Livonian and Leivu: Shared Innovations and Problems Cover Image

Livonian and Leivu: Shared Innovations and Problems
Livonian and Leivu: Shared Innovations and Problems

Author(s): Tiit-Rein Viitso
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Teaduste Akadeemia Kirjastus
Keywords: Livonian; Leivu Estonian; etymology; sound changes; language contact

Summary/Abstract: Livonian and Leivu South Estonian, both spoken in Latvia, have a common word stem in the name of their language and people, and several phonetic innovations. In this article, the traditional Estonian-based etymology of the Estonian-based name of Livonians and Leivus and their language is refuted. The common stem comes probably from an unattested Old Norse name given for Livonia by the Scandinavians, and was later borrowed into Livonian and Leivu from German. A pilot study of some shared phonetic innovations turns attention to (1) the breaking of long and short mid vowels into long and short diphthongs, (2) triphthongs, (3) the loss of intervocalic *h after a short initial syllable and the rise of the broken tone, (4) the rise of prepalatal sibilants š and ž, and (5) the rise of voiced obstruents. All innovations have some parallels in Baltic dialects, especially in Latgalian. However, the voicing of obstruents in Livonian, Karelian, Lude and Veps cannot be considered as an influence of Latvian and Russian.

  • Issue Year: XLV/2009
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 269-282
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English