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Lithuanian 

lithuanian

Introduction

Labas – Hello

Lithuanian (lietuvių kalba) belongs to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken in Lithuania by close to 3 million people. Besides Lithuania, it is also spoken in Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Canada, and the US. The worldwide population of Lithuanian speakers is estimated at around 3.1 million (Ethnologue).

The closest relative of Lithuanian is Latvian, but the two languages are not mutually intelligible.Both are thought to have evolved from a hypothetical common ancestor called Proto-Balto-Slavic. It is hypothesized that they started to split starting around 800 AD. It is thought that there was a long period when and Lithuanian and Latvian were two dialects of one language until possibly as late as the 16th-17th centuries, when they finally emerged as distinct languages.map

Both Lithuanian and Latvian have retained many features of Proto-Indo-European, especially in their noun systems. Of the two languages, Lithuanian is the more conservative, having retained more archaic forms that Latvian. These features have been attested only in extinct Indo-European languages. For this reason, Lithuanian has been closely studied by scholars of Indo-European linguistics.

Status
Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1918. It is spoken by people of all ages in all public and personal domains. Between 1940 and 1990, Lithuanian co-existed alongside Russian, the dominant language of the country at the time. When Lithuania gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, a large number of publications in Lithuanian started to appear once again. Today, there is a thriving publishing industry as well as television and radio broadcasts in Lithuanian.

Dialects

Lithuanian is divided into two distinct dialect areas that do not have a high degree of mutual intelligibility:

  • Aukštaitian (Highland Lithuanian) on which Standard Lithuanian is based
  • Samogitian (Lowland Lithuanian).

 

Structure

Sound system
All words in Lithuanian end in a vowel of [s].

Vowels
The Lithuanian vowel system is characterized by vowel length which makes a difference in word meaning. The traditional analysis posits 5 long and 5 short vowels. This analysis is presented below.

Close
i, i:
u, u:
Mid
e, e:
o, o:
Open
a, a:

In addition, Lithuanian has the diphthongs /ai, ei, ui, oi, au, eu, ie, uo/.

Consonants
Lithuanian has 23 consonant phonemes, i.e., sounds that distinguish word meaning. All consonants, except for the velars /k/, /g/, /x/, /ɣ/ can be unpalatalized or palatalized, i.e., pronounced with the blade of the tongue raised towards the roof of the mouth (hard palate). Palatalization distinguishes word meaning.

Post-alveolar
Stops
voiceless
p
t
k
voiced
b
d
g
Fricatives
voiceless
f
s
ʃ
x
voiced
z
ʒ
ɣ
Affricates
voiceless
ts
voiced
dz
Nasals
m
n
Laterals
l
Rhotic (flap)
r
Semivowels
w
j
  • v, x, ɣ occur only in borrowed words
  • ʃ = sh in shop
  • x = German pronunciation of ch in Bach
  • ɣ has no equivalent in English
  • ʒ = s in vision
  • tʃ = ch in chop
  • dʒ = j in job
  • j = y in yet

Stress
Lithuanian has a pitch accent system it is thought to have retained from Proto-Indo-European. The pitch of the vowel distinguishes the meaning of words. There are two pitches: a rising pitch (sometimes marked in writing by a circumflex accent), and a falling pitch (sometimes marked in writing by an acute accent). Stress can fall on any syllable in a word.

Grammar
Lithuanian is a richly inflected language that has retained some of the characteristics of its ancestral Proto-Indo-European.

Nouns
Lithuanian nouns are marked for gender, number and case. The three categories are fused into one ending.

Verbs
Lithuanian verbs have the following grammatical features. :

  • three conjugations;
  • three persons; there are different forms in the 1st and 2nd persons in the singular and plural, and a common form in the 3rd person for both singular and plural;
  • three tenses: present, past, and future;
  • two aspects: imperfective and perfective;
  • four moods: indicativeimperativeconditionalsubjunctive;
  • participles (active and passive) which can be formed from all tenses;
  • several gerund forms;
  • Lithuanian is a pro-drop language, i.e., pronouns are usually dropped since the verb form carries information about the person and number. .

Word order
The normal word order in Lithuanian sentences is Subject-Verb-Object. However, other word orders are possible since cases indicate the function of words in the sentence. Lithuanian has a switch-reference system, i.e., one set of of verb endings is used when the subjects of the main and subordinate clauses refer to the same person, and another set when they refer to different people.

Vocabulary
Lithuanian is one of the most conservative modern Indo-European languages. It has even preserved some words that are identical to or are very similar to their counterparts in Sanskrit , e.g.,

Lithuanian
Sanskrit
English
sūnus
sūnus
‘son’
vilkas
vrkas
‘wolf’

Basic vocabulary is inherently Lithuanian and not borrowed from other languages. However, there are many words that were borrowed over time, e.g., stiklas‘glass’ from Russian steklomuilas ’soap’ from Russian myloreklama ’advertisement’ from Russian reklama. Lithuanian has also borrowed a number of international words, e.g., telefonas, radijas, televizijasSince independence in 1991, English has replaced Russian as the source of borrowed words.

Below are some basic words and phrases in Lithuanian.

Hello Labas.
Good bye. Viso gero.
Please. Prašau.
Thank you. Ačiū. Dėkui
Sorry. Atsiprašau.
Yes. Taip.
No. Ne
Man Vyras, žmogus.
Woman. Moteris, šnek, teta.

Below are the Lithuanian numerals 1-10.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
vienas
du
trys
keturi
penki
šesi
septyni
aštuoni
devyni
dešimt

Writing

Lithuanian was not written prior to the middle of the 16th century. The first alphabet was introduced in 1547, but the level of literacy among Lithuanians was low throughout the 18th century. In addition, between 1864 and 1904, the printing and teaching of Lithuanian were banned, and the use of Cyrillic was mandated by the Czarist government of Russia. After the ban was lifted in 1904, there was a resurgence of Lithuanian literature. From 1918 to 1940, Lithuania was independent and literature flourished. After Lithuania became independent from Russia in 1991, literature once again began to flourish.

Modern Lithuanian is written with a modified Roman alphabet consisting of 32 letters.

A a
Ą ą
B b
C c
D d
Č č
E e
Ę ę
Ė ė
F f
G g
H h
I i
Į į
Y y
J j
K k
L l
M m
N n
O o
P p
R r
S s
Š š
T t
U u
Ų ų
Ū ū
V v
Z z
Ž ž
  • ą, ę, į, ų, ū represent long vowels
  • č = ch in chop
  • š = sh in shop
  • ž = s in vision

Take a look at Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Lithuanian.

1 Straipsnis
Visi žmonės gimsta laisvi ir lugūs savo orumu ir teisėmis. Jiems suteiktas protas ir sąžine ir jie turi elgtis vienas kito atžvilgiu kaip broliai.
Article 1 
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Did You Know?

Difficulty

Language Difficulty
questionHow difficult is it to learn Lithuanian?
Lithuanian is considered to be a Category I language in terms of difficulty for speakers of English.

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