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

Res Balticae: Miscellanea Italiana di Studi Baltistici

ed. by Pietro U. Dini and Nikolai Mikhailov. Pisa, 1995.

This is the first volume of a new periodical devoted to Baltic studies edited by the young Balticists Pietro U. Dini and Nikolai Mikhailov of the University of Pisa and published by ECIG in Pisa, Italy. According to the editors the journal has two goals: (1) to promote the disciplinary autonomy of Baltic studies in an Italian context and (2) its full integration into international Baltic studies.

The first article, "La posizione preistorica del baltico", written by the famous Italian linguist Giuliano Bonfante, concludes that Germanic shows direct relationship to Slavic in which Baltic did not participate. Therefore in historic times Baltic must have been without doubt located north of Germanic and Slavic. In such a location it is then not surprising that Baltic retained various archaisms which are not found in Germanic and Slavic, but which are encountered in Greek, Vedic, Latin or in other languages. Discussing the nasal infix, which is widely attested in Baltic Bonfante writes: "in germànico solo gòtico standan:stop." If you translate this into English it comes out: "in Germanic only Gothic standan:stop." In English this could be interpreted to mean that within Germanic the nasal infix is known only in Gothic. I think Bonfante means, however, that the Gothic example is to stand for all Germanic. But since I don't know Italian well enough, I can't judge whether this would be as ambiguous in Italian as its English translation or not. In any case Bonfante does not mention that the nasal infix is known in Slavic also, cf. Old Church Slavic sędo / sėsti, lęgo / lešti, etc.

The second article, by the no less distinguished Russian scholar, Vladimir Toporov, is dedicated to the outstanding, now deceased, specialist in Baltic onomastics, Aleksandras Vanagas. This article concerns the northwest locus of Baltic hydronymy and is from a series of articles devoted to the boundaries of the ancient Baltic area. Toporov writes that Vanagas' contributions to Lithuanian toponymies are exceptional and have raised the level of knowledge in this area by several orders. Toporov appends a list of hydronyms which are suspected to belong to the Baltic stratum. The etymologies are not only a testimony to Vanagas, but also to the erudition of Toporov himself. I would mention one small reproach to the printers, viz., to my eye at least, the capital Cyrillic B is hard to distinguish from the capital Cyrillic V, such that the first entry looked to me like Verezaj instead of the correct Berezaj. The same reproach goes, of course, for all of the articles written printed in Russian in this periodical.

Sergej Temčin has presented an interesting and valuable study of the vacillation between -nus vs. -nas in Slavic borrowings in Lithuanian (p. 45). Thus from Polish or Belorussian brudny one might find the Lithuanian forms brudnùs (or brūdnùs) or brùdnas (or brūdnas) "dirty." The assumption is that the -as ending is earlier and that the -us ending is a Lithuanian innovation. The -u(s) stem forms are found more in western and northern Lithuania, whereas the -a(s) stem forms are found in eastern and southern Lithuania (p. 58).

Zigmas Zinkevičius comments on some Lithuanian linguistic phenomena which have become clear on the appearance of Vol. III of the Lithuanian Linguistic Atlas which is devoted to morphology. For example, the distribution of the etymological *-o (= Baltic -a) stem dative singular endings -ui, -u, -uo shows that the area of the endings -ui and -u cross each other, i.e., there has been an intermixture. The ending -ui stretches over all of Lithuania from the southwest to the northeast, whereas -u stretches from south to north also throughout all of Lithuania. In the places where they cross both endings are used. From the data supplied in the commentary it seems that the earlier ending is -u, whereas the later ending is -ui, which is becoming more and more used under the influence of the standard language. Therefore it is clear that the ending -ui was used in two non-contiguous areas and must be considered more archaic than the other ending, since, in Zinkevičius' view it is not likely that the same innovation would appear in two non-contiguous areas. Thus Zinkevičius writes that this contradicts Mažiulis' hypothesis (1970, 112 and elsewhere) that -ui is of secondary origin deriving from -u plus the addition of -i on the basis of other datives. Actually this hypothesis is not new with Mažiulis, but had already been expressed by Senn, 1954,178, who wrote (I translate): "In the masculine dative ending -ui..., which occurs only in Lithuanian and is absent in Latvian and Old Prussian, we have an analogically created form contrasting with the corresponding feminine -ai (which originally served in the -o- declension as a dative ending and is in no way a direct continuation of the Proto-Indo-European ending -oi (Greek -o), which already in Proto-Baltic had passed partially to -ai and partially to -o)."

Since in different dialects it frequently seems that the same analogical structural forces are at work, I don't think that it really would be so remarkable for the same analogical change to take place separately in different dialects. The history of language change is replete with examples where exactly this has happened. One can compare for example standard Latv. l sg. pres. ęsmu with Old Prussian asmu and Lith. dial. esmù (which I find in Zinkevičius' own outstanding work on Lithuanian dialectology [1966, 345]). Would one want to assume that Latv. ęsmu, Old Prussian asmu and Lith. dial. esmù prove the existence of a Common Baltic *esmu or *esmo?

Bonifacas Stundžia provides us with another valuable study of stress retraction in Eastern High Lithuanian dialects (pp. 67-72) and Simas Karaliūnas gives an interesting comparison between Lithuanian dialect mója "mother" and Greek maia, 'id."

In his article on the use of the definite adjective in Bretkūnas' Bible, Alessandro Parenti writes that there is a range of accessibility for the definite article. "On the one end of it, we find the nominative case, while, on the other, there are the most marked oblique cases, where, on the contrary, the definiteness marker may be more or less obligatorily absent" (pp. 80-81). He writes that an alternation between definite forms and simple forms is also found in sequences of ordinals, such that the ordinal pirmàsis "first" is definite, whereas following ordinals are indefinite. Parenti proposes that this is an instance of "conjunction reduction," i.e., "the optional omission of shared items in co-ordinate structures" (p. 82). In my view Parenti's explanation is quite reasonable.

Axel Holvoet has written an interesting and valuable article entitled "On the avoidance of the double accusative in Latvian" in which he traces the appearance of other syntactic devices to replace the old Baltic double accusative. He concludes (p. 97) " seems that in Latvian the avoidance of the double accusative has given rise to a recurrent process involving the substitution of dative objects for accusative objects." He comments (p. 90) that we encounter Latv. parkapt par slieksni "to cross the threshold," parkapt slieksni (with the accusative), parkapt par slieksnim and parkapt slieksnim (with the dative). The latter construction, an innovation of Latvian, has, according to Holvoet probably arisen from parkapt par slieksnim " deletion of the semi-adposition pari." Historically perhaps one might expect the addition of a preposition rather than its deletion. The case expresses the function by itself first and then the preposition is added to support the meaning of the case. Thus the Latin expression ire Romam "to go to Rome" with the accusative case as the object of motion is more ancient than the usage with ad plus the accusative case. Similarly Toporov, 1961, 310, has shown that for Slavic in the area of locative and temporal meanings the locative with the preposition v was the successor of the locative without the preposition. In the Latvian example quoted by Holvoet one might invoke, however, the principle of analogy. Since the accusative case can be used in this expression either with or without a preposition, the dative case came to be used either with or without a preposition also.

The well-known expert in Balto-Slavic folklore and phraseology, Rainer Eckert from the University of Greifs wald brings us some interesting lexical comparisons from the field of bee-keeping where he has already distinguished himself with many valuable publications. In this case he notes that sometimes the same verbs which for bees denote rapid back and forth movement or swarming are used for heavenly bodies to denote shining or glistening, thus he quotes from a Latvian daina: ligo bite, ligo saule "the bee swarms, the sun glitters." One can see, after the fact perhaps, how such an association could arise. To me at least, in the afternoon sun swarming bees do seem to glitter or glisten.

The young Russian scholar Nikolai Mikhailov (now an Italian citizen) following in the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, V.N. Toporov analyzes the "mixed" Slavic-Baltic pantheon of the German pastor, Christian Knauthe. In 1767 pastor Knauthe published an ecclesiastical history of the upper Lusatian Sorbs (also known as Wends). Mikhailov turns his attention to that part of Knauthe's book which deals with the west Slavic pantheon which contains, however, an admixture of Baltic deities. For example, Knauthe mentions Protimpus whom he characterizes as the Prussian god who takes care of feeding humans (Sonderlich der Preussen Gott, der vor der Menschen Nahrung sorgte). This is probably to be reconstructed as Potrimps "god of rivers and springs."

Pietro U. Dini has written an interesting article about the competition for pre-eminence of Latin/Lithuanian vs. Russian in the Lithuanian empire before the Union of Lublin. He notes (p. 144) that Michalo Lituanus (Mykolas Lietuvis) wrote in favor of Latin (=Lithuanian) "since the language of the Ruthenians is foreign to us Lithuanians, i.e., Italians, descending from Italian blood (...[cum] idioma Ruthenorum alienum sit a nobis Lituanis, hoc est Italianis, Italico sanguine oriundis)."

A discussion of Kristupas Sapūnas as the founder of Lithuanian linguistics is offered by Kazimieras Eigminas. According to the testimony of Gottfried Ostermeyer in about 1643 Sapūnas wrote the first grammar of Lithuanian which has come down to us, viz., the Compendium Grammaticae Lithvanicae. In 1651 he delivered the work to the University of Königsberg and got a license to publish from the faculty of philosophy, but he did not immediately avail himself of this privilege. The grammar finally came out in 1673 edited by Theophil Gottlieb Schultz who added his own name to the work, so that it is usually known as the grammar of Sapūnas-Schultz.

Giedrius Subačius comments on Simonas Daukantas' conception of a common Lithuanian language. Daukantas was an enthusiastic and able historian, but sometimes he was off the mark linguistically, not completely understanding the importance of the spoken language.

A brief note by Algirdas Sabaliauskas describes the Italian publications of my teacher, Antanas Salys, who began his study of Lithuanian philology in 1923 at the University of Kaunas where the two founders of standard Lithuanian, Jonas Jablonskis and Kazimieras Būga were then teaching. After studying abroad with Georg Gerullis at Leipzig Antanas Salys taught first at the University of Kaunas, then Vilnius and in 1944 fled to the west where from 1947 until his death he taught at the University of Pennsylvania and where he was my teacher. In the fall of 1951 I began to study Bulgarian with him and in the spring of 1951 I began the study of Old Prussian (the first Baltic language I ever studied) with him. Unfortunately, however, there was no chance for Salys to publish his own works in his homeland, so they were all published in Rome by the Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Sciences. Thus Sabaliauskas concludes: "Rome, the eternal city has entered the history of Lithuanian studies."

A short survey of the life of M. Lopatto, who is dubbed "a Russian poet from Vilnius in Florence" is offered by Stefano Garzonio. Lopatto was born in a Karaim family in Vilnius in 1892, in 1920 entered the history-philology department of the University of St. Petersburg where he occupied himself primarily with Pushkin. In 1920 he left Odessa as a Polish citizen on the last Italian boat. Only two of his books written in Italy, Stixi and Il figlio del diavolo, the translation of the first part of a trilogy entitled "The devil's son" were published. Garzonio says that he has discovered some unpublished texts of Lopatto's.

In addition to the material already discussed there is an Italian translation of a selection from Tomas Venclova's Tekstai apie tekstus, some reviews, a bibliography of works on Baltic languages and cultures by Italian authors and finally Italian resumes of all the articles.

In the past Italy was distinguished by the publication of the famous Studi Baltici. The new journal, Res Balticae, is a worthy successor and we wish it and its editors and authors success.

William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University


Mažiulis, V. 1970. Baltų ir kitų indoeuropiečių kalbų santykiai (Deklinacija). Vilnius, Mintis.
Senn, A. 1954. Die Beziehungen des Baltischen zum Slavischen und Germanischen. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der indogermanischen Sprachen 71.162-188.
Toporov, Vladimir N. 1961. Lokativ v slavjanskix jazykax. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo AN SSR.
Zinkevičius, Z. 1966. Lietuvių dialektologija. Vilnius, Mintis.