By Terje Mathiassen
Publication by way of TERJE MATHIASSEN
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Additional info for A Short Grammar of Lithuanian
We have some documents in this language from the Common Era. In terms of political and cultural importance, Babylonian literary language was the most important predecessor of Latin in the Near East. In the Persian Empire, Aramaic, in the form that is known as Imperial Aramaic, became the lingua franca of an enormous territory that extended from Egypt to the Indus River. It showed a considerable level of standardization. Imperial Aramaic was undoubtedly a ﬁ xed language that, at least in this form, would not have been the vernacular language of a majority of the population.
A review of older and more recent written cultures throughout the world indicates that this also holds true for many regionally more limited languages. In almost all regions of the world in which a written culture maintained itself for centuries, there is often a language that is learned in school and preserves this cultural tradition even after that region has experienced changes in population. Sumerian, classical Chinese, Old Church Slavonic, and Sanskrit are prominent examples. The emphasis in linguistics on the processes of oral communication and the general lack of interest in historical linguistic research may be to blame for the lack of comparative studies of these languages to date.
Nevertheless, they had a greater interest in participating in Greece through literature. This applied all the more to the Ptolemaic court in Egyptian Alexandria. This city, where Greek was a completely new language introduced by a small class of rulers, managed to establish itself during the Hellenistic period as one of the most important literary centers. At times Alexandria outstripped even Athens in importance because it was where the Greek literary tradition was preserved. Alexandria played a central role in terms of textual continuity and the production of new literature.