The Origin of the Baltic and Vedic Languages
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (8/11)
Although I speak several languages, I have to admit that my knowledge of the Baltic languages is practically non-existent. During my visits to the Baltic States I’ve always felt considerably lost, since I was not able to understand even the most basic street signs, nor recognize any words. But I have to admit that I never gave much thought to the origins of the Baltic languages, and even if I would have, I would certainly not have sought a parallel with the Vedic languages. Yet the arguments, presented in “The Origins of the Baltic and Vedic Languages,” sounded very persuasive to me.
The author approached the subject through a method of comparative analysis, which involved the study of Dainas, the mytho-poetical verses from Latvia and the Vedic hymns of Rg-veda and Atharva-veda. While the Vedic hymns have been thoroughly researched by a wide range of linguists, the research on the Dainas have been severely limited, and the reasons for that became much clearer to me after reading the chapter on the Latvians, their history and their language.
While the chapters dealing with the similarities and parallelism found in the Dainas and the Vedic hymns were somewhat difficult for me to follow, since I am not an ethnolinguist, I nevertheless found a lot of interesting information in this monograph. I was fascinated by the way information gathered from those ancient texts really opened a window into a life so distant from us. There was great information on the migratory patterns and paths taken by the Indo-Europeans; and even on the social structure, with an emphasis on the fact that the Indo-European social structure was not quite as patriarchal as it was previously thought – and taught.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the author’s conclusion about the Baltic languages being the oldest Indo-European languages in existence, the validity and true worth of the P.I.E. and some of the other deductions, I found the arguments to be well presented, nicely organized and written in a clear, concise and approachable way. While this is not a book that will attract a very wide circle of readers, “The Origin of the Baltic and Vedic Languages”will certainly be of interest to linguists, ethnologists and all those who possess an intensely curious mind.