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Linguistica Uralica cover
Linguistica Uralica
ISSN 1736-7506 (Electronic)
ISSN 0868-4731 (Print)
Development, Research and Sources of Written Livonian; pp. 55-67
PDF | doi:10.3176/lu.2012.1.05

Valts Ernštreits

Written Livonian started forming in the mid-19th century, when the first more comprehensive language studies as well as editions containing language samples began to be published. Today written Livonian is the main carrier of the tradition of Livonian usage. One of the main problems in the development of a written language is the choice of its base dialect. Beginning with the publication of the first Livonian reader (LL 1921), East Livonian has clearly taken the leading role in the written language; the only exceptions are the editions published by the ­Livonian Friends Society in Latvia in the early 1930s, which are based on Central Livonian. However, the differences in dialects were attempted to be reduced using orthographic means. Today texts with a different dialectal background are presented in a more authentic manner, if possible. As far as phonology is concerned it can be seen that the orthography of written Livonian uses the principle of phonetic notation and, as the written language develops, it has moved towards usage comfort, conforming to user skills. The same applies to morphology, which has been moving from accurate representation of usage towards a preference of such features that are easier to use and characterize the system better. As for lexis, the development of written Livonian displays an easily ­traceable tendency to purify the language from alien influences, while examples from kindred languages are widely used. In a nutshell, the development of the ­Livonian written language can be periodized as follows: 1) 19th century tradition (1863—1880); 2) 20th century tradition (1920 —). The 20th century written language tradition can in turn be divided even further: a) the research period of the 1920s (1920—1929); b) the ”Līvli” period (1931—1972); c) the period of functional changes (1972 —).


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