Linguistic scenery in Latvian botany textbooks (1880s–1940s): Stable and varying features


  • Jānis Veckrācis Ventspils University of Applied Sciences



specialised lexis, terminology, compounds, language change, botany


Texts, including original botany textbooks (not translations or adaptations) produced in the second part of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century embody a period of intense linguistic development in the Latvian language. This paper provides a linguistic analysis of the features of two botany textbooks: Botānika tautas skolām un pašmācībai (Botany for Folk Schools and Self-Education) by Jānis Ilsters (1883) and Botānika (Botany) by Pauls Galenieks, also citing its further editions (1924–1945). The aim of the study is to collate data that is representative of morphological, syntactic and lexical changes and stable elements from these texts. The respective linguistic phenomena are discussed and analysed in the context of language facts present in several dictionaries and other relevant publications. The data obtained in this study illustrates that by the end of the period covered in this paper, the process of turbulent linguistic changes in the Latvian language had been replaced by more balanced development with some indications of stabilisation, although numerous features remained variable and dynamic. Despite a number of the syntactic and lexical elements recorded in the main sources of the study having since changed and/or become obsolete, these textbooks provide evidence that both the Latvian language and the linguistic materials used in botany were to a great extent already well developed and had begun to enter the stabilisation phase. In recent years, botany has become an area of increased linguistic interest among botany experts and linguists themselves, although the collation of a detailed data set detailing the development of the whole body of specialised lexis used in botany remains a task for the future.