LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 37, No.4 - Winter 1991
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester
Copyright © 1990 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Gaivenis, Kazimieras and Keinys, Stasys. Kalbotyros terminų žodynas (Dictionary of Linguistic Terms). Kaunas, Šviesa, 1990.
In the introduction the authors write (p. 5) that this dictionary has a practical goal, that it is planned first of all for teachers so that if the need presents itself they will be able to understand and explain to their pupil words appearing in Lithuanian linguistic works and text-books. This practical goal has determined both the choice of terms as well as the explanations of their meanings. The terms are gathered from Lithuanian language and linguistic text-books, the most important scientific works and dictionaries. There are about 1300 terms, but, of course, the reader will not find all the terms used in linguistic literature. First of all, the authors have tried to give the terms necessary for the middle school and from other terminology they have chosen the most common and important words. For the most part more frequently used words have been included, but one also finds more rarely used words which might otherwise not be understood by the reader. The so-called traditional linguistic terminology has been used as the basis. Names of languages have in general been avoided, but with a view to the special Lithuanian goal of the book the names of Lithuanian dialects, subdialects and their varieties have been given. Thus, for example, one finds the noun šlekiai (p. 201) with the explanation that it denotes the speakers of a subdialect in the most northern part of the Western High Lithuanian dialect area.
One big plus to this dictionary is that it gives, whenever possible, Russian and English equivalents for the Lithuanian words, thus, for example, under the entry fleksija (p. 62) one encounters the Russian fleksija and English inflexion (unfortunately, however, with the British spelling, rather than the preferable American spelling inflection, although the American spelling is found on p. 91 where įvardžiuotinė forma is glossed as pronominal inflection). In addition for easy reference, there are corresponding Russian and English indices giving the page on which the word is found. Curiously enough, the Russian glosses are supplied with the stress, whereas the English glosses are not. Whereas this poses no problem for the English speaker, one wonders whether it might have been helpful for the Lithuanian speaker to have the stress marked in the English glosses.
Another excellent feature is that the authors give simple and clear examples of the important words discussed. Thus, for example, under the entry adesyvas, Russian adessiv, English adessive one finds the explanation that in contemporary Lithuanian the case is no longer used (only being encountered in Lithuanian speech islands in Belorussia), but that it denotes an actor or an action near the object which is used in this case: kojosemo 'prie kojų, at the feet,' namiepi' 'prie namų, near the house.' It was formed from the old inessive plus the postposition pi: miškiepi' 'near the forest' < miškie + pi, etc.
Under amerikanizmas (p. 18) 'Americanism' one encounters the example filibuster with the definition: kongreso narys, kuris tyčia sako ilgas kalbas, trukdydamas priimti tam tikrus nutarimus "a member of congress, who gives long speeches on purpose, hindering the making of certain decisions." Actually I associate the word filibusterer with the meaning given above, and the word filibuster with the act of making such speeches. Webster's Third New International Dictionary (p. 849) supports my interpretation.
The influence of Russian linguistic practice is evident in the Lithuanian phonetic (?) rendition of M. Swadesh's name where we encounter (in the genitive case on p. 65, in the nominative on p. 73) the spellings Svodešo, Švodešas (I suspect through a Russian transliteration). Swadesh was an American and I never heard anybody pronounce his name with a -v- or an -o- in the initial syllable. If a Lithuanian phonetic rendition has to be used (following the Russian custom of making everything understandable to the masses), then a better Lithuanian transcription would be Swadeš'as. Similarly (p. 70) we encounter the name N. Chomskis for N. Chomsky; undoubtedly the Lithuanian transcription reflects well the original pronunciation, but most Americans say something which would better be rendered by Čamski's. Either the Russian practice of trying to give a phonetic rendition should be dropped or else the rendition should be correct. Names in American English are particularly difficult problem and even a native American doesn't know how to pronounce many of them if he has not heard them before. In a country of immigrants from all over the world, we are constantly asking each other to pronounce each other's names.
In any case Swadesh's formula for glottochronology is given twice, once on p. 65 under the entry formulė and a second time on p. 73 under the entry glotochronologija. Possibly it could have been given only once under the entry glotochronologija with a reference to the entry formulė. I am personally suspicious of Swadesh's glottochronology which has also been called 'language decay.' A friend and colleague from the University of Kentucky suggested that 'language decay' is really 'linguistic rot,' but it is certainly correct to include it in a dictionary of this nature which must be neutral in regard to scholarly evaluation of theories.
The entry grecizmas (p. 76) is glossed also as English Graecism, which although immediately comprehensible to every American, is not listed in Webster's Third New International Dictionary. A better gloss would have been Hellenism. Under the entry grecizmas Lith. hiatas is said to derive from Greek hiatus. Actually hiatus is the masc. nom. sg. past passive participle of Latin hio, hiare 'to yawn.' Undoubtedly, Greek khasko, khaino "I yawn, gape' are related to the Latin word, but it is hard to see how one could call the word a Hellenism (grecizmas).
The Lithuanian noun isoglosa (p. 91) is glossed with the English adjective isoglottic rather than the noun isogloss. Webster's Third New International Dictionary does not give the adjective isoglottic, but rather the more familiar adjective isoglossal (p. 1,199).
The authors write (p. 6) that they have given equivalents in Russian and English wherever they have been able to find equivalents in other dictionaries. Under the entry teonimas (p. 210) no English equivalent is given, presumably because they were unable to find one in any available dictionary. On the other hand under the entry upėvardis (p. 221) we find the English equivalent river name. It seems to me that on analogy with the preceding example one could have easily given an English equivalent name of a god for Lith. teonimas.
I have mentioned above some minor failings of this dictionary, but my general impression is very favorable, and I agree with Prof. Antanas Klimas who has said that the publication of such a dictionary is long overdue. This is an extremely handy and useful reference work, and the authors are to be applauded for their achievement.
William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University