Baltic and Slavic or Balto-Slavic languages?

When I tell people that I’m going to learn a new language they often ask me questions about it and I’ve noticed that they often don’t know anything about this language. When I started learning Latvian they often asked me ‘It’s the same like Russian anyway, isn’t it?’. That’s why I decided to write an article about the Baltic languages today. There are only two Baltic languages which still are spoken: Latvian and Lithuanian. The third one is Old Prussian which has died out but has been documented in its written form. And if you ask yourself now what about Estonian, well, this language is not a Baltic language and not even an Indo-European one. Estonian is a Finno-Ugrian language and closely related to Finnish. The term Baltic Comes from the Latin form balteum has been introduced by the German linguist Ferdinand Nesselmann and is related to the English word belt and has been introduced because the Baltic countries form a belt along the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Another theory is that it has to do something with the colour white which is balts in Latvian and baltas in Lithuanian. Nesselmann discovered the relation between the Baltic languages while a few other linguists found out that there has been a Balto-Slavic language group before. Those of you who are learning Russian, Polish or Czech know how hard it is to learn all the declension rules and all the irregular forms by heart. The Baltic languages have a similar declension system and a very big amount of common vocabulary. Just take a look at some terms of the human body. The word for head is głowa in Polish, голова (golova) in Russian and hlava in Czech. While it’s galva both in Latvian and Lithuanian. In Lithuanian you stress the last sylab and on Latvian always the first one. Another example is the word hand which is ręka in Polish, рука (ruka) in Russian and ruka in Czech. In Latvian it’s roka and in Lithuanian it’s ranka. There are much more such examples but I don’t want to bother you. However the Baltic and Slavic languages split up in the past and developed separately from each other. If you learn one Baltic and one Slavic language you will have a lot of fun to discover al these similarities and differences in grammar and vocabulary between both language groups.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s