Volume 45, No. 2 - Summer 1999
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1999 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Vytautas Mažiulis. Prūsų kalbos etimologinis žodynas,

  4 Volumes, I "Mokslas", 1988, II-III-IV Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidykla, 1993, 1996, 1997. Vol. I also has a Russian and German title (Ėtimologičeskij slovar' prusskogo jazyka, Altpreussisches etymologisches Wörterbuch).

Vols. II, III, IV do not have the Russian title. All the volumes in the front have lists of source and literature abbreviations. Volume I includes a list of language and dialect abbreviations in the front. In the rear, Volume IV has an index of words from Baltic, Slavic, Germanic, Celtic, Italic, Greek, Indic, Iranian, Armenian, Albanian, Anatolian, Thracian, and Finno-Ugric languages. Inclusive text page numbers for the volumes are as follows: I (A-H) 37-428, II (I-K) 7-331, III (L-P) 8-365, IV (R-Z) 7-273.1 counted a total of 2,751 entries which include ordinary words, place names, and personal names. Vol. I has its introduction in Lithuanian, Russian, and German where the author declares West Baits to include not only Prussians and Jatvingians, but also Curonians (p. 6,10,14).

This very important work is a model of comparative Baltic linguistics. The author ties as much together as he can and favors accepting as many Prussian entries as native as seem possible. He mentions the West Baltic change of s; to s, but says that zj to ž is very rare (I, 70). He says (with reference to his Liet. etnogen., 5tt.) that Lithuanian is central, but Prussian and Latvian like Slavic are in the periphery of the Balto-Slavic area (I, 339). This would fit in with his statement that Lithuanian matches far better with Prussian than Latvian does (III, 265). My immediate reaction to this is that Lithuanian seems to match Latvian far better than Prussian does in lexicon and word formation. But both impressions, I am sure, arise from relatively recent data. All the deeper special ties from antiquity between the Baltic languages seem to be hinted at by seemingly occasional select items. This is so because as one goes closer to the start of Baltic, one more commonly finds items general to all the Baltic languages. It is much easier to find phonologically differentiating materials at ancient levels than lexical ones.

If the author ever prepares a second edition of this dictionary, I urge him to start with the correction of only one minor error, the designating of pleophonic čerep (II, 171,175; IV, 308) as Bulgarian when it is, of course, Russian or Ukrainian. If by then he is influenced by my calling Latvian West Baltic (rather than East Baltic), something he might be comfortable with since he now regularly matches Lithuanian East Baltic š, z from Indo-European k', g'(h) with Prussian West Baltic s, z which match Latvian s, z, he will have to rename Latvian-Lithuanian correspondences as North Baltic (not East Baltic) versus Prussian South Balticisms, items I have noticed in what I call the other two South (but East) Baltic languages, Dacian and Thracian.

My advice to the careful reader of Mažiulis's fine new Prussian etymological dictionary is to pay special attention to the following sorts of categories without Lithuanian correspondences. 1. Agreements between Prussian and Latvian with or without correspondences with Slavic and Germanic. These agreements with also just Germanic with or without agreements with western centum language correspondences tend to emphasize the category's West Baltic quality. Similar agreements with also just Slavic with or without Albanian correspondences minus Dacian and Thracian matching may be said to do the same. 2. Agreements minus Latvian and Slavic with Germanic. 3. Agreements minus Latvian and Germanic with Slavic. Both these last categories may also indicate Prussian western-ness, and the latter, Prussian southern-ness. 4. Any unexplained isolated items. The purpose of this sort of observation is, by contrasting Prussian to Lithuanian, to gain a grasp of the diversity of Baltic at levels more ancient than the relatively late East / West large-scale language contact situation between Lithuanian and Prussian which caused the high frequency word and word formation matching between the two. that way, one can get a fuller appreciation of the large scope of Baltic lexical diversity beginning at very early times. This will complement the superlative comparative Baltic linguistic approach of Mažiulis's Prūsų kalbos etimologijos žodynas.

Harvey E.Mayer