Volume 42, No.1 - Spring 1996
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1996 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.



Recognizable Lithuanian influence on Prussian and Latvian is recent. This means that I regard not only Prussian, but also Latvian as West Baltic with Prussian as South-West and Latvian as North-West Baltic and Lithuanian as an east Baltic intrusive element between them in territory that had once been West Baltic, most likely, Curonian.

My evidence for this is phonological, morphological, and lexical. Phonologically, we find East Baltic š, ž in Lithuanian širdìs, vãškas, viršùs, viršùs, veršis, žversus West Baltic s, z in Latvian and Prussian sirds : seyr, vasks, vìrsus : Wirrsune (Personal name), vèrsis : werstian, zeme : zemē (written semmē) and West Baltic š in Latvian and Prussian šũt : schuwikis versus East Baltic s' from sj in Lithuanian siūti, siuvìkis. Morphologically, we find analytic East Baltic forms in Lithuanian pirmàsis, diēvas, etc. versus synthetic West Baltic forms in Latvian and Prussian pirmasis : pirmois, dìevs : deiws, etc. We also find Iranian-like definite adjectives with non-final pronominal elements like paio-prasta in Old Lithuanian. Lexically, we find more ancient western than ancient eastern vocabulary maintained in Prussian and Latvian than in Lithuanian.1

The East Baltic intrusion into West Baltic territory is recent. Before that, there was sustained contact between East and West Baltic with Lithuanian-Latvian agreements classifiable as Early North Baltic and Lithuanian-Prussian agreements classifiable as Early South Baltic. These agreements represent mutual, even parallel developments. Agreements after the intrusion of East Baltic into West Baltic territory classifiable as Late North Baltic or Late South Baltic involve later phonological and morphological changes, adstrata, substrata, and diglossia.2

Lithuanian reflects an attitude of deference of immigrant East Baits toward West Baltic establishment. Thus, we find Baltic diglossia in Lithuanian which parallels Slavic diglossia in Russian. Like South Slavic versus East Slavic elements, West Baltic ones reflect normativism, technical, elevated style, and abstract speech versus East Baltic vernacularism and concrete usage. Similar to the heavy South Slavic impact on Russian (or the Latin one on English), the West Baltic diglottic element in Lithuanian, very often visible in West Baltic palatal and, especially, ruki law reflexes, is considerable since it involves grammatical elements like the future, participles, locative plurals, nominative singulars and plurals, etc., and lexical ones like abstract suffixes and words like ausìs 'ear1, gýsla 'vein', glusnùs 'obedient', vìsas 'all', daũsos 'heaven', which reflect scientific, abstract, or spiritual language at that time. Unlike the well-documented South Slavic diglottic influence on Russian, the West Baltic influence on Lithuanian amounting to a similar sort of diglossia can be traced historically only with isolated items in fewer texts. Thus, we find the eventual East Balticizing of concrete "cross" from kristas, as given in Old Lithuanian western texts, to krìkštas matched by the West Balticizing of more abstract (since it is harder to see at once), technical "thousand" from Old Lithuanian tukštantis to tūkstantis in the modern language.3

Though specialists list several items in Lithuanian as substratic like áuksas, bruñšė, ešketras, balgnas, arvas, -a, Gabs (lake name), gbeni (dial.), gbti (dial.), krìkštas, pýdyti, ušės, ušias, gelžìs (Žem.), gùrklė from Prussian ausis (itself from Italic *auso-m), brunse, *esetr(a)s (older Prus.), balgnan, arwis (or from Jatvingian or Curonian), gabawo, crixt- (itself from Slavic krĭst-), us(ch)ts, gelso, gurcle (itself, possibly, a curonianism), Apuõlė, zuĩkis, nùgara from Curonian *Ap-ōlē, * zōiek(a)s; Apytà from Jatvingian; Ap-eikė from Selonian, and dvéselė, kukainas, laĩdaras, -is, (regional) from Latvian dvsele, kukaînis, laĩdars, items which, recognizable as such, are recent borrowings, they will find, if they compare, that substratic and adstratic items in, mostly, Latvian and, possibly, Prussian from Lithuanian, that is, "Lithuanianisms", outnumber them. Whether these include phonology or just lexicon, they are very recent. They were incorporated after East Baltic Lithuanian society in former West Baltic territory had become established. Examples of these items are the following. Lexical borrowings: ģimene, ģĩmis, karalis, kareĩvis, ķekata(s) in Latvian from Lithuanian gimen, gmis, karãlius (itself from Byelo-russian karól'), kareĩvis, keketà; morphological patterning copies (calks) usually explained via separate phonological developments: taršķet, pušķis, pukšķêt, plìkšêt, kušķis, etc., following Lithuanian tarškéti, pùškas, pukšéti, plykšéti, kùškis, etc.4

I conclude with the remark that traceable East Baltic influence on West Baltic involves not diglossia, but merely adstrata and substrata. Untraceable influence occurring before the intrusion of East Baltic Lithuanian into former West Baltic territory may have been much greater.


Fraenkel, Ernst (1962), 1965), Litauisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, I, II, Heidelberg, Göttingen, Carl Winter, Vandenhoek & Ruprecht.
Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), Latviešu etimoloģijas vārdnīca, I, II, Riga, "Avots".
Mayer, Harvey E. (1993a), "West Baltic Latvian / East Baltic Lithuanian", Lituanus, 39 (3), 5-62.
—— (1993b), "The West Baltic Roots of Latvian", presented at the 11th International Conference on Historical Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, 16-21 August, and submitted to its Chairman, Henning Andersen, for publication in its Proceedings.
(1993c), "North Baltic", submitted to Lituanus.
(1993d), "Baltic Diglossia in Lithuanian", submitted to Lituanus.
Mažiulis, Vytautas (1988), Prūsų kalbos etimologijos žodynas, Vilnius, Mokslas.
Rudzīte, Marta (1993), Latviešu valodas vēsturiskā fonētika, Riga, Zvaigzne.
Stang, C.S. (1966), Vergleichende Grammatik der baltischen Sprachen, Oslo-Bergen-Tromsö, Universitetsforlaget.


1 See Mayer (1993a, b.c). East Baltic š, ž versus West Baltic s, z is ancient. It involves reflexes of Indo-European palatals, k', g' and the assimilation of s to them and the ruki law. West Baltic š, ž versus East Baltic s, z is more recent. It involves the reflexes of the clusters sj, zj. Morphologically, we also find East Baltic plurals -uos / -us, -ų from *-ōns, *-ōn versus West Baltic -ans, -an, in Prussian. Identical forms may be posited as immediate origins for ambiguous Latvian -uos / -us, -uo / -u. These forms may just as easily have arisen from -ans, -an as from *-ōns, *-ōn which specialists assume must have been the source of the Latvian forms as they are for their Lithuanian counterparts, basically, because these people uncritically assume Latvian to be East Baltic like Lithuanian. Lexically, aside from correspondences with only Slavic and Prussian which are usually recent, Latvian minus Lithuanian correspondences with Indo-European daughter languages are more anciently western in character than Lithuanian minus Latvian ones.
2 See Mayer (1993a, b, c). North Baltic/South Baltic systematic changes are stronger in the north and weaken progressively as they go southward. Thus, those involving ai, ei, iN, uN, eN, aN are extreme in their distribution and type (with consistent aN, eN to uo, ie in Latvian versus less consistent aN, eN to ā, ē in Lithuanian and no change in Prussian) in the north and gradually, as one looks southward, vanish in the extreme south (as we also find with the loss of the neuter which is almost gone in Latvian but is well-represented in Prussian with transitional Lithuanian examples somewhat outnumbering Latvian ones). Early North Baltic and Early South Baltic phenomena represent phonological, morphological, and lexical matchings between Lithuanian and Latvian on the one hand and Lithuanian and Prussian on the other, often originating, surely, in anciently bordering dialects (South-Eastern Latvian : North-Western Lithuanian, North-Eastern Prussian: South-Western Lithuanian), before the intrusion of East Baits into former West Baltic territory, marked by such things as river names with the morpheme -lat-, as in Latvian, in the Vilnius area demonstrating that Latvians had been there before Lithuanians. Examples of such matchings are: long ō kept distinct from long ā in, essentially, Latvian and Lithuanian versus no phonemic distinction between long ō and long ā in, essentially, Prussian, matching suffixes in words like Prus. brātr-īk-ai : Lith. brol-ýk-as, av-ýk-a, Prus. tēmp-r-an : Lith. tamp-r-ùs, Lith. širšuõ, širš-eñs : Latv. sirs-enis / Prus. sirs-ilis, Lith. vežì-mas : Latv. vęzu-ms, matching grades in words like Prus. m-e-ltan : Lith. m-e-lmuõ / Lith. m-á-lti : Latv. m-a-ltît, Prus. i-mt, i-mtā : Lith. i-mti, i-mtas I East Lith. (which had once been North-West Lith. ?) j-e-mù :Latv. j-ę-mu, j-e-mt, j-e-mt, matching words like Prus. ylo : Lith. ýla, Prus. iuse : Lith. jūšė, Prus. nertien : Lith. nértėti, nirsti, Prus. parstian : Lith. paršas, Prus. peuse : Lith. pušìs / Latv. pride, Prus. pecku : Lith. pkus, pèšti, pešù, pašýti, Prus. quoitīt, quāits, quoi)tā) : Lith. kvisti, Prus. urminan, wormyan : Lith. varmas, Lith. kviets : Latv. kvīeši / Prus. gaidis 'wheat'. Usually, though, where available forms in these languages correspond too exactly, especially, in many details, I strongly suspect later calkings.
3 See Mayer (1993d) and Stang (1966). His lists of Lithuanian words with variant ruki law reflexes, š/s, I believe, can be said to justify my designations, East Baltic / West Baltic, of their origins, or the origins of their shapes, considering basic semantic differences between them. Thus, we find the following (possible, in most cases) semantic markings of words with -s- which is West Baltic. Abstract-Elevated: glusnùs 'obedient', teisùs 'correct, right', tisti 'to straighten', taisýti 'to fix, to make correct', Scientific-Technical-Elevated: ausīs 'ear', gýsla 'vein', kláusia 'asks', klaũso 'listens', líesas 'thin', saũsas 'dry', lýsė 'garden bed', mus 'fly', mùsos 'moss', paisýti 'to punch holes in barley with a chain', pìsti 'coire', praũsti 'to wash', rìstas 'fast (of horses)', taũsos 'becomes calm', tausýti 'to become calm (wind)', vìesulas 'whirlwind', viksvà (with secondary k) 'sedge', Spiritual: daũsos 'heaven', dūsauti 'to sigh'. Opposed to these we find the following semantic markings of words with -š- which is East Baltic. Concrete: apuš 'aspen', aušrà 'dawn', jūšė 'fish soup', kermùšė 'wild garlic', kiáuše 'skull', káušas 'scoop, ladle', kriáušė 'pear', maĩšas 'sack', ríešutas, dial. ríešas 'hazelnut', Everyday-Ordinary: kraušýti, krùšti 'stamp', vtušas 'old', rìšti 'tie'. If one compares items like glusnùs 'obedient' with ones like vernacular glùšas 'stupid' one can see the above stated semantic oppositions in same-root morphs clearly represented by West Baltic / East Baltic ruki law reflexes. Where such clearly defined doublets do not seem to exist, we seem to note formal fluctuations in, essentially, the same word which probably represent fluctuations in the attitudes of Lithuanians toward a word in question. Thus, along with viksvà we also find vikšvà, vìkšvis and along with aušrà we find in the dialects austrà, aũstrinis and austrelė which, I believe, represent contemporary differing attitudes toward the same word. Thus, some people consider sedge concrete rather than scientific-technical and, thus, -š- while others consider dawn scientific-technical rather than concrete and, thus, -s-. The same thing, very likely, occurred across time so that cross became, ultimately, perceived more as something concrete rather than spiritual and hence the East Balticizing of krikstas to krìkštas while, possibly, thousand was elevated from concrete tukštantis in Old Lithuanian to scientific-technical (and, thus, West Balticized) tūkstantis in Modern Lithuanian. This semantic tension must have continued into very recent times.
4 These and other similar items are suspect as recent calks because of the exactness of formal correspondences in many details like Lith. (regional) sleñkstis : Latv. slìeksnis, Latv. sluõksnis, Latv. skaidît : Lith. skáidyti, Latv. šķaute : Lith. škiáutė (suffixes, grades). Even though different general phonetic processes are held responsible for matches like Lith. tarškéti (š from ruki law s after r): Latv. taršķêt (š from sk plus j in *tarskjêt), still the real cause of š in the cognates of both languages, I believe, is from calking, a process reflected, I find, in various doublets showing various adjustments or accommodations on the part of both languages to each other or either language to the other as in Latv. šņàukt: Lith. šniaũksti, šniáukti, Lith. skiáudėti: Latv. šķaudît, šķaudêt. Very often the adjustment is not absolutely complete so that we find Lith. s matching Latv. š as in Lith. trink(s)éti : Latv. trinķškêt, trinķšêt. Lithuanian use of s, despite what may exist in corresponding morphs in Latvian, indicates the perception by Lithuanians of these words as, in some way, foreign! This should be an answer to Stang's bewilderment over both š and s as ruki law reflexes after i and u in Lithuanian words (pp. 96-99) and, I say, after k, g (murgsóti: Latv. mùrguôt), and even r.