Download Lithuanian

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts
no text concepts found
See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at:
Article in Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire. Belgisch tijdschrift voor philologie en geschiedenis · January 2010
DOI: 10.3406/rbph.2010.7803
1 author:
Bonifacas Stundžia
Vilnius University
Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:
Compounding in old German Dictionaries of Baltic languages View project
All content following this page was uploaded by Bonifacas Stundžia on 14 March 2018.
The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.
Bonifacas STUNDŽIA ( )
The identity
1.1. The name
Lietùvių kalbà, which is literally ‘the language of Lithuanians’, is an
original term for ‘Lithuanian, the Lithuanian language’. The noun lietùvis, -ė
‘person of Lithuanian descent’ represents a derivative from Lietuvà ‘Lithuania’,
the name of the country of Lithuanians originating from a name of a little river
Lietáuka (the word is Slavicized), which flows into the Neris River in the
present region of Jonava and not far from Kernavė, the ancient capital of
Lithuania. Lithuanians were first mentioned in historical sources in 1009 A.D.
1.2. The family affiliation
1.2.1. Origin
Lithuanian, the most conservative living Indo-European language, is
descended from the Baltic group (the name was derived from the Baltic Sea).
Together with Latvian and such dead languages as Semigallian and Selonian,
Lithuanian belongs to the East Baltic branch of the Baltic group, whereas the
Western branch consists only of dead languages, i.e. Old Prussian (with
monuments), Yotvingian, Curonian and Galindian (without monuments). As
Zinkevčius writes (1998, p. 1), “the Lithuanian language originated from that
Proto-Indo-European dialect region from which the Slavic and Germanic
languages are descended”. That is why and because of long-standing contacts
these groups (especially Balts and Slavs) have common traits, borrowings and
1.2.2. Substrata, adstrata, superstrata
Although the Indo-European heritage is notable in Lithuanian, the basic
Lithuanian vocabulary, and phonological and grammatical structure is Baltic,
including substratic elements left by the extinct Baltic languages. The adstratum
can be exemplified by the influence of Belarusian on East Lithuanian dialects,
(1) In 1981, Bonifacas Stundžia obtained his doctorate with a dissertation on the category of
gender in the Baltic languages, and in 1995, he obtained his habilitation with a monograph on
the accentuation system of Standard Lithuanian. Since 1992, he is a member of the State
Commission of the Lithuanian Language. Since 1996, he is head of the Department of Baltic
Linguistics at Vilnius University, and Chief Editor of Baltistica, Journal of Baltic Linguistics.
Since 1997, he is Professor of Baltic linguistics, and from 1997 to September 2006 he also was
Dean of the Faculty of Philology at Vilnius University. He is author of several books and more
than 60 articles on various aspects of Baltic and Lithuanian linguistics.
Thanks are due to Dr. Lionginas Pažūsis and Jayde Will (Vilnius) for the corrections of
this text.
while the superstratum could be shown by the influence of German on Klaipėda
region Lithuanian as well as the influence of Russian on Modern Lithuanian
during Soviet times (see 2.2.1).
1.3. The distinctive features
1.3.1. Phonology
Lithuanian has six short and eight long vowels:
Short vowels
Long vowels
The above diagram shows that there is lack of symmetry between the
systems of short and long vowels:
— the latter system has variable phonemes /ie:/ and /uo:/ which are
absent in the former system (2);
— the short mid vowels are marginal and attested only in words of
foreign origin; moreover, the vowel /e/ is used only by some speakers. All
vowels are found both in stressed and unstressed positions. A specific
phenomenon is the lengthening of short vowels /æ/ and /a/ in stressed syllables.
Lithuanian has a rich inventory of diphthongs. The most frequent are ei, ai
and au. Besides real diphthongs, the so-called semi-diphthongs are
characteristic of Lithuanian. They are constituted by sequences of a vowel (e, a,
i, u) + a sonorant (r, l, m, n).
Except /j/, 44 consonants are grouped into 22 pairs according to softness
vs. hardness:
— (plosives) /p/: /pà/, /b/: /bà/, /t/: /tà/, /d/: /dà/, /k/: /kà/, /g/: /gà/;
— (fricatives) /f/: /fà/, /s/: /sà/, /z/: /zà/, /S/: /Sà/, /Z/: /Zà/, /x/: /xà/, /h/: /hà/;
(affricates) /ts/: /tsà/, /dz/: /dzà/, /tS/: /tSà/, /dZ/: /dZà/;
(nasals) /m/: /mà/, /n/: /nà/;
(vibrants) /r/: /rà/;
(approximants) /v/: /và/, /l/: /là/.
The consonants /x/, /f/ and /h/ are attested only in words of foreign origin.
Lithuanian has free stress, which is inherited from Indo-European, and the
opposition of two tones, i.e. acute and circumflex, characteristic only of stressed
long stem syllables. In the paradigm of a word, stress can be both immobile and
(2) The long variable vowels phonetically are diphthongoids pronounced as [iøê] resp. [u0ê]
and traditionally are treated as diphthongs.
mobile. In order to account for the behaviour of stress and tone in the paradigms
of nominals, four accent classes are distinguished and designated with the
numbers 1, 2, 3 (3a, 3b, 34a, 34b…) and 4. Only two accent classes, i.e. immobile
and mobile, are characteristic of the verbs, and they are not designated in
1.3.2. Morphology
The noun has three grammatical categories: (1) gender, (2) number, and
(3) case. Lithuanian distinguishes between two genders: the masculine and the
feminine. The gender of nouns can be determined by simple rules since there is
a connection between the declensional type of a word and its gender, e.g. nouns
with a nom. sg. in -as, -ys, -us are masculine whereas in -a and -ė are, as a rule,
feminine. Standard Lithuanian distinguishes between two numbers: the singular
and the plural, while some dialects have also preserved the dual. Nominals are
characterized by a six-case declension system. Nominative, dative and locative
occur without a preposition, whereas genitive, accusative and instrumental are
used both with and without a preposition. In the singular, the noun also has a
specific form of the vocative.
The majority of adjectives and some pronouns and numerals, besides the
masculine and the feminine, also have a special indeclinable form which is a
relic of neuter, e.g. skanù ‘tasty’ (cf. m. skanùs, f. skanì), añtra ‘secondly’ (cf.
m. añtras, f. antrà ‘second’). Adjectives expressing a quality form degrees of
comparison with the help of suffixes, e.g. skanèsnis, -ė ‘tastier’, skaniáusias, -ia
‘tastiest’. The adjectives of quality as well as adjectivally used pronouns and
numerals distinguish between short and long (definite) forms, e.g. skanùsis,
skanióji ‘the tasty one’, skanesnỹsis, skanesnióji ‘the tastier one’, skaniáusiasis,
skaniáusioji ‘the tastiest one’. A parallel phenomenon is found in Latvian and
Slavic languages. The verb has seven grammatical categories. Four of them are
specific verbal categories, i.e. (1) tense, (2) aspect, (3) mood and (4) voice,
while the other three are characteristic also of nominals, i.e. (5) number, (6)
person and (7) gender.
The indicative has four tenses: the present, the past, the past frequentative
and the future, e.g. dìrbu ‘[I] work’, dìrbau ‘[I] worked’, dìrbdavau ‘[I] worked
many times’, dìrbsiu ‘[I] will work’. The basic aspectual classification of verbs
divides them into two classes, i. e. imperfective verbs and perfective verbs. The
opposition of these two classes is expressed by lexical (mostly derivational) but
not grammatical means, e.g. the majority of verbs having word formation
suffixes are imperfective whereas the majority of prefixed verbs are attributed to
the perfective class.
Besides the indicative, Lithuanian distinguishes the imperative and the
subjunctive mood. The imperative is formed with the help of the suffix -k(i),
whereas the subjunctive has the suffix -tu (both are innovations), e.g. 2 sg.
dìrbk, dìrbtum, 2 pl. dìrbkite, dìrbtu(mė)te.
Lithuanian distinguishes between two voices – active and passive. The
category of voice is morphologically manifested only in the class of participles,
e. g. stãtantis, -i ‘[the one who is] building’: stãtomas, -a ‘[being] built’
(present), stãtęs, stãčiusi ‘[the one who) built’: (pa)statýtas, -a ‘built’ (past), etc.
Two numbers, i.e. singular and plural, are characteristic of the verb, the
dual being used only in western dialects. Lithuanian distinguishes between three
persons. The form of the 3rd person is the same both for singular and plural (an
innovation together with Latvian), e.g. 1 sg. dìrbu ‘[I] work’, 2 sg. dìrbi ‘[you]
work’, 1 pl. dìrbame ‘[we] work’, 2 pl. dìrbate ‘[you] work’, 3 dìrba ‘[he, she]
works, [they] work’.
The category of gender is relevant only for participle forms, e.g. m.
dìrbamas ‘[while] working’, f. dirbamà, and a specific indeclinable form
1.3.3. Syntax
Lithuanian belongs to the accusative (nominative)-type languages. The
word order is free but changes in it normally alter the content of the utterance.
Subject-Verb-Object word order is prevalent in simple sentences. As far as
extended sentences are concerned the wide usage of constructions with
participles and gerunds is a peculiarity of Lithuanian. The subject is expressed
with the nominative case, while the direct object, as a rule, with the accusative
one, e.g. vaĩkas skaĩto knỹgą ‘a child reads a book’. The genitive partitive for
the expression of object also can be used, cf. vaĩkas ìma dúoną ‘a child takes the
bread’ and vaĩkas ìma dúonos ‘a child takes some bread’. In Baltic and some
other Indo-European languages the genitive is used after a negation too, e.g.
vaĩkas neskaĩto knỹgos ‘the child does not read the book’. Double negation is
characteristic of Baltic and Slavic languages, e.g. vaĩkas niẽko neskaĩto ‘(lit.) the
child nothing does not read’. The indirect object is expressed with the dative and
instrumental, e.g. vaĩkas knỹgą dãvė draũgui (dat. sg.) ‘a child gave a book to a
friend’, mẽs prekiáujame knỹgomis (instr. pl.) ‘we are selling books’. The
attribute is expressed with an adjective, which is made to agree with the noun,
cf. gražùs vaĩkas ‘a nice child’ and gražì mergáitė ‘a nice girl’.
1.3.4. Alphabet and spelling system
Lithuanian uses the Latin alphabet consisting of 32 letters: a ą b c č d e ę ė
f g h i į y j k l m n o p r s š t u ų ū v z ž. Latin letters x, q and w are absent in the
alphabet, and there are 9 additional letters with diacritics which are mostly taken
from Polish and Czech.
The letters ą, ę, ė, į, y, ų, ū designate long vowels: ę and ė differ in quality
(ę is open and ė is closed) but the pairs į / y and ų / ū represent long phonemes
/i:/ and /u:/ respectively (the difference in writing of them could be explained
only etymologically).
The letters a, e, i, u represent short vowels the first two of which are
lengthened in most cases under stress. The letter o designates both short and
long vowel. The variable long vowels /ie:/ and /uo:/ are spelled through the
digraphs ie and uo respectively.
The consonants are spelled mostly in the same way as illustrated in the
section on phonology (see 1.3.1). The deviations are as follows:
— the affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tS/ and /dʒ/ are written c, dz, č and dž
— the fricative /x/ is expressed by the digraph ch, whereas its voiced
counterpart /h/ is spelled with h;
— the spelling of soft consonants differs from that of hard ones only in
their position before back vowels: in this case softness is expressed by the letter
i, e.g. mýliu /` mi:làu/ ‘[I] love’.
Stress and tone are represented as follows: short stressed syllables are
marked with a grave (`) (3), whereas the long ones are marked with an acute (´)
or a circumflex (˜) depending on a concrete tone, e.g. bùtas ‘flat; apartment’,
penkì ‘five’, výras ‘man’, vỹnas ‘wine’, rgti ‘to ferment’, rkti ‘to smoke’ (4).
To read Lithuanian is easy, because the words are usually pronounced as
they are spelt. The Lithuanian orthography is based mostly on morphological
and phonological principles.
The history
2.1. The emergence
Distinctly Lithuanian features began to appear starting around the 7th c.
A.D. when the northern region of the East Baltic language began to change
quickly and differ from the southern region where Proto-Lithuanians lived.
Most likely the East Balts were split by a strong Finnish influence under which
the Latvian and some extinct Baltic languages had formed, whereas Lithuanian
remained conservative and similar to the East Baltic prototype which had
developed from the Proto-Baltic after its break-up in about the 5th c. B.C.
2.2. The periodization
2.2.1. Preliterate Lithuanian (from about the 7th c. to the 16th c.)
The following factors have been important for the development of early
Lithuanian: (1) contacts with the surrounding Baltic tribes; (2) expansion of
(3) In iR-, uR-, eR- and oR- type semi-diphthongs the grave represents an acute tone, e.g.
pìrmas ‘first’, pùlti ‘to attack’, fèrma ‘farm’, spòrtas ‘sport’.
(4) In diphthongs (and ie, uo) acute is marked upon the first letter whereas circumflex is
marked upon the second one, cf. léisti ‘to allow’ and ke§isti ‘change’, ántis ‘duck’ and añtis
‘bosom’, víenas ‘one’ and šiẽnas ‘hay’.
Slavs towards the Baltic Sea and contacts with East Slavs, as well as later with
Poles and Germans; (3) introduction of Christianity (begun in 1251, and
renewed in 1387), (4) creation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1236–(1569)1795); (5) crusades against the Baltic nations (1202-1525).
It seems that the contacts with neighbouring Baltic tribes have contributed
greatly to Lithuanian, especially to the formation and development of
Lithuanian dialects. According to Zinkevičius (1998, pp. 35ff.), the Prussian and
Yotvingian languages had an archaizing effect on the West Aukštaitian (i.e.
West High Lithuanian) dialects located near Kaunas, and on the dialects of the
former Prussian Lithuania, or Lithuania Minor, located in the Duchy of Prussia.
These two similar dialects are extremely important for the formation and
codification of standard language. As to the linguistic contacts with Curonian,
Semigallian, and Selonian, they were associated, as a rule, with various
innovations in the western (Žemaitian), northern and north-eastern (West and
East Aukštaitian) Lithuanian dialects. All the above-mentioned bordering Baltic
tribes were assimilated by Lithuanians, Latvians as well as in part by Germans
and Slavs in the 15th-17th centuries. As far as the early contacts with Latvians
are concerned, in ancient times the Lithuanian population stretched deep into the
eastern part of the present-day Latgale region but only some pockets remain to
this day because of assimilation.
When the Lithuanians came into direct contact with the East Slavic is
difficult to determine, but it “could hardly have taken place before the beginning
of the 9th c.” (Zinkevičius : 1998, p. 54). The close contacts in question
influenced Lithuanian, introducing loanwords, calques and stimulating certain
developments mostly in the eastern dialects. The oldest East Slavisms seem to
be, e.g. čérpė ‘tile’ (< Sl. *čerpŭ), lénkas ‘Pole’ (< Sl. *lęchŭ), bažnýčia
‘church’ (< божница ‘pagan shrine’), Velýkos ‘Easter’ (< великъ (день)).
A number of phonetic changes could be treated as being influenced or
rather stimulated by contacts with the East Slavs, e.g. (1) the change of ą, an,
am to ų, un, um in eastern Lithuania, e.g. ksnis ‘piece; bit’, rankà ‘hand’,
sámtis ‘ladle’ > ksnis, runkà, súmtis; cf. OSl. rǫka > Russ. рука; (2) the
hardening of l before an e type vocalism which is the most intensive in the
eastern territory of Lithuanian.
Concerning German, its direct influence on Lithuanian is obvious,
especially on the language of those Lithuanians who lived in Prussia.
Germanisms came from German used in East Prussia (EPG) as well as from
Middle Low (MLG) and seldom from Middle High (MHG) German or North
Germanic (NG), cf.: bùdelis ‘hangman’ (< EPG boddel), pìnigas ‘money; coin’
(< MLG pennig), kùnigas ‘priest’ (< OHG kunig), gãtvė ‘street’ (< NG *gatvō).
The Lithuanians had no direct contacts with the Baltic Finns, and the
influence of the latter could reach mostly the (north)western Lithuanian dialects
through Curonians and Semigallians. As for the contacts with the Poles, the
Lithuanian and Polish lands were separated by the Yotvingians in early times.
The spread of Polish in Lithuania is associated mostly with the Lithuanian
Catholic Church which was subordinated to the Polish Catholic hierarchy. The
oldest rare Polonisms were borrowed by Lithuanians in preliterate times, e.g.
mišià ‘Mass’ (< Pol. msza), and pópiežius ‘Pope’ (< Pol. papież).
The Lithuanians were the only Baltic tribe that created their own state in
the Middle Ages. The successful expansions to the east enabled Lithuania’s
rulers (especially Vytautas the Great) to incorporate into the state a large
territory of the Rus, which still had people of the Baltic tribes living on its land.
The old Lithuanian state was multinational and multilingual. Lithuanian, though
merely a spoken form of it, was used not only in ethnic Lithuania but also for
public matters managed by officials, perhaps all over the state, cf. the
terminology of Lithuanian origin used in the chancellery Slavic, the main
official written state language, e.g. мезлева ‘deliveries of animals to the state…’
(< Lithuanian mẽzliava: mèsti ‘throw’).
Since writing came to Lithuanians late, the data of the Lithuanian dialects
is extremely valuable for the research of the history of language. It seems that
the dialectal differentiation began when Lithuanian split off from the East Baltic
branch. In the opinion of Zinkevičius (1998, pp. 193ff.), the narrowing of the
nasals ą, ę beginning from the 9th-10th c. divided the Lithuanian language
territory into two dialectal units: the western including the Teutonic Order’s
lands inhabited by Lithuanians (without change) and the eastern including the
current Belarus territory inhabited by later Slavicized Lithuanians (with the
change to ų, į) (more on Lithuanian dialects see in 3.2.1).
Dialectal integration, an opposit process to the formation of dialects, is
very important for written language. According to Zinkevičius (1998, p. 222),
“at the end of the preliterate period two distinct interdialects had already been
more or less formed […] in the Lithuanian state […]”. One of them, which
originated in the capital Vilnius and its nearby regions, was called simply
“Lithuanian”. The other interdialect was formed in the current centre of ethnic
Lithuania, which belonged to the Duchy of Samogitia and therefore was called
the “Žemaitian language”. Being based on the local subdialect of West
Aukštaitian, the latter interdialect differed significantly from that of Vilnius but
was close to the Prussian Lithuanian. On the basis of these interdialects and on
the Lithuanian dialect used in Prussia, three variants of written Lithuanian were
created in the 16th-17th c.
Now let us examine the most important traits of preliterate Lithuanian and
the development of its system.
(a) Phonetics
In the vocalic system consisting of 4 short /i æ a u/ and 6 long /i: e: æ: a:
o: u:/ vowels, the long mid phonemes /e:/ and /o:/ were diphthongized and
became the diphthong-like long vowels /ie:/ and /uo:/, e.g. Balt. *veinas >
EBalt. *vēnas > Lithuanian víenas ‘one’, (E)Balt. *dōnā > Lithuanian dúona
‘bread’. At the end of the preliterate period, the place of the old long mid vowels
was occupied by the current Lithuanian /e:/ and /o:/ which developed from the
long low vowels /æ:/ and /a:/, e.g. EBalt. *tēvas, *prātas > Lithuanian tvas
‘father’, prõtas ‘mind; intellect’. The new low long vowels developed from the
denasalized ą, ę.
The sequences an, en, in, un in word-final position and before non-plosive
consonants changed to nasals ą, ę, į, ų, e.g. ac. sg. *vīran, *saulen, *dantin,
*sūnun > výrą ‘man’, sáulę ‘sun’, dañtį ‘tooth’, snų ‘son’; *kansnīs, *kensti,
*drinsti, *skunsti > ksnis ‘bite; mouthful’, ksti ‘to suffer’, drsti ‘to dare’,
sksti ‘to complain, blame’.
Except for some dialects, Lithuanian retained short vowels in word
endings, cf. nom. sg. avìs ‘sheep’ and Lat. ovis, Gk. óïs (Indo-European *-is).
The history of the long word-final vowels depended on the tone of the ending.
The long vowels in circumflex endings remained long, e.g. nom. sg. kat ‘cat’
(-ė from *-ē), nom. pl. snūs ‘sons’ (-ūs from *-ūs). Meanwhile the long vowels
in acute endings were shortened, e.g. nom. sg. galvà ‘head’ is derived from
*galv. This phenomenon was discovered by the German linguist August
Leskien at the end of 19th c. It seems that shortening of the acute endings, or
Leskien’s law, took place around the 14th c. One more law important for the
Lithuanian accentuation was discovered by Ferdinand de Saussure. According
to Saussure’s law, at a certain time of the development of Lithuanian the stress
from the circumflex and short syllables shifted to the adjacent acute syllables,
e.g. the ancient nom. sg. *'rañk ‘hand’ changed to *rañ'k (> currently rankà
because of Leskien’s law).
The softening of consonants was the most important event in the
development of Lithuanian consonantism in the preliterate period. The soft k, g
were inherited from East Baltic in place of the ancient *kj, *gj combinations
while the other soft consonants developed later (the soft t, d eventually changed
to the affricates č, dž or c, dz in some dialects) perhaps via a lengthy process.
The consonants f, ch and h entered into Lithuanian with borrowings.
Some developments of the nominal declension system in early Lithuanian
should be mentioned. The productivity of the inherited declension types
changed and their unification occurred while the majority of endings remained
intact. Besides seven inherited cases, four postpositional locatives, which
emerged in East Baltic, became prevalent in the declension system of preliterate
Lithuanian, namely: inessive (a continuation of the old locative, e.g. akyje ‘in
the eye’), illative (denotes direction into the object, e.g. akin ‘into the eye’),
adessive (denotes proximity to the object, e.g. akipi ‘by the eye’) and allative
(denotes direction towards the object, e.g. akiespi ‘towards the eye’). These
specific Finnish-type cases, except the first one, were replaced by the competing
prepositional constructions after the appearance of writing (only illative is up to
now actively used in eastern Lithuania).
The early Lithuanian inherited and continued to use three numbers and
perhaps three genders. The neuter eventually disappeared, retaining up to now
relics in the indeclinable forms of adjectives, pronouns and numerals. The
masculine adjectives gradually adopted the pronominal inflection, cf. OLith.
geramui ‘for good’ and jamui ‘for him’ (> gerám, jám) vs. vikui ‘for the wolf’
(ending without -m-). A long process of formation of the definite adjectives also
took place in the preliterate period.
As regards the verb, Lithuanian inherited three tenses, namely present,
past and future. A fourth tense, the past frequentative, was formed in the
preliterate period. The imperative is also a Lithuanian formation of preliterate
times while the subjunctive mood seems to be formed in East Baltic, e.g. OLith.
1 sg. eitumbiau ‘I would go’, 1 pl. eitumbime ‘we would go’. A complicated
paradigm of this mood was simplified in modern times. Reflexive verbs were
already formed in the preliterate epoch. The participles were mostly inherited
from the East Baltic.
(c) Syntax
From early times Lithuanian belonged to the languages of the accusative
(nominative) structure. All the features described in 1.3.3 were characteristic of
early Lithuanian as well.
2.2.2. Written Lithuanian (from the 16th c. to the present)
A number of circumstances have created conditions for the beginning of
written Lithuanian, e.g.: (1) the foundation of the Duchy of Prussia (1525), and
the establishment of the Protestant University in Königsberg (1544), and (2) the
foundation of Jesuit Vilnius University in 1579.
Two main periods in the history of written Lithuanian are usually
distinguished: the old (16th-18th c.) and the modern one (from the beginning of
the 19th c.). The old period encompasses both the first attempts to form a
national language (16th-17th c.) and the first signs of the predominance of one
dialect (South-West Aukštaitian) in the development of written language
(18th c.). Two stages are usually distinguished in this period: (1) 16th-17th c., (2)
18th c.
The modern period is characterized by the predominance and final
consolidation of the South-West Aukštaitian dialect in the written language. The
main peculiarities of this period are as follows: (1) the gradual stabilization and
codification of uniform norms, (2) the formation and development of various
styles, and (3) the expansion of the sphere of usage of the written language. The
development of written Lithuanian in the 19th c. was hindered by the antiLithuanian policy in both countries, i.e. in the czarist Russia and in the Kingdom
of Prussia. The popular uprisings in 1831 and 1863 had resulted in the
prohibition of the use of the Latin alphabet for Lithuanian in Lithuania Major
(1864-1904). The 20th c. can be characterized by the events which were
important for the development of written and standard Lithuanian, namely: the
proclamation of an independent Lithuanian Republic (1918), the annexation of
the Vilnius region by the Polish army (1920), the annexation of Lithuania by the
Soviet Union (1940), and, finally, the restoration of independence (1990).
Taking into account the mentioned extralinguistic as well as linguistic
factors several stages of the development of written Lithuanian are distinguished
in the modern period, namely: (1) from the beginning of the 19th c. to 1883
when the newspaper Aušra appeared, (2) 1883-1918, (3) 1918-1940, (4) 19401990, (5) 1990-to the present (cf. Palionis : 1995, pp. 14ff.).
(a) The old period (16th-18th c.)
Lithuanian was used in two countries: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and
the Duchy of Prussia. The Lithuanians, being the largest and strongest nonGerman ethnic group in the Duchy of Prussia, played an important role in the
history of written and standard Lithuanian. The first Lithuanian book by
Martynas Mažvydas (~1510-1563) was published in 1547 in Prussia. Besides a
Lutheran catechism, it also includes a primer, a hymnal and two prefaces.
Though the orthography was modelled on the Polish language from which the
catechism was translated, Mažvydas, as a rule, used the original Roman
alphabet of a Gothic style. Mažvydas wrote in his native Žemaitian dialect but
with quite a few Aukštaitian elements the number of which distinctly increased
in his later writings published by himself (see Michelini : 2000) as well as by
his cousin Baltramiejus Vilentas (~1525-1587), a prominent person of Prussian
Lithuanian culture. Jonas Bretkūnas (1536-1602), one of most distinguished
personalities in the foundation of written Lithuanian, translated the Lutheran
Bible, the manuscript of which was not published.
The first Lithuanian grammar was written in Latin and published by
Danielius Kleinas (1609-1666) in 1653. One year later he also published a
smaller grammar in German. Both grammars (reprints see in Kruopas et. al. :
1957) were important for the normalization and stabilization of written Prussian
Lithuanian, the subsequent development of which in general was based on the
principles established by Kleinas (see Palionis : 1995, p. 17).
In contrast to Prussia, in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the beginning and
functioning of written Lithuanian was short of favourable conditions. Because
of the union with Poland, the Lithuanian aristocracy became used to speaking
Polish. Lithuanian was spoken mostly by common people. The Jesuits
understood that the Christianization of Lithuanians could be successful only
with printed Lithuanian texts. Because of the existing two different interdialects,
two variants of the written language were forming: the eastern and the central
The first Lithuanian book in Lithuania was published in the central variant
in 1595. It was the catechism by Mikalojus Daukša (?-1613) translated from
Polish (for reprint see Jakštienė, Palionis : 1995). In 1599, he published Postilė
‘Book of Sermons’ (for reprint see Palionis : 2000). Like Prussian Lithuanians,
Daukša also used a Roman alphabet of Gothic style and modelled orthography
on Polish. However, there were differences, e.g. he used four nasal letters (ą, ę,
į, ų) instead of two (ą, ę) in Prussia, the letter ł for a hard /l/, and diacritical
marks to denote stress through all the text.
As a quick reaction to the Catholic books the Reformist catechism (1598)
and book of sermons (1600) appeared. The language of the texts is said to be
An anonymous catechism of 1605 was the first book published in the
eastern, or Vilnius, variant of written Lithuanian used in Lithuania. The first
Lithuanian (i.e. Latin-Polish-Lithuanian) dictionary by Konstantinas Sirvydas
(1579-1631) was published before 1620 in this variant (for reprint see Pakalka :
1997). In 1631, Sirvydas published a larger dictionary. The eastern variant of
the written Lithuanian languished at the beginning of the 18th c.
The Kingdom of Prussia proclaimed in 1701 became an influential
European state. In spite of the Germanization and colonization of the territories
inhabited by Lithuanians, the northern regions of the Kingdom still were
predominantly Lithuanian. In 1736, a compulsory primary education was
introduced, and in the areas inhabited by Lithuanians lessons were conducted in
Lithuanian. An important event was the establishment of a Lithuanian seminar
at the universities of Königsberg and Halle, which was intended for the German
pastors of Lithuanian parishes. The 18th c. saw a relatively uniform and
flourishing Lithuanian in Prussia, nevertheless the educated people began the
discussions on bringing written Lithuanian closer to the spoken language from
which it was moving away. Because of governmental support many religious
and linguistic books appeared in the 18th c. in Prussia, e.g. the first collectively
prepared complete Bible (1735), the first historical study of Lithuanian (1747,
reprint see Ruhig : 1981), and some important dictionaries. Under the conditions
just described, the first original and world famous work of fiction was created in
Prussia. It was Metai ‘The Seasons’ by Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714-1780), a
3.517 line poem written in hexameter and published only in 1818. It was
translated into many languages.
Because of the spreading of Polish through the estates, churches and
schools, the conditions for written Lithuanian were bad in the Commonwealth,
i.e. Lithuania Major, in the 18th c. Only the central variant of the written
language was used. Among the works Universitas lingvarum Litvaniae (1737,
for reprint see Eigminas : 1981), the first surviving grammar printed in
Lithuania, is worthy of note. The author of it was the first to describe and mark
the tones of the Lithuanian words. Since the Žemaitian region was least
Polonized the books written, as a rule, in the Žemaitian dialect began to appear.
The most important of these was Ziwatas […] Christusa ‘The life of Christ’ (for
reprint of 1759 edition see Girdenis, Skirmantas : 1998).
(b) The first stage of the modern period (1800-1883)
The cultural life of Lithuanians became more active and versatile in
czarist Russian-ruled Lithuania than in Prussia, though in both countries the
anti-Lithuanian policy was gradually intensifying. Under the influence of
democratic ideas a number of Vilnius University graduates devoted themselves
to their ethnic culture. As many of them were Žemaitians they continued the
tradition of writing in their native dialects. The most prominent personalities of
the Žemaitian cultural movement were Simonas Daukantas (1793-1864),
Motiejus Valančius (1801-1875) and Simonas Stanevičius (1799-1848).
Unfortunately, many of their works remained in manuscript-form.
Besides Žemaitians, there were also authors who wrote in their native
Aukštaitian dialects. Among the authors from Eastern Lithuania Antanas
Strazdas (1760-1833), Antanas Baranauskas (1835-1902) and Kazimieras
Kristupas Daukša (~1795-1865) could be mentioned. Strazdas in 1814
published the first original Lithuanian book of poetry, Baranauskas in 1860–61
published a 343 line poem Anykščių šilelis ‘The Forest of Anykščiai’ later
translated into many languages, while Daukša wrote the first Lithuanian
grammar in Lithuanian. Among the authors from the West Aukštaitian area the
brothers Jonas (1815-1886) and Antanas Juška (1819-1880) are worthy of note.
Jonas, being the first educated linguist in Lithuania, contributed greatly to the
publishing lexicographic and folkloric material compiled by brother.
An important feature of the 19th c. was the rising interest in the question of
a uniform language in Lithuania. Quite a few authors writing in different
dialects expressed their views on the modelling of standard language. Another
phenomenon of the second half of this century was the movement of the socalled book smugglers (Lithuanian knygnešỹs ‘(lit.) carrier of books’, from
knygà ‘book’ + nèšti ‘to carry’) who carried Lithuanian books printed in the
Latin alphabet from Prussia to Lithuania.
In Prussia, the 19th c. saw the gradually weakening written Lithuanian.
The personality of Liudvikas Rėza (Rhesa, 1776-1840), a professor at the
University of Königsberg, was an exception in the beginning of this century. He
published Donelaitis’ works, the first collection of Lithuanian folksongs (1825),
and provided support for Fridrichas Kuršaitis (Kurschat, 1806-1884), the most
famous linguist of Lithuania Minor. Because of a detailed description of the
Lithuanian tones and the accentuation he is known in the world’s history of
linguistics. Kuršaitis’ grammar (Kurschat : 1876) and dictionary (Kurschat :
1870-1883) retain significance even today.
After the emergence of comparative Indo-European linguistics Lithuanian
became very important for comparative studies. August Schleicher (1821-1868)
was the first famous scholar who in 1852 arrived in Prussia, learned Lithuanian
from common people and collected a lot of data. His Lithuanian grammar
(Schleicher : 1856) brought Lithuanian into European universities.
(c) The second stage of the modern period (1883-1918)
This stage encompasses more than three decades of national revival,
which spurred the need to create Standard Lithuanian in Lithuania. The
selection of South-West Aukštaitian, or Kaunas region, subdialect for the
standard was predetermined by the following main reasons: (1) the influence of
the written tradition (especially the Prussian one) based on the West Aukštaitian
dialect; (2) the emergence of Lithuanian speaking intellectuals coming from the
South-West Aukštaitian area where serfdom was abolished earlier than in the
remaining Lithuanian territory; (3) the authority of Schleicher’s and Kuršaitis’
Aušra (1883-1886) and Varpas (1889-1905), two Lithuanian periodicals,
played an important role in the stabilization of the standard written language,
especially in the adaptation of the imported language model from Prussia to the
Kaunas region subdialect. The norms of the standard written Lithuanian were
codified first in the Lietuviškos kalbos gramatika ‘Lithuanian Grammar’ (1901,
for reprint see Jablonskis : 1957) by Jonas Jablonskis (1860-1930), a
professional linguist who is called the father of Standard Lithuanian. Later he
concentrated on the codification of syntax (for reprint of Lietuvių kalbos
sintaksė, 1911, see Jablonskis : 1957). Besides Jablonskis, Kazimieras Būga
(1879-1924), a prominent scholar in Baltic studies, also contributed a lot to the
normalization of standard language (see Palionis : 1995, pp. 275-279).
The normalization of standard written Lithuanian was based on the
principle of the language of common people and carried out in the following
directions: (1) the unification of orthography, (2) the elimination of dialectal
elements, and (3) the purification of vocabulary and syntax. After 1904, the
cultural and social situation made a turn for the better as they allowed
Lithuanian press and schools. The rapid development of styles (esp. those of
fiction and journalism) of the written language was one of the characteristic
features of the period of national revival. A great number of writers and
publicists should also be mentioned, e.g. the poet Maironis (1862-1932), and the
prosaists Jonas Biliūnas (1879-1907), Vaižgantas (1869-1933), Žemaitė (18451921), and Vienuolis (1882-1957).
(c) The third stage of the modern period (1918-1940)
Independence was a fruitful stage in the history of Lithuanian in spite of
the territorial truncations. In 1922, Lithuanian became a state language for the
first time. Because of that the formation and codification of terms became
Jablonskis improved the codification of the grammatical norms as well as
outlined a standard orthography, pronunciation and punctuation (for reprint of
his Lietuvių kalbos gramatika, 1922, and Linksniai ir prielinksniai ‘Cases and
prepositions’, 1928, see Jablonskis : 1957). Mostly by the efforts of Jablonskis
and Būga, instances of extreme purism in the normalization of vocabulary were
opposed. The actual problems of normalization of Standard Lithuanian were
discussed in the monthly periodical Gimtoji kalba (from 1933), in the
Lithuanian Language Association (from 1935). The creation of the Lithuanian
language programme at Kaunas University (founded in 1922) as well as the
foundation of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies in 1939 was of great
importance. In 1924, Būga published the first fascicle of the Lietuvių kalbos
žodynas ‘Dictionary of Lithuanian’ (for reprint see Būga : 1961, vol. 3). After
his death in the same year, Juozas Balčikonis (1885-1969) continued the
publication of the dictionary. Among the younger generation of linguists, Pranas
Skardžius (1899-1975) and Antanas Salys (1902-1972) (both completing their
studies in Germany) achieved the most, improving and fostering standard
language as well as researching Lithuanian. Lithuanian was more intensively
researched outside Lithuania.
(d) The fourth stage of the modern period (1940-1990)
Fifty years of Soviet and German occupation was a very complicated,
contradictory and in general unfavourable stage in the development of (written)
Standard Lithuanian mostly because of war, repressions and the Sovietization of
all life of the country. Lithuania lost more than a third of its population and a
third of Lithuanian speakers, which partly was replaced by newcomers,
especially in the Vilnius area, which 200,000 repatriated Poles departed from.
The cities were filled mostly with Russians, while the countryside filled with
Belarusians. Moreover, the Bolsheviks changed the borders of Belarus and
Lithuania and began the Polonization of the Vilnius region. Southeast Lithuania
became a multilingual area.
More than million people of Lithuanian origin lived outside ethnic
Lithuania. The largest Lithuanian émigré community was and still is in the
United States. They published many Lithuanian books, periodicals. In the first
decade after the war, the Lithuanian language in Lithuania experienced a very
difficult period. Lithuanian was ousted from diplomatic affairs, the army and
from other governmental spheres. The normalization of Lithuanian was crippled
while the development of linguistics was hindered by the Sovietization of the
humanities. The intense penetration of Russian loanwords and especially of
semantic and syntactic calques was one of the most negative features in the
development of Lithuanian.
Starting at the end of the fifties, the economical and partly political
situation began to change because of the collectivization of agriculture,
industrialization of the country, and reforms in education. In order to educate
people in the spirit of the ideas of communism Soviet authorities introduced
compulsory primary, then eight-year and later secondary education. The
network of schools, libraries, cinemas and other establishments of culture and
information was greatly enlarged, the number of Lithuanian books and
periodicals increased substantially. So, the sphere of the use of written
Lithuanian has widened. The correctness of the language was achieved and
improved by a great number of editors and stylists.
Linguists played an important role in fostering a standard language. The
dictionaries of orthography (see Lazauskas et al. : 1948) and modern Lithuanian
(see Kruopas et al. : 1954, 21972) were published. A number of terminological
dictionaries were revised and approved by the Terminology Commission
established in 1945. An important event was the publication of Jablonskis’
(1957, 1959) and Būga’s (1958-1962) selected writings. In 1961, they began
publishing the biannual Kalbos kultūra, and in 1971, the journal Mūsų kalba,
which in 1990 was changed to Gimtoji kalba, the name used during the interwar
period when Lithuania was independent. The recommendations on the use of
language were published (see Pupkis et al. : 1976, 21985). The appearance of the
three-volume academy grammar (Ulvydas et al. : 1965-1976) and language atlas
(Morkūnas et al. : 1977-1991) was very important. The publishing of the
Lithuanian academy dictionary was the greatest project in Lithuanian linguistics
(during the period in question 14 volumes of it appeared, see Balčikonis : 1941;
Balčikonis et al. : 1947; Kruopas et al. : 1966-1976; Ulvydas et al. : 19561986) (5). The periodicals Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai (1957-), Kalbotyra
(1958-), and Baltistica (1965-) were important not only for the development of
Lithuanian linguistics, but for the improvement of standard language as well.
In 1976, some minor changes in the orthography and changes freeing up
punctuation were proposed (see Valeckienė : 1976, 21989). The changes were
revised and approved by the Lithuanian Language Commission, founded in
1961. The Commission spent much time discussing the principles of the spelling
of foreign proper names written in the Latin alphabet. The original spelling has
been approved while the adapted forms can be used in popular publications,
handbooks (earlier the latter forms were used everywhere).
The following tendencies in the development of written Lithuanian can be
noted: (1) the intensified shortening of long forms by analogy with the
dominating short ones in a paradigm, e.g. loc. sg. ausỹ, instr. sg. ausi (ausìs
‘ear’), 1 pl. eĩnam, 2 pl. eĩnat (eĩti ‘to go’) instead of ausyjè, ausimì, eĩname,
eĩnate; (2) increase of constructions with the verbal nouns (e.g. dúoti užsãkymą
‘(lit.) give an order’ instead of užsakýti ‘to order’) as well as with gerunds and
half-participles. Mostly because of the Soviet propaganda, the development of
journalistic style was very intense. The intellectualization of the means of
expression and the emergence of writers “without a dialect” are characteristic
features of fiction of the period in question. The influence of Russian syntax is
most evident in academic and administrative writing styles (cf. Palionis : 1995,
pp. 318-326). In 1988, in the last years of the Soviet empire, Lithuanian was
proclaimed a state language for the second time.
(e) 1990–to the present
Restoration of independence gave everything necessary for functioning of
Lithuanian in all spheres of life again and “lead to the development of a
consistent policy for state language primarily focused on the integration of nonLithuanian speakers into public life” ( In 1990, the Lithuanian
Language Commission was reorganized to the State Commission of the
Lithuanian Language. In 1995, the Law on the State Language of the Republic
(5) The 20th volume of this dictionary was published in 2002 (see Vitkauskas et al. : 2002).
of Lithuania was adopted. The Language Commission addresses the issues of
codification of the Lithuanian language and is in charge of the implementation
of the Law, while enforcement of it lies within the responsibility of the State
Language Inspectorate, which since 2001 operates as a separate entity, and
municipal language officers. The Language Commission contributed and
contributes substantially to the normalization of Standard Lithuanian, to the
usage, fostering and spread of Lithuanian, to the research of Lithuanian, to the
preservation of dialects and ethnic place names as well as to the creation of
digital corpora, and bank of terms, thus adapting Lithuanian to the needs of
knowledge-based society. The Commission is now implementing four
programmes, of which about 90 projects are funded annually to see to these
programmes’ realization. A widespread digitalization of the databases and
written monuments of Lithuanian seems to be one of the particular features of
the recent stage of the modern period of written Lithuanian.
The geography
3.1. Expansion and contraction
Lithuania has never included all Lithuanian ethnic lands since the
formation of the state in the middle of the 13th c. In the southwest territories,
which were occupied by the Teutonic Order, Lithuania Minor emerged in East
Prussia in the 16th c. From the end of the 15th c., the territories of Lithuanian
began to contract gradually, mostly from the south and southeast because of the
Union with Poles, annexations and occupations.
In 1918, the territory of 88.000 km2 approximately corresponding to the
ethnic area that was assigned to the Republic of Lithuania by international
treaties. In 1920, the Polish army annexed the Vilnius region, which comprised
about a third of Lithuania. In 1939, the Germans annexed the Klaipėda region,
while the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania in 1940 after the returning of Vilnius
and a part of its territory to Lithuania.
After World War 2, Lithuania was incorporated into the USSR as one of
its republics, defined by the borders of 1940 with the returned Klaipėda region.
On March 11, 1990, the independence of Lithuania was restored without
changes to its borders. The territorially truncated Lithuanian population now
lives in the Republic of Lithuania encompassing 65,200 km2 and in ethnicallymixed bordering areas in Poland, Belarus, Russia (the Kaliningrad district) and
Latvia. About 1.5 million people of Lithuanian origin live in more-distant
countries, mostly in the USA, UK, Australia and Spain (cf. Grumadienė,
Stundžia : 1997).
3.2. Lithuanian in contact
Borrowing from all contact languages is characteristic both of old and
modern Lithuanian and of its dialects in particular. As it is usually typical of
languages, contact has affected Lithuanian most at the level of vocabulary,
phraseology and less in syntax while in phonology and morphology the
influence of contact languages has been negligible (see above).
The majority of borrowings (loanwords, calques, etc.) have come into
Lithuanian from and through Slavic (especially Belarusian and Polish, and
Russian in the second half of the 20th c.) and Germanic (mostly German, and
English after the restoration of independence) languages. The words of the
Slavic origin comprise about 1.5 percent of the standard language vocabulary
while those of the Germanic origin are three times less rare (details and
literature see above). Many borrowed words and calques were replaced with
Lithuanian neologisms at different stages of the development of the standard
On the other hand, contact languages have been influenced by Lithuanian
as well. Hundreds of borrowings from Lithuanian are encountered in the dialects
of Belarusian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, German, and Latvian while in the
standard languages they are rare, e.g. Blrus. венцер, Rus. вентерь, Ukr. dial.
вентер, Pol. więcierz ‘fish-trap’ (< Lithuanian vénteris); Latv. ģints ‘family’
(< Lithuanian gentìs), Germ. Elen ‘elk’ (< Lithuanian élni[a]s ‘deer’).
Lithuanian borrowings are also found in the languages of Jews, Karaites and
Tatars who live or have lived in Lithuania.
3.2.1. The languages of the insiders
Lithuanian exhibiting strong dialectal differentiation is the main language
of insiders. Aukštaitian and Žemaitian, the two main dialects of Lithuanian,
were often described as separate languages the first dialect calling simply
‘Lithuanian’. Both names known from the 13th (the first) and the 14th c. (the
second) originally indicated the two parts of the Lithuanian state. The main
criteria used in classifying the Lithuanian dialects are differences in the vowel
system. The Aukštaitian dialect is divided into three groups on the basis of the
treatment of the semi-diphthongs an, am, en, em and long (former nasal) vowels
ą, ę:
(1) West Aukštaitian (which did not undergo any change, e.g. rankà
‘hand’, kapas ‘corner’, meñkas ‘poor’, tepia ‘drags’, žąsìs ‘goose’, tršia
(2) South Aukštaitian (where an, am, en, em did not undergo any
change, but ą, ę were narrowed into long /i:/ and /u:/, e.g. rankà, kapas,
meñkas, tepia, but žūsìs, trỹšia);
(3) East Aukštaitian (where there was narrowing both in semidiphthongs and vowels, e.g. runkà, kupas, miñkas, tipia, žūsìs, trỹšia). West
Aukštaitian is divided into two subgroups, the subdialect of the Šiauliai region,
and that of the Kaunas region. The greatest differentiation is found in the East
Aukštaitian group, which is divided into six subdialects, i.e. those of the:
(a) Vilnius region, (b) Utena region, (c) Anykščiai region, (d) Kupiškis region,
(e) Panevėžys region, and (f) Širvintos region.
The Žemaitian dialect is also divided into three groups on the basis of the
treatment of the long variable vowels /ie:/ and /uo:/: (1) West Žemaitian (> /e:/,
/o:/, cf. pẹ:ns, dọ:na and stand. Lithuanian píenas, dúona); (2) North Žemaitian
(> /ẹi/, /ọu/, e.g. pẹins, dọuna); (3) South Žemaitian (> /i:/, /u:/, e.g. pi:ns,
du:na). North Žemaitian is further subdivided into the dialect of the Telšiai
region and that of the Kretinga region, while South Žemaitian is divided into the
subdialects of the Raseiniai region and the Varniai region (see Balode and
Holvoet : 2001, pp. 51-79; Grumadienė : 2004).
There are ethnic minorities, which have lived in Lithuania since ancient
times, e.g.: Poles, Belarusians, Jews, Tatars, Karaites, Latvians, Germans,
Roma, and a small number of Russians. So their languages could be treated as
the languages of insiders. Polish is used as a home language by about a third of
the people of Polish nationality, constituting about 6.2% of the total population.
Polish-speaking Poles live mostly in the Vilnius and Trakai area. The majority
of them speak a local Polish sociolect, which was formed on the basis of the
Lithuanian and a partly Belarusian substratum. A local dialect of Belarusian
formed on the basis of a Lithuanian substratum, is spoken mostly in the Vilnius
and Šalčininkai districts. The majority of several thousands of Jews consider
Yiddish as their native language, which has been influenced by Lithuanian,
especially at the level of vocabulary. About 3,000 Tatars live in the districts of
Vilnius and Alytus, and generally speak Belarusian or Polish. About 250
Karaites live mostly in Trakai and speak their own language, which is a
conservative form of Turkic influenced by Lithuanian at the level of vocabulary.
Latvian is spoken by about 2,500 Latvians living mostly in the northern part of
Lithuania. Half of more than 3,000 Germans living mostly in western and
southern Lithuania speak German. About 2,500 Roma use a variant of Romani
influenced by Lithuanian, Belarusian and Polish. Russian as a language of
insiders is used mostly by Old Believers (see Hogan-Brun, Ramonienė : 2005;
Grumadienė, Stundžia : 1997, en/pages/view/?id=2468).
3.2.2. The languages of the outsiders
Russian is the main language of the outsiders the majority of which came
to Lithuania after World War 2. Almost all Russians, constituting 5% of the
total population consider Russian their native language. About one half of
Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Germans, one third of Jews, and a small number of
Poles and other minorities declare Russian as their mother tongue as well. A
small number of newcomers use English, Ukrainian, Chinese, Turkish, and
many other languages as their mother tongues.
3.3. The Lithuanian speakers
Lithuanian is now spoken by about 2,800,000 Lithuanians in Lithuania
(about 84% of the total population), about one million people of Lithuanian
origin living throughout the world, and more than 350,000 non-Lithuanians
living mostly in Lithuania. Outside Lithuania, autochthonous Lithuanians live in
north-eastern Poland near the Lithuanian-Polish border and in a few villages in
Belarus. The largest amount of emigrants of Lithuanian origin, more than one
million people, live in the USA (Chicago, etc.), and about half of them speak
Lithuanian. More than half a million Lithuanians, mostly those who left the
country after the restoration of independence in 1990, live in other countries, the
countries of note being Ireland, England, and Spain. The majority of them speak
Lithuanian. Lithuanian speaking Lithuanians also live in Australia, Canada,
Germany, Russia, Scandinavian countries and elsewhere. The language of
Lithuanian émigrés (mostly that of the USA Lithuanians) had a certain influence
on Standard Lithuanian vocabulary.
The auxiliaries
4.1. Institutions and language planning
The Lithuanian Language Institute in Vilnius founded in 1941
( is the main institution of research for Lithuanian and the
codification of Standard Lithuanian. The Lithuanian language and Lithuanian
studies departments at the University of Vilnius (, Vilnius
Pedagogical University (, Vytautas Magnus University (www., Klaipėda University (www., and Šiauliai University (
teach, research Lithuanian, and take part in the normalization of Lithuanian. The
State Lithuanian Language Commission (, The State Language
Inspectorate, and the County Language Services oversee the planning,
codification and supervision of Lithuanian. The Language Commission initiated
the State Language Policy Guidelines, approved by the Seimas ‘Parliament’ in
2003. The Guidelines “set the following goals: (1) to ensure the functionality of
Lithuanian in all spheres of public life; (2) to meet the new needs of a
knowledge-based society as determined by the EU; (3) to exert a planned and
creative influence on the development of Lithuanian; and (4) to promote its
creative use amongst the public whilst adapting it to new functions in a rapidly
changing society” (Hogan-Brun, Ramonienė : 2005, p. 350).
4.2. Linguistic resources
4.2.1. Conventional resources
Since the main conventional resources were mentioned in section 2.2, here
attention will be paid only to the latest grammars, dictionaries, textbooks, etc.
Besides the three-volume academy grammar (Ulvydas et al. : 1965-1976), the
one-volume Modern Lithuanian grammars written in Lithuanian (Ambrazas :
1994, 42005), Russian (Амбразас : 1985), and English (Ambrazas : 1997,
2006) are very important for the research and codification of Lithuanian. There
are also grammars or reference books, which serve mostly for teaching (e.g.
Mathiassen : 1996; Kniūkšta : 2003; Ramonienė and Pribušauskaitė : 2008).
Besides the twenty-volume academy dictionary and one-volume modern
language dictionary mentioned above, the dictionaries of synonyms (Lyberis:
2002), antonyms (Ermanytė : 2003), phraseology (Paulauskas : 2001),
international words (Kinderys : 2001), valency of verbs (Sližienė : 1994-2004),
pronunciation (Vitkauskas: 22001), surnames (Vanagas : 1985, 1989), place
names (Pupkis : 2002) as well as inverse (Žilinskienė : 1995) and frequency
(Grumadienė, Žilinskienė : 1997, 1998) ones are worthy of mention. The
etymological dictionaries of Lithuanian (Fraenkel : 1955-1965, Smoczyński :
2007) as well as similar type dictionaries of personal names (Kuzavinis,
Savukynas : 52007) and hydronyms (Vanagas : 1981) have been published.
There are several dictionaries of dialects and many dictionaries of various terms
(see Ambrazas, Morkūnas : 22008, pp. 626ff.). From a great number of bilingual
dictionaries, those of English (e.g. Piesarskas: 72007; Piesarskas : 2006), French
(e.g. Melnikienė : 2001; Balaišienė : 2004), German (e.g. Križinauskas,
Smagurauskas: 32003; Balaišis : 2004), Italian (e.g. Lanza : 2003 and 2010;
Petrauskas : 2002; Žindžiūtė-Michelini : 2005); Latvian (e.g. Butkus : 2003;
Balkevičius et al. : 1995), Norwegian (Jakaitienė, Berg-Olsen : 2001), Polish
(e.g. Vaitkevičiūtė : 2003; Kalėda et al. : 1991), Russian (e.g. Lemchenas et al. :
1982-1985; Lyberis: 42005), and Spanish (e.g. Petrauskas, Rascón : 2004) could
be mentioned. Lithuanian can be taught and learned from both traditional and
modern textbooks, e.g. Ramonienė and Press : 22007; Paulauskienė and
Valeika : 1994). Up-to-date surveys on Lithuanian can be found in many
languages, e.g. English (Balode and Holvoet : 2001; Hogan-Brun and
Ramonienė : 2005; Sabaliauskas : 1993; Smetonienė : 2004; Zinkevičius:
1998), French (Petit : 1999; Rosinas : 1998), German (Eckert et al. : 1994,
pp. 71-245; Norkaitienė : 2002), Italian (Dini : 1997), Polish (Smoczyński :
1988), and Russian (Булыгина, Синëва : 2006).
4.2.2. Electronic resources
The electronic resources available for Lithuanian include the corpus of
Modern Lithuanian (Dabartinės…,, the electronic
versions of the twenty-volume Lithuanian language (Naktinienė et al. : 2005; and modern language (Keinys et al. : 2004;
dictionaries as well as electronic versions of the dictionaries of international
words (e.g., and many bilingual and
other dictionaries (see e.g.;
The electronic resources also include the bank of terms (
10001/pls/tb/, the Lithuanian dialects (, old
writings (, common and proper words of the
20th c. press (Pakerys : 2004, 2005), and the original Lithuanian font Palemonas
products/juova.aspx), etc.
checkers (e.g.
Present and future role
The use of Lithuanian as the official and state language in Lithuania is
regulated by the Law on the State Language of the Republic of Lithuania (a new
version of the Law is now under discussion). The language functions in all
spheres of the life of the country and satisfies all needs of citizens. More than
90% non-Lithuanian speakers have fairly good Lithuanian language proficiency.
Because of that and of the EU language policy, it seems that Lithuanian in
Lithuania will be vital in the future as well. Nevertheless there are certain
indications of danger associated with emigration and gradual decreasing of the
Lithuanian population in the country as well as with the fact that many
Lithuanian scientists use mostly English.
As for Lithuanian in other countries, the numerous amount of Lithuanian
emigrants, especially to the UK and Spain, raises questions of teaching the
Lithuanian language and culture to the children of these emigrants. The
Lithuanian state has to help emigrants to preserve and develop Lithuanian as
well as to promote the spread of Lithuanian among non-Lithuanians both abroad
and in Lithuania.
Bibliographical orientation (6)
АМБРАЗАС (Витаутас), ред. : 1985, Грамматика литовского языка
(Вильнюс : Мокслас).
AMBRAZAS (Vytautas), red. : 1994; 42006, Dabartinės lietuvių kalbos
gramatika (Vilnius : MEL; MELI).
AMBRAZAS (Vytautas), ed. : 1997; 22006, Lithuanian Grammar (Vilnius :
Baltos lankos).
AMBRAZAS (Vytautas), MORKŪNAS (Kazys), red. : 22008, Lietuvių kalbos
enciklopedija (Vilnius : MELI).
BALAIŠIS (Vytautas) : 2004, Lietuvių-vokiečių kalbų žodynas, 2 t. (Vilnius :
BALAIŠIENĖ (Irena J.) : 2004, Prancūzų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas (Vilnius :
BALČIKONIS (Juozas), red. : 1941, Lietuvių kalbos žodynas, t. 1, A-B (Vilnius).
BALČIKONIS (Juozas) et al., red. : 1947, Lietuvių kalbos žodynas, t. 2, C-F
(Vilnius : VEŽ).
(6) Abbreviations : LKIL: Lietuvių kalbos instituto leidykla; MEL: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų
leidykla; MELI: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas; VEŽ: Valstybinė enciklopedijų,
žodynų ir mokslo lit. leidykla; VPML: Valstybinė politinės ir mokslinės literatūros leidykla.
BALKEVIČIUS (Jonas) et al. : 21995, Lietuvių-latvių kalbų žodynas (Rīga :
BALODE (Laimute) and HOLVOET (Axel) : 2001, “The Lithuanian Language
and its Dialects”, in DAHL (Östen) and KOPTJEVSKAJA-TAMM (Maria),
eds. The Circum-Baltic Languages: Typology and Contact (Amsterdam /
Philadelphia : John Benjamins), pp. 41-79.
BŪGA (Kazimieras) : 1958-1962, Rinktiniai raštai, 3 t., rodyklės, red.
ZINKEVIČIUS (Zigmas) (Vilnius : VPML).
БУЛЫГИНА (T. В.), СИНËВА (O. В.) : 2006, “Литовский язык”, in ТОПОРОВ
(В. Н.) и др., ред. Языки мира: Балтийские языки (Москва :
Academia), pp. 93-155.
BUTKUS (Alvydas) : 2003, Latvių-lietuvių kalbų žodynas (Kaunas : Aesti).
Dabartinės lietuvių kalbos tekstynas:
DINI (Pietro. U.) : 1997, Le lingue baltiche (Firenze : La Nuova Italia)
[translations into Lithuanian (2000), Latvian (2001), Russian (2002)].
ECKERT (Rainer), BUKEVIČIŪTĖ (Elvira-Julia), HINZE (Friedhelm) : 1994, Die
baltischen Sprachen (Leipzig-Berlin-München : Langenscheidt-Verlag
EIGMINAS (Kazimieras), red. : 1981, Universitas lingvarum Litvaniae (Vilnius :
ERMANYTĖ (Irena) : 2003, Antonimų žodynas (Vilnius : LKIL).
FRAENKEL (Ernst) : 1955-1965, Litauisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 2 Bd.
(Heidelberg– Göttingen : Carl Winter–Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).
GIRDENIS (Aleksas), SKIRMANTAS (Petras), red. : 1998, 1759 metų “Ziwatas”
(Vilnius : MELI).
GRUMADIENĖ (Laima), red. : 2004, Lietuvių kalbos tarmių chrestomatija
(Vilnius : LKIL).
GRUMADIENĖ (Laima) and STUNDŽIA (Bonifacas) : 1997, “Lithuania”, in
GOEBL (Hans) et al., eds. Contact Linguistics. An International Handbook
of Contemporary Research (Berlin-New York : Walter de Gruyter), vol. 2,
pp. 1912-1919.
GRUMADIENĖ (Laima), ŽILINSKIENĖ (Vida) : 1997, 1998, Dažninis dabartinės
rašomosios lietuvių kalbos žodynas (Vilnius).
HOGAN-BRUN (Gabrielle), RAMONIENĖ (Meilutė) : 2005, “The Language
Situation in Lithuania”, Journal of Baltic Studies, 36, 3, pp. 345-370.
JABLONSKIS (Jonas) : 1957, 1959, Rinktiniai raštai, 2 t., red. PALIONIS (Jonas)
(Vilnius : VPML).
JAKAITIENĖ (Evalda), BERG-OLSEN (Sturla) : 2001, Lietuvių-norvegų kalbų
žodynas (Vilnius : Baltos lankos).
JAKŠTIENĖ (Vida), PALIONIS (Jonas), red. : 1995, Mikalojaus Daukšos 1595
metų Katekizmas (Vilnius : MEL).
KALĖDA (Algis) et al. : 1991; 22008, Lietuvių-lenkų kalbų žodynas (Vilnius :
Mokslas; Warsawa : Exlibris).
KEINYS (Stasys) et al., red. : 31993; 42000; 52003, Dabartinės lietuvių kalbos
žodynas (Vilnius : MEL; MELI; LKIL; electronic
KINDERYS (Algimantas), red. : 2001, Tarptautinių žodžių žodynas (Vilnius :
Alma Littera).
KNIŪKŠTA (Pranas), red. : 2007, Lietuvių kalbos žinynas (Kaunas : Šviesa).
KRIŽINAUSKAS (Jonas), SMAGURAUSKAS (Stasys) : 2006, Didysis vokiečiųlietuvių kalbų žodynas, 2 t. (Vilnius : MELI).
KRUOPAS (Jonas) et al., red. : 1957, Pirmoji lietuvių kalbos gramatika (Vilnius :
KRUOPAS (Jonas) et al., red. : 1954; 21972, Dabartinės lietuvių kalbos žodynas
(Vilnius : VPML; Mintis).
KRUOPAS (Jonas) et al., red. : 1962; 1966-1973; 1976, Lietuvių kalbos žodynas,
t. 6 (Klausyti-Kvunkinti), t. 7 (L-Mėlti), t. 8 (Melūda-Ožvilnis), t. 9
(P-Pirktuvės), t. 10 (Pirm-Pūžuoti) (Vilnius : VPML; Mintis; Mokslas).
KURSCHAT (Friedrich) : 1876, Grammatik der littauischen Sprache (Halle :
Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses).
KURSCHAT (Friedrich) : 1870-1883, Wörterbuch der littauischen Sprache
(Halle : Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses).
KUZAVINIS (Kazys), SAVUKYNAS (Bronys) : 52007, Lietuvių vardų kilmės
žodynas (Vilnius : MELI).
LANZA (Stefano M.) : 2010, Italų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas (Kaunas : Aesti).
LANZA (Stefano M.) : 2003, Lietuvių-italų kalbų žodynas (Vilnius : Tyto alba).
LAZAUSKAS (J.) et al., red. : 1948, Lietuvių kalbos rašybos žodynas (Vilnius :
LEMCHENAS (Chackelis) et al. : 1982-1985, Rusų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas, 4 t.
(Vilnius : Mokslas).
LYBERIS (Antanas) : 22002, Sinonimų žodynas (Vilnius : LKIL).
LYBERIS (Antanas) : 42004, Lietuvių-rusų kalbų žodynas (Vilnius : MELI).
MATHIASSEN (Terje) : 1996, A Short Grammar of Lithuanian (Columbus,
Ohio : Slavica).
MELNIKIENĖ (Danguolė) : 2001, Naujas prancūzų-lietuvių ir lietuvių prancūzų
kalbų žodynas (Vilnius : Žara).
MICHELINI (Guido) : 2000, Martyno Mažvydo raštai ir jų šaltiniaí (Vilnius :
MORKŪNAS (Kazys) et al., red. : 1977-1991, Lietuvių kalbos atlasas, 3 t.
(Vilnius : Mokslas).
NAKTINIENĖ (Gertrūda) et al., red. : 2005, Lietuvių kalbos žodynas, t. 1-20,
1941-2002: elektroninis variantas (Vilnius : LKIL) (
NORKAITIENĖ (Irena M.) : 2002, “Litauisch”, in JANICH (Nina) u. GREULE
(Albrecht), Hrsg., Sprachkulturen in Europa. Ein internationales
Handbuch (Tübingen : Gunter Narr), S. 159-165.
PAKALKA (Kazys), red. : 1997, Senasis Konstantino Sirvydo žodynas (Vilnius :
PAKERYS (Antanas), red. : 2004, Bendriniai XX a. spaudos žodžiai (Vilnius :
PAKERYS (Antanas), red. : 2005, Tikriniai XX a. spaudos žodžiai (Vilnius :
PALIONIS (Jonas) : 21995, Lietuvių rašomosios kalbos istorija (Vilnius : MEL).
PALIONIS (Jonas), red. : 2000, Mikalojaus Daukšos 1599 metų Postilė ir jos
šaltiniai (Vilnius : Baltos lankos).
PAULAUSKAS (Jonas), red. : 2001, Frazeologijos žodynas (Vilnius : LKIL).
PAULAUSKIENĖ (Aldona) and VALEIKA (Laimutis) : 1994, Modern Lithuanian.
A Textbook for Foreign Students (Vilnius : Žodynas).
PETIT (Daniel) : 1999, “Lituanien”, in LALIES, 19, Actes des sessions de
linguistique et de littérature (Aussois, 24-29 août 1998) (Paris : Presses de
l’École normale supérieure), pp. 5-135.
PETRAUSKAS (Valdas V.), RASCÓN (Alfonso) : 2004, Ispanų-lietuvių, lietuviųispanų kalbų žodynas (Vilnius : Žodynas).
PETRAUSKAS (Valdas V.) : 2002, Italų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas (Vilnius :
PIESARSKAS (Bronislovas) : 72007, Didysis anglų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas
(Vilnius : Alma Littera).
PIESARSKAS (Bronius) : 2006, Didysis lietuvių-anglų kalbų žodynas (Vilnius :
PUPKIS (Aldonas), red. : 1976, 21985, Kalbos praktikos patarimai (Vilnius :
PUPKIS (Aldonas), red. : 2002, Vietovardžių žodynas (Vilnius : MELI) (http://
RAMONIENĖ (Meilutė) and PRESS (Ian) : 1996, 22007, Colloquial Lithuanian.
The Complete Course for Beginners (London —New York : Routledge).
RAMONIENĖ (Meilutė) and PRIBUŠAUSKAITĖ (Joana) : 2008, Practical
Grammar of Lithuanian (Vilnius : Baltos lankos).
ROSINAS (Albertas) : 1998, “La normalisation du lituanien standard”, in
Terminogramme. Bulletin de recherche et d’information en aménagement
linguistique et en terminologie. Hors série. Les politiques linguistiques
des Pays baltes, juillet, pp. 171-198.
RUHIG (Philipp) : 1981, Betrachtung der Littauischen Sprache, in ihrem
Ursprunge, Wesen und Eigenschaften (Königsberg 1745), hrsg. von
SCHOLZ (Friedrich) (Hamburg : Helmut Buske).
SABALIAUSKAS (Algirdas) : 1993, We, the Balts (Vilnius: MELI).
SCHLEICHER (August) : 1856, Litauische Grammatik (Prag).
SLIŽIENĖ (Nijolė) : 1994; 1998; 2004, Lietuvių kalbos veiksmažodžių junglumo
žodynas, 2 t. (Vilnius : MEL; MELI; LKIL).
SMETONIENĖ (Irena) : 2004, “Language Policy in Lithuania”, Res Balticae.
Miscellanea italiana di studi baltistici, vol. 9, pp. 147-162.
SMOCZYŃSKI (Wojciech) : 1988,
“Języki bałtyckie”, in BEDNARCZUK
(Leszek), red. Języki indoeuropejskie, t. 2 (Warszawa : PWN), s. 817-905.
SMOCZYŃSKI (Wojciech) : 2007, Słownik etymologiczny języka litewskiego
(Wilno : Uniwersytet Wileński).
ULVYDAS (Kazys) et al., red. : 1965, 1971; 1976, Lietuvių kalbos gramatika,
t. 1–3 (Vilnius : Mintis; Mokslas).
ULVYDAS (Kazys) et al., red. : 1956-1959; 1978-1991; 1995, Lietuvių kalbos
žodynas, t. 3 (G-H), t. 4 (I-J), t. 5 (K-Klausinys), t. 11 (R), t. 12 (SSlėpūnas), t. 13 (Slėsna-Stvoti), t. 14 (Su- Šliuožti), t. 15 (Šliup-Telžti),
t. 16 (Tema-Tulė) (Vilnius : VPML; Mokslas; MEL).
VAITKEVIČIŪTĖ (Valerija) : 2003, Didysis lenkų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas
(Marijampolė : Martišienės vertėjų biuras).
VALECKIENĖ (Adelė), red. : 1976, 21989, Lietuvių kalbos rašyba ir skyryba
(Vilnius : Mokslas).
VANAGAS (Aleksandras) : 1981, Lietuvių hidronimų etimologinis žodynas
(Vilnius : Mokslas).
VANAGAS (Aleksandras), red. : 1985, 1989, Lietuvių pavardžių žodynas, 2 t.
(Vilnius : Mokslas,).
VITKAUSKAS (Vytautas) et al., red. : 1996; 1997, 1999; 2002, Lietuvių kalbos
žodynas, t. 17 (Tūlė-Valgus), t. 18 (Vali-Vėsus), t. 19 (Veša-Zvumterėti),
t. 20 (Ž) (Vilnius : MEL; MELI; LKIL).
VITKAUSKAS (Vytautas) : 22001, Lietuvių kalbos tarties žodynas (Vilnius :
ZINKEVIČIUS (Zigmas) : 21998, The History of the Lithuanian Language
(Vilnius : MELI).
ŽILINSKIENĖ (Vida), red. : 1995, Atgalinis dabartinės lietuvių kalbos žodynas
(Vilnius : Matematikos ir informatikos institutas).
ŽINDŽIŪTĖ-MICHELINI (Birutė) : 2005, Lietuvių-italų kalbų žodynas (Vilnius :
View publication stats