Volume 40, No.1 - Spring 1994
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1994 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.




Baltists normally classify Latvian as East Baltic. They do the same with Lithuanian. They see these languages opposed to Prussian which they call West Baltic. We shall examine closely features uniting and dividing these languages.

I see all Baltic languages united by two phonologocial features which separate them from the rest of Indo-European. These are: 1. No initial ks-. 2. Joint reflexes for ruki law s and the palatals, k', g'.1

One phonetic feature separates Prussian, South Baltic, from Lithuanian and Latvian, North Baltic. Prussian had joint reflexes for Indo-European long o, a. Latvian and Lithuanian have kept them separate. Otherwise, phonetically, we find a sliding scale of gradations of features with transitional zones running from north to south, but not from east to west. We lack sufficient Prussian materials to discuss lexicon comprehensively with respect to North Baltic versus South Baltic. Though Prussian morphological materials available are also not complete, we still can mention North Baltic/South Baltic differences in outline form. For it is in morphology where, I believe, the differences between Prussian versus Latvian and Lithuanian stand out the sharpest. And here I wish to define these differences, not with traditional East Baltic/West Baltic designations, but with the more apt North Baltic/South Baltic ones.2

Is it western-ness or eastern-ness which characterizes the following agreements? 1. Prussian tebbei, sebbei, mais, twais, swais with Slavic and Latin tebe, sebe, tvoji svoji; tibi, sibi, meus even though there is Sanskrit tubhyam, svayam; 2. Prussian stesmu with Sanskrit tasmai, tasmin even though there is Gothic thamma from *tasm- and Lithuanian and Latvian tarn, tame, tarn agreeing with Slavic tomu, tomi this time? All this indicates that, in reality, all agreements involving Latvian and Lithuanian versus Prussian forms have nothing to do with East Baltic versus West Baltic oppositions but, rather North Baltic versus South Baltic ones. Though we will find that more innovations have begun in the north, particularly in Latvian, the northernmost corner of Baltic, really, all the Baltic languages have their own particular drifts. Naturally, the Prussian versus Latvian and Lithuanian morphological innovations will stand out the starkest. To get a proper perspective for this, we will have to define the most important salient Common Baltic original points of departure, both morphophonemic (and even, seemingly, purely phonetic) and purely morphological.3

These are the following. 1. The loss of final dental stops. 2. The semantic shift of Indo-European neuter *kwid" from "what" to "other" (kitas) and its replacement to mean "what" by the stem of the masculine, *kwos(ka-). 3. The falling together of short o with short a to short a so that now in all Baltic short a had, at least, two origins: short a and short o. 4. The replacement of the original dative stem for "me," *mez- from Indo-European dialectal *meg'-, with the genitive stem, *mEn-. 5. The reduction of demonstrative stems from two, s-, nominative, t-, oblique, to one, t-. This final Common Baltic feature set different patterns of drift with the North Baltic one, in continuing this new pattern by developing greater general stem consolidation, versus the new-trend-resisting South Baltic one which, essentially, maintained its stem diversification (that is, kept its heteroclitic stems) in the conservative area of personal pronouns.4

Let us now examine Prussian, that is. South Baltic, data. We find more than one stem maintained for all first and second person personal pronouns with nominative versus oblique: es, as/mien: mennei: maim; t(o)u/tien: tebbei; ious/wans; mes/nouson, noumas. I consider second person genitive and dative plurals, iouson, ioumas, and first person accusative plural mans innovations which arose under North Baltic (Latvian and/ Lithuanian, or, maybe, here, even Curonian) influence. In addition to these, we find the trend toward multiple personal pronoun stems in South Baltic (Prussian) maintained with the reflexive accusative sien versus dative sebbei.

In contrast to this, we observe the opposite trend, that of consolidation in North Baltic as the following forms show: Lith. tu: tave, tavęs, tavyje, tavimi, tau with tau, etc., merely the o-grade of tu; jūs, jūsų: jus, jumyse, jumis, jums; mes: mūsų: mus, mumyse, mumis, mums; Latv. tu : tevi, tevis, tevi, tevim, tev with tev, etc., merely the e-grade form of tu; jus, jus, jusu, jūsuos : jums; mes : mus, mus, musu, mūsuos : mums and dialectal forms mumis, jumis. In the first person singular, we find evidence of the older, more complicated opposition of multiple stems which seems to have once been as follows: aš, eš (Lith.), es (Latv.)/men-; man-: mun- (from zero grade *mn-). Otherwise, Lithuanian dialect dual accusative nuodu indicates the old two-stem first person plural opposition mes/*no-. Beyond this, Lithuanian dialects with teu, etc., and Latvian dialects with ta v, etc., indicate substratic western elements in Lithuanian and sub- or adstratic eastern elements in Latvian since, I believe, e-grade is more typical of West Baltic while o-grade is more typical of East Baltic. Note, finally, that beyond the very recent innovations, mumyse, mumis; jumyse, jumis; mums, mums, the earlier innovations mus, mus; jus, jus (with attendant parallel genitive and locative new constructions mūsų, musu; jūsų, jusu; mūsuos, jūsuos — note somewhat parallel Prus. iouson, nouson from earlier *jūson,*nūson, according to Stang, 1966, 255, which I see, rather, as *jūsan, *nūsan with long -an rather than short -an from Lithuanian influence) are merely modifications of older forms with different initial consonants. Thus, we have mus, mus; jus, jus from *muns: *muos, *juns : *juos from *muons: *mans, *juons : *jans from *mons : mons, *jons : *jons from original *no(n)s " *no(n)s, *vo(n)s: *vo(n)s where initial m- and j- from the nominative replaced oblique stem initial n- and v-. Even -n- in Prus. wans, Stang (1966, 255) and I believe, is from the noun. The single stem continues to prevail in North Baltic even in the reflexive pronoun with e-grade typical for Northwest Baltic (Latvian): sev-, o-grade typical for Northeast Baltic (Lithuanian): sav-.5

Now we are ready to discuss later chain reaction morphological changes in North Baltic which arose from a phonetic pattern which occurred only there and has nothing to do with eastern-ness since it did not occur either in Indic or, consistently, in Iranian — the shortening of final long vowels. Thus, final feminine nom. sing. long -a reduces to short -a. In the pronoun, this is significant since feminine forms in short -a from long -a have now fallen together with neuter ones. Thus, where once there was, say, fem. *ta and neut. *ta (from *tat/*tad from, originally, *tod") there now is *ta for both feminine and neuter forms. This was rarer in South Baltic (Prussian) where fem. *ta (later, *-to), even when it drifted toward coinciding with neut. *ta (as in sta 'this'), was altered to stai, a more frequent form. In North Baltic, though, it led to the elimination of the neuter. This neuter elimination was weaker in more southerly Lithuanian where remnants of neuter forms still can be found (užtat 'therefore,' collective numerals, dveja, treja, etc., predicative adjectives like šalta 'it is cold' (all singulars) possibly, at one time nouns, see Stang 1966, 187f, and plural cardinal numerals keturiolika 'fourteen'). It was strongest in northernmost Latvian where the most thorough reduction of final long vowels occurred. There, apparently, only one form, unrecognizable as a former neuter almost, remains — ja 'if (from I.E. neuter relative pronoun, *yod"). It does not seem to occur at all in South Baltic Prussian and, thus, there was no motive for polarizing feminine versus masculine forms as there was in North Baltic Latvian and Lithuanian. There, we find the following chain reaction changes from, ultimately, the loss of the neuter.6

In North Baltic Latvian and Lithuanian, we find polarization of the feminine versus the masculine not only in innovations like feminine plural oblique demonstratives opposed to masculine ones like Lith. and Latv. loc. -ose/-uose, as/-uos; dat. -oms/-iems, am/-iem; inst. -omis/-ais, -am/-iem, but also in the elimination of s, a common feminine marker, in non-feminine singular oblique forms so that in Latvian and Lithuanian we now find the following forms which I designate as all innovations: Lith. and Latv. o-stem reconstructed ablative -o, -a instead of the genitive in -s like Prus. -as, pronominal dative and locative in -m—: Lith. tam(ui), tame, Latv. tam instead of -sm- like Prus. stesmu 'that, kasmu 'what'.7

Other North Baltic innovations involve ablaut grade preferences and further drifts toward form consolidation. North Baltic leans more toward full grade forms with o-grade ones typical more of East Baltic Lithuanian versus e-grade ones typical more of West Baltic Latvian. South Baltic leans more toward zero grade forms with the seeming exception of Latv. dialect (High Latvian) first person oblique singular stem, mun-'me', a form which had, possibly, been borrowed from some northeastern contiguous Prussian dialect.8

The South Baltic preference for zero grade finds expression, I believe, in the following forms which stand against full grade counterparts in North Baltic: 1. twais, swais, subs {= sw- + -bs, with -b-, probably, the same dative formant as in sebbei), swestro/tav-, sav- (Lith.): tev-: sev- (Latv. which are defined as genitive stems for North Baltic, *seso(r) : seser- (lith.); 2. tirts/*tret-j-. Chain reaction consequences of the North Baltic preferences above are the following. 1. The generalization of the genitive-possessive stem in personal pronouns leading to 2. Whole oblique case paradigms based on these stems alone with o-grade more typical of East Baltic (Lith.) and e-grade more typical of West Baltic (Latv.): tave, tavęs, tavyje, tau, tavimi; save, savęs, savyje, sau, savimi/tevi, tevis, tevi, tev, tevim; sevi, sevis, sevi, sev, sevin. This further results in 3. The loss of the dative marker -b- in these forms (as in Prus. tebbei, sebbei) and in no formal equivalent for Prus. subs so that 4. A form of *patis 'self must serve in this function. The North Baltic trend of generalizing the genitive (-possessive) stem causes North Baltic to use *man; that stem from the first person singular, to function as a possessive adjective. Thus, it has no form corresponding with Prus. mais 'my'. This leads to the further North Baltic consequence of 5. The present passive participle in -m- (Lith. nešamas, Latv. nesams 'being carried') rather than in -man- (as in Prus. poklausimanas), a form though bound, confusable with North Baltic oblique stem man- 'me, my' where no trace of the usual West Baltic e-grade stem *men- exists (and High Latvian zero grade mun-, apparently, was insufficiently distinct from o-grade man- at the time of possible change). I believe that the preponderance of o-grade forms of oblique-possessive stem man- in North Baltic to the exclusion of e-grade ones here points to the one-time existence of present passive participles in -man(a)s in North Baltic and their possible confusion with the oblique-possessive stem for "me, my" there. All of this is further testimony to the general North Baltic trend toward form consolidation.9

More evidence of this North Baltic general trend is the elimination of the nasal there in the word for "nine" and in the verbs for "sit" and "stand." Thus, Lith, and Latv. present tense stems *sed-, stoju : staju conform with all their sister stems, also without -n-. They stand against Prus. forms sind-, synd-; (po)stan- which conform less perfectly with sister stems sid-, posta-. And Lith. and Latv. devin(t)- versus Prus. newints can, surely, be viewed as part of North Baltic's drive toward form consolidation since devin(t)- with initial d- is brought into closer proximity with *desimt- 'ten' (the source of that d-) with which it leans toward forming a new class of numerals. North Baltic form consolidation arose after its new form diversification in plural demonstratives with feminine versus masculine obliques.


1 Thracian and Dacian also had no initial ks-. They probably had joint reflexes for ruki law s and the palatals k', g'(h). I, therefore, classify them as Baltoidic.
2 This becomes apparent when we remember phonetic change gradations. For example, diphthongs ei and en remain intact in Prussian, usually become ie in Latvian, and in transitional zone Lithuanian often change as follows: ei to ie as in Latvian, but en to e (from nasal vowel) which is unlike Latvian. Diphthongs maintained intact are often ascribed to Curonian influence in Lithuanian, but almost always so in Latvian. Since Curonian was supposed to have been spoken in the west to the south of Latvian but to the north of Prussian, we can consider "Curonianisms" to be South Baltic influence on North Baltic. Notice that real East Baltic  versus West Baltic phonological differences involve the joint reflexes of the ruki law and the palatals with compact š, ž characteristic of East Baltic and diffuse s, z characteristic of West Baltic with no transitional zones or "Curonian" influence or anything like it running from east to west. Since only Lithuanian has compact š, ž here and Latvian, like Prussian, has diffuse s, z, I have concluded that only Lithuanian is East Baltic while Latvian is West Baltic. This is corroborated by the reflexes of sj. Latvian, with compact š, ž, agrees not with East Baltic Lithuanian, but with West Baltic Prussian. Hence I see Lithuanian as an East Baltic intrusive element into what once was West Baltic territory. Morphologically, we find further support for this view with Latvian and Prussian o- stem masc. sing. nom. -s standing against Lithuanian -as, etc., with, typically, no transitional zones running from east to west.
3 Slavic is viewed as western by scholars considering it originally a dialect of Prussian.
4 I view Common Baltic as an amalgam of former Indo-European dialects where Pre-Prussian, unlike the rest of Pre-Baltic, no longer distinguished between a(H) and o(H). From "what," *kit- shifted in sense to "what else" and then to "else." (See my contribution on this in Steinbergs, 1993.) I derive -s in Germanic dative mis 'me' from earlier *mes-, a form borrowd from Baltic and Slavic *nez- 'me' when these three formed a language duster with mutual influencings leading to another common innovation in the dative, -m- instead of reflexes of -bh- in the plural. Baltic and Slavic replaced the form *mez-, I believe, because of possible confusion with another root, *mEz- 'excrement.' 
5 Stang (1966, 251-252) because of the e-grade stem in Prussian mennei proposes and e-grade *men- for all Baltic which disappeared in Lithuanian and Latvian via analogy with o-stem man- in the instrumental and, possibly, the locative, originally. As for my proposing original length differences between Lithuanian and Latvian accusative plurals with underlying forms *mons : *mons, *jons : Jons, the evidence is as follows. If Lithuanian mus, jus, is from *muns, juns with u from o, then that o will have to have been long o. The Latvian o may have been either short or long. Since West Baltic favors syncope in morphology (o-stem nom. sg. -s, not -as, definite adj. -ais, not -asis), then the short vowel in the acc. and gen. pl. also represents syncope against an East Baltic long vowel arisen from contraction of to short ones: *-ons, *-on " *-oons, *-oon.
6 I mark I.E. glottalic phonemes with quotation marks. Thus, -d" in *tod", etc. As for final vowel shoring in Slavic, this occurred independently of that change in North Baltic. Otherwise, new short a would have coincided with the reflex of final old short a and o and eventually become final short -o.
7 Stang (1966, 44) reconstructs North Baltic o-stem genitive from a rebuilt ablative, *-oat. I do so from *-aad or *-aat since this followed the older contraction of two short o's in Lith. gen. pi. -oon, etc., leading, eventually, to -ų, etc.
8 The overlay of later North Baltic/South Baltic oppositions on much earlier East Baltic/West Baltic ones (West Baltic e-grade in Prus. tebbei, sebbei; Latv. tev, sev but present only in South Baltic mennei leading to the very possible deduction that a form *men- once existing in Latvian was eliminated by Lithuanian influence via its later North Baltic affinity with Latvian) complicates the picture of relationships between the Baltic languages. This is also true phonetically where overlappings of South Balticisms on North Baltic dialects involve reflexes of PIE oH, aH to o, a, etc. Finally, the picture is further complicated by differences in morphology where, contrary to declension, conjugation has at least one instance of zero grade forms in North Baltic OLith. bi(at), Latv. bija 'was' versus e-grade forms in South Baltic Prus. bei, be. I give further evidence toward my conclusion that Latvian is basically West Balin in the following articles: "West Baltic Latvian/East Baltic Lithuanian" (1993a), "The West Baltic Roots of Latvian (1993b). 
9 Prus. swestro may be from Germanic. Sanskrit has a verbal adj. in -m-.


Mayer, Harvey E. (1993 a) "West Baltic Latvian/East Baltic Lithuanian," Lituanus 39, 3:57-62. (1993 b) "The West Baltic Roots of Latvian," submited to Diachronica. 
Stang, Christian S. (1966) Vergleichende Grammatik der baltischen Sprachen, Universitets-forlaget, Oslo-Bergen-Tromsö. 
Steinbergs, A. (1993) Proto-Baltic Dictionary, in progress.