Friday, 27 September, 13:00–13:30 (Jakobi 2, Room 109)
Language of presentation: English
University of Helsinki, PhD
santeri.junttila [ät] helsinki.fi
"Why the Fenno-Ugrianist Contributions to Baltic Prehistory are ignored in Lithuania and Latvia?"
The research into the prehistorical contacts between Baltic and Uralic (Finno-Ugrian) languages was started by Vilhelm Thomsen, a Dane, in 1869. Since then, it has mostly been carried on by Finnish linguists. Estonian scholars have been active as well, but Latvians and Lithuanians are missing with few exceptions. This is actually expectable, since research into loanwords normally requires wider knowledge on the receiving language than on the source language, and the Uralic languages have always been on the receiving side of the prehistorical Baltic–Uralic contacts. However, there is a wide gap between the overall picture of the contacts in Finnish and Estonian sources, both scholary and popular, on one side, and Lithuanian and Latvian sources on the other.
The research of loanwords and language contact in Finland was dominated by a Thomsenian Neogrammarian school for a long time, but a new Structuralistic method arose in the 1970’s, initiated by Finnish Germanicist Jorma Koivulehto. New etymological information gained by Koivulehto and other Structuralist contact researchers (i.e. Raimo Anttila, Pekka Sammallahti, Lembit Vaba, Petri Kallio) has completely changed the conception of the ancient layers of Indo-European borrowings in the Uralic languages – including the Baltic stratum and its position in between the other loanword strata in Finnic. This paradigm shift has been generally accepted as well in Uralic as in Indo-European studies.
However, Koivulehto and his school are hardly ever mentioned in contemporary Lithuanian and Latvian works on prehistory. In fact, the Finno-Ugricist loanword research was latest reviewed in Lithuanian by Algirdas Sabaliauskas in 1963. In terms of Balticisms in Finnic, all Lithuanian and Latvian works printed since then seem to rely on him. Thus, the overall picture of Baltic prehistory is suffering of lack of updates from the latest half-century of Uralic studies, and the old Thomsenian conception of loanword strata is combined with some equally obsolete ideas of Soviet era archaeologists.
Key words: Baltic languages, Baltic peoples, prehistory, etymology, language contacts, Uralic languages, research history