Revival of the old Prussian language

Monday, March 22, 2010

In the comments section of the last post on Kaliningrad we've gotten onto the discussion of the Old Prussian language (a fairly recently extinct Baltic language, and apparently the most conservative) whereupon after a bit of searching I came across an active (2000+ messages in 150+ threads) forum here written entirely in Old Prussian, so a theoretical revival of the language may not be so difficult if the situation permits, as has recently been the case with smaller Celtic languages like Manx and Cornish which are starting to come to life again. These languages are able to do so not only due to local interest, but more importantly the fact that their revival is taking place in a country that has no interest (anymore) in keeping these smaller languages down. Whether Prussian could be revived as is or whether a partially or fully independent Kaliningrad/Königsberg/Prussia would be necessary, I don't know.

When reviving a language in a region, the first order of the day is the establishment of a visible presence, which means street signs.

(That's French and Breton)

Street signs are a perfect option in the beginning, because:

- They are simple to make. Street signs usually have just a few words and at most a few sentences, and any language worth its salt should be able to accomplish this.
- They are permanent. Creating a curriculum for students to learn the language to be revived is a good thing, but requires a sustained effort that may not be possible in the beginning. Signs on the other hand are made once and then remain standing, and serve as a 24/7 advertisement for the language for whoever passes by.
- They usually require simple municipal approval, and not only is this easier to obtain than state or national approval, but it's also a good way to judge the support for the language among the populace, since it's their tax money that will be used to place and maintain them. If they are adamantly opposed to the idea then it's probably a good sign that the revival won't work anyway, and if they have no problem with it then it's a sign of clear interest among those living in the area.

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