Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Re: 40 LexiLine Newsletter How Old are the Baltic Languages? - Latvian Dictionaries - Latvian-German - Mīlenbahs - Endzelins

Reposted from the LexiLine Journal 292

Bob Sand has asked me some questions about Latvian dictionaries, indicating that he had gone to his library but had been unable to find one. I thank him for this question because it has given me the opportunity to do research and find new sources.


Although numerous Latvian dictionaries are available at online bookstores and in large public libraries, the main historical dictionary - by far - for any study of Latvian is the four-volume
Latvian-German Historical Dictionary (Lettisch-deutsches
Wörterbuch) by Karlis (Karl) Mühlenbach and Janis (John) Endzelins

(cited as
Mühlenbachs-Endzelins, Mühlenbach-Endzelins, Muhlenbach-Endzelin, Muehlenbachs-Endzelins, Mülenbahs-Endzelins), Riga, 1923-1932, I-IV including supplementary volumes published later (Riga, 1933-1939) by Endzelins after Muehlenbach's passage.


An electronic online version of the above dictionary is being prepared. See and
according to which circa 75000 headwords (main entries) were included.


The dictionary is available e.g. at the Latvian National Library at viz.
Mīlenbahs Kārlis. Latviešu valodas vārdnīca = Lettisch-deutsches Wörterbuch : 4 sej. / Kārlis Mīlenbahs; red., papild. un nobeidzis Jānis Endzelīns. - Rīga, 1923-1932.

See and
(either copy this link which will not wrap in Yahoo or use
the "snip" (short-form) url for the same URL)

The Library of Congress has the four main volumes at 92050110 catalogued as
Mülenbachs, Karlis. Latviešu valodas vardnica. Lettisch-deutsches Wörterbuch
and the supplementary volumes at catalogued as
"LC Control No.: 25020477
Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal Name: Mṻlenbachs, K. (Kārlis), 1853-1916. » More like this
Main Title: K. Mṻlenbacha Latviešu valodas vārdnīca. Redig̓ējis, papildinājis, turpinājis J. Endzelīns ... Izdevusi Izglītības ministrija ... K. Mühlenbachs Lettisch-deutsches Wörterbuch. Redigiert, ergänzt und fortgesetzt von J. Endzelin ... Herausgegeben vom lettischen Bildungsministerium.
Published/Created: Riga, 1923-32.
Related Titles: Latviešu valodas vārdnīca.
K. Mühlenbachs Lettisch-deutsches Wörterbuch.
Lettisch-deutsches Wörterbuch.
Description: 4 v. 28 cm.
Contents: 1. A-I.--II. Ie-Or.--III. Pa-Sv.-IV. Ša-Zv.
Notes: Vols. 2-4: ... Kultūras fonda izdevums ... Herausgegeben vom lettischen Kueturfonds; v. 4: ... Redig̓ējis, papildinājis, nobeidzis J. Endzelīns.
Subjects: Latvian language--Dictionaries--German. » More like this
Endzelīns, Jānis, 1873-1961. » More like this
LC Classification: PG8981 .M8
Language Code: lavger"
The German National Library in Frankfurt has the main volumes and supplements as photo reprints at


There is a copy of this dictionary at the University of Kiel Library in Germany and I have used that version for much of my work over the past 30 years. See
click on Slavistik, then on Baltistik, then on Lettische Philologie (at number 820) and then on Allgemeines (at number.350) This is a typical needle in the haystack system for indexing -
typical for libraries.

Here are relevant Kiel University Library entries - although the books are available ONLY in the central reading room and can not be borrowed. I personally photocopied all volumes for my own use some 30 years ago but these copies were sadly destroyed a few years ago during moving.

- K. Muelenbacha Latviesu valodas Vardnica
- Standort: Zentralbibliothek
- Signatur: R 132
- Katalognummer(n): sla 820.350 / Lettisch / Wortschatz
siehe auch: sla 820 / Lettisch

How often do you find this dictionary used and cited in mainstream linguistic work online? very seldom. The mainstream linguists talk endlessly about Indo-European as if they had a clue, yet Pokorny's alleged Indo-European Etymological Dictionary has only three citations (that I have been able to find) to this main historical Latvian dictionary - see

due to ignorance of LATVIAN

To put it bluntly, the work of the linguists on Latvian lexicology with regard to the reconstruction of Indo-European is next to worthless because most linguists simply have NOT used the main sources at hand. They ignore Latvian because they know nothing about

Mainstream linguists cite to Latvian terms sparingly if at all (see for Latvian and Hittite because they know nearly NOTHING about the lexical components of the language and apparently have no access to the most important source, which is this dictionary. I am afraid that many mainstream linguists are - for Latvian - ignorant incompetents - and this includes most of the LATVIAN linguists themselves, who write endlessly about grammar but know next to nothing about historical lexicology in Latvian.


An interesting citation to this dictionary is found at Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch (DRW)
home page
which reads:
"Pageide [the modern spelling is "pagaide"]
Wortklasse: Femininum
Erklärung: anberaumter Zahltag.
sprachliche Erläuterung: zum Wort vgl. K. Mühlenbach, Lettisch-deutsches Wörterbuch III (Chicago 1955) 25.
Belegtext: ["kommt in alten rig. landvogteyl. Rechnungen vor, sogar noch in einer von 1578, wahrscheinlich in der Bed. von Wartezeit von lett. pagaidiht warten. Wenn die Stadt Riga in vorigen Zeiten ihre Bauern des Winters mit Korn und Heu unterstützte, so erhielten sie solches von der Landvogtey, wo es auf Kerbstücken bemerkt wurde. Im May des folgenden Jahres hielt der Landvogt die] pageide, [da denn jeder Bauer, welcher einen Vorschuß genommen hatte, sich mit seinem Kerbstock einfinden und das Geld abtragen mußte"]
Datierung: 1578 Fundstelle: Gutzeit,Livl. II 320 [weitere Angaben: urk.?]"
For those of you who read no German, this citation is to a word in German which is clearly taken from a Latvian word meaning "wait, provisional, temporary", and relating to agricultural subsidies which were issued in winter and as such marked on wooden sticks. The "wait" or "loan" based on those markings then had to be repaid in the following year.


An interesting recent dissertation on the influence of Latvian on German in the Baltic is found at
Polanska cites liberally to Mühlenbach-Endzelins and has the honor of apparently being the only linguist online [at that time] to do so.

Her section on specific German borrowings from Latvian with etymologies - at pages 195 through 321 - is of particular value.

This is a SUPERB work and a rare exception in mainstream linguistics, pointing to the linguistic world of the future in which the great antiquity and historical value of the Baltic languages - especially in lexicology and etymology - will ultimately be recognized, not just for German borrowings in the Baltic, but for Indo-European reconstruction generally.

Enjoy, Andis

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