Volume 40, No.2 - Summer 1994
Editor of this issue: Robert A. Vitas, Lithuanian Research & Studies Center 
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1994 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Rudzite, Marta (1993), Latviešu valodas vesturiska fonetika, Riga, "Zvaigzne," 383 pages.

In the foreward, the author says that this book was written for philology students. It also is intended as a continuation of Janis Endzelins' works, Latviešu valodas skanas un formas (1938), Latviešu valodas gramatika (1951), to add findings from later research up to the present. It is divided into seven parts:

Index, Introduction, Statement of Purpose, Accentuation, Vocalism, Consonantism, Supplement. After each segment, applicable references are often listed including the works of present-day luminaries like W.R. Schmalstieg, V. Zeps, and major scholars like C.S. Stang, Z. Zinkevičius, V. Mažiulis. The book also has two maps, one giving the Latvian dialects.

On page 50 we find the following comment justifying the book's contents even for students of Lithuanian interested in Baltic historical linguistics.

"Leišu valodu studenti jau ir macijušies pirms vesturiskas gramatikas kursa, tapec to raksturot nevajag. Atliek tikai aizradit, ka nav pareizi uzskatit latviešu valodu par leišu valodas dialektu vai domat, ka visus latviešu valodas faktus var atvedinat no leišu valodas faktiem. Ir ari tadas valodas paradibas, kas latviešu valoda saglabajušas arhaiskaku stavokli neka leišu valoda vai vismaz lauj par tadu spriest, piem, intonacijas."

"The students have already learned the Lithuanian language before a course of historical grammar (of Latvian), therefore, they need not describe it. One need only say that it is not correct to view the Latvian language as a dialect of Lithuanian or to think that all the facts of the Latvian language can be derived from the facts of the Lithuanian language. There are also certain language phenomena which have retained a more archaic aspect in Latvian than in Lithuanian or at least permit one to judge something of the sort, e.g., intonations. (Words in parentheses supplied by me for clarity.)

Certainly, this book gives a thorough introduction to Latvian historical phonology. The information it contains extends from Indo-European to modern Latvian with comparative evidence from Slavic, Germanic, Italic, Greek, Indic, etc., as well as Prussian and Lithuanian. And, certainly, I agree with the author that Latvian data are important for students interested in the historical phonology of Lithuanian.

Harvey E. Mayer