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Main article: "Lithuanian orthography Lithuanian Braille

Lithuanian uses the "Latin script supplemented with "diacritics. It has 32 "letters. In the "collation order, y follows immediately after į (called i "nosinė), because both y and į represent the same long vowel ["]:

"Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)
"Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small 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

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 ["x], while dz and are pronounced like straightforward combinations of their component letters (sounds):

Dz dz ["dz] (dzė), Dž dž ["] (džė), Ch ch ["x] (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 ["ɪ], as in the English sit, or is silent and merely indicates that the preceding consonant is "palatalized. The latter is largely the case when i occurs after a consonant and is followed by a "back or a "central vowel, except in some borrowed words (e.g., the first consonant in lūpa ɫûːpɐ], "lip", is a "velarized dental lateral approximant; on the other hand, the first consonant in liūtas uːt̪ɐs̪], "lion", is a palatalized "alveolar lateral approximant; both consonants are followed by the same vowel, the long ["], and no ["ɪ] can be pronounced in liūtas).

A "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, "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.


Lithuanian phonology


Consonant phonemes of Lithuanian
"Labial "Dental "Alveolar "Palatal "Velar
hard soft hard soft hard soft soft soft hard
"Nasal "m "n
"Stop voiceless "p "t "k
voiced "b "d ɡʲ "ɡ
"Affricate voiceless "t͡s t͡sʲ "t͡ʃ "t͡ʃʲ
voiced "d͡z d͡zʲ "d͡ʒ "d͡ʒʲ
"Fricative voiceless ("f) () "s "ʃ "ʃʲ () ("x)
voiced v "z "ʒ "ʒʲ j (ɣʲ) ("ɣ)
"Approximant "ɫ "
"Trill "r

All Lithuanian consonants except /j/ have two variants: the non-"palatalized one represented by the "IPA symbols in the chart, and the "palatalized one (i.e. /b/ – /bʲ/, /d/ – /dʲ/, /ɡ/ – /ɡʲ/, and so on). The consonants /f/, /x/, /ɣ/ and their palatalized variants are only found in "loanwords.


Lithuanian has six long vowels and five short ones (not including a disputed phoneme marked in brackets). Length has traditionally been considered the distinctive feature, though short vowels are also more centralized and long vowels more peripheral:

"Front "Central "Back
"High " "ɪ "ʊ "
"Mid " ("e) "ɔ "
"Low "æː "ɛ "ɐ "


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.

or tilde
acute stress
ai [ɐɪ̯ˑ] [âˑɪ̯]
ei [ɛɪ̯ˑ] [æ̂ˑɪ̯]
au [ɒʊ̯ˑ] [âˑʊ̯]
eu [ɛʊ̯ˑ] [ɛ̂ʊ̯]
iau [ɛʊ̯ˑ] [ɛ̂ˑʊ̯]
ie [iə] [îə][13]
oi [ɔ̂ɪ̯]
ou [ɔ̂ʊ̯]
ui [ʊɪ̯ˑ] [ʊ̂ɪ̯]
uo [uə] [ûə][13]

Pitch accent[edit]

Lithuanian accentuation

The Lithuanian prosodic system is characterized by free accent and distinctive quantity. Its accentuation is sometimes described as a simple "tone system, often called "pitch accent.[14] 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.


Lithuanian grammar

Lithuanian is a highly "inflected language in which the relationships between parts of speech and their roles in a sentence are expressed by numerous inflections.

In Lithuanian, there are two "grammatical genders for nouns – masculine and feminine, and there are three genders for adjectives, pronouns, numerals and participles: masculine, feminine and neuter. Every attribute has to follow the gender and the number of the noun. The neuter forms of other parts of speech are used with a "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.[15]

Nouns and other parts of nominal morphology are declined in seven cases: "nominative, "genitive, "dative, "accusative, "instrumental, "locative, and "vocative. In older Lithuanian texts three additional varieties of the locative case are found: "illative, "adessive and "allative. The most common are the "illative, which still is used, mostly in spoken language, and the "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 long-standing contact (Uralic languages have a great variety of noun cases, a number of which are specialised locative cases).

Lithuanian has a free, mobile "stress, and is also characterized by "pitch accent.

The 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 via the means of reduplication) and aorist; forming subjunctive and imperative with the use of suffixes plus flexions as opposed to solely flections in, e. g., Ancient Greek; loss of the optative mood; merging and disappearing of the -t- and -nt- markers for 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 formation of the future tense with the help of the -s- suffix; three principal verbal forms with the present tense stem employing the -n- and -st- infixes.

There are three "verbal "conjugations. The verb būti is the only auxiliary verb in the language. Together with participles, it’s used to form dozens of compound forms.

In the active voice, each verb can be inflected for any of the following "moods:

  1. "indicative
  2. Indirect
  3. Imperative
  4. Conditional / subjunctive

In the "indicative mood and indirect moods, all verbs can have eleven "tenses:

  1. simple: "present (nešu), "past (nešiau), "past iterative (nešdavau) and "future (nešiu)
  2. 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. past of the indirect mood would be nešęs, 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 (or "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) ant 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:

  1. Indicative mood: "present (esu nešamas/neštas), "past (buvau nešamas/neštas), "past iterative (būdavau nešamas/neštas) and "future (būsiu nešamas/neštas)
  2. Indirect mood: "present (esąs nešamas/neštas), "past (buvęs nešamas/neštas), "past iterative (būdavęs nešamas/neštas) and "future (būsiąs nešamas/neštas).
  3. Imperative mood: present (type I only: būk nešamas), past (type II only: būk neštas).
  4. 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 "rheme 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 and published in "Königsberg in 1653/1654. The first scientific Compendium of Lithuanian language was published in German in 1856/57 by "August Schleicher, a professor at "Prague University. In it he describes Prussian-Lithuanian which later is to become 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.


"The Grand Dictionary of the Lithuanian language consists of 20 volumes and contains more than half a million "headwords

Indo-European vocabulary[edit]

Lithuanian retains "cognates to many words found in classical languages, such as "Sanskrit and "Latin. These words are descended from "Proto-Indo-European. A few examples are the following:

  • Lith. and Skt. sūnus (son)
  • Lith. and Skt. avis and Lat. ovis (sheep)
  • Lith. dūmas and Skt. dhūmas and Lat. fumus (fumes, smoke)
  • Lith. antras and Skt. antaras (second, the other)
  • Lith. vilkas and Skt. vṛkas (wolf)
  • Lith. ratas and Lat. rota (wheel) and Skt. rathas (carriage).
  • Lith. senis and Lat. senex (an old man) and Skt. sanas (old).
  • Lith. vyras and Lat. vir (a man) and Skt. vīras (man).
  • Lith. angis and Lat. anguis (a snake in Latin, a species of snakes in Lithuanian)
  • Lith. linas and Lat. linum (flax, compare with English 'linen')
  • Lith. ariu and Lat. aro (I plow)
  • Lith. jungiu and Lat. iungo (I join)
  • Lith. gentys and Lat. gentes (tribes) and Skt. jánas["clarification needed] (genus, race).
  • Lith. mėnesis and Lat. mensis and Skt masa (month)
  • Lith. dantis and Lat. dentes and Skt dantas (teeth)
  • Lith. naktis and Lat. noctes and Skt. naktis (night)
  • Lith. ugnis and Lat. ignis and Skt. agni (fire)
  • Lith. sėdime and Lat. sedemus (we sit) and Skt. sīdati (sits down).

This even extends to grammar, where for example Latin noun declensions ending in -um often correspond to Lithuanian , with the "Latin and "Lithuanian fourth declensions being particularly close. Many of the words from this list share similarities with other Indo-European languages, including English.

On the one hand, the lexical and grammatical similarities between Baltic and "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["which?], notably those that are similar to Sanskrit or Latin["clarification needed]. This fact puzzled many linguists prior to the middle of the 19th century, but was later influential in the re-creation of the "Proto Indo-European language["clarification needed]. 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).


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, "Belarusian, and "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.[16] Loanwords comprised about 20% of the vocabulary used in the first book printed in the Lithuanian language in 1547, "Martynas Mažvydas's "Catechism.[17] 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.[18] The majority of loanwords in the 20th century arrived from the "Russian language.[19]

Towards the end of the 20th century, a number of words and expressions related to new technologies and telecommunications were borrowed from "English language. The Lithuanian government has an established language policy which encourages the development of equivalent vocabulary to replace loanwords.[20] 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.[21][22] In particular, words having to do with new technologies have permeated the Lithuanian vernacular, including such words as:

Other common foreign words have also been adopted by the Lithuanian language. Some of these include:

These words have been modified to suit the grammatical and phonetic requirements of the Lithuanian language, but their foreign roots are obvious.


  • [In] Lithuanian: (adverb) lietuviškai
(language) lietuvių
Lithuanian (demonym) – lietuvis (male); lietuvė (female)
  • Hello / hi – labas, sveikas (masculine), sveika (feminine); good afternoon – laba diena; good morning – labas rytas; good evening – labas vakaras; good night – labanakt
  • Goodbye: iki, ate (both informally); viso gero (formally)
  • Please: prašau
  • Thank you: ačiū, dėkui
  • That [one]: tas (masculine), ta (feminine), tai (neuter/general: it)
  • How much (does it cost)?: kiek (kainuoja)?
  • Yes: taip
  • No: ne
  • Sorry: atsiprašau
  • I don't understand: nesuprantu
  • Do you speak English?: Ar kalbate angliškai?
  • What's your name?: Koks tavo (informally)/jūsų (more polite, venerating) vardas?
  • Where is ...?: Kur yra ...?
  • Shop: parduotuvė
  • Tea: arbata
  • Coffee: kava
  • Milk: pienas
  • Example: pavyzdys
  • Examples: pavyzdžiai
  • Photo: nuotrauka

Old Lithuanian[edit]

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.

Besides the specific differences given below, it should be noted that nouns, verbs and adjectives still had separate endings for the "dual number. The dual persists today in some dialects. Example:

Case "two good friends"
Nom-Acc dù gerù draugù
Dat dvı̇́em gerı̇́em draugám
Inst dviem̃ geriem̃ draugam̃


The vowels written ą, ę, į, ų were still pronounced as long "nasal vowels,[23] 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).


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 -n(a) 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". The interesting thing about this form is its relative productivity. 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 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. didimè pulkè "in the big crowd" (now didžiame)
  • loc. sg. gerèsnime "better" (now geresniamè)
  • loc. sg. mažiáusime "smallest" (now mažiáusiame)

Additional remnants of u-stem adjectives still existed, e.g. rūgštùs "sour":

Case Newer Older
Inst sg rūgščiù rūgštumı̇̀
Loc sg rūgščiamè rūgštumè
Gen pl rūgščių̃ rūgštų̃
Acc pl rū́gščius rū́gštus
Inst pl rūgščiaı̇̃s rūgštumı̇̀s

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)


The "Proto-Indo-European class of "athematic verbs still existed in Old Lithuanian:

'be' 'remain' 'give' 'save'
1st sg esmı̇̀ liekmı̇̀ dúomi gélbmi
2nd sg esı̇̀ lieksı̇̀ dúosi gélbsi
3rd sg ẽst(i) liẽkt(i) dúost(i) gélbt(i)
1st dual esvà liekvà dúova gélbva
2nd dual està liektà dúosta gélbta
1st pl esmè liekmè dúome gélbme
2nd pl estè liektè dúoste gélbte
3rd pl ẽsti liẽkt(i) dúost(i) gélbt(i)

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.


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[edit]


  1. ^ Modern Lithuanian at "Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Old Lithuanian at "Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lithuanian". "Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Zinkevičius, Z. (1993). Rytų Lietuva praeityje ir dabar. Vilnius: "Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidykla. p. 9. "ISBN "5-420-01085-2. ...linguist generally accepted that Lithuanian language is the most archaic among live Indo-European languages... 
  5. ^ "The Origin of the Lithuanian Language". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  6. ^ Lithuanian Language. "Encyclopædia Britannica.
  7. ^ Dini, P.U. (2000). Baltų kalbos. Lyginamoji istorija. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. pp. 101–103. "ISBN "5-420-01444-0. 
  8. ^ lituanus William Smalstieg, University Pennsylvania 1982
  9. ^ Girdenis A., Mažiulis V (1994). "Baltų kalbų divergencinė chronologija". Baltistica. XXVII, Nr. 2: 10. 
  10. ^ Blažek V., Novotna P (2007). "Glotochronology and its application to the Balto-Slavic languages". Baltistica. XLII, Nr. 2: 208—209. 
  11. ^ Dini, P.U. (2000). Baltų kalbos. Lyginamoji istorija. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. p. 362. "ISBN "5-420-01444-0.  "Priešingai nei skelbė leninietiškos deklaracijos apie tautas („Jokių privilegijų jokiai tautai ir jokiai kalbai”), reali TSRS politika – kartu ir kalbų politika – buvo ne kas kita kaip rusinimas77. Ir 1940-1941 metais, iš karto po priverstinio Pabaltijo valstybių įjungimo į TSRS, ir vėliau vyraujanti kalbos politikos linija Lietuvos TSRS ir Latvijos TSRS buvo tautinių kalbų raidos derinimas su socialistinių nacijų raida78. Tokia padėtis tęsėsi penkiasdešimt metų79."
  12. ^ Zinkevičius, Zigmas; Alexas Stanislovas Girdenis (1966). "Dėl lietuvių kalbos tarmių klasifikacijos". Kalbotyra (Slavistica Vilnensis). 14. "ISSN 1392-1517. 
  13. ^ a b Vadinamųjų sutaptinių dvibalsių [ie uo] garsinė ir fonologinė sudėtis | Girdenis | Baltistica
  14. ^ Phonetic invariance and phonological stability: Lithuanian pitch accents Grzegorz Dogil & Gregor Möhler, 1998 [1]["dead link]
  15. ^ Dabartinės lietuvių kalbos gramatika. Vilnius, 1997
  16. ^ Ways of Germanisms into Lithuanian. N. Cepiene, Acta Baltico-Slavica, 2006 Archived 6 February 2012 at the "Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Martynas Mažvydas' Language. "Zigmas Zinkevičius, 1996. Accessed October 26, 2007.
  18. ^ Loanwords (in Lithuanian)
  19. ^ Slavic loanwords in the northern sub-dialect of the southern part of west high Lithuanian. V. Sakalauskiene, Acta Baltico-Slavica 2006. Accessed October 26, 2007. Archived 6 February 2012 at the "Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ State Language Policy Guidelines 2003–2008["permanent dead link]. "Seimas of Lithuania, 2003. Accessed October 26, 2007.
  21. ^ English to Lithuanian online dictionary Archived 28 July 2013 at the "Wayback Machine.
  22. ^, Linvozone English to Lithuanian online dictionary.
  23. ^ Ambrazas, Vytautas. Lithuanian Grammar, p. 13. 1997.
  • Leonardas Dambriūnas, Antanas Klimas, William R. Schmalstieg, Beginner's Lithuanian, Hippocrene Books, 1999, "ISBN 0-7818-0678-X. 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.
  • Klimas, Antanas. "Baltic and Slavic revisited". "Lituanus vol. 19, no. 1, Spring 1973 . Retrieved October 23, 2007. 
  • Zigmas Zinkevičius, "Lietuvių kalbos istorija" ("History of Lithuanian Language") Vol.1, "Vilnius: Mokslas, 1984, "ISBN 5-420-00102-0.
  • Remys, Edmund, General distinguishing features of various Indo-European languages and their relationship to Lithuanian, Indogermanische Forschungen, Berlin, New York, 2007.

External links[edit]

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