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Balto-Slavic languages

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EthnicityBalts and Slavs
Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Southeast Europe and Northern Asia
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
  • Balto-Slavic
Early form
Countries where the national language is:
  Eastern Baltic
  Eastern Slavic
  Southern Slavic
  Western Slavic
Balto-Slavic languages

The Balto-Slavic languages form a branch of the Indo-European family of languages, traditionally comprising the Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other Indo-European branch,[1] which points to a period of common development and origin.[2]

A Proto-Balto-Slavic language is reconstructable by the comparative method, descending from Proto-Indo-European by means of well-defined sound laws, and from which modern Slavic and Baltic languages descended. One particularly innovative dialect separated from the Balto-Slavic dialect continuum and became ancestral to the Proto-Slavic language, from which all Slavic languages descended.[3]

While the notion of a Balto-Slavic unity was previously contested largely due to political controversies, there is now a general consensus among academic specialists in Indo-European linguistics that Baltic and Slavic languages comprise a single branch of the Indo-European language family, with only some minor details of the nature of their relationship remaining in contention.[4]

Historical dispute[edit]

The nature of the relationship of the Balto-Slavic languages has been the subject of much discussion from the very beginning of historical Indo-European linguistics as a scientific discipline. A few are more intent on explaining the similarities between the two groups not in terms of a linguistically "genetic" relationship, but by language contact and dialectal closeness in the Proto-Indo-European period.

Various schematic sketches of possible alternative Balto-Slavic language relationships; Van Wijk, 1923.

Baltic and Slavic share many close phonological, lexical, morphosyntactic and accentological similarities (listed below). The early Indo-Europeanists Rasmus Rask and August Schleicher (1861) proposed a simple solution: From Proto-Indo-European descended Balto-German-Slavonic language, out of which Proto-Balto-Slavic (later split into Proto-Baltic and Proto-Slavic) and Germanic emerged.[5][6] Schleicher's proposal was taken up and refined by Karl Brugmann, who listed eight innovations as evidence for a Balto-Slavic branch in the Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen ("Outline of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-Germanic Languages").[7] The Latvian linguist Jānis Endzelīns thought, however, that any similarities among Baltic and Slavic languages resulted from intensive language contact, i.e. that they were not genetically more closely related and that there was no common Proto-Balto-Slavic language. Antoine Meillet (1905, 1908, 1922, 1925, 1934), a French linguist, in reaction to Brugmann's hypothesis, propounded a view according to which all similarities of Baltic and Slavic occurred accidentally, by independent parallel development, and that there was no Proto-Balto-Slavic language. In turn, the Polish linguist Rozwadowski suggests that the similarities among Baltic and Slavic languages are a result of both a genetic relationship and later language contact. Thomas Olander corroborates the claim of genetic relationship in his research in the field of comparative Balto-Slavic accentology.[8]

Even though some linguists still reject a genetic relationship, most scholars accept that Baltic and Slavic languages experienced a period of common development.[citation needed] This view is also reflected in most modern standard textbooks on Indo-European linguistics.[9][10][11][12] Gray and Atkinson's (2003) application of language-tree divergence analysis supports a genetic relationship between the Baltic and Slavic languages, dating the split of the family to about 1400 BCE.[13]

Internal classification[edit]

The traditional division into two distinct sub-branches (i.e. Slavic and Baltic) is mostly upheld by scholars who accept Balto-Slavic as a genetic branch of Indo-European.[14][4][15] There is a general consensus that the Baltic languages can be divided into East Baltic (Lithuanian, Latvian) and West Baltic (Old Prussian). The internal diversity of Baltic points at a much greater time-depth for the breakup of the Baltic languages in comparison to the Slavic languages.[3][16]

"Traditional" Balto-Slavic tree model


West Baltic

East Baltic


This bipartite division into Baltic and Slavic was first challenged in the 1960s, when Vladimir Toporov and Vyacheslav Ivanov observed that the apparent difference between the "structural models" of the Baltic languages and the Slavic languages is the result of the innovative nature of Proto-Slavic, and that the latter had evolved from an earlier stage which conformed to the more archaic "structural model" of the Proto-Baltic dialect continuum.[17][18] Frederik Kortlandt (1977, 2018) has proposed that West Baltic and East Baltic are in fact not more closely related to each other than either of them is related to Slavic, and Balto-Slavic therefore can be split into three equidistant branches: East Baltic, West Baltic and Slavic.[19][20]

Alternative Balto-Slavic tree model


West Baltic

East Baltic


Although supported by a number of scholars,[21][22][23] Kortlandt's hypothesis is still a minority view.[citation needed] Some scholars accept Kortlandt's division into three branches as the default assumption, but nevertheless believe that there is sufficient evidence to unite East Baltic and West Baltic in an intermediate Baltic node.[24]

The tripartite split is supported by glottochronologic studies by V. V. Kromer,[25] whereas two computer-generated family trees (from the early 2000s) that include Old Prussian have a Baltic node parallel to the Slavic node.[26]

Area of Balto-Slavic dialect continuum (purple) with proposed material cultures correlating to speakers Balto-Slavic in Bronze Age (white). Red dots= archaic Slavic hydronyms.

Historical expansion[edit]

The sudden expansion of Proto-Slavic in the sixth and the seventh century (around 600 CE, uniform Proto-Slavic with no detectable dialectal differentiation was spoken from Thessaloniki in Greece to Novgorod in Russia[dubiousdiscuss][citation needed]) is, according to some, connected to the hypothesis that Proto-Slavic was in fact a koiné of the Avar state, i.e. the language of the administration and military rule of the Avar Khaganate in Eastern Europe.[27] In 626, the Slavs, Persians and Avars jointly attacked the Byzantine Empire and participated in the Siege of Constantinople. In that campaign, the Slavs fought under Avar officers. There is an ongoing controversy over whether the Slavs might then have been a military caste under the khaganate rather than an ethnicity.[28] Their language—at first possibly only one local speech—once koinéized, became a lingua franca of the Avar state. This might explain how Proto-Slavic spread to the Balkans and the areas of the Danube basin,[29] and would also explain why the Avars were assimilated so fast, leaving practically no linguistic traces, and that Proto-Slavic was so unusually uniform. However, such a theory fails to explain how Slavic spread to Eastern Europe, an area that had no historical links with the Avar Khanate.[30] That said, the Avar state was later replaced by the definitively Slavic state of Great Moravia, which could have played the same role.

It is also likely that the expansion of Slavic occurred with the assimilation of Iranic-speaking groups such as the Sarmatians,[31] who quickly adopted Proto-Slavic due to speaking related Indo-European satem languages, in much the same way Latin expanded by assimilating the Celtic speakers in continental Western Europe and the Dacians.

That sudden expansion of Proto-Slavic erased most of the idioms of the Balto-Slavic dialect continuum, which left us today with only two groups, Baltic and Slavic (or East Baltic, West Baltic, and Slavic in the minority view). This secession of the Balto-Slavic dialect ancestral to Proto-Slavic is estimated on archaeological and glottochronological criteria to have occurred sometime in the period 1500–1000 BCE.[32] Hydronymic evidence suggests that Baltic languages were once spoken in much wider territory than the one they cover today, all the way to Moscow, and were later replaced by Slavic.[33]

Shared features of the Balto-Slavic languages[edit]

The degree of relationship of the Baltic and Slavic languages is indicated by a series of common innovations not shared with other Indo-European languages, and by the relative chronology of these innovations which can be established. The Baltic and Slavic languages also share some inherited words. These are either not found at all in other Indo-European languages (except when borrowed) or are inherited from Proto-Indo-European but have undergone identical changes in meaning when compared to other Indo-European languages.[34] This indicates that the Baltic and Slavic languages share a period of common development, the Proto-Balto-Slavic language.

Common sound changes[edit]

  • Winter's law: lengthening of vowels before Proto-Indo-European (PIE) non-breathy voiced consonants (*b, *d, *g).
  • PIE breathy-voiced consonants (*bʰ, *dʰ, *gʰ, *ǵʰ) merge into plain voiced consonants (*b, *d, *g, ). This also occurred in several other Indo-European branches, but as Winter's law was sensitive to the difference between the two types of consonants, the merger must have happened after it and so is a specific Balto-Slavic innovation.
  • Hirt's law: retraction of the PIE accent to the preceding syllable, if that syllable ended in a laryngeal (*h₁, *h₂, *h₃, see Laryngeal theory).
  • A high vowel is inserted before PIE syllabic sonorants (*l̥, *r̥, *m̥, *n̥). This vowel is usually *i (giving *il, *ir, *im, *in) but in some occasions also *u (*ul, *ur, *um, *un). Proto-Germanic is the only other Indo-European language that inserts a high vowel (*u in all cases), all others insert mid or low vowels instead.
  • Emergence of a register distinction on long syllables, between acute (probably glottalized) and circumflex. The acute arose primarily when the syllable ended in a PIE voiced consonant (as in Winter's law) or when it ended in a laryngeal. The distinction is reflected in most Balto-Slavic languages, including Proto-Slavic, as an opposition between rising and falling tone on accented syllables. Some Baltic languages directly reflect the acute register in the form of a so-called "broken tone".
  • Shortening of vowels before word-final *m.[35]
  • Word-final *-mi > *-m after a long vowel.[35] This followed the preceding change, as the preceding long vowel is retained.
  • Raising of stressed *o to *u in a final syllable.[35]
  • Merging of PIE short *o and *a into *a. This change also occurred in several other Indo-European branches, but here too it must have happened after Winter's law: Winter's law lengthens *o to and *a to , and must therefore have occurred before the two sounds merged. It also followed the raising of *o to *u above. In the Slavic languages, *a is later rounded to *o, while the Baltic languages keep *a:
    • Lithuanian ašìs Old Church Slavonic ось (from PIE *a: Latin axis, Ancient Greek áxōn)
    • Lithuanian avìs, Old Church Slavonic овьца (from PIE *o: Latin ovis, Greece óis)

Common Balto-Slavic innovations include several other changes, which are also shared by several other Indo-European branches. These are therefore not direct evidence for the existence of a common Balto-Slavic family, but they do corroborate it.

  • Satemization: The PIE palatovelar consonants *ḱ, , *ǵʰ become palatal sibilants , , , while the PIE labiovelar consonants *kʷ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ lose their labialization and merge with the plain velar *k, *g, *gʰ. The palatal sibilants later become plain sibilants *s, *z in all Balto-Slavic languages except Lithuanian.
  • Ruki sound law: *s becomes when preceded by *r, *u, *k or *i. In Slavic, this later becomes *x (variously spelled ⟨ch⟩, ⟨h⟩ or ⟨х⟩ in the Slavic languages) when followed by a back vowel.

Common grammatical innovations[edit]

  • Replacement of the original PIE genitive singular ending of thematic (o-stem) nouns, which is reconstructed as *-osyo, with the ablative ending *-ād (Proto-Slavic *vьlka, Lithuanian vil̃ko, Latvian vilka). Old Prussian, however, has another ending, perhaps stemming from the original PIE genitive: deiwas "god's", tawas "father's".
  • Use of the ending *-ān (from earlier *-āmi) of the instrumental singular in ā-stem nouns and adjectives.[35] This contrasts with Sanskrit -ayā, archaic Vedic . Lithuanian rankà is ambiguous and could have originated from either ending, but the correspondence with East Lithuanian runku and Latvian rùoku point to Balto-Slavic *-ān.
  • Use of the ending *-mis in the instrumental plural, e.g. Lithuanian sūnumìs, Old Church Slavonic synъmi "with sons". This ending is also found in Germanic, while the other Indo-European languages have an ending with -bʰ-, as in Sanskrit -bhis.
  • Creation of a distinction between definite (meaning similar to "the") and indefinite adjectives (meaning similar to "a"). The definite forms were formed by attaching the corresponding form of the relative/demonstrative pronoun *jas to the end of the adjective. For example, Lithuanian geràsis 'the good' as opposed to gẽras 'good', Old Church Slavonic dobrъ 'the good' as opposed to dobrъ 'good'. These forms in Lithuanian, however, seem to have developed after the split, since in older Lithuanian literature (16th century and onwards) they had not yet merged (e. g. naujamę́jame ʽin the new one' from *naujamén + *jamén). In Lithuanian, the pronoun merged with the adjective having a modern (secondary) pronominal inflection; in Slavic, the pronoun merged with an adjective, having an ancient (primary) nominal inflection.[36]
  • Usage of the genitive case for the direct object of a negative verb. For example, Russian кни́ги (я) не читал, Lith. knygos neskaičiau 'I haven't read the book'.[37]

Shared vocabulary[edit]

Some examples of words shared among most or all Balto-Slavic languages:

Despite lexical developments exclusive to Balto-Slavic and otherwise showing evidence for a stage of common development, there are considerable differences between the vocabularies of Baltic and Slavic. Rozwadowski noted that every semantic field contains core vocabulary that is etymologically different between the two branches. Andersen prefers a dialect continuum model where the northernmost dialects developed into Baltic and the southernmost dialects into Slavic (with Slavic later absorbing any intermediate idioms during its expansion). Andersen thinks that different neighboring and substratum languages might have contributed to the differences in basic vocabulary.[39]


Phonetics and phonology[edit]

Lithuanian linguist and scholar Antanas Klimas has criticized Oswald Szemerényi's arguments, which are in favour of the Balto-Slavic theory. His counterarguments regarding the plausible phonetic, phonological and morphological similarities between the Baltic and Slavic languages had scrutinized the arguments of O. Szemerényi and concluded the following:[40]

  • Phonetic palatalization only exists in Latvian and not Lithuanian or Old Prussian. This means phonetic palatalization could not have existed in the Proto-Balto-Slavic language.
  • The changes of *ṛ, *ḷ, *ṃ, *ṇ liquid consonants also apply to Germanic languages, so these changes are not unique to Baltic or Slavic languages.[40]
  • The idea of the Proto-Slavic language being an offshoot of the West Baltic language group cannot be true due to the fact that *s reflexes present in Lithuanian, Latvian, and Old Prussian that come after *r, *u, *k, *i and become began to merge with satem consonants, thus leading to the strengthening of consonants *k and *g. The complete opposite had happened in Slavic, Albanian as well as Armenian languages.[41]
  • The consonant *s turning into after *r, *u, *k, and *i is a tendency that can be observed in Indo-Iranian languages, Armenian and Albanian.
  • In terms of similarity the vowel system of German is almost identical to Old Prussian. Therefore, it is baseless to discuss exclusive similarities between the Proto-Slavic and Old Prussian.
  • One could argue that Winter's law is not a phonetic law but merely a characteristic of long vowels, which differ between the Baltic and Slavic languages.[42][43]

He had also noted that:

  • In the Baltic languages short vowels *a, *o coincided into a, while in Slavic languages they coincided into o; the differences of long vowels of and in the Baltic languages were maintained, in Slavic languages they ceased to exist.
  • Unlike the Proto-Slavic language, which remained conservative, the vowel gradation in the Proto-Baltic language had been developed extensively.[44]
  • The law of open syllables applies to the Proto-Slavic language that cannot be found in the Proto-Baltic language or in the Baltic languages in general.

Vyacheslav Ivanov noted that syllabic sonants in Baltic, Slavic and Germanic languages have changed to an equal degree.[45] According to Vladimir I. Georgiev, similar changes in Indo-European liquids and nasals, as in the case of Baltic and Slavic languages, can also be found in Tocharian and Indo-Iranian, with Vedic Sanskrit possessing compounds ir and ur, for instance.[46] In addition, Walter Porzig argued that the aforementioned changes in syllabic sonants cannot be applied when classifying any Indo-European languages since they only indicate mutual interaction between them.[47] Tadeusz Milewski, who rejected the Balto-Slavic grouping, believed that mixed diphthongs in Proto-Slavic can be directly derived from the Indo-European syllabic sonants.[48] Roman Sukač noted that the Winter’s law applies to the Albanian language as well.[49]

Regarding the systemic changes of suffixes in Baltic and Slavic languages, Russian linguist Anzhelika Dubasova notices that in both cases the following happened: aspirated voiced consonants turned into generic voiced consonants (e.g., *gʰ > *g), iotation (e.g., *d > *di̯ > *dj), palatalization, and later on—the assimilation, dissimilation, metathesis as well as the fallout of some consonants in some instances. According to Dubasova, the aforementioned sequence of common changes in both language groups can be an indication of a special relationship between Baltic and Slavic languages but before making such conclusions it is crucial to scrutinize the basis, consequences and intensity of these processes.[50]

For instance, Dubasova emphasizes that there are core differences when it comes to iotation in Baltic and Slavic languages, which is something other scientists had noticed in the past. In fact, there are differences in iotation between Baltic languages themselves, which probably means that this process began after the split of Proto-Baltic while Proto-Slavic is already known to have iotation.[50] With regard to palatalization, Dubasova notices that it is a trivial phonetic change and it cannot be seen as evidence of a genetic link between Baltic and Slavic languages, especially when taking the core palatalization differences in both language groups.[51] She also concludes that researchers face great difficulties when reconstructing the phonological system of the Proto-Baltic mostly due to the problematic nature of examining Old Prussian and contrasting views of researchers.[52]

In terms of palatalization similarities between Latvian and Slavic languages, Dubasova notes that the reasons behind the changes of consonants before certain vowels or the lack of them are different.[53] In her work on the assimilation of voiced and voiceless consonants, she states that such assimilation already happened in the Proto-Slavic language, which was caused by the fallout of reduced vowels, while in the Proto-Baltic language vowel reduction is not being reconstructed. This shows the different nature of assimilation in Baltic languages.[54]

When analyzing the dropping of consonants at the end of a word, she claims that in Proto-Slavic this process was a consequence of a general tendency but in Baltic languages, the endings of consonants were not dropped at all.[55] According to the linguist, metathesis in the Proto-Baltic was an independent phenomenon that, unlike in the case of Proto-Slavic, is not connected with the open syllable principle (in the Baltic languages such a principle did not and does not exist to this day). When evaluating the gemination (the fadeaway of consonant lengthening) Dubasova emphasizes that linguists do not have a consensus on this: some interpret this as an independent process while some believe it to be a common genetic deviation.[56] Dubasova presents the opinions of other specialists about the system of consonants and even though she notes that there is no common ground regarding this, the linguist draws attention to the alveolar and dental consonant differences that Baltic and Slavic languages possess.[56] In conclusion, Dubasova states:

The examples of previously discussed factors reveal that Slavic and Baltic languages "had put an emphasis" on different ways of reorganization, and used various [linguistic] tools irregularly; all changes despite their similarities in Baltic and Slavic languages are independent processes, which have a different basis and consequences. So, it is more logical to talk about the independent evolution from the very beginning rather than "separation" without postulating the idea of a common Proto-Balto-Slavic language.[57]

Morphology and syntax[edit]

The opponents of the Balto-Slavic theory had presented morphological properties that, according to them, suggest that the Proto-Balto-Slavic language did not exist:

  • In the Baltic languages, ordinal numeral first (Lithuanian: pirmas, Latvian: pirmais) is created with a suffix -mo-, whereas in the Slavic languages it is done with a suffix -wo-, as in the Indo-Iranian languages and Tocharian languages.
  • In Hittite language as well as the Proto-Slavic language the suffix -es- was used to create names for parts of the body. That is not the case with the Baltic languages.
  • The Slavic perfect of the word know *vĕdĕ comes from *u̯oi̯da(i̯), an archaism that has no equivalent in the Baltic languages.[58]
  • The Slavic imperative form of the verb go *jьdi is the continuation of *i-dhí, something that cannot be found in the Baltic languages.[58]
  • The Slavic suffix of the verb noun -telь- is related to -talla found in the Hittite language and is not used in the Baltic languages.
  • The equivalents of the Slavic participle with the suffix -lъ can be found in Armenian and Tocharian languages but not in the Baltic ones.[58]
  • The Baltic first person singular verb ending -mai does not exist in the Slavic languages.
  • The common Baltic verb suffix -sto- does not exist in the Slavic languages.
  • The common Baltic adjective suffix -ing- does not exist in the Slavic languages.
  • The Baltic diminutive suffix -l- is not used in the Slavic languages.[further explanation needed]
  • The Proto-Baltic language did not have separate singular and plural third person verb forms. Proto-Slavic had retained this property.
  • The Slavic languages reflect well the thematic verbs of the 3rd person formants -t: -nt, something that cannot be found in the Baltic languages.[58]
  • Unlike the Slavic languages, the Baltic languages use the suffix -no- to form participles.
  • Unlike the Baltic languages, the Proto-Slavic language had a sigmatic aorist with the suffix -s-.
  • Unlike the Slavic languages, the Baltic languages use the sigmatic future tense.
  • The Proto-Slavic language uses suffix -tь with plural quantitative numericals (e.g.,*pę-tь 5, *šes-tь 6, *devę-tь 9), something that cannot be found in the Baltic languages.

Genetic relationship[edit]

Critics have noted that many linguistic innovations commonly presented as evidence for exclusive genetic ties between Baltic and Slavic languages can be observed in other language groups, apply to only several languages in question, or might be cases of anachronism:

  • Pronominal adjectives in Baltic and Slavic languages were formed independently because unlike in the Proto-Baltic, the Proto-Slavic pronoun *jь was attached to the stem ending without including the final consonant.[59] In addition, pronominal adjectives may not have existed yet in the Proto-Baltic language, the Baltic languages have very diverse and free constructions of adjectives and pronouns. The deictic use of this pronoun is also a characteristic of Indo-Iranian languages (e.g., Old literary Lithuanian: nujamliūdusiam (DAT) ‘the saddened one, one who is saddened’, dangujęjis (NOM) ‘heavenly, one who is in heaven’; Avestan: Daēūm yim Apaošɚm (ACC) ‘Daev Apaosh’).[60]
  • There are still traces of consonantal participle declension in the Lithuanian language, so it is highly unlikely that consonantal declension had passed into the i̯o stem during the Proto-Baltic period — this is a phenomenon of a later epoch, merely showing a similar trend of development in Baltic and Slavic languages. In addition, this phenomenon can be observed in the West Germanic languages.[61][62]
  • Linguistic traits, such as the o-stem genitive ending -*ā(t), the comparative degree formation, the pronouns tos/tā instead of the Indo-European so/sā and the Lithuanian -áuj- / Old Slavonic -uj- verb suffixes do not apply to all Baltic languages: the comparative degree formation and verb suffixes -áuj- common to Lithuanian and Old Prussian are not found in Latvian whereas the o-stem genitive ending -*ā(t) and the pronouns *tos/*tā are not found in Old Prussian. Moreover, the Dacian and Thracian languages also had the genitive ending -*ā(t). Therefore, these innovations may indicate parallel development or borrowing, but cannot serve as evidence for any exclusive Baltic and Slavic ties.[63]
  • The use of *tos/*tā instead of Indo-European *so/*sā can also be observed in Germanic languages, thus it cannot be considered an exclusive innovation shared by Baltic and Slavic languages.[64]
  • Unlike in the Baltic languages, of all the Proto-Slavic oblique cases of the first person singular pronoun, only the accusative-genitive case has the stem *men-. The stems of other oblique cases are *mьn- < *min- / *mъn- < *mun-, which are foreign to the Baltic languages. The stem *nō- /*no- of the oblique cases of the first person plural pronoun is also known in the Italic languages, so this is not an exclusive feature of the Baltic and Slavic languages.[65]
  • The Italic languages also have past tense stems with -ē- and -ā-, so this feature is not exclusive to the Baltic and Slavic languages.[62]
  • The use of the instrumental case in a predicative (e.g., Lithuanian: jis buvo mokytoju ‘he was a teacher’) is usually explained by the influence of the Finnic languages. Therefore, this construction, being a syntactic borrowing, cannot be used as an argument in favour of a common Proto-Balto-Slavic language.[66]

Lexicon and semantics[edit]

Samuil Bernstein claimed that when examining the lexicon of both language groups, it is important to separate the common heritage and vocabulary innovations of the Proto-Indo-European language from the ones that formed during the contact of Baltic and Slavic languages, which is something Reinhold Trautmann had failed to do. In his Balto-Slavic Dictionary (German: Baltisch–slavisches Wörterbuch), published in 1923, Trautmann presents 1,700 common words but more than 75% of the given vocabulary is not unique to Baltic and Slavic languages as these words can be found in other Indo-European languages, they unite only some of the Baltic or Slavic languages or only belong to one specific language.[67][68]

The opposing linguists of the genetic relationship between Baltic and Slavic languages like Oleg Trubachyov also note that there are notable lexicon and semantic differences that date back to very old times.[44] They emphasize that the most fundamental concepts such as egg, to beat, suffering, girl, oak, chop, pigeon, god, guest, or forger are named differently in Baltic and Slavic languages.[44] According to Zigmas Zinkevičius, the Baltic and Slavic dictionary of differences would be far more impressive than a dictionary of commonalities.[68] Professor Antanas Salys argued that the Proto-Balto-Slavic or Balto-Slavic groupings are not plausible since there are no known traces of any intermediate dialects that should have emerged once Baltic and Slavic languages began splitting from one another.[69]

In 1908, Antoine Meillet published a book called Indo-European Dialects (French: Les dialectes indo-europeens) where he criticised the arguments made by Karl Brugman regarding the existence of the Proto-Balto-Slavic by presenting eight counterarguments and formulating a conception on independent Baltic and Slavic linguistic development.[70][71][72]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Young (2009), p. 135.
  2. ^ "Balto-Slavic languages. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online". Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved 10 December 2012. Those scholars who accept the Balto-Slavic hypothesis attribute the large number of close similarities in the vocabulary, grammar, and sound systems of the Baltic and Slavic languages to development from a common ancestral language after the breakup of Proto-Indo-European. Those scholars who reject the hypothesis believe that the similarities are the result of parallel development and of mutual influence during a long period of contact.
  3. ^ a b Young (2009), p. 136.
  4. ^ a b Fortson (2010), p. 414.
  5. ^ Rask R. K. (1818). Undersögelse om det gamle Nordiske eller Islandske Sprogs Oprindelse [Study on the Origin of the Old Nordic or Icelandic Language]. Kjöbenhavn: Gyldendal. — xii + 312 s.
  6. ^ Schleicher A. (1853). Die ersten Spaltungen des indogermanischen Urvolkes. Allgemeine Zeitung für Wissenschaft und Literatur.
  7. ^ Petit (2004), p. 21.
  8. ^ Olander (2002)
  9. ^ Mallory & Adam (2006), p. 77.
  10. ^ Clackson (2007), p. 6.
  11. ^ Beekes (2011), p. 31:"The supposed unity of the Balto-Slavic group is often disputed, but it is really above all doubt".
  12. ^ Kapović (2017), p. 5.
  13. ^ Gray & Atkinson (2003)
  14. ^ Clackson (2007).
  15. ^ Beekes (2011), p. 22.
  16. ^ Young (2017), p. 486.
  17. ^ Dini, P.U. (2000). Baltų kalbos. Lyginamoji istorija. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. p. 143. ISBN 5-420-01444-0.
  18. ^ Бирнбаум Х. О двух направлениях в языковом развитии // Вопросы языкознания, 1985, No. 2, стр. 36
  19. ^ Kortlandt (1977), p. 323:"Though Prussian is undoubtedly closer to the East Baltic languages than to Slavic, the characteristic features of the Baltic languages seem to be either retentions or results of parallel development and cultural interaction. Thus I assume that Balto-Slavic split into three identifiable branches, each of which followed its own course of development."
  20. ^ Kortlandt (2018).
  21. ^ Andersen (1996), p. 63.
  22. ^ Derksen (2008), p. 20:"I am not convinced that it is justified to reconstruct a Proto-Baltic stage. The term Proto-Baltic is used for convenience's sake."
  23. ^ Kim (2018), p. 1974.
  24. ^ Hill (2016).
  25. ^ Kromer, Victor V. (2003). "Glottochronology and problems of protolanguage reconstruction". arXiv:cs/0303007.
  26. ^ Clackson (2007) — the so-called "Pennsylvania Tree" (p. 12) and the so-called "New Zealand Tree" (p. 19)
  27. ^ cf. Holzer (2002) with references
  28. ^ Controversy discussed in Martin Hurbanič (2009). Posledná vojna antiky. Avarský útok na Konštantínopol roku 626 v historických súvislostiach [The Last War of Antiquity. The Avar Siege of Constantinople, 626, in Historical Sources]. Prešov: Vydavatel’stvo Michala Vaška. pp. 137–153.
  29. ^ Until the year 800 Slavic languages were spoken all the way to the Trieste–Hamburg line. Later, they were pushed back to the east.
  30. ^ Curta (2004): It is possible that the expansion of the Avar khanate during the second half of the eighth century coincided with the spread of... Slavic into the neighboring areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and southern Poland. (but) could hardly explain the spread of Slavic into Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, all regions that produced so far almost no archaeological evidence of Avar influence
  31. ^ Tarasov, Илья Тарасов / Ilia (January 2017). "Балты в миграциях Великого переселения народов. Галинды // Исторический формат, No. 3-4, 2017. С. 95–124". Балты в миграциях Великого переселения народов. Галинды – via www.academia.edu.
  32. ^ cf. Novotná & Blažek (2007) with references. "Classical glottochronology" conducted by Czech Slavist M. Čejka in 1974 dates the Balto-Slavic split to −910±340 BCE, Sergei Starostin in 1994 dates it to 1210 BCE, and "recalibrated glottochronology" conducted by Novotná & Blažek dates it to 1400–1340 BCE. This agrees well with Trzciniec-Komarov culture, localized from Silesia to Central Ukraine and dated to the period 1500–1200 BCE.
  33. ^ Beekes (2011), p. 48.
  34. ^ Mažiulis, Vytautas. "Baltic languages". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  35. ^ a b c d Hill, Eugen (2013). "Historical phonology in service of subgrouping. Two laws of final syllables in the common prehistory of Baltic and Slavonic". Baltistica. XLVIII (2): 161–204. doi:10.15388/Baltistica.48.2.2170.
  36. ^ Zinkevičius 1984, p. 120.
  37. ^ Matasović (2008:56–57) "Navedimo najvažnije baltoslavenske izoglose...Upotreba genitiva za izricanje objekta zanijekanog glagola"
  38. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.
  39. ^ Andersen, Henning (2003), "Slavic and the Indo-European Migrations", Language Contacts in Prehistory. Studies in Stratigraphy, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 239, Amsterdam–Philadelphia: John Benjamins: 71–73, It has always been a riddle how it came about that the Slavic and Baltic languages, while sufficiently similar to suggest a common origin ("Proto-Balto-Slavic"), and developing side by side for thousands of years under natural and technological conditions that must have been fairly similar, came to be so different. Leaving the similarities of structure aside and considering just the lexicon, there are indeed several hundred lexemes in Common Slavic that have etymological equivalents or near-equivalents in Baltic. On the other hand, however, there is not a single semantic field in which there are not deep differences in the corresponding lexis.
  40. ^ a b Klimas, Antanas. "Balto-slavic or Baltic and Slavic?". lituanus.org. Archived from the original on 2021-10-23. Retrieved 2022-02-10.
  41. ^ Harvey E. Mayer Was Slavic a Prussian Dialect? // Lituanus. — Vol. 33. — No. 2. 1987.
  42. ^ "Birnbaum Η. The issue of Balto-Slavic revisited // ΠΟΛΥΤΡΟΠΟΝ. К 70-летию Владимира Николаевича Топорова. М.: Издательство «Индрик», 1998. — стр. 130 (in Russian)".
  43. ^ Birnbaum, H. (2003). Славянский, тохарский, алтайский: генетическая связь и ареально-типологическое влияние // Вопросы языкознания, No. 5 [Slavic, Tocharian, Altaic: genetic connection and areal-typological influence // Questions of Linguistics, vol. 5] (in Russian). pp. 6–7.
  44. ^ a b c Trubachev, O. N. (2003). Этногенез и культура древнейших славян: Лингвистические исследования [Ethnogenesis and Culture of the Ancient Slavs: Linguistic Studies] (in Russian). М.: Наука, p. 20.
  45. ^ Ivanov, Vyacheslav (1979). Лингвистическая проблематика этногенеза славян в свете отношений славянского к балтийским и другим индоевропейским языкам [Linguistic Problems of the Ethnogenesis of the Slavs in the Light of the Relationship of Slavic to the Baltic and Other Indo-European Languages]. Комплексные проблемы истории и культуры народов Центральной и Юго-Восточной Европы: Итоги и перспективы исследований [Complex Problems of History and Culture of the Peoples of Central and South-Eastern Europe: Results and Prospects of Research] (in Russian). p. 28. Moscow: Nauka.
  46. ^ Geogriev, I. Vladimir (1958). Балто-славянский и тохарский языки [Balto-Slavic and Tocharian Languages]. Вопросы языкознания [Questions of Linguistics] (in Russian) (6th ed., pp. 8, 13).
  47. ^ Porzig, Walter (1964). Членение индоевропейской языковой области [Division of the Indo-European Language Area] (in Russian). p. 103. Moscow: Progress Publishers.
  48. ^ Мilewski, Tadeusz (1956). Rocznik Slawistyczny [Slavic Yearbook] (in Polish). In A. Vaillant (Eds.), Grammaire comparee des langues slaves (1st ed., pp. 42–43, 56–57).
  49. ^ Sukač, Roman (2013). Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and Balto-Slavic Accentology. p. 169. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  50. ^ a b Dubasova 2009, p. 154.
  51. ^ Dubasova 2009, pp. 154–155.
  52. ^ Dubasova 2008, p. 112.
  53. ^ Dubasova 2008, p. 118.
  54. ^ Dubasova 2009, p. 155.
  55. ^ Dubasova 2009, pp. 155–156.
  56. ^ a b Dubasova 2009, p. 157.
  57. ^ Dubasova 2009, pp. 157–158.
  58. ^ a b c d Trubachev, O. N. (2003). Этногенез и культура древнейших славян: Лингвистические исследования [Ethnogenesis and Culture of the Ancient Slavs: Linguistic Studies] (in Russian). М.: Наука, p. 21.
  59. ^ Senn 1966, p. 148.
  60. ^ Zinkevičius 1984, pp. 117–138.
  61. ^ Zinkevičius 1981, pp. 144–146.
  62. ^ a b Zinkevičius 1984, p. 129.
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  64. ^ Senn 1966, p. 149.
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  66. ^ Dinni 2000, pp. 161–162.
  67. ^ Bernstein, S. B. (2005). Сравнительная грамматика славянских языков [Comparative Grammar of Slavic Languages] (in Russian) : учебник / 2-о­е изд. M.: Моscow State University: Наука, p. 61
  68. ^ a b Zinkevičius 1984, p. 132.
  69. ^ Salys, Antanas (1954). Baltų kalbos [Baltic Languages] (in Lithuanian). In J. Kapočius (Eds.), Lietuvių enciklopedija [Lithuanian Encyclopedia] (2nd ed., pp. 132–138). Boston: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla.
  70. ^ Gadzhieva N. Z., Zhuravlev V. K., et al. (1981). Славянские языки // Сравнительно-историческое изучение языков разных семей. Современное состояние и проблемы [Slavic Languages // Comparative and Historical Study of Languages of Different Families. Current Condition and Problems]. (in Russian). М.: Наука, p. 103
  71. ^ Shcheglova O. G. (2011). Сравнительно-историческая грамматика славянских языков [Comparative-Historical Grammar of the Slavic Languages]. (in Russian). Novosibirsk: Novosibirsk State University, p. 26
  72. ^ Bernstein, S. B. (2005). Сравнительная грамматика славянских языков [Comparative Grammar of Slavic Languages] (in Russian) : учебник / 2-о­е изд. M.: Моscow State University: Наука, p. 29


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