Old Prussian language

From Academic Kids

Old Prussian
Spoken in: East Prussia
Region: Baltic
Total speakers: Extinct
Ranking: --

   Old Prussian

Official status
Official language of: None
Regulated by: None
Language codes
ISO 639-2bat

Old Prussian is an extinct Baltic language spoken by the inhabitants of the area that later became East Prussia (now in north-eastern Poland, Lithuania and the Kaliningrad oblast of Russia) prior to Polish and German colonization of the area beginning in the 13th century. An experimental community involved in reviving a reconstructed form of the language now exists in the Klaipėda region of Lithuania.

Old Prussian is closely related to the other extinct western Baltic languages, Galindan (formerly spoken in the territory to the south) and Sudovian (to the east). It is more distantly related to the surviving eastern Baltic languages, Lithuanian and particularly Latvian.

The Aesti, mentioned by Tacitus in his Germania, may have been a people who spoke Old Prussian. Tacitus describes them as being just like the other Suebi (who were a group of Germanic peoples) but with a more Britannic (Celtic) language.

A 16th century Warmia Prince-Bishop, Marcin Kromer, said the language of the Prussians was totally different from Slavic.

During the Reformation and thereafter, other groups of people from Poland, Lithuania, France, and Austria found refuge in Prussia. These new immigrants caused a slow decline in the use of Old Prussian as Prussians began to adopt the languages of the newcomers. Old Prussian probably ceased to be spoken around the end of the 17th century with the great plague.

It is called "Old Prussian" to avoid confusion with the adjective "Prussian", which relates also to the later German state. The "Old Prussian" name for the nation, not being latinized, was Prusa. This too may be used to delineate the language from the later state. Old Prussian began to be written down in about the 14th century. A small amount of literature in the Old Prussian language survives.

See also


fr:Vieux prussien id:Bahasa Prusia Kuna li:Prusisch nl:Oud-Pruisisch no:Gammelprøyssisk språk pl:Język pruski sv:Fornpreussiska


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