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Thursday, October 30, 2014
 

Region Focus


Translating the Baltic languages

Asta Rusakeviėčienė & Rasa Kriaučionytė

Is there a difference between the Baltic languages and the languages of the Baltic States? Is Estonian a Baltic language? Is Finnish a Scandinavian language? For linguists, these questions are clear and unambiguous — there are two Baltic languages, Latvian and Lithuanian, while Estonian and Finnish belong to the Finno-Ugric language group.

However, even though it may sound paradoxical, the language industry often does not stick to a strict linguistic classification, and languages are more freely attributed to one group or another. Usually, the concept of the Baltic languages extends to the concept of the languages of the Baltic countries, including Estonian, while the Finnish language is sometimes attributed to the Scandinavian languages. Thus, the regional factor prevails over the linguistic factor.

When talking about the Baltic States, we normally have in mind the three countries on the east coast of the Baltic Sea: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The regional identity and sense of community of these countries evolved most prominently during the Soviet period. All three countries were occupied by the USSR and experienced similar hardships under occupation, such as mass deportations, repression and collectivization. However, during the Soviet period, their standard of living was similar and was somewhat higher than in the rest of the Soviet Union. All three countries attempted to preserve their national identity to the largest extent possible during that period. The regional identity of the Baltic countries became ...

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Above excerpt taken from the March 2012 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

March, 2012