Skip to main content

Full text of "Fluctuation between o- and ā-Stems in Lithuanian"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 


A striking feature of Lithuanian declension, which is not 
recognized in the grammars, is the frequent appearance of the 
same noun in two or more stem forms. An extreme example 
is a word for ' lunar halo or corona ' which appears (Nesselmann 
Diet. 156) in five stem forms: drigna -os, drign'e -es, drignas -o, 
drignis -io, drignus -aus. But there are well above 500 Lithu- 
anian nouns with at least two different stem forms. More than 
half of these fluctuations are those between o- and jo-stems on 
the one hand and a- and /a-stems on the other hand. Three 
fourths of this half are fluctuations between pure o-(Lith. a-) 
stems and pure a-stems; this is by far the most common varia- 
tion and may fairly be taken as representative of the others. 

In the treatment of individual pairs of this type one author 
or another has assumed the one form as normal and the other as 
archaic or dialectic, depending upon the author's standpoint. 
Thus Kurschat (LDWb.) accompanies the (to him) familiar 
tarbas 'lederne Tasche, Bettelsack' with a tarba which he 
places within brackets and designates as Polish-Lithuanian. 
Thus Leskien (Bildung der Nomina 179) cites an " atsodas 
. . . , wo jetzt fem. atsoda." Such examples could be multiplied 
indefinitely. Is the fluctuation between o- and a-stems then a 
matter of dialect or of period? In individual words it may, of 
course, be either or both, but in general it is characteristic of 
the entire language; it has operated from the earliest times of 
which we have record ; it is still operating ; and there is no gen- 
eral tendency away from one stem to the other. Noun pairs of 
this sort are found in the same dictionary, in the same dialect 
(e. g. Godlewa lazareta: lazaretas 'Lazaret' in Leskien-Brug- 
mann, Litauische Volkslieder und Marchen, pp. 207, 268), in 
the same author (e. g., in Schleicher's Donaleitis, pora : poras 
'Paar,' smakrd: smakras 'Kinn'), and even in the same poem 
(e. g. manera : maneras ' Manier ' in Rudenio gerybes, 11. 490, 

Bezzenberger (Beitrage zur Geschichte der litauischen Sprache 
auf Grund litauischer Texte des XVI. und des XVII. Jahr- 


hunderts, pp. 94 ff.) lists and classifies a large number of these 
fluctuations of all kinds (interchanges of o- and a-stems are 
found on pages 96 and 97 as well as on 94 and 95), but the 
examples on those pages are all taken from Nesselmann. The 
latter only rarely indicates his sources, which are varied and 
for the most part written or printed. Nesselmann consequently 
offers little or no evidence as to period or dialect. 

The dictionaries of Kurschat (Lithuanian-German) and Lalis 
(Lithuanian-English), on the other hand, are to a large extent 
products of personal experience with the language; the former 
is essentially Prussian-Lithuanian, the latter is based primarily 
on the speech of Kovno in the heart of Eussian Lithuania ; the 
latter was written a generation later than the former and is dis- 
tinctly more modern. A comparison of the o- and a-stems in 
the two dictionaries should therefore offer evidence as to whether 
the fluctuation between the two stem types is a matter of 
dialect or period. 

The lists that follow include only nouns that are of one stem 
in one dictionary and of the other stem in the other dictionary. 
They are further restricted to words which do not appear in 
the above-mentioned lists of Bezzenberger ; thus my lists will 
serve as addenda to his. Unless otherwise indicated the word 
or words before the colon are from Kurschat; those after it are 
from Lalis. 

1. a-stems in Kurschat, o-stems in Lalis: 

abejd : abejas; adamoszka : adamoszkas ; apsiuvd, apsiuvas : 
apsiuvas; atlaida : aflaidas, atlaida; brlka, brlkas : brikas; bur- 
ta 'Zauberei' : burtaij gyvata : gyvatasj grivind : grivinas; 
gvinta : gvintas; kdnta : kantas; kasztd : kasztas; kaura : kau- 
ras; kerplessa : kerpleszas; kraikd : kraikai; krija : krijas; 
Tcriusza, krusza ' Hagel ' : kriuszai, kriusza, krusza; osta, ostas 
' Miindung eines Musses ' : ustas Tiaven, harbor, port' ; pamata : 
pamatas; paredkd ' Form, Modell ' : paredkas ' order, regula- 
tion'; paiadd : pazadai; perld : perlas; pr'ezada : preZadas; 
pryiada : pryiadas; rauka, raukas : raukas; rema, rbmas : 
remai; r'eszd : reszas; ruczkd : ruczkas; salykla, selykla : 
sdlyklas, selyklas; selvartd : selvartas; serbentd : serbentas; 
skrtjos : skrijas; skundd : skundas; smakrd, : smakras; svtrna : 


svirnasj szinkd : szinkas; tropta : troptasj udra : udras, udra; 
usziesa : uztesas; valaka : valakas; vekd : vekas; i'egzdros : 


2. o-stems in Kurschat, a-stems in Lalis : 

apgelai : apgelos; apygardas : apygarda; apmaudas : ap- 
mauda, apmaudas; atmatas : atmata; brindas : brindaj brogas : 
broga; dubai, dubos : dubos; Iszdagas : iszdagaj iszvaizdas 
' Bild, Ebenbild ' : iszvaizda ' appearance, look, aspect ' ; Uaikas 
' was jemand zu Gefallen geschieht ' : itaika ' pleasedness ' ; 
Uakas : itaka; kalavljas : kalavija; koksztas, kuksztas : kukszta, 
kukszta; kvitas : kvita; ( ?) Nesselmann latdkas ' Wasserrohre, 
Wasserleitung,' Kurschat latakas ' zusammengelaufenes Wasser' : 
Lalis lataka ' funnel, spile ' ; laias : laza; lyras : lyra ; liurbas : 
liurba; lupinai, lupinos : lupyna; lumas : luma, lumas; medegas 
' Holz, Geholz im Walde ' : medega ' material, matter, substance ' 
(cf. Leskien Nomina 525) ; mevas : tneva; morkas : rnorka; 
narsas 'machtiger, gewaltiger Zorn' (Nesselmann also ' Eifer, 
Ernst ') : narsa ' prowess ' (cf . Leskien Nomina 595) ; negandas, 
neganda : neganda; noturas : notura; numas, numa : numa; 
numaras : numara; nutakas ' Abhang ' : nutaka; nuvalai, nuva- 
los : nuvalos; pakraikas, pakrdikos : pakraikos; pdrvas : parva; 
praszmatas : praszmata; presas : presa; sagas, saga : saga; 
saladynai, saladynos : saladynos; skrdndas : skranda; slyvas 
" bei Tilsit," slyva " in Siidlitt." : slyva; slogas ' weight ' : 
sloga; spirgas : spirga; starostas, storastas : starosta, storasta; 
stirtas, stirta : stirta; szepas, sz'epa : szepa; tdksas : taksa; 
uilas ' der Estrich iiber dem Kamin,' uilai ' die kleinen Balken 
in der Scheune,' uilos 'was in der Klete (Vorratshauschen) 
auf dem Boden ist' : uilos c loft, story, floor'; vanuszkai 
' Konigskerze, Verbascum thapsus ' : vanuszka ' foxglove, Digi- 
talis purpurea ' (both plants belong to the family of the Scro- 
phulariaceae) ; velketas (cf. Kurschat LDWb. s. v. iirgl'es, 
DLWb. s. v. Schleife) : velketa (cf. Lalis ELDict. s. v. drag) ; 
voveruszkai : voveruszka. 

The above lists show no marked tendency in the direction 
either of o- or of a-stems ; if the lists had not been restricted to 
examples not cited by Bezzenberger, the proportion between 1 
and 2 would still be almost exactly as above. We may then 
conclude that the fluctuation between the two stem forms is not 


a matter of period or dialect. That such fluctuations appeared 
in the oldest texts has been amply shown by Bezzenberger (pp. 
98 ff.). However, he apparently ignores (p. 102) the fact that 
the interchange between 0- and 5-stems had its beginning in 
Indo-European (cf. Brugmann, Grundriss II, 1, 148 ff.). But 
the majority of such pairs of nouns cannot be traced as such 
beyond the Lithuanian, and Bezzenberger's explanation is by 
no means without justification and application: that with the 
almost complete loss of the neuter in Lithuanian the distinctions 
of grammatical gender were weakened, and the noun stems that 
had been neuter became in part masculine, in part feminine, 
and in part masculine and feminine at the same time. Further- 
more, the declensional boundary between 0- and 5-stems was 
blurred by the fact that a number of inflectional case forms were 
essentially identical in the two declensions (cf. the ace, dat., 
gen., loc. in the sing, and the ace, dat., loc. in the plu.). 

That these fluctuations are still common in the language, 
especially in connection with new words, is a matter of observa- 
tion. Thus I have noticed in Lithuanian-American newspapers 
paczta for Lalis's pacztas ' post, post-office, mail ' ; and the word 
for 'industrial strike' appears almost indifferently as streikas 
and streika. 

Substantival -ena 

To the feminine nouns in -ena listed by Leskien (Bildung der 
Nomina, pp. 413, 414) may be added, from Lalis, the following: 

1. Flesh, meat, er'ena ' lamb's meat, lamb ' : eras ' lamb ' ; 
girena 'game, venison, deer' (a late analogical formation; cf. 
Kurschat girenas ' Waldbewohner ') : glre, glria ' forest ' ; kosze- 
Tena 'gelatin, jelly, hog's-headcheese ' (new form in -ena by 
analogy with the words for ' meat ' ; cf . koszelene ' Sulze,' Kur- 
schat s. v., Leskien Nomina 414) : to some derivative of koszti 
'to strain, filter'; lapena 'fox meat' : lap'e 'fox'; merlena 
' carcass, carrion ' : merlena (Kurschat) ; pauksztena ' game ' : 
pauksztis ' bird ' ; stimena ' venison ' : stirna ' roe, deer ' ; 
szveiena 'fresh meat' (a new formation) : szveiias 'fresh'; 
zuikena ' hare meat ' : zulkis ' hare.' 

2. Field, iulvena 'potato field' : hulve (Lalis), bulvis (Kur- 
schat) ' potato ' ; vasarojena ' field from which the spring corn 
is removed; stubble field' : (Lalis) vasarojus 'spring corn,' 


(Kurschat) vasarojis, vasarojus ' das Feld, auf welchem bei der 
Dreifelderwirtschaft das Sommergetreide wachst.' 
3. No category. (?) pur ena 'yellow water poppy.' 

-ena in words for ' pelt ' 

-ena seems to have developed a slight degree of productivity 
in feminine noun stems denoting 'pelt,' but its productivity is 
restricted by its limited semantic scope. The suffix hangs closely 
together with the preceding -ena but, at least in Lalis, is not 
identical with it. Notice oiena ' Bocksfell,' szunena ' Hunde- 
f ell/ vilkend ' Wolfschur ' (Leskien Nomina 413, but Kurschat 
vilkend ' Wolf spelz ') . 

The following are from Lalis. lapenos 'fox fur' (cf. lapena 
' fox meat ') : lap'e ' fox ' ; meszkenos ' bearskin coat, bear's fur ' 
(cf. meszkend 'Barenfleisch') : meszkd 'bear'; o'zkena 'goat- 
skin, goat fur' (cf. o&kena 'goat's meat, kid meat') : o'zka 
(oszkd) ' goat ' ; vilhena ' wolf's skin, fur of wolves ' (cf. vilkend 
' Wolfsfleisch ') : vtlkas ' wolf.' From this list is to be excluded 
szarmenos ' robe of ermine, ermine ' : szarmu (szarmen-) ' er- 

Harold H. Bender. 

Princeton University