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CHAT: Pater Noster in Skuodian

From:Pavel Iosad <pavel_iosad@...>
Date:Sunday, May 12, 2002, 14:51

Well, I'm here again, with the first text in the Skuodian (that's the
name) language. In the con-history, the Slavs moved to the eastern
Baltic region in late fourth century. This allows for the fact that they
had had the time to become Christened and fall under the sway of Rome.
So they had the time to get the Vulgate, and get parts of it translated.
After the resettlement, they lost ties with Rome for a considerable
time, and developed a peculiar church, combining elements of
Christianity with the not-yet-forgotten Slavic deities and the newly
acquired Finnic folklore elements (a bit like the Celtic church, I have
to admit). IT lasted so until the subjugation by Lithuania, and
Mindaugas' Christening, which saw a flood of missionaries, and notably
for us St. Theophilus (Suentii Fieofiil) who re-estabished Rome's

However, two monasteries (Sueenttaja Tieeua 'St. Virgin', and Sueentij
Maarkko 'St. Mark') together with the adjacent lands to this day
preserve the older religion, which is termed 'jensiikofiitte' ('people's
faith', from 'jensiik' "people", an old Slavic word + fiite "faith",
unsurprusingly, a Latin borrowing from 'fides'. It remains a mystery why
the regular Slavic d ~ Skuodian d ratio is violated. This is most likely
a dialectal feature of this peripheral region, where the Slavic stratum
was thinner and perhaps the locals interpreted the 'd', being the laxer
consonant, as the laxer 't' versus tense 't' ~ tense 'tt'. This feature
is observed in the north-eastern dialectal texts up to the sixteenth
century. It is however, strange that the text given does not share this
peculiarity, though it might have been a mere speling convention and it
was perhaps actually _read_ with ‘t’ and ‘tt’).

Their scriptoria still contain the oldest texts written in the language,
which are of course entirely uncanonical in both religious and
linguistic terms. It is worth noting that the texts contain a god deal
fo dialect-specific language. The Slavic d ~ Skuodian d and Slavic t ~
Skuodian tt shift has already been observed. Another idiosyncrasy is the
change b > v > w > u (both [b] and [B]/[v] are affected), regarded
substandard in literary Skuodian, which has a bilabial [B], but still
heard in the southern dialects. This text also seems to contain some
errors in declination, which cannot be explained by historical reasons.
The reason for it still unknown, and it is widely assumed that the
scribe was not a native speaker, perhaps a missionary. A pointer in this
direction is the fact that the manuscript is written in a hand
reminiscent of the English insular script, while most of the other texts
are written in the specific Skuodian script, which appears to have been
influenced rather by the Roman cursive script, possibly via the
converters. One important dialectal feature is the appearance of ‘ä’
where the Slavic had a palatalized consonant + ‘a’. Standard Skuodian
invaribably has ‘e’ in these cases (so ‘siemee’ “earth” (Polish
‘ziemia’) vs. the text’s ‘siemää’ - since the remigrant Slavs were
Western, there’s no _l epentheticum_), and the use of the Finnic
adessive -l on a Slavic word in ‘siemääl’ “on earth”, as well as the
elative on 'soluo' "evil". One interesting word is ‘oma’, which appears
to be an optative particle (like Church Slavonic ‘da’), but is actually
of Finnic origin, being the stem of the verb ‘to have’. It may be argued
that modern Skuodian -m-, which is the future tense suffix, stems from
this, but as a matter of fact it seems to have evloved rather from the
_Slavic_ stem of the word ‘to have’, paralleling the development in

However, it also does contain the features which have survived to this
day - notably the elision of vowels in long hiata, especially those
produced by the labials' shift to 'u', and the change of  'ji', which
often happens in adjectival ednings. It also includes the Balic loans
already adapted (cf. Estonian 'soov' "will" and the text's 'sooue' <
*suuoue < *so:v-e, where -e is the Fem. Sg. Nominative ending, from the
Proto-Slavic reduced 'e' (hell, do I write the things in SAMPA?), and
‘millo’, which is the relative pronoun stem (Finnic) + the Slavic ending.

O uotet'ie nooso millo uo niesieho jesi
Oma iimien tuoje uonde suentuoje,
Oma priidie kaisarriiko tuojo,
Oma dielana sooue tuoja
Siemääl, kaako uo niesieho.
Daajo naamo uo dene seje nooso kad'uodennuoj laibo
I ostopuontii namo noosi dluogi,
Kaako ostopuoneme noosimo dluod'inikomo.
I ne uuedii naso uo tempotato,
No ostuajo naso soluosto.

Interlinear commentary

O uotet'ie nooso millo uo niesieho jesi

O Father:VOC our:MASC.SG. Which:MASC:SG in heaven:LOC:PL be:2SG

uotekie < otEke w/palatalization (E and U - reduced vowels)
nooso is an archaic form - the very old IE no:s (strangely retained)
plus the Slavic ending.
uo < vU
niesieho < nebesexU
jesi < jesi

Oma iimien tuoje uonde suentuoje,

Let name:NOM your be:FUT:3SG saint:NEUT:NOM:SG

oma - see above
iimien < ime~
tuoje < tvoje
uonde < wuonde < bo~de
suentoje < swientoje < sve~toje

Oma priidie kaisarriiko tuojo,

Let come:3SG:FUT kingdom:NOM your:MASC:NOM:SG

priidie < pride
kaisarriiko < kaisar-U (a loan while the Slavs were still in Germanic) +
riik (a local suffix, borrowed from a local Germanic dialect, apparently
exceptionally close to Gothic) + o < U (Slavic ending)
tuojo < tvojU

Oma dielana sooue tuoja

dielana < delana (female sg. passive participle form. Note the
imperfective aspect)
sooue - see above
tuoja < tvoja

Siemääl, kaako uo niesieho.

Earth:ADESSIVE, how in heaven:LOC:PL

Daajo naamo uo dene seje nooso kad'uodennuoj laibo

Give:IMPER:2SG we:DAT in day:ACC:SG this:NOM:MASC:SG our:ACC:SG:MASC
daily:ACC:SG:MASC bread:ACC:SG

daajo < dajU
naamo < namU
dene < dEnE
seje < sEjE
kad'uodennuoj < kad'- 'every' (cf. Russian 'kazhdo' < kadj) + den- 'day'
+ -n- (adjectival suffix) + -ouj < -oj (grammatical ending)

I ostopuontii namoo noosi dluogi,

And forgive 'let away' we:DAT our:ACC:PL debt:PL:ACC

ostopuontii - the etymology is obscure. It obviously contains -st- - the
elative element seen three lines lower, and some form of the root 'po~t'
'let', but the exact etymology is hard to give.
dluogi < dlogi - this word shows contamination with the initially
unrelated root dlUg 'long'

Kaako ostopuoneme noosimo dluod'inikomo.

As forgive:PRES:1PL our:PL:DAT debtor:PL:DAT

ostopuonimi - the same strange word + the ending < *-EmE
noosimo - the ending comes from *-imU
dluod'inikomo - see discussion of root above, d' appears after the
palatalization. The ending comes from -*UmU

I ne uuedii naso uo tempotato,

And not lead:IMPER:2SG we:ACC in temptation:ACC

uuedi < uouedi < vUvedi

No ostuajo naso soluosto.

But deliver:IMPER:2SG we:ACC evil:ELATIVE

ostuajo - strangely enough, apparently a lexicalzation of the -st-
elative element


Comments and critique welcome

Pavel Iosad     

'I am a philologist, and thus a misunderstood man'
                 --JRR Tolkien, _The Notion Club Papers_


Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>