It is one of the two (next to Latvian) languages that belong to the Baltic group of languages. This family is considered the most archaic of all the Indo-European languages.

Varieties and dialects

Lithuanian is the state language of the independent Republic of Lithuania, while in Poland it is spoken as a native language (in the standard version and in local dialects) by the Lithuanian minority living in a compact section of Suwałki near the state border with Lithuania. Polish Lithuanians communicate on a daily basis primarily in the Dzūkija dialect, which is different from the literary Lithuanian that is taught at school and used in the Republic of Lithuania. In the municipality of Punsk/Punskas, Lithuanian is an auxiliary language and there are bilingual place names, most of which are of Lithuanian origin anyway. For a long time Lithuanians in Poland have had a very well organised system of bilingual education (in Lithuanian and Polish) from kindergarten to higher education, therefore the condition of their language is much better compared to other minorities.

Lithuanian is used in Poland by about 30 thousand people. The language is also present in the countries of the former Soviet Union, Great Britain, and North and South America. According to statistics, Lithuanian is currently the mother tongue of 5 million people around the world.

Officially, Lithuanian is divided into two main dialect groups: Samogitian (spoken by about 25% of Lithuanians) and Aukštaitija, which has retained more archaisms (spoken by about 75% of Lithuanians).

Lithuanian alphabet

It is based on the Latin alphabet, used to write the Lithuanian language. It consists of 32 letters: A, Ą, B, C, Č, D, E, Ê, Ė, F, G, H, I, Į, Y, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, Š, T, U, Ų, Ū, V, Z, Ž. There are no letters Q, W, and X in the Lithuanian alphabet.

ą, ę, į, ų are old nasal vowels which are pronounced as long oral vowels. The consonants č, š, ž are equivalents of Polish cz, sz, ż. Until the end of the 19th century, they were written as in Polish, later they were replaced by consonants borrowed from Czech.

The vowels ū and y stand for long u and long i. The letter e is a so-called narrow e (lit. e siauroji) – it means a sound roughly intermediate between i and e. The letter ė, on the other hand, is pronounced like the Polish e.

Interesting facts:

There are as many as 10 participles in Lithuanian. They often act like tenses in English, except that here they are conjugated a lot more. The difficulty with them is also related to the fact that we (as native speakers of Polish) simply do not think in terms of time and succession like the Lithuanians do. If someone has mastered the tenses in English, they will certainly be able to deal with Lithuanian participles.

In Lithuanian there are almost no strong swear words, rather words such as “rupūžė” (toad). Instead of Lithuanian words, swear words in English or Russian are often used.

Lithuanian is known for its range of diminutives. Diminutives are usually formed with suffixes added to the noun stem. By far the most common are those with – elis / -elė or – ėlis / -ėlė . Others are: – ukis / -ukė, -ulis / -ulė, -užis / -užė, -utis / -utė, -ytis / -ytė, etc. You can also combine suffixes, e.g.: – užis + – ėlis → – užėlis. In addition to denoting smallness and/or affection, they can also act as intensifiers (amplifiers), pejoratives (aggravators) and give special meanings, depending on the context. Lithuanian diminutives are particularly common in poetic language, e.g. in folk songs. Examples include diminutive words:

brolis (brother) → brolelis, broliukas, brolytis, brolužis, brolužėlis, brolutytis, broliukėlis etc.
saulė (sun) → saulelė, saulytė, saulutė, saulužė, saulužėlė etc.

The form of a woman’s surname can indicate whether or not the woman is married, and this rule does not apply to men’s surnames.

Unmarried women’s names end with: aitė, iūtė and ytė

married women’s surnames always end in: ienė

The ending: ė has also become popular, which refers to both married and unmarried women, but it is not a commonly used form.

The Lithuanian language has retained a very old vocabulary, thanks to the State Commission for the Lithuanian Language, which guards the language so that it does not become overloaded with too many foreign words. The Commission makes sure that Lithuanian language is used in companies, agencies, institutions and media in Lithuania. Whenever it is possible, attempts are made to create new words instead of borrowing them.

Despite these efforts, in recent times – as with many other European languages – the influence of English and the use of borrowings from it has been noticeable.

Why should you learn Lithuanian? This language is spoken by five million people. You can communicate in English or Russian in Lithuania, but knowing the language will not only open the door to getting to know the culture, traditions, literature and mentality of Lithuanians. It will instill a love for them. The history of the Lithuanian language is extremely interesting, as it has preserved many archaic elements which are present only in the Indo-European language. Most of the features of the Indo-European language were preserved in the already non-existent Prussian language. The Lithuanian language has preserved more of these features than the Latvian language.

(translation N.N)

Pomożemy w tłumaczeniu.Zadzwoń