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Lithuanian ( lt, lietuvių kalba, links=no) is a
Baltic language The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic languages, Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. Baltic languages are spoken by the Balts, mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Se ...
belonging to the
Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other ...
branch of the
Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
. It is the official language of
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
and one of the official languages of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
. There are about 2.8 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 200,000 speakers elsewhere. Lithuanian is closely related to the neighbouring
Latvian language Latvian ( ), also known as Lettish, is an Eastern Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of comm ...
. It is written in a
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
. It is said to be the most
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
of the existing
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
s, retaining features of the
Proto-Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
now lost in other languages.


History

Among
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, Lithuanian is
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
in some aspects of its grammar and phonology, retaining archaic features otherwise found only in ancient languages such as
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
(particularly its early form,
Vedic Sanskrit Vedic Sanskrit was an ancient language of the Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasi ...
) or
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
. For this reason, it is an important source for the reconstruction of the
Proto-Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
despite its late attestation (with the earliest texts dating only to 1500). Lithuanian was studied by linguists such as
Franz Bopp Franz Bopp (; 14 September 1791 – 23 October 1867) was a German linguist known for extensive and pioneering comparative work on Indo-European languages. Early life Bopp was born in Mainz, but the political disarray in the Republic of M ...

Franz Bopp
,
August Schleicher August Schleicher (; 19 February 1821 – 6 December 1868) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ...

August Schleicher
,
Adalbert Bezzenberger 220px, Adalbert Bezzenberger Adalbert Bezzenberger (14 April 1851 – 31 October 1922) was a German philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary cri ...
,
Louis Hjelmslev Louis Trolle Hjelmslev (; 3 October 189930 May 1965) was a Danish linguist whose ideas formed the basis of the Copenhagen School of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every ...
,
Ferdinand de Saussure Ferdinand de Saussure (; ; 26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Fed ...

Ferdinand de Saussure
, Winfred P. Lehmann and
Vladimir Toporov Vladimir Nikolayevich Toporov (russian: Влади́мир Никола́евич Топоро́в; 5 July 1928 in Moscow Moscow (, ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the capital and largest city of R ...
and others. The
Proto-Balto-Slavic Proto-Balto-Slavic (PBS) is a linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language descending from Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European (PIE). From Proto-Balto-Slavic, the later Balto-Slavic languages are thought to have develope ...
languages branched off directly from Proto-Indo-European, then sub-branched into
Proto-Baltic Proto-Balto-Slavic (PBS) is a reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "rec ...
and
Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic is the unattested, reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for ...
. Proto-Baltic branched off into Proto-West Baltic and Proto-East Baltic. Baltic languages passed through a
Proto-Balto-Slavic Proto-Balto-Slavic (PBS) is a linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language descending from Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European (PIE). From Proto-Balto-Slavic, the later Balto-Slavic languages are thought to have develope ...
stage, from which Baltic languages retain numerous exclusive and non-exclusive lexical, morphological, phonological and accentual isoglosses in common with the
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
, which represent their closest living Indo-European relatives. Moreover, with Lithuanian being so archaic in phonology, Slavic words can often be deduced from Lithuanian by regular
sound law A sound change, in historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for ...
s; for example, Lith. '' vilkas'' and
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
wilk Wilk is a surname of English and Polish-language origin. In Poland, the surname means wolf and is pronounced . It has 35,000 bearers in Poland and ranks about 60th on the list of the most popular Polish surnames (fifth in Podkarpackie Voivodeship). ...

wilk
PBSl. *wilkás (cf. PSl. *vьlkъ) ←
PIE A pie is a baked Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, typically in an oven, but can also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most common baked item is bread but many other types of foods are baked. Heat is grad ...
*wĺ̥kʷos, all meaning "
wolf The wolf (''Canis lupus''), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine Canine may refer to: Zoology * dog-like mammals (i.e. members of the canid subfamily Caninae) ** ''Canis'', a genus including dogs, wolves, coyotes, a ...

wolf
". According to some glottochronological speculations, the Eastern Baltic languages split from the Western Baltic ones between AD 400 and 600. The Greek geographer
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
had already written of two Baltic tribe/nations by name, the Galindai and Sudinoi (Γαλίνδαι, Σουδινοί) in the 2nd century AD. The differentiation between Lithuanian and Latvian started after 800; for a long period, they could be considered dialects of a single language. At a minimum, transitional dialects existed until the 14th or 15th century and perhaps as late as the 17th century. Also, the 13th- and 14th-century occupation of the western part of the
Daugava Daugava ( ltg, Daugova) or Western Dvina (russian: Западная Двина (Západnaya Dviná); be, Заходняя Дзвіна) is a large river rising in the Valdai Hills of Russia that flows through Belarus then Latvia into the Gulf of R ...
basin (closely coinciding with the territory of modern
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
) by the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
Sword Brethren had a significant influence on the languages' independent development. The earliest surviving written Lithuanian text is a translation dating from about 1503–1525 of the
Lord's Prayer The Lord's Prayer, also called the Our Father ( la, Pater Noster), is a central Christian prayer Christian prayer is an important activity in Christianity, and there are several different forms used for this practice. Christian prayers are div ...
, the
Hail Mary The Hail Mary (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
, and the
Nicene Creed The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea, which opened on 19 June 325.''Readings in the History of Christian Theology'' by William Ca ...
written in the Southern Aukštaitian dialect. Printed books existed after 1547, but the level of literacy among Lithuanians was low through the 18th century, and books were not commonly available. In 1864, following the
January Uprising The January Uprising ( pl, powstanie styczniowe; lt, 1863 metų sukilimas; russian: Польское восстание) was an insurrection principally in Russian Empire, Russia's Congress Poland, Kingdom of Poland aimed at the restoration of ...

January Uprising
, Mikhail Muravyov, the Russian Governor General of Lithuania, banned the language in education and publishing and barred use of the Latin alphabet altogether, although books printed in Lithuanian continued to be printed across the border in
East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a of the from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom ...
and in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. Brought into the country by book smugglers ( lt, knygnešiai, links=no) despite the threat of stiff prison sentences, they helped fuel a growing nationalist sentiment that finally led to the lifting of the ban in 1904. (1860–1930) made significant contributions to the formation of the standard Lithuanian language. The conventions of written Lithuanian had been evolving during the 19th century, but Jablonskis, in the introduction to his ''Lietuviškos kalbos gramatika'', was the first to formulate and expound the essential principles that were so indispensable to its later development. His proposal for Standard Lithuanian was based on his native n dialect with some features of the eastern
Prussian Lithuanians The Prussian Lithuanians, or Lietuvininkai (singular: ''Lietuvininkas'', plural: ''Lietuvininkai''), are Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, whe ...
' dialect spoken in
Lithuania Minor Lithuania Minor ( lt, Mažoji Lietuva; german: Kleinlitauen; pl, Litwa Mniejsza; russian: Máлая Литвá), or Prussian Lithuania ( lt, Prūsų Lietuva; german: Preußisch-Litauen, pl, Litwa Pruska), is a historical ethnography, ethnograph ...
. These dialects had preserved archaic phonetics mostly intact due to the influence of the neighbouring
Old Prussian language Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and S ...
, while the other dialects had experienced different phonetic shifts. Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1918. During the Soviet era (see
History of Lithuania The history of Lithuania dates back to settlements founded many thousands of years ago, but the first written record of the name for the country dates back to 1009 AD. Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') ar ...
), it was used in official discourse along with
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
, which, as the official language of the
USSR The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state that spanned Eurasia during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a Federation, federal union of multiple national Republics of ...
, took precedence over Lithuanian.


Classification

Lithuanian is one of two living
Baltic languages The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages sha ...

Baltic languages
, along with Latvian, and they constitute the eastern branch of Baltic languages family. An earlier
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...
language,
Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language f ...
, was extinct by the 18th century; the other Western Baltic languages, Curonian and
Sudovian Sudovian (also known as Yotvingian, Yatvingian, or Jatvingian) is an extinct language, extinct Western Baltic languages, Western Baltic language of Northeastern Europe. Sudovian was closely related to Old Prussian, it was formerly spoken southwes ...
, became extinct earlier. Some theories, such as that of
Jānis Endzelīns Jānis Endzelīns (22 February 1873 – 1 July 1961) was a Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one ...
, considered that the Baltic languages form their own distinct branch of the family of
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
. There is also an opinion that suggests the union of Baltic and Slavic languages into a distinct sub-family of
Balto-Slavic languages The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian ...
amongst the Indo-European family of languages. Such an opinion was first represented by the likes of
August Schleicher August Schleicher (; 19 February 1821 – 6 December 1868) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ...

August Schleicher
, and to a certain extent,
Antoine Meillet Paul Jules Antoine Meillet (; 11 November 1866, Moulins, France – 21 September 1936, Châteaumeillant, France) was one of the most important French linguists of the early 20th century. He began his studies at the Sorbonne University Sorbo ...
. Endzelīns thought that the similarity between Baltic and Slavic was explicable through language contact while Schleicher, Meillet and others argued for a genetic kinship between the two families. An attempt to reconcile the opposing stances was made by Jan Michał Rozwadowski. He proposed that the two language groups were indeed a unity after the division of Indo-European, but also suggested that after the two had divided into separate entities (Baltic and Slavic), they had posterior contact. The genetic kinship view is augmented by the fact that Proto-Balto-Slavic is easily reconstructible with important proofs in historic prosody. The alleged (or certain, as certain as historic linguistics can be) similarities due to contact are seen in such phenomena as the existence of definite adjectives formed by the addition of an inflected pronoun (descended from the same Proto-Indo-European pronoun), which exist in both Baltic and Slavic yet nowhere else in the Indo-European family (languages such as Albanian and the
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
developed definite adjectives independently), and that are not reconstructible for Proto-Balto-Slavic, meaning that they most probably developed through language contact. The Baltic
hydronym A hydronym (from el, ὕδωρ, , "water" and , , "name") is a type of toponym that designates a proper name of a body of water. Hydronyms include the proper names of rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, swamps and marshes, seas and oceans. As a ...
s area stretches from the
Vistula The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest river in Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinc ...

Vistula
River in the west to the east of
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on the ...

Moscow
and from the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
in the north to the south of
Kyiv Kyiv ( uk, Київ) or Kiev . is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also share ...
. Vladimir Toporov and
Oleg Trubachyov Oleg Nikolayevich Trubachyov (also transliterated as Trubachev or Trubačev, russian: Оле́г Никола́евич Трубачёв; 23 October 1930, in Stalingrad – 9 March 2002, in Moscow Moscow (, ; rus, links=no, Москв ...
(1961, 1962) studied Baltic hydronyms in the
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
n and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...

Ukrainian
territory. Hydronyms and
archeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological ...

archeology
analysis show that the Slavs started migrating to the Baltic areas east and north-east directions in the 6–7th centuries, before then, the Baltic and Slavic boundary was south of the
Pripyat River The Pripyat or Prypiat ( , uk, Прип'ять, Prypjat', ; be, Прыпяць, Prypiać, ; pl, Prypeć, ; russian: Припять, Pripjat′, ) is a river in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no con ...

Pripyat River
. In the 1960s
Vladimir Toporov Vladimir Nikolayevich Toporov (russian: Влади́мир Никола́евич Топоро́в; 5 July 1928 in Moscow Moscow (, ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the capital and largest city of R ...
and Vyacheslav Ivanov made the following conclusions about the relationship between the Baltic and Slavic languages: a) the Proto-Slavic language formed from the peripheral-type Baltic dialects; b) the Slavic linguistic type formed later from the structural model of the Baltic languages; c) the Slavic structural model is a result of a transformation of the structural model of the Baltic languages. These scholars’ theses do not contradict the Baltic and Slavic languages closeness and from a historical perspective specify the Baltic-Slavic languages evolution.


Geographic distribution

Lithuanian is spoken mainly in
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
. It is also spoken by ethnic Lithuanians living in today's
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...

Belarus
,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
,
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
, and the
Kaliningrad Oblast Kaliningrad Oblast (russian: Калинингра́дская о́бласть, translit=Kaliningradskaya oblast') is the westernmost federal subjects of Russia, federal subject of Russia. It is a Enclave and exclave, semi-exclave, and is situ ...

Kaliningrad Oblast
of Russia, as well as by sizable emigrant communities in
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

Argentina
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
,
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
,
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
,
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
, the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
,
Uruguay Uruguay (; ; pt, Uruguai), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America. It shares borders with Argentina to its west and southwest and Brazil to its north and northeast; whi ...

Uruguay
, and
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
. 2,955,200 people in Lithuania (including 3,460
Tatars The Tatars (; tt, , , , crh, tatarlar; otk, 𐱃𐱃𐰺, Tatar) is an umbrella term for different Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic groups bearing the name "Tatar". Initially, the ethnonym ''Tatar'' possibly referred to the Tatar confederation ...
), or about 86% of the 2015 population, are native Lithuanian speakers; most Lithuanian inhabitants of other nationalities also speak Lithuanian to some extent. The total worldwide Lithuanian-speaking population is about 3,200,000.


Official status

Lithuanian is the
state language An official language, also called state language, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have ...
of Lithuania and an official language of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
.


Dialects

The Lithuanian language has two dialects: Aukštaitian (Highland Lithuanian), and Samogitian (Lowland Lithuanian). There are significant differences between standard Lithuanian and Samogitian and these were often described as separate languages. The modern Samogitian dialect formed in the 13th–16th centuries under the influence of the
Curonian language Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate) The Curonian language (german: Kurisch; lv, kuršu valoda; lt, kuršių kalba), or Old Curonian, is a nearly unattested Baltic extinct language Extinction E ...
. Lithuanian dialects are closely connected with ethnographical regions of Lithuania. Dialects are divided into subdialects. Both dialects have three subdialects. Samogitian is divided into West, North and South; Aukštaitian into West (Suvalkiečiai), South (Dzūkai) and East. Standard Lithuanian is derived mostly from Western Aukštaitian dialects, including the Eastern dialect of
Lithuania Minor Lithuania Minor ( lt, Mažoji Lietuva; german: Kleinlitauen; pl, Litwa Mniejsza; russian: Máлая Литвá), or Prussian Lithuania ( lt, Prūsų Lietuva; german: Preußisch-Litauen, pl, Litwa Pruska), is a historical ethnography, ethnograph ...
. The influence of other dialects is more significant in the vocabulary of standard Lithuanian.


Script

Lithuanian uses the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
supplemented with diacritics. It has 32 Letter (alphabet), letters. In the collation order, ''y'' follows immediately after ''į'' (called ''i ogonek, nosinė''), because both ''y'' and ''į'' represent the same long vowel : In addition, the following digraphs are used, but are treated as sequences of two letters for collation purposes. The digraph ''ch'' represents a single sound, the velar fricative , while ''dz'' and ''dž'' are pronounced like straightforward combinations of their component letters (sounds): Dz dz (dzė), Dž dž (džė), Ch ch (cha). The Lithuanian writing system is largely phonemic, i.e., one letter usually corresponds to a single phoneme (sound). There are a few exceptions: for example, the letter ''i'' represents either the vowel , as in the English ''sit'', or is silent and merely indicates that the preceding consonant is Palatalization (phonetics), palatalized. The latter is largely the case when ''i'' occurs after a consonant and is followed by a Back vowel, back or a central vowel, except in some borrowed words (e.g., the first consonant in ''lūpa'' , "lip", is a Velarized alveolar lateral approximant, velarized dental lateral approximant; on the other hand, the first consonant in ''liūtas'' , "lion", is a palatalized alveolar lateral approximant; both consonants are followed by the same vowel, the long , and no can be pronounced in ''liūtas''). Before the 20th century, due to the Polish influence, the Lithuanian alphabet included the Polish Ł for the first sound and regular L (without a following i) for the second: ''łupa'', ''lutas''. A Macron (diacritic), macron (on ''u''), an ogonek (on ''a'', ''e'', ''i'', and ''u''), and ''y'' (in place of ''i'') are used for grammatical and historical reasons and always denote vowel length in Modern Standard Lithuanian. Acute accent, Acute, Grave accent, grave, and tilde diacritics are used to indicate pitch accents. However, these pitch accents are generally not written, except in dictionaries, grammars, and where needed for clarity, such as to differentiate homonyms and dialectal use.


Phonology


Consonants

All Lithuanian consonants except have two variants: the non-Palatalization (phonetics), palatalized one represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA symbols in the chart, and the Palatalization (phonetics), palatalized one (i.e.  – ,  – ,  – , and so on). The consonants , , and their palatalized variants are only found in loanwords. have been traditionally transcribed with , but they can be seen as equivalent transcriptions, with the former set being somewhat easier to write.


Vowels

Lithuanian has six long vowels and four short ones (not including disputed phonemes marked in brackets). Length has traditionally been considered the distinctive feature, though short vowels are also more centralized and long vowels more peripheral: * are restricted to loanwords. Many speakers merge the former with .


Diphthongs

Lithuanian is traditionally described as having nine diphthongs, ''ai'','' au'','' ei'','' eu'','' oi'','' ou'','' ui'','' ie'', and'' uo.'' However, some approaches (i.e., Schmalstieg 1982) treat them as vowel sequences rather than diphthongs; indeed, the longer component depends on the type of stress, whereas in diphthongs, the longer segment is fixed.


Pitch accent

The Lithuanian prosodic system is characterized by free accent and distinctive quantity. Its accentuation is sometimes described as a simple tone (linguistics), tone system, often called pitch accent. In lexical words, one syllable will be tonically prominent. A heavy syllable—that is, a syllable containing a long vowel, diphthong, or a sonorant coda—may have one of two tones, ''falling tone'' (or ''acute tone'') or ''rising tone'' (or ''circumflex tone''). Light syllables (syllables with short vowels and optionally also obstruent codas) do not have the two-way contrast of heavy syllables.


Grammar

Lithuanian is a highly inflected language. In Lithuanian, there are two grammatical genders for nouns (masculine and feminine) and three genders for adjectives, pronouns, numerals and participles (masculine, feminine and neuter). Every attribute must agree with the gender and number of the noun. The neuter forms of other parts of speech are used with a Subject (grammar), subject of an undefined gender (a pronoun, an infinitive etc.). There are twelve noun and five adjective declensions and one (masculine and feminine) participle declension. Nouns and other parts of nominal morphology are declined in seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, Accusative case, accusative, instrumental case, instrumental, Locative case, locative, and Vocative case, vocative. In older Lithuanian texts, three additional varieties of the locative case are found: Illative case, illative, Adessive case, adessive and Allative case, allative. The most common are the Illative case, illative, which still is used, mostly in spoken language, and the Allative case, allative, which survives in the standard language in some idiomatic usages. The adessive is nearly extinct. These additional cases are probably due to the influence of Uralic languages, with which Baltic languages have had a longstanding contact. (Uralic languages possess a great variety of noun cases, a number of which are specialised locative cases.) Lithuanian verbal morphology shows a number of innovations; namely, the loss of synthetic passive (which is hypothesized based on the more archaic though long-extinct Indo-European languages), synthetic perfect (formed by means of reduplication) and aorist; forming subjunctive and imperative mood, imperative with the use of suffixes plus flexions as opposed to solely flections in, e.g.,
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
; loss of the optative mood; merging and disappearing of the -''t''- and -''nt''- markers for the third-person singular and plural, respectively (this, however, occurs in Latvian and Old Prussian as well and may indicate a collective feature of all Baltic languages). On the other hand, the Lithuanian verbal morphology retains a number of archaic features absent from most modern Indo-European languages (but shared with Latvian). This includes the synthetic form of the future tense with the help of the -''s''- suffix and three principal verbal forms with the present tense stem employing the -''n''- and -''st''- infixes. There are three verbal grammatical conjugation, conjugations. The verb ''būti'' is the only auxiliary verb in the language. Together with participles, it is used to form dozens of compound forms. In the active voice, each verb can be inflected for any of the following Grammatical mood, moods: #Indicative #Indirect #Imperative #Conditional/subjunctive In the indicative mood and indirect moods, all verbs can have eleven Grammatical tense, tenses: #simple: present tense, present (''nešu''), past tense, past (''nešiau''), past iterative tense, past iterative (''nešdavau'') and future tense, future (''nešiu'') #compound: ##present perfect (''esu nešęs''), past perfect (''buvau nešęs''), past iterative perfect (''būdavau nešęs''), future perfect (''būsiu nešęs'') ##past inchoative (''buvau benešąs''), past iterative inchoative (''būdavau benešąs''), future inchoative (''būsiu benešąs'') The indirect mood, used only in written narrative speech, has the same tenses corresponding to the appropriate active participle in nominative case; e.g., the past of the indirect mood would be ''nešęs'', while the past iterative inchoative of the indirect mood would be ''būdavęs benešąs''. Since it is a nominal form, this mood cannot be conjugated but must match the subject's number and gender. The subjunctive mood, subjunctive (or conditional mood, conditional) and the imperative moods have three tenses. Subjunctive: present (''neščiau''), past (''būčiau nešęs''), inchoative (''būčiau benešąs''); imperative: present (''nešk''), perfect (''būk nešęs'') and inchoative (''būk benešąs''). The infinitive has only one form (''nešti''). These forms, except the infinitive and indirect mood, are conjugative, having two singular, two plural persons, and the third person form common both for plural and singular. In the passive voice, the form number is not as rich as in the active voice. There are two types of passive voice in Lithuanian: present participle (type I) and past participle (type II) (in the examples below types I and II are separated with a slash). They both have the same moods and tenses: #Indicative mood: present tense, present (''esu nešamas/neštas''), past tense, past (''buvau nešamas/neštas''), past iterative tense, past iterative (''būdavau nešamas/neštas'') and future tense, future (''būsiu nešamas/neštas'') #Indirect mood: present tense, present (''esąs nešamas/neštas''), past tense, past (''buvęs nešamas/neštas''), past iterative tense, past iterative (''būdavęs nešamas/neštas'') and future tense, future (''būsiąs nešamas/neštas''). #Imperative mood: present (type I only: ''būk nešamas''), past (type II only: ''būk neštas''). #Subjunctive / conditional mood: present (type I only: ''būčiau nešamas''), past (type II only: ''būčiau neštas''). Lithuanian has the richest participle system of all Indo-European languages, having participles derived from all simple tenses with distinct active and passive forms, and two gerund forms. In practical terms, the rich overall inflectional system makes the word order have a different meaning than in more analytic languages such as English. The English phrase "a car is coming" translates as "atvažiuoja automobilis" (the Topic and comment, theme first), while "the car is coming" – "automobilis atvažiuoja" (the theme first; word order inversion). Lithuanian also has a very rich word derivation system and an array of diminutive suffixes. The first prescriptive grammar book of Lithuanian was commissioned by the Duke of Prussia, Frederick William, for use in the Lithuanian-speaking parishes of East Prussia. It was written in Latin and German by Daniel Klein (grammarian), Daniel Klein and published in Königsberg in 1653 or 1654. The first scientific ''Compendium of Lithuanian language'' was published in German in 1856/57 by
August Schleicher August Schleicher (; 19 February 1821 – 6 December 1868) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ...

August Schleicher
, a professor at Prague University. In it he describes Prussian-Lithuanian, which later became the "skeleton" (Būga) of modern Lithuanian. Today there are two definitive books on Lithuanian grammar: one in English, the ''Introduction to Modern Lithuanian'' (called ''Beginner's Lithuanian'' in its newer editions) by Leonardas Dambriūnas, Antanas Klimas and William R. Schmalstieg; and another in Russian, Vytautas Ambrazas' ''Грамматика литовского языка'' (''The Grammar of the Lithuanian Language''). Another recent book on Lithuanian grammar is the second edition of ''Review of Modern Lithuanian Grammar'' by Edmund Remys, published by Lithuanian Research and Studies Center, Chicago, 2003.


Vocabulary


Indo-European vocabulary

Lithuanian retains cognates to many words found in classical languages, such as
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
and Latin language, Latin. These words are descended from Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European. A few examples are the following: * Lith. and Skt. (son) * Lith. and Skt. and Lat. ''ovis'' (sheep) * Lith. and Skt. ''dhūmas'' and Lat. ''fumus'' (fumes, smoke) * Lith. and Skt. (second, the other) * Lith. and Skt. ''vṛkas'' (wolf) * Lith. and Lat. ''rota'' (wheel) and Skt. ''rathas'' (carriage) * Lith. and Lat. ''senex'' (an old man) and Skt. ''sanas'' (old) * Lith. and Lat. ''vir'' (a man) and Skt. ''vīras'' (man) * Lith. and Lat. ''anguis'' (a snake in Latin, a species of snakes in Lithuanian) * Lith. and Lat. ''linum'' (flax, compare with English 'linen') * Lith. and Lat. ''aro'' (I plow) * Lith. and Lat. ''iungo'', and Skt. ''yuñje'' (mid.), (I join) * Lith. and Lat. ''gentes'' and Skt. ''jántis'' (tribes) * Lith. and Lat. ''mensis'' and Skt. ''masas'' (month) * Lith. and Lat. ''dentes'' and Skt. ''dantas'' (teeth) * Lith. and Lat. ''noctes'' (plural of ''nox'') and Skt. ''naktis'' (night) * Lith. and Lat. ''ignis'' and Skt. ''agnis'' (fire) * Lith. and Lat. ''sedemus'' and Skt. ''sīdamas'' (we sit) This even extends to grammar, where for example Latin noun declensions ending in ''-um'' often correspond to Lithuanian ''-ų'', with the Latin declension#Fourth declension (u), Latin and Lithuanian declension#Table of noun declension endings, Lithuanian fourth declensions being particularly close. Many of the words from this list are similar to other Indo-European languages, including English and Russian. The contribution of Lithuanian was influential in the reconstruction of the
Proto-Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
. Lexical and grammatical similarities between Baltic and
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
suggest an affinity between these two language groups. On the other hand, there exist a number of Baltic (particularly Lithuanian) words without counterparts in Slavic languages, but which are similar to words in Sanskrit or Latin. The history of the relationship between Baltic and Slavic languages, and our understanding of the affinity between the two groups, remain in dispute (see:
Balto-Slavic languages The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian ...
).


Loanwords

In a 1934 book entitled ''Die Germanismen des Litauischen. Teil I: Die deutschen Lehnwörter im Litauischen'', K. Alminauskis found 2,770 loanwords, of which about 130 were of uncertain origin. The majority of the loanwords were found to have been derived from the
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
, Belarusian language, Belarusian, and German language, German languages, with some evidence that these languages all acquired the words from contacts and trade with Prussia during the era of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Loanwords comprised about 20% of the vocabulary used in the first book printed in the Lithuanian language in 1547, Martynas Mažvydas's ''Catechism''. But as a result of language preservation and purging policies, Slavic loanwords currently constitute only 1.5% of the Standard Lithuanian lexicon, while German loanwords constitute only 0.5% of it. The majority of loanwords in the 20th century arrived from the Russian language. Towards the end of the 20th century, a number of words and expressions related to new technologies and telecommunications were borrowed from the English language. The Lithuanian government has an established language policy that encourages the development of equivalent vocabulary to replace loanwords. However, despite the government's best efforts to avoid the use of loanwords in the Lithuanian language, many English words have become accepted and are now included in Lithuanian language dictionaries. In particular, words having to do with new technologies have permeated the Lithuanian vernacular, including such words as: * Monitorius (vaizduoklis) (computer monitor) * Faksas (fax) * Kompiuteris (computer) * Failas (byla, rinkmena) (electronic file) Other common foreign words have also been adopted by the Lithuanian language. Some of these include: * Taksi (taxicab, taxi) * Pica (pizza) * Alkoholis (alcohol) * Bankas (bank) * Pasas (passport, pass) * Parkas (park, park) These words have been modified to suit the grammatical and phonetic requirements of the Lithuanian language, mostly by adding -as suffix, but their foreign roots are obvious.


Old Lithuanian

The language of the earliest Lithuanian writings, in the 16th and 17th centuries, is known as Old Lithuanian and differs in some significant respects from the Lithuanian of today. ''Universitas lingvarum Litvaniae'', published in Vilnius, 1737, is the oldest surviving grammar of the Lithuanian language published in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Besides the specific differences given below, nouns, verbs, and adjectives still had separate endings for the dual (grammatical number), dual number. The dual persists today in some dialects. Example:


Pronunciation

The vowels written ''ą, ę, į, ų'' were still pronounced as long nasal vowels, not as long oral vowels as in today's Lithuanian. The original Baltic long ''ā'' was still retained as such, e.g. ''bralis'' "brother" (modern ''brólis'').


Nouns

Compared to the modern language, there were three additional cases, formed under the influence of the Finnic languages. The original locative case had been replaced by four so-called ''postpositive'' cases, the inessive case, illative case, adessive case and allative case, which correspond to the prepositions "in", "into", "at" and "towards", respectively. They were formed by affixing a postposition to one of the previous cases: *The inessive added ''-en'' to the original locative. *The illative added to the accusative. *The adessive added ''-pie'' to the original locative. *The allative added ''-pie'' to the genitive. The inessive has become the modern locative case, while the other three have disappeared. Note, however, that the illative case is still used occasionally in the colloquial language (mostly in the singular): ''Lietuvon'' "to Lithuania", ''miestan'' "to the city". This form is relatively productive: for instance, it is not uncommon to hear "skrendame Niujorkan (we are flying to New York)". The uncontracted dative plural ''-mus'' was still common.


Adjectives

Adjectives could belong to all four accent classes in Old Lithuanian (now they can only belong to classes 3 and 4). Additional remnants of i-stem adjectives still existed, e.g.: *loc. sg. "in the big crowd" (now ) *loc. sg. ''gerèsnime'' "better" (now ''geresniamè'') *loc. sg. ''mažiáusime'' "smallest" (now ''mažiáusiame'') Additional remnants of u-stem adjectives still existed, e.g. ''rūgštùs'' "sour": No u-stem remnants existed in the dative singular and locative plural. Definite adjectives, originally involving a pronoun suffixed to an adjective, had not merged into a single word in Old Lithuanian. Examples: *''pa-jo-prasto'' "ordinary" (now ''pàprastojo'') *''nu-jie-vargę'' "tired" (now ''nuvar̃gusieji'')


Verbs

The Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European class of athematic verbs still existed in Old Lithuanian: The optative mood (i.e. the third-person imperative) still had its own endings, ''-ai'' for third-conjugation verbs and ''-ie'' for other verbs, instead of using regular third-person present endings.


Syntax

Word order was freer in Old Lithuanian. For example, a noun in the genitive case could either precede or follow the noun it modifies.


See also

* * * Lithuanian dictionaries * Martynas Mažvydas * Samogitian dialect * Lithuanian literature


References


Sources

* * * Leonardas Dambriūnas, Antanas Klimas, William R. Schmalstieg, ''Beginner's Lithuanian'', Hippocrene Books, 1999, . Older editions (copyright 1966) called "Introduction to modern Lithuanian". * Remys, Edmund, ''Review of Modern Lithuanian Grammar'', Lithuanian Research and Studies Center, Chicago, 2nd revised edition, 2003. * * Zigmas Zinkevičius, "Lietuvių kalbos istorija" ("History of Lithuanian Language") Vol.1, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1984, . * Remys, Edmund, ''General distinguishing features of various Indo-European languages and their relationship to Lithuanian'', Indogermanische Forschungen, Berlin, New York, 2007. *


External links


Baltic Online (part of Early Indo-European Online) – Lithuanian and Old Lithuanian grammarAcademic Dictionary of Lithuanian2005 analysis of Indo-European linguistic relationships

Lithuanian verbs training

Lithuanian verbs test

Encyclopaedia Britannica – Lithuanian language


an online collection of introductory videos to Ancient Indo-European languages produced by the University of Göttingen {{DEFAULTSORT:Lithuanian Language Lithuanian language, Languages of Lithuania Languages of Poland East Baltic languages Articles containing video clips