Innovations in the Proto-Baltic and Proto-Slavic Swadesh lists as an argument in the discussion on Balto-Slavic genetic unity
Mikhail Saenko (Southern State University /Rostov-on-Don/,
Journal of Language Relationship, № 12, 2014 - p.21-30
The paper represents an attempt to compare the Swadesh lists for Proto-Slavic and Proto-Baltic with the Swadesh list for Proto-Indo-European, with the general aim of establishing common Balto-Slavic innovations. The applied methodology relies on the fact that genetic unity of a group of languages should be reflected in the form of common innovations pervading all the levels of the language, including the lexicon. Consequently, it is reasonable to take into account not the entire number of matches on the Swadesh list in order to determine the degree of relationship, but only those matches that may be assumed to represent such common innovations. The comparison of 100-wordlists constructed for Proto-Slavic and Proto-Baltic has led to the discovery of up to 14 common innovations (or at least 10, if a more rigorous approach is applied). The author argues that this should be considered a solid argument in favor of assuming a period of Balto-Slavic unity.
Keywords: lexicostatistics, Slavic languages, Baltic languages, Proto-Indo-European language