Old Prussian

Old Prussian

Infobox Language
name = Prussian
nativename = (" _ba. Prūsiskai Bilā", " _ba. Prūsiskan")
states = Prussia
region = Europe
extinct = Late 17th/Early 18th century
iso1 =
iso2 =
iso3 = prg
familycolor = Indo-European
fam1 = Indo-European
fam2 = Balto-Slavic
fam3 = Baltic
fam4 = Western

Prussian is an extinct Baltic language, once spoken by the inhabitants of the area that later became East Prussia (now north-eastern Poland and the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia) prior to the German colonisation of the area which began in the 13th century. In Old Prussian itself, the language was called “"Prūsiskan"” ("Prussian") or “"Prūsiskai Bilā"” ("the Prussian language"). A few experimental communities involved in reviving a reconstructed form of the language now exist in Lithuania, Poland, and other countries.

The Æsti, mentioned by Tacitus in his "Germania", may have been a people who spoke Old Prussian. However, Tacitus describes them as being just like the Suebi (a group of Germanic peoples) but with a more Britannic-like (Celtic) language.

Old Prussian was closely related to the other extinct Western Baltic languages, Curonian and Sudovian. It is more distantly related to the surviving Eastern Baltic languages, Lithuanian and Latvian. Compare the Prussian word "zemē" [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/Lie.pdf] .] , the Latvian "zeme", the Lithuanian "žemė".

In addition to the German colonists, groups of people from Poland"A Short History of Austria-Hungary and Poland" by H. Wickham Steed, et al. [http://historicaltextarchive.com/books.php?op=viewbook&bookid=2&cid=24]

"For a time, therefore, the Protestants had to be cautious in Poland proper, but they found a sure refuge in Prussia, where Lutheranism was already the established religion, and where the newly erected university of Königsberg became a seminary for Polish ministers and preachers."
] [http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc09/htm/iv.iii.vii.htm ccel.org Christianity in Poland]
"Albert of Brandenburg, Grand Master of the German Order in Prussia, called as preacher to Konigsberg Johann Briesaman (q.v.), Luther's follower (1525); and changed the territory of the order into a hereditary grand duchy under Polish protection. From these borderlands the movement penetrated Little Poland which was the nucleus for the extensive kingdom. [...] In the mean time the movement proceeded likewise among the nobles of Great Poland; here the type was Lutheran, instead of Reformed, as in Little Poland. Before the Reformation the Hussite refugees had found asylum here; now the Bohemian and Moravian brethren, soon to be known as the Unity of the Brethren (q.v.), were expelled from their home countries and, on their way to Prussia (1547), about 400 settled in Posen under the protection of the Gorka, Leszynski, and Ostrorog families."
] , Lithuania, FranceFact|date=February 2007, Scotlandcite web| url=http://www.electricscotland.com/history/prussia/part3-3.htm| title=Scots in Eastern and Western Prussia, Part III – Documents (3)| accessdate=2007-02-18] , Englandcite web| url=http://www.elbing.de/Eastland.pdf| title=Elbing| format=PDF| accessdate=2007-02-18] and AustriaFact|date=February 2007 found refuge in Prussia during the Protestant Reformation and thereafter. Such immigration caused a slow decline in the use of Old Prussian, as the Prussians adopted the languages of the others, particularly German, the language of the German government of Prussia. Old Prussian probably ceased to be spoken around the beginning of the 18th century due to many of its remaining speakers dying in the famine and bubonic plague epidemic of 1709-1711 [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/Engl.pdf] . The regional dialect of Low German spoken in Prussia, Low Prussian, preserved a number of Prussian words, such as "kurp", from the Old Prussian "kurpi", for "shoe" (in contrast to the standard German "Schuh").

The language is called “Old Prussian” to avoid confusion with the German dialects Low Prussian and High Prussian, and the adjective “Prussian”, which also relates to the later German state. The Old Prussian name for the nation, not being Latinized, was "Prūsa". This too may be used to delineate the language and the Baltic state from the later German state.

Old Prussian began to be written down in the Latin alphabet in about the 13th century. A small amount of literature in the language survives.

Until the 1930s, when the Nazi government began a program of Germanization, and 1945, when the Soviets annexed Prussia and made Old Prussian place-names illegal [http://poshka.bizland.com/prussian/reconstructions.htm] [http://pirmojiknyga.mch.mii.lt/Leidiniai/Prusviet.en.htm] [http://www.eki.ee/knn/ungegn/bd3_ltov.htm] .] , one could find Old Prussian river and place names in East Prussia, like "Tawe", "Tawelle", and "Tawelninken".


A list of monuments of Old Prussian :

# Prussian-language geographical names within the territory of (Baltic) Prussia. The first basic study of these names was by Georg Gerullis, in "Die altpreußischen Ortsnamen" ("The Old Prussian Place-names"), written and published with the help of Walter de Gruyter, in 1922.
# Prussian personal names.Reinhold Trautmann, " [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/Tr_APN.pdf Die altpreußischen Personennamen] " ("The Old Prussian Personal-names"). "Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht", Göttingen: 1923. Includes the work of Ernst Lewy in 1904.]
# Separate words found in various historical documents.
# Vernacularisms in the former German dialects of East and West Prussia, as well words of Old Curonian origin in Latvian, and West-Baltic vernacularisms in Lithuanian and Belarusian.
# The so-called Basel Epigram [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/bpt.htm Basel Epigram] .] . It reads: "Kayle rekyse. thoneaw labonache thewelyse. Eg. koyte poyte. nykoyte. pe^nega doyte"; which may be: "Kaīls rikīse! Tu ni jāu laban asei tēwelise, ik kwaitēi pōiti, ni kwaitēi peningā dōiti". (In English: "Hello Sir! You are no longer a nice uncle, if you want to drink but do not want to give a penny!" [http://www.schaeken.nl/lu/research/online/editions/baselepigram/ Basel Epigram] .] ) This is an inscription of the 14th century, most probably by a Prussian student studying in Prague, found by St. McCluskey in one of folios of the Basel university in 1974.
#Various fragmentary texts:
## Recorded in several versions by Hieronymus Maletius in Sudovian Nook in the middle of the 16th century, as noted by V. Mažiulis, are
###"Beigeite beygeyte peckolle" - "Run, run, devils!"
###"Kails naussen gnigethe" - "Hello our friend!"
###"Kails poskails ains par antres" - (a drinking toast, reconstructed as "Kaīls pas kaīls, aīns per āntran", or, in English : "A healthy one after a healthy one, one after another!")
###"Kellewesze perioth, Kellewesze perioth" - "A carter drives here, a carter drives here!"
###"Ocho moy myle schwante panicke" (also recorded as "O hoho Moi mile swente Pannike", "O ho hu Mey mile swenthe paniko", "O mues miles schwante Panick") - "Oh my dear holy fire!"
## an expression from the list of the Vocabulary of friar Simon Grunau, an historian of the German Order: "sta nossen rickie, nossen rickie", "This (is) our lord, our lord".
# A manuscript fragment of the first words of the Pater Noster in Prussian, from the beginning of the 15th century: "Towe Nüsze kås esse andangonsün swyntins".
# 100 words (in "strongly" varying versions) of the [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/GrG.pdf Vocabulary] by Simon Grunau, written ca. 1517–1526; these have been reconstructed into a more unified single system of spelling by V. Mažiulis.
# The so-called [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/Elbin.pdf Elbing Vocabulary] , which consists of 802 thematically sorted words and their German equivalents. This manuscript, copied by Peter Holcwesscher from Marienburg on the boundary of the 14th and 15th centuries, was found in 1825 by Fr. Neumann among other manuscripts acquired by him from the heritage of the Elbing merchant A. Grübnau; it was thus dubbed the “Codex Neumannianus”. Again, the words have been reconstructed into a more unified single system of spelling by V. Mažiulis, a scholar and contributor to the revival of the Prussian language .
# The three Catechisms [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/Kat.pdf Prussian Catechisms] .] printed in the Prussian language in Königsberg in 1545, 1545, and 1561 respectively. The first two consist of only 6 pages text in Prussian — the second one being a correction of the first into another sub-dialect. The third one, however, consists of 132 pages of Prussian text, and is a translation by Abel Will of Martin Luther’s "Enchiridion".
# An adage of 1583, "Dewes does dantes, Dewes does geitka". This is, in all probability, not Prussian — the form "does" in the second instance corresponds to Lithuanian future tense "duos" ‘will give’ — however it is included in this list because it is commonly thought of as Prussian. As for "trencke, trencke!" ("Strike! Strike!"), it too is in all probability Lithuanian, not Prussian.

Examples of Prussian

Here are several basic Prussian phrases :

Prussian was a highly inflected language, as can be seen from the declination of the demonstrative pronoun "stas", "that". (Note that translators of the Teutonic Order frequently misused "stas" as an article for the word "the".)

Prussian also possessed a vocative case.



*G. H. F. Nesselmann, Thesaurus linguae Prussicae, Berlin, 1873.
*E. Berneker, Die preussische Sprache, Strassburg, 1896.
*R. Trautmann, Die altpreussischen Sprachdenkmäler, Göttingen, 1910.
*G. Gerullis, Die altpreussischen Ortsnamen, Berlin-Leipzig, 1922.
*R. Trautmann, Die altpreussischen Personnennamen, Göttingen, 1925.
*J. Endzelīns, Senprūšu valoda. – Gr. Darbu izlase, IV sēj., 2. daļa, Rīga, 1982. 9.-351. lpp.
*V. Mažiulis, Prūsų kalbos paminklai, Vilnius, t. I 1966, t. II 1981.
*W. R. Schmalstieg, An Old Prussian Grammar, University Park and London, 1974.
*W. R. Schmalstieg, Studies in Old Prussian, University Park and London, 1976.
*V. Toporov, Prusskij jazyk: Slovar', A - L, Moskva, 1975-1990 (nebaigtas, not finished).
*V. Mažiulis, Prūsų kalbos etimologijos žodynas, Vilnius, t. I-IV, 1988-1997.
*M. Biolik, Zuflüsse zur Ostsee zwischen unterer Weichsel und Pregel, Stuttgart, 1989.
*R. Przybytek, Ortsnamen baltischer Herkunft im südlichen Teil Ostpreussens, Stuttgart, 1993.
*M. Biolik, Die Namen der stehenden Gewässer im Zuflussgebiet des Pregel, Stuttgart, 1993.
*M. Biolik, Die Namen der fließenden Gewässer im Flussgebiet des Pregel, Stuttgart, 1996.
*G. Blažienė, Die baltischen Ortsnamen in Samland, Stuttgart, 2000.
*A. Kaukienė, Prūsų kalba, Klaipėda, 2002.
*V. Mažiulis, Prūsų kalbos istorinė gramatika, Vilnius, 2004.
*LEXICON BORVSSICVM VETVS. Concordantia et lexicon inversum. / Bibliotheca Klossiana I, Universitas Vytauti Magni, Kaunas, 2007.
*OLD PRUSSIAN WRITTEN MONUMENTS. Facsimile, Transliteration, Reconstruction, Comments. / Bibliotheca Klossiana II, Universitas Vytauti Magni / Lithuanians' World Center, Kaunas, 2007.

External links

* [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/index.htm Studies in Prussian language, history, archeology and culture, experimental revival of Prussian, the fate of Baltic Prussia and Baltic Prussians, bibliograhy and links]
* [http://poshka.bizland.com/prussian/reconstructions.htm Prussian-German-English dictionary]
* [http://donelaitis.vdu.lt/prussian/Engl.pdf Dictionary of recovered and reconstructed Prussian]
* [http://www.kortlandt.nl/editions/ Frederik Kortlandt: Electronic text editions] (contains transcriptions of Old Prussian manuscript texts)
* [http://forum.prusai.org/ Discussion forum in Prussian]
* [http://prusa.strefa.pl/nertiks.html Nērtiks website (in Prussian)]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=prg Prussian language on Ethnologue]
* [http://prusa.strefa.pl/tautaskarti.html Map of former Old Prussian language area, with placenames in Old Prussian]
* [http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Requests_for_new_languages/Wikipedia_Prussian Discussion on possibiity of having a Prussian Wikipedia]
* [http://www.hab.de/ausstellung/postille/expo-2.htm Bilingual catechism (first page) of 1545]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Old Prussian — n. a West Baltic language that was once spoken in East Prussia and became extinct in the 17th cent …   English World dictionary

  • Old Prussian — 1. adjective Of or pertaining to the Old Prussian language or people. 2. noun the Baltic language spoken by the people of Prussia prior to their subjugation by the German Order …   Wiktionary

  • Old Prussian — Old′ Prus′sian n. peo the extinct language of the Baltic speaking Prussians, attested principally in several religious texts of the 16th century Abbr.: OPruss • Etymology: 1870–75 …   From formal English to slang

  • Old Prussian — noun Date: 1841 a Baltic language used in East Prussia until the 17th century see Indo European languages table …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Old Prussian — a Baltic language extinct since the 17th century. Abbr.: OPruss [1870 75] * * * …   Universalium

  • Old Prussian — noun a Baltic language, related to Lithuanian, spoken in Prussia until the 17th century …   English new terms dictionary

  • Old Prussian — /oʊld ˈprʌʃən/ (say ohld prushuhn) noun a Baltic language extinct since the 17th century …   Australian English dictionary

  • Old Prussian — noun a dead language of the (non German) Prussians (extinct after 1700); thought to belong to the Baltic branch of Indo European • Hypernyms: ↑Baltic, ↑Baltic language …   Useful english dictionary

  • Old Prussian language — Prussian (Prūsiskai Bilā, Prūsiskan) Spoken in Prussia Region Europe Extinct Late 17th / E …   Wikipedia

  • Old Prussian language —       West Baltic language extinct since the 17th century; it was spoken in the former German area of East Prussia (now in Poland and Russia). The poorly attested Yotvingian dialect was closely related to Old Prussian.       Old Prussian… …   Universalium

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