Authored by: Steven Young

The Indo-European Languages

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415730624
eBook ISBN: 9781315678559
Adobe ISBN: 9781317391531


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The similarities in structure and lexicon, some quite striking, between the Baltic and Slavic branches of the Indo-European language family have long drawn scholarly attention. But the precise nature of the relationship between the two branches has been a source of debate for nearly as long. The prevailing view up to the early nineteenth century was that the Baltic languages were a kind of Slavic. It was through the work of the comparativists Franz Bopp and August Pott that Baltic was finally recognized as a language family in its own right (Petit 2004: 17–19). The classic presentation of Balto-Slavic as an intermediate branch of the Indo-European language family, with Baltic and Slavic as parallel sub-branches, is reflected in August Schleicher’s Stammbaum, or family-tree, approach, in which “slawolitauisch” (Balto-Slavic) develops from an earlier “slawodeutsch” (Petit 2004: 19–20). Comparative evidence for a Balto-Slavic grouping was later supplied by Karl Brugmann (1904: 18) in the form of eight shared innovations in phonology and morphology, among them the development of syllabic sonorants such as -iR-, the use of pronominal *-yo- to form definite adjectives, and the replacement of the inherited genitive singular form of o-stem nouns by the ablative.

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