. Tik, matyti, kaip gandai ėmė plisti, nebegalėjo tylėti, ir "Tiesa" XII.4 paskelbė tą sufabrikuotą mirties versiją. Taigi, tylėjo ištisus du mėnesius.')

I had sent Prof. Salys a copy of the obituary I had written for General Linguistics and he wrote further: 'I don't think that your obituary article is satisfactory. One gets the impression, that you believe the official version of the death. That would be water on the Soviet mill. They would say, the Americans accept as true the official version of the death and that only the 'bourgeois nationalists' are publishing slander and inventions.' ('Nemanau, kad Jūsų nekrologinis straipsnis yra patenkinamas. Susidaro įspūdis, kad Jus tikite "Tiesos" paskelbtą mirties versiją. Tai būtų vanduo ant sovietų malūno. Jie sakytų, amerikiečiai priima už tikrą pinigą mirties oficialiąją versiją, tik "buržuaziniai naciolaistai" skelbia šmeižtus ir prasimanymus.')

In a letter dated 72.III.11, he thanked me for a copy of the Lithuanian-English Glossary of Linguistic Terminology (Dept. of Slavic Languages, The Pennsylvania State University, 1971) which Prof. Klimas and I had prepared. Prof. Salys still found a number of mistakes in it, including the definition of priedzūkis as a 'person living close to the Dzukish dialect area' explaining that this was not a person, but an area.

I had the opportunity to visit Prof. Salys in the University of Pennsylvania hospital a week or so before his death. At this time, I brought with me a whole packet of letters which I had recently received from various Lithuanian linguists, such as A. Sabaliauskas, Z. Zinkevičius, V. Mažiulis, Jonas Palionis, S. Karaliūnas and many others. He read all these letters with interest, but I could see that he was becoming tired and wished to rest so I did not remain long. Although losing his homeland had been difficult for him he never complained. I had the impression then that he realized that his end was near, but that he was satisfied, because he had succeeded in contributing so much as a teacher, scholar, writer and a supporter of Lithuanian culture.