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.
Sabaliauskas, Algirdas. Lietuvių kalbos leksika (The lexicon of the Lithuanian language). Vilnius, Mokslas. 1990.
In the foreword (p. 5) the author writes that the origin of Lithuanian words has been successfully investigated from the very beginning of the formation of the field of comparative-historical linguistics. One can find explanations of the origin of Lithuanian words in various works on Indo-European, especially etymological dictionaries. For example, in 1921 the American H.H. Bender published A Lithuanian Etymological Index in which he noted down Lithuanian words with an indication as to where they had been discussed in linguistic literature. (Bender was one of the first American scholars to be seriously interested in Lithuanian.)
Of all the earlier etymological works, however, for Lithuanian certainly the most important is Ernst Fraenkel's Litauisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (Heidelberg, Göttingen, 1955-1966). Yet this dictionary studies Lithuanian words primarily from the Indo-European point of view and it is certainly refreshing now to have this new work from Sabaliauskas which studies Lithuanian lexicology from the point of view of a contemporary native speaker of Lithuanian.
Sabaliauskas divides the Lithuanian vocabulary into categories depending upon its age and source. First the native Lithuanian vocabulary is studied in chapters with the titles: (1) Old Indo-European vocabulary, (2) Common Balto-Slavic vocabulary, (3) Common Baltic vocabulary, (4) Vocabulary characteristic only of Lithuanian. The borrowed vocabulary is studied in chapters with the titles: (1) Loan-words from Baltic Finnish languages, (2) The Slavisms of Lithuanian, (3) The Germanisms of Lithuanian, (4) Loan-words from Latvian and (5) Loan-words from other languages. Each of these chapters is further subdivided into (a) Parts of the body, (b) Kindred and human community, (c) Fauna, (d) Flora, (e) Bodies and phenomena of inanimate nature, (f) Building, engineering, every day life, (g) Colors and other qualities, (h) Faith, superstitions and other abstract notions, (i) Numbers, (j) Physical and mental activity. Within each category the words are alphabetized.
Therefore the very first word studied is Lith. akis 'eye' (an ancient Indo-European word indicating a part of the body) which is compared of course, with Latvian acs, Old Church Slavic oco, Gothic augo, Armenian akn, Latin oculus. Here Sabaliauskas writes Sanskrit āksi 'two eyes,' but it seems to me that the macron on the initial ā- is a misprint, since I can only find the stem aksi- in any source available to me. Another misprint is Old Prussian akis 'eyes' instead of the attested ackis (Trautmann, 1910, 297; Mažulis, 1988, 60). I have connected also Old Prussian accodis 'rochloch, smoke-hole' which I would phonemicize as /akutis/ and etymologize as meaning 'little eye' (Schmalstieg, 1969).
One extremely useful feature of Sabaliauskas' book is that in each entry one finds references to other etymological works which discuss the word. For example, under the word akis one finds the appropriate reference in Fraenkel, 1955-1965; Vasmer, 1950-58; Mayrhofer, 1956-1980; Pokorny, 1959; Būga, 1958-1061; Toporov, 1975-1984. In addition occurrences of the word in Old Lithuanian sources are given. Thus akis occurs in Mažvydas, Daukša's Postilla, Bretkūnas' Bible and many other Old Lithuanian texts.
Under the heading duktė 'daughter' (p. 19) Sabaliauskas writes that this word for 'daughter' penetrated the Finnic language group, and notes Finnish tytär, Estonian tütar. Although this is certainly one accepted interpretation, one might also see in this word evidence of a genetic connection between Indo-European and Finnic, especially when one takes into consideration also the term of relationship, Finnish sisar 'sister' which also looks very Indo-European. Perhaps Finnish siemen, Estonian seeme derive from Baltic as Sabaliauskas (pp. 43-44) says, but then again maybe it is a common inheritance. (In this entry Old Church Slavic seme [p. 43] lacking the haček is to be corrected to sèmę.)
Apparently following Pokorny, 1959,507-508, Sabaliauskas writes the Sanskrit word for 'binds' as yáuti but the Sanskrit word for 'mixes' as yáuti (p. 58). Pokorny to the contrary, it seems to me that these might be derived from the same root. In any case Pokorny (and following him Sabaliauskas) is inconsistent in writing one word with -au- and the other word with -au- since there could be no phonemic contrast in Sanskrit between the two. In Sanskrit the Indo-European short diphthongs *-eu-, *-ou-, *-au- were monophthongized to -o- and the Indo-European long diphthongs *-eu-, *-ou-, *-au- were rendered as -áu- or -áu- which latter are merely two different Latin orthographic representations of the same sequence of phonemes.
In the section of the rich Indo-European root represented by Lith. dúoti 'to give' Sabaliauskas gives the usual cognates, latv. duōt, Old Prussian dāt, Sanskrit dādāti 'gives', etc. I have suggested (Schmalstieg, 1981, 4-5) a possible connection with Hieroglyphic Hittite tu-wa 'puts', 'places' and have drawn a parallel with a usage in Slovenian where the word usually translated as 'to give' can also mean 'to put,' e.g. dati knjigo na mizo 'to put a book on the table.' I have also suggested, 1980, 157, a possible connection between the root *dwō 'two' (<**dwo contaminated with **do) where *dow- would be stem I and *dwo- would be stem II. The original meaning of the verbal stem *do- (*dow-) would have been 'to divide in two,' hence, 'to share,' and then 'to give.'
Under the heading antras 'second' Sabaliauskas writes (p. 76) that rather than to make a Baltic comparison, one should compare Old Church Slavic vútorú, Russian vtroj 'second' with Sanskrit vitarám 'farther.' But if one begins with a Proto-Slavic stem *antar- one can assume the following phonological changes: *untar- (from the merger of all non-front vowels plus nasal in tautosyllabic position, viz. *on-, *an-, merged with *un-m pre-consonantal position) > *vuntar- (with typical Slavic prothesis of v- before initial *u-) > *vutar- (with either sporadic loss of medial *-n- or loss by identification of the initial syllable with the prefix vun- which appeared to be the pre-vocalic variant as opposed to the pre-consonantal variant vu-, cf. vuniti- 'to enter vs. vu-xoditi) > *vutor- (with typical passage of Proto-Slavic *-a- to -o-). The only possible difficulty with the Slavic comparison is the unexpected loss of medial *-n-, although even this does not seem to be an unsurmountable problem.
On p. 79 under the heading Lith. dešimt 'ten' Goth. taihum is to be corrected to taihun 'ten.' For Armenian tasn 'ten,' perhaps it would be more accurate to say Old Armenian, since the modern form of the word is tas.
For the most part the Indo-European cognates of Lithuanian have already been registered in the major etymological dictionaries. But one very interesting aspect of Sabaliauskas' book is his study of the borrowed words in Lithuanian (pp. 224-283). Here he makes good use of his native knowledge of Lithuanian and outstanding knowledge of the other Baltic and Slavic languages to explain words.
For example, the Lithuanian word kreida 'chalk' derives from Polish krejda or Belorussian krajda (p. 243). The Poles in turn got the word from the German Kreide (a misprint here gives German Kreida) which in turn derives from Latin creta. (terra) 'sifted (earth)' where creta is a fem. nom. sg. pasl: passive participle of Latin cernere 'to sift.' According to Kluge, 1967, 402, through a misunderstanding this was connected with the name of the island Kreta 'Crete.'
In his discussion of the Lithuanian word midus 'mead' (p. 265) Sabaliauskas refers to Salys, 1985, 286, who says that the word is most likely borrowed from Gothic *midus which is reconstructed on the basis of Old High German metu (modern German Met), Old English meodu (modern mead). According to Salys it is not surprising that the word would be borrowed from the Germans, since the latter from ancient times have liked to get drunk on mead.
Latvian words in Lithuanian stem frequently from the writings of Simonas Daukantas who was born and grew up along the Latvian border. Daukantas did not really look on Latvian words as foreign elements, but rather as native words to be used both in the Latvian and Lithuanian languages. Through an accident of fate one encounters Lithuanian riba 'rib' from Latvian riba which looks very English. There is, of course, a reason for this (p. 269). The Latvian word stems from Middle Low German ribbe which is cognate with the English word rib.
Even Tatar words (through the Karaim settlements in Trakai) have penetrated into Lithuanian, thus svogūnas 'onion' comes from Karaim sogan, Tatar sugan (p. 278).
For Americans, the section on English borrowings (pp. 279-282) is very interesting. For example, the word skaidrė 'slide (for a picture projector)' was created by American Lithuanians from the word skaidrus 'clear' (p. 282). Semantically it was most likely formed on the basis of English transparency, transparent (misprints here are transparancy, transparant).
The final part of the text of the book (pp. 284-298) is devoted to the lexical characteristics of the first written documents and the creation of new words. The creators and translators of the first written documents had to find Lithuanian counterparts for many abstract concepts encountered in religious texts. Thus the very first Lithuanian author, Martynas Mažvydas (M. Mosvidius, died in 1563), created such words as abejojimas 'doubt,' kova 'struggle,' kantrumas 'patience,' and many other words. Others who enriched the early vocabulary of Lithuanian were Jonas Bretkūnas (1536-1602), Mikolajus Daukša (born some time between 1527-1538 and died in 1613) and Konstantinas Sirvydas (1579-1631). Among the modern workers in this field must be included Jonas Jablonskis (1860-1930), Kazimieras Būga (1879-1924), Pranas Skardžius (1899-1975), Juozas Balčikonis (1885-1969) and my own teacher Antanas Salys (1902-1972) who created such words as pobūvis 'party; informal entertainment,' rankinukas 'handbag' and požiūris 'point of view.' I remember that Prof. Salys told us students that he invented the word staigmena 'surprise' for the subtitle of a motion picture where the word siurprizas was written. Another one of Prof. Salys' neologisms which does not seem to have found much favor was the word padalas to translate the English word 'hand-out' (i.e., explanatory sheets of paper given out by a lecturer to members of his audience).' Prof. Salys invented this word, I believe, at one of the symposia on culture and creativity held in Chicago and he told me that the word could be derived from Lithuanian pasidalinti 'to share (something with someone).' The custom of using handouts is quite common in the United States, although it is not widely known in Eastern Europe, probably because of the difficulty in producing there a small number of copies of a few sheets of paper.
Sabaliauskas is well known for writing a number of fascinating popular booklets on the study of the Baltic languages, e.g. Žodžiai keliauja ('Words travel'; Vilnius, 1962), Žodžiai atgyja ('Words are revived'; 1st ed. Vilnius 1967, 2nd supplemented ed., Vilnius, 1980). In my view these booklets read almost like novels and once one starts to read one it is extremely difficult to put it down. I was so impressed by his book Žodžiai atgyja that with the aid of a former student I translated the first edition into English and it was published with the much less catchy title Noted Scholars of the Lithuanian Language: Biographical Sketches (Akademinės skautijos leidykla and the Dept. of Slavic Languages of Pennsylvania State University, 1973). His new book Mes Baltai "We the Balts" (Vilnius, 1986) has been translated into English by Ms. Milda Bakšytė-Richardson and is soon to be published in Vilnius.
I believe that one can say that this book under review, Lietuvių kalbos leksika (The lexicon of the Lithuanian language), although primarily of scientific interest, is also just as much fun to read as those popular booklets mentioned above. But in addition this book can function as a new etymological dictionary of Lithuanian, since it is supplied with a complete word index (pp. 306-329). In sum, Sabaliauskas is to be congratulated for his new achievement, another excellent and useful aid for Baltic, Slavic and Indo-European studies.
Būga, Kazimieras. 1958-1961. Rinktiniai raštai. Vilnius.
Fraenkel, Ernst. 1955-1965. Litauisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. Heidelberg, Carl Winter; Göttingen, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.
Kluge, Friedrich. 1967. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache. Berlin, Walter de Gruyter.
Mayrhofer, Manfred. 1956-1980. Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Wörterbuch des altindischen. Heidelberg, Carl Winter.
Mažiulis, Vytautas. 1988. Prūsų kalbos etimologinis žodynas. Vilnius, Mokslas.
Pokorny, J. 1959. Indogermanisches etymologisches Worterbuch, Bern and Munich.
Salys, Antanas. 1985. Rinktiniai raštai. Vol. III. Rome, Lietuvių Katalikų Mokslų Akademija.
Schmalstieg, William R. 1969. Four Old Prussian Etymologies. Baltistica 5.163-166.
1980. Indo-European Linguistics: A New Synthesis. University Park and London, The Pennsylvania State University Press.
1981. Lith. duoti = Hieroglyphic Hittite tuwa. Baltistica 17.4-6. Toporov, V.N. 1975-1984. Prusskij jazyk. Slovar'. Moscow.
Trautmann, Reinhold. 1910. Die altpreussischen Sprachdenkmaler. Gottingen, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.
Vasmer, Max 1950-58. Russisches etymologisches Worterbuch. Heidelberg, Carl Winter.
William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University