Historical Comparison of the Iconic Dictionaries of the Three Baltic Nations

By November 17, 2016,
AuthorAndrejs Veisbergs
TitleHistorical Comparison of the Iconic Dictionaries of the Three Baltic Nations
AbstractLatvian, Estonian and Lithuanian lexicography are characterised by similar early development, despite different historical development and different language-contact situations. There is a clear dominance of bilingual and multilingual dictionaries, which were initially compiled to serve the needs of the clergy in the main contact-language pairs and triples. After achieving independence early in the 20th century, all three states embarked on large, iconic projects of nation building and prestige, of very different scope and timescale from the bilingual dictionaries. These projects had both extralinguistic prestige objectives (proving the wealth of the language resource, demonstrating it to the outside world, putting the languages on the comparative linguistics map) and linguistic objectives (registering, etymologising, explaining, expanding, purifying and stabilising the wordstock). Elements of language engineering can be observed in prescriptivism (Estonian language planning) and xenophobic purism. These large, iconic projects were led by the well known linguists of the time. Comparing the three, we can see that Latvian and Lithuanian projects are more retrospective (focusing on the heritage) while the Estonian dictionary is more forward-looking. The status of these iconic dictionaries is also different today: only the Latvian project has retained it.
SessionLexicography and identity, indigenous languages
KeywordsLatvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, explanatory dictionary
author = {Andrejs Veisbergs},
title = {Historical Comparison of the Iconic Dictionaries of the Three Baltic Nations},
pages = {245--249},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 15th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2012},
month = {aug},
date = {7-11},
address = {Oslo,Norway},
editor = {Ruth Vatvedt Fjeld and Julie Matilde Torjusen},
publisher = {Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo},
isbn = {978-82-303-2228-4},