Studying the prosody of the

  Finnic languages of Latvia.

Fields near the former site of the Lutsi villlage of Dǖnaburi in the eastern Nirza Lutsi region.
(Photo: Uldis Balodis; Dǖnaburi (Dinaburski), Latvia, 2017)

What are the Southernmost Finnic languages?

The Southernmost Finnic languages are Livonian, South Estonian – in Estonia as well as its language island varieties in Latvia and Russia, and Krevin Votic. The Southernmost Finnic varieties at the focus of this project are four languages historically spoken in Latvia: the two documented varieties of Livonian – Courland and Salaca Livonian – and the two South Estonian language island varieties spoken in Latvia – Leivu and Lutsi.

The goals of the Southernmost Finnic Prosody Project:

The Southernmost Finnic Prosody Project is a project at the University of Tartu Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, which aims to generate a comprehensive description of the prosodic structures of the Southernmost Finnic languages in their areal context.  Realisation of complex prosodic phenomena – quantity alternations, tonal contrasts, and intonation – will be observed on different linguistic levels. For this purpose, the project is using both qualitative and quantitative methods of acoustic phonetics and phonology. The study of Latvian influence on Southern Finnic prosody (e.g., stød or broken tone – a prosodic feature found in Latvian and all Southernmost Finnic varieties spoken in Latvia but not in other Finnic languages) will provide new information on the results of Baltic and Finnic language contact. This project initiates a new phase in the study of the Southernmost Finnic languages – a systematic analysis of interaction between prosodic phenomena in authentic speech corpora.

Our project team:

Principal Investigator: Karl Pajusalu (University of Tartu)

Researchers: Uldis Balodis (University of Tartu, University of Latvia Livonian Institute), Pire Teras (University of Tartu), Tuuli Tuisk (University of Tartu, University of Copenhagen, University of Latvia), Nele Ots, Janek Vaab (University of Tartu).