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The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society cover
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society

Joachim Rossihniuse ja Heinrich Stahli perikoopide võrdlus; pp. 65–110

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Ahti Lohk, Kristiina Ross


A comparison of the pericopes of Joachim Rossihnius and Heinrich Stahl

The article compares two Estonian-language translated publications from the early 17th century, the books of pericopes of Joachim Rossihnius (1632) and Heinrich Stahl (1638), to clarify the relationship between them and their connection with a possible earlier tradition. These are two roughly contemporaneous publications, one of which represents South Estonian and the other of which represents North Estonian. Despite the difference in target languages, researchers have previously noticed the great similarity between these two authors’ translated texts, which has led to efforts to explain this similarity. The analysis herein aims to contribute to the study of this question, using the historical concordance material of Estonian Bible translations (, which allows for easier comparison of different translations. The article presents separate quantitative and qualitative analyses.
For the quantitative analysis, all parts of the Bible occurring in both translations were compared (total 1404 verses) on four levels: the words, their base forms, neighboring words, and word order, using measures of lexical diversity and density, with word pairs identified by Venn diagrams, part of speech filters and symmetrical statistics, cosine similarity and normalized longest common subsequence. The quantitative analysis highlighted the striking similarity between the two translations, which is primarily brought about by the translation method of the time, which emphasized the formal equivalency of the translation with the original. Differences were observed primarily in orthography, which at the time remained highly variable and unstandardized. Interesting differences were also found in the comparison of neighboring words, which confirmed the expectation that e.g. genitive constructions would be formed differently in the two translations. The quantitative analysis also highlighted rarely occurring linguistic forms and particularly weakly connected versions of verses, the further study of which could help to explain the relationship of each translation to previous tradition and the common language of the time.
For the qualitative analysis, roughly half of the material (729 chosen verses) was taken and the translations were compared phrase by phrase with each other and with their source text, Martin Luther’s German translation. The qualitative analysis shows that both versions exhibit examples of a tradition likely dating back to the Catholic period. The coincidence in the usage of terms and formulaic expressions can be explained by these expressions already having taken root. However, within the context of the tradition of the time, the two translations do clearly stand apart from one another: Rossihnius’s version preserves greater formal equivalence to the German translation, while Stahl’s is more dynamic and contains more vernacular expressions differing from the structure of Luther’s version. The rendering of certain individual pericopes can be presumed to have been based on a common earlier translation.


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