2023, Volume 20, Issue 1

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Sofya A. Afanasyeva
Institute of Slavic Studies of the RAS
Moscow, Russia

The Mechanisms of Rendering Lithuanian Proper Names in Belorussian-Lithuanian Chronicles

Voprosy onomastiki, 2023, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp. 92–110 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2023.20.1.006

Received on 14 June 2022
Accepted on 11 November 2022

Abstract: The article examines the strategies of rendering Lithuanian proper names in fifteen Belorussian-Lithuanian chronicles created in the 14th–18th centuries. Thirteen of them are written in the literary language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, based on East Slavic dialects, the other two are in Polish and Latin. The language of the chronicles was hardly influenced by Lithuanian, but each contains Lithuanian proper names, since the subject of the chronicles is the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Most of the proper names are pre-Christian Lithuanian two-stem personal names with some occurrence of toponyms, hydronyms and ethnonyms. The spelling of proper names can be explained by referring to the history of the Lithuanian language and dialectology. Scribes of Slavic origin typically replaced “foreign” Lithuanian sounds with approximate sounds of their native language. This allows the author to consistently trace the logic of rendering the Lithuanian vowels o and a, vocal diphthongs ai and au, mixed diphthongs an, al, and ir and several elements of the consonant system. Apart from that, the reflection of Lithuanian dialect features makes the Belorussian-Lithuanian chronicles a valuable source for the study of Lithuanian historical phonetics and dialectology. Even though in most cases the name rendering strategies reflect real phonetic phenomena, sometimes the form of a name is bound by tradition and the language of the translation source, which is supported by the fact that chronicles are written in both Cyrillic and Latin.

Keywords: anthroponyms; toponyms; hydronyms; ethnonyms; Lithuanian language; Grand Duchy of Lithuania; Belorussian-Lithuanian Chronicles; linguistic geography; historical phonetics; dialectology.

The study was funded by the Russian Science Foundation (project number 22-18-00365 Semiotic Models in the Cross-Cultural Space: Balcano-Balto-Slavica, https://rscf.ru/project/22-18-00365).


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