Volume 44, No.1 - Spring 1998
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1998 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Trevor G. Fennell, Fürecker's dictionary: the first manuscript. Latvijas Akadçmiskâ Biblioteka, Rîga, 1997. Pp. 320.

The eminent Australian Balticist, Prof. Trevor G. Fennell, has made generally available the first and shorter manuscript edition of Christopher Fürecker's Latvian-German dictionary. According to Fennell (p. 3) the shorter manuscript is the work of two separate hands, a beginning section (ms. pp. 1-101) and an end section (ms. pp. 247-319) which are in a careless, untidy hand as opposed to a middle section (pp. 103-146) written in a neater more legible hand. The author of the middle section is generally agreed to be Lukas Kannenberg (died 1689), but the authorship of the middle section is disputed.

In the transcription Latvian words are rendered with a regular font, German words with italics and Latin words with a kind of bold face making reading of the text easier for the user of dictionary. In addition abbreviations and symbols have been expanded where it was deemed necessary and commentary has been supplied to almost every page in the form of footnotes.

I quote below several typical entries (p. 43):

Bads,1 Baddus, m. hungers noth. Theurung, Schmacht, Baddu ismirris, verschmachtet. Baddu nomehrdeht. ausschmächten. Baddu Laiki, hungers noth, teure zeit. According to footnote one Bads is corrected from Badds. Thus Bads was defined as 'famine, scarcity of provisions, tightening up,' Baddu ismirris as 'dead from hunger,' Baddu nomehrdeht as 'to starve to death' and Baddu Laiki as 'famine, time of deprivation.'

Sometimes idioms are explained, e.g. (p. 163):

Mahte die Mutter Mahtite idem. Mahte jau nomirrussi - Ihr komt zu spähte, nach der Mahlzeit. Mahte wehl dsiwa - Ihr komt zurechter zeit, zur Mahlzeit (eben zur Mahlzeit). Thus the Latvian expression Mahte jau nomirrussi means literally 'Mother is already dead,' but the German translation is 'you are coming too late, after meal time, whereas the Latvian expression Mahte wehl dsiwa means 'Mother is still alive' and the German translation is 'you are coming at the right time, at meal time.'

Alphabetical order of the entries is followed in a general sort of way. Thus the initial entry under T (p. 278) is Tabaks and the usual Latin order is followed to p. 285 where we encounter Twaqiks defined as Sch[m]auch, dunst 'smoke, steam.' Next comes the entry Tamehr so lange 'as long as' which is immediately followed by Twihkt hitzig und roki seÿn 'to be hot and red.' The ensuing entry is then Taisiht, machen 'to make' where the alphabetical order starts over again. On the bottom of p. 287 we encounter Twert ergreiffen 'to grasp hold of which is followed on p. 288 by Taisns gerecht, gerade, wahrhafftig 'straight, true' and the alphabetical order starts over again until the entry T is exhausted on p. 291 with the word Truhzinaht Act. brechen 'to break.' It would have been interesting if Fennell had provided us with a commentary on Fürecker's reasons for the alphabetical order. In any case the user might be warned to search the dictionary carefully for the desired word.

One assumes that as a German, Fürecker had difficulty in distinguishing initial voiced and voiceless consonants. Thus as in many Old Latvian writings the word Sagt stehlen 'to steal' is spelled with an initial S just like Sazziht sagen 'to say' (cf. standard contemporary Latvian zagt 'to steral' vs. sacit 'to say').

I was struck by the entry kehms (p. 97) which is defined as Ein Spook and is supplied with the sample sentence: winúch no ta kehma, no ta negohda pahrjemts Er ist vom Spook über nohmen 'He is possessed by the spook.' Generally we are told that Latvian does not like passive constructions and perhaps this sentence is due to German influence. On the other hand I would note that in such a Lithuanian sentence as: Èia tù gyvénsi nuo výro myléta 'here you will live loved by your husband' (Lithuanian Academy Grammar 2:601), where the nuo is ascribed to Polish influence, we encounter the same agent construction with the participle. It would seem to me that the structural tendency to use a preposition (in this case nuo) to reinforce the case construction is present in both Lithuanian and Latvian and that perhaps the pressure of some other language produces the catalytic effect.

Finally Fennell is to be thanked and congratulated for making available in eminently usable form a fundamental tool for research in Baltic historical linguistics.

William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University