The article deals with the discourse pertaining to the ties between the Lithuanian language and identity in the Prussian Kingdom at the cusp of the 18th and the 19th centuries. The main sources here are four forewords to Christian Gottlieb Mielcke’s (Lith. Kristijonas Gotlybas Milkus) dictionary Littauisch-deutsches und Deutsch-littauisches Wörter-Buch (1800) as monologue texts sharing the following elements: (1) the subject of the focus (the view of the language and the nation); (2) the direct context (book publication); (3) the historical context (the political situation in the Prussian Kingdom at the cusp of the 18th and the 19th centuries); (4) the target (German reader); (5) the contents (descriptive and evaluative statements about the language and the nation). Discourse analysis is applied as a methodological access-way. In this discourse, views of the language and the nation were articulated by persons holding different positions: (1) Christian Gottlieb Mielcke, cantor at the Evangelic Lutheran Church of Pilkalnis; (2) Daniel Jenisch, philosopher and Evangelic Lutheran priest of Berlin;
(3) Christoph Friedrich Heilsberg, counsellor at the House of War and Domains in Königsberg, school counsellor in Königsberg; (4) philosopher Immanuel Kant. Since Heilsberg initiated Mielcke’s foreword in April of 1799 and wrote one himself in December of 1799, brokered the deal between Mielcke and the printing house and kept correspondence with all the authors, he could have provided an impetus for writing forewords to others, and then given them the conditions to rely on the texts by one another to formulate a relevant
discourse about the Lithuanian language and nation. All four forewords target the German reader. The authors of the forewords imagined the target differently, with Mielcke and Heilsberg approaching it from a rather pragmatic, Jenisch and Kant, a scientific position. Mielcke identified five target groups: priests, teachers, lawyers, translators, merchants; according to Heilsberg, these were public servants, lawyers, merchants, and teachers, hence both of them were focusing on the non-Lithuanians whose duty it was to proliferate general and religious teaching, solve legal and administrative issues, engage in trade. Jenisch and Kant primarily focused on members of the scientific and educational tribe. As representatives of different trades, the authors of the forewords also differed in their descriptions of the underlying subject of the discourse: 1. Mielcke defined the range of the Lithuanian language that had expanded in the Prussian Kingdom after the Third Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian (1795) and the need for it to be learned by non-Lithuanians, in the New Eastern Prussia post annexation in particular, to facilitate the formation of communications. In his description of the key users of the Lithuanian language, he also addressed the cultural (language, customs, traditions) and social (rustic origin) aspects of identity. 2. Jenisch considered the Lithuanian language scientifically valuable due to how old it was, its affinity with other languages, and the conservation of the characteristic features of the parent language, yet predicted its demise and raised the question of recording it for science. Jenisch approached all languages as tools for the formation and preservation of the nation’s character, and considered language and customs to be the key elements of the individuality of nations and, by the same margin, the cultural identity of Lithuanians. He saw the national Lithuanian pride and distrust towards foreigners (that could only be turned into trust when these latter spoke Lithuanian) as negative traits. Jenisch tied the disappearance of the old views and the cultural advancement with education and contacts with the western neighbouring nations; hence he approached the introduction of the German language as the right tool for the expansion of education and culture.
Paul Friedrich Ruhig’s (Ruhigk, ~1721–~1784) grammar Anfangsgründe einer Littauischen Grammatick (1747, RG) is the fifth Lithuanian grammar book of Prussian Lithuania. It was written by a very young man (in 1747 he was probably around twenty five years old) who came from the famous Ruhig family, known for its work with the Lithuanian language. Ruhig wrote the grammar while working as a Docent in the Lithuanian Language Seminar that was established in 1718 at the University of Königsberg’s Theology Department. He based his writing on earlier grammar books and on his own pedagogical experience. Ruhig’s Grammar is primarily intended for those attending the Lithuanian Language Seminar. The aim of this article is to determine how Ruhig understood Lithuanian dialects, how he defined their territories, and how he explained some particularities differently than authors of previous grammar books. The article will also pay attention to some of the inaccurate interpretations of this work in contemporary linguistic studies. The research addresses several aspects: 1) territorial—spread of variations; 2) markedness—distinctiveness related to other variants; 3) normative—the relationship with written language. The article first provides an overview of dialects as an object of Lithuanian language research from the 17th–18th centuries, then turns to Ruhig’s concept of dialects, their categorizations and linguistic particularities. The research seeks to determine the sources that he used and how original, how substantiated, and how acceptable are his conclusions. Ruhig devotes more attention to Lithuanian dialects than the four previous grammar books of Prussian Lithuania. Rather than indicating exceptional cases of dialectic particularities as was done in previous books, the description in the special RG chapter shows that they are instead intended to be a teaching tool. The idea to create such a chapter was taken from father Philipp Ruhig’s (Ruhigk, 1675–1749) treatise Betrachtung der Littauischen Sprache, in ihrem Ursprunge, Wesen und Eigenschaften (1745, RB), in which dialects are understood to be a research object of interest to researchers of history and language. When classifying the Lithuanian dialects, RG distinguishes for the first time between a main dialect (Hauptdialect) and secondary dialects (Neben=Mundarten oder Dialectos). The main dialect is found in Prussian Lithuania, specifically around Įsrutis (Insterburg) and Ragainė (Ragnit). There are three secondary dialects: two in Lithuania Major—the Samogitian Duchy and the remaining parts of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy—and the third in Prussian Lithuania—in the area around Klaipėda (Memel). The Klaipėda dialect is divided into three subdialects for the first time: those of žemininkai (‘living on land’), žvejininkai (‘fishermen’), and the ethnic Kuršiai (Curonians). Such a layout of dialect classification can be seen as a clearly demarcated relationship of center and periphery, according to Ruhig. Paul Friedrich Ruhig sketched the territories of Lithuanian dialects not only according to the national boundaries, but also according to linguistic features. The most important criteria for distinguishing the dominant dialect as the core of the Lithuanian language are: 1) commonality; 2) stability; 3) authority. RG understands secondary dialects as an extension of the dominant dialect; they are more readily influenced by other languages and dialects, which by assimilating those characteristic features, diverge from the dominant dialect. RG considers dialects as a specific phenomenon of language which is influenced by external forces, namely the interaction of languages, other dialect variations, and cultures. By evaluating the Lithuanian dialects according to the opposition primary : secondary, Ruhig purposefully forged the path of codifying language norms and presenting them to society. Accentuating the stability, universality, and prestige of a single dialect must have influenced the for
The epistolary legacy of Heinrich Lysius (Lith. Henrikas Lyzijus, 1670–1731) related to the affairs of the churches and schools of Prussian Lithuania provides insight into both, the then state of education and the efforts to introduce the Lithuanian language as a subject of compulsory primary education. The legacy of this theme is stored in several German memory institutions (now 8 letters are known) but the search for letters and documents must be continued. Their part containing data on the establishment of the educational system in Prussian Lithuania in 1710s–1720s is analysed here. The obligations of King Friedrich Wilhelm I to Lysius to establish a compulsory primary education system was also dictated by the continuous correspondence on education issues with Frederick Wilhelm I, the King of Prussia, and August Hermann Francke (1663– 1727), a professor at the University of Halle. Two letters by Lysius, which were written to Frederick Wilhelm I, the King of Prussia (1688–1740, ruled in 1713–1740), are kept in the Secret State Archives of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Ger. Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz; GStA PK), are significant as sources bearing evidence to the initial stage of the activities of the Lithuanian language seminar at the University of Königsberg in 1718–1721, which had been scarcely documented until now. The letter dated 27 October 1718 allows for the conclusion that in the winter semester of 1718 the seminar was not yet open: the facilities and resources had not been established, no educational activities took place, and only organisational preparatory actions were carried out. At that time, Lysius only sought to attract students (12–20) from Prussian Lithuania and to provide them with preferences: alumnate and convict. The letter dated 31 July 1722 bears evidence to the following facts relating to the activities of the seminar: (1) the seminar led by Lysius in Königsberg was conducted for at least two years and was started for a third year; (2) its activities terminated in 1721 not due to the lack of students or their inability to learn and not through the fault of Lysius; but rather as a result of organisational decisions of the King: the refusal to grant the post of the senior preacher of the chamber to Lysius and the termination of his powers to take care of churches and schools; (3) the seminar was conducted according to the principles set by Lysius; (4) the activities of the seminar were productive: it prepared a group of persons suitable for serving in Prussian Lithuania and three of them, when vacancies opened, began working in schools.