Skip to main content

Baltic languages

Baltic languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. The Indo-European subfamily to which the Baltic languages appear to be closest is the Slavic. Because of this, some linguists regard Baltic and Slavic as branches of a single Balto-Slavic division of the Indo-European family. The Baltic tongues are thus named because they are spoken in an area bordering on the Baltic Sea. The principal ones are Latvian (or Lettish) and Lithuanian (together native to about 6.5 million people in Eastern Europe) and Old Prussian (which ceased to be a living language during the 17th cent.). The early common ancestor of the various Baltic languages, both living and dead, is traditionally referred to as Proto-Baltic. It is thought that Proto-Baltic broke off from the other Indo-European languages before 1000 BC A further division into East Baltic (to which Latvian and Lithuanian belong) and West Baltic (which claims Old Prussian) is believed to have taken place before 300 BC The Baltic languages are said to be the closest of the living Indo-European languages to Proto-Indo-European—the original parent of all the Indo-European tongues—both phonologically and grammatically. They show a high degree of inflection in both the noun and verb systems. The earliest surviving text in a Baltic language may be dated c.1400, but by the 16th cent. documents had become fairly numerous. See also Latvian, Lithuanian, Indo-European.

See T. F. Magner and W. R. Schmalstieg, ed., Baltic Linguistics (1970).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Baltic languages." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Baltic languages." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/baltic-languages

"Baltic languages." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/baltic-languages

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.