Baltic languages

The Baltic languages ​​are a branch within the language family of Indo-European languages ​​, they are spoken by the Balts.


The Baltic languages ​​are usually divided into two groups:

  • The East Baltic languages: they include Lithuanian, Latvian, Nehrungskurisch, Latgalian, Selonisch, Samogitian and Semgallisch.
  • The Western Baltic languages ​​: they include Old Prussian, Jatwingisch ( Yatwigisch, Jatwigisch, Yotwingisch, Sudauisch, Sudovisch ) Galindisch and Altkurisch.

The assignment of the Curonian to West or East Baltic group there is no consensus. One school of thought sees it as a West Baltic language, under the influence of East Baltic languages ​​turned into the East Baltic type. Other scientists reject a separation in Eastern and Westbaltisch.

Except for Lithuanian and Latvian, all these languages ​​are extinct in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Nehrungskurische, de facto, a Latvian dialect and not to be confused with the Curonian dies currently consists of ( currently less than ten native speakers).

The spoken today in Latgale of over one hundred thousand inhabitants Latgale language is variously classified: partly as a dialect of Latvian and partly as a separate language, especially since there is literature with its own spelling and grammar.

The spoken in the northern Baltic languages ​​Estonian and Livonian not belong in this group, but are branches of the Finno -Ugric languages ​​, so relatives of the Finnish and Hungarian.


The oldest written records scientifically usable Baltic languages ​​date from the 14th century from the Old Prussian Elbing dictionary.

The first written records of the Lithuanian date from the 16th century. The first book is the Catechism by Martynas Mažvydas, which was printed in 1547 through support from Albrecht of Brandenburg- Ansbach. He was Done in the Protestant University of Königsberg (today Kaliningrad ). Latvian literature appears from the 17th century.

The Baltic and the Slavic groups are generally attributed to a Balto -Slavic preform. A common baltoslawische predecessor language is beyond supported by both lexicostatistical investigations and glottochronologischen work (eg Starostin 2004). Starostin are there at the time of separation with about 1200 BC, which you should provided with ± 500 years because of the inherent inaccuracies of the glottochronology.

The Baltic languages ​​have received a number than originally considered one of the characteristics of the Indo-European languages ​​, in particular a heavy use of inflection, which has disappeared in many other languages ​​in that scope. ( However, the flexion is well preserved also in the Slavic languages ​​today, on the whole. ) Among the modern European languages ​​, the Baltic languages ​​are the ones that have the greatest similarity to the ancient Indian Sanskrit.

Archaic languages ​​( Old Prussian )

The western Baltic Old Prussian is seen as a particularly archaic. In addition to his relationship with the Eastern Baltic languages ​​, it showed many features that are not available in Latvian and Lithuanian. The still relatively independent Lithuanian turn is significantly more archaic than the Latvian, which has received strong influences from the German, Finno -Ugric, Scandinavian and Russian space.

The individual Baltic languages ​​are so different that they are largely not mutually intelligible.

Early Baltic- Germanic common

The developed early forms of the Baltic and Germanic have some specific similarities; they relate in particular to the verbal stem formation as well as the personal pronouns and the numerals ( Numerals ). Are striking, especially the matching dual forms of Personnel who are likely already emerged at a time when the preform of the later Germanic languages ​​( " peen manic " ) phonologically not so very different from the "Proto Baltic " this time, ie before the second millennium predating Satemisierung of the Baltic. Other Germanic- Baltic similarities, such as the number of words for ' eleven ' and ' twelve ' and the words for ' thousand ', ' people ', ' Gold ' and ' rye ', however, are obviously younger and most likely to be explained by borrowing.