The Old Prussian language has always puzzled linguists. While other Baltic languages, such as Lithuanian and Latvian, have remained in use to the present day, Old Prussian was extinguished at the beginning of eighteenth century, and the extant Old Prussian linguistic corpus is quite limited in scope. Drawing on two bilingual vocabularies and three Lutheran Catechisms (as well as onomastic evidence and several other minor texts), this work critically explores the linguistic and historiographical contours of Old Prussian.
Pietro U. Dini is professor of Baltic philology, Lithuanian language and culture, and general linguistics and translation studies at the University of Pisa.
Chapter 1Old Prussian and the Prussians
Chapter 2Prelude to Prussian Linguistics (16th–20th Century)
Chapter 3Old Prussian Corpus
Chapter 4An Outline of Old Prussian Grammar
Chapter 5The Old Prussian Lexicon
Chapter 6Old Prussian “Minor” Texts
Chapter 7Old Prussian Texts: The Vocabularies
Chapter 8Old Prussian Texts: The Traces
Chapter 9Old Prussian Texts: The Small Catechisms
Chapter 10Old Prussian Texts: The Enchiridion
Chapter 11Old Prussian Onomastics
Chapter 12Examples of Old Prussian Texts
Foundations of Old Prussian: Philology and Linguistics is the most comprehensive reference work ever published on Old Prussian, the only Western Baltic language known to us by written texts. Closely related to Lithuanian and Latvian, Old Prussian was spoken until the 17th century in East Prussia, around the city of Königsberg, and survives through a small number of texts. This book provides authoritative treatment of the language and its cultural environment by leading Balticist Pietro U. Dini, throwing light on its main linguistic structures and outlining the specific features of its written documentation.
Building on the achievements of earlier research, Foundations of Old Prussian: Philology and Linguistics offers an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of Old Prussian, the most enigmatic of the Baltic languages. The novelty of the author’s approach consists in a masterly combination of strictly philological and grammatical information with extra-linguistic (historical and cultural) background.
In the local area of Central-Eastern Europe persists an ecolinguistic problem related to the gradual disappearance of local languages. In the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, the Curonian, Prussian and Yatvingian languages became extinct. The fate of the Western Baltic languages is currently faced by the Belarusian language, which is now in a state of 16th century Prussian. About the disappearance of the “different” Prussian language (Vetus Prutenica, toto genere ab aliis Europæis diverʃa) was European society alarmed by J.A. Komenský in 1648. Pietro U. Dini's monographic work provides a factual and uniquely detailed introduction to this extinct Baltic language—the Prussian written heritage of the 13th-16th centuries—and through it, to the tragic linguistic transformation of the region.
Unparalleled in scope, the strongest feature of Foundations of Old Prussian: Philology and Linguistics is the balance between linguistic data and textual-cultural information on this extinct Baltic language and nation. I highly recommend P. U. Dini’s book to specialists and students of Baltic, Slavic, Indo-European, and textual studies.