The Lithuanian language is an Indo-European language of the Baltic family. It is very closely related to the Latvian language, although the speaker of one will not be able to understand the language of the other. The language itself has retained a lot of its original features, and has kept many of the aspects of the Proto Indo-European aspects that have been lost in other Indo-European languages.
The Lithuanian language has been very resistant to change, and has kept many of its traditional elements. Interestingly, this means that older versions of the language, for example in Old Lithuanian, certain aspects of grammar were a little freer, such as the word order in a sentence.
The oldest text that has been found that uses the Lithuanian text is a translation of the Lord’s Prayer. This dates from around the start of the 15th century. Surprisingly, books were already in print by around half a century later, though it wasn’t until the latter half of the 18th century that they were widely read. Then, in 1894, books that were written in Lithuanian in the Latin alphabet were banned. This had a strong effect on the pride in nationalism as a backlash to the ban, and books were printed in East Prussia and the U.S., which were then smuggled into the country.
There are around 4 million speakers of the Lithuanian language throughout the world. The vast majority of these speakers live in Lithuania itself, with about 3.5 million speakers living in the country itself. Though the Lithuanian language is primarily spoken in Lithuania, it is also spoken by ethnic minorities of Lithuanians living in Belarus, Latvia and Poland, as well as the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia. Communities of Lithuanian speakers also exist in the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Canada, France, Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Spain and Uruguay.
The Lithuanian language has two primary dialects, which are Aukstaitian, and Samogitian. The former is translated to Highland Lithuanian, while the latter is translated to Lowland Lithuanian. Highland Lithuanian is considered to be standard Lithuanian, while the Samogitian language developed with a heavy influence from the Curonian language. Both of these dialects have three sub-dialects, and the regions of the country are related to the dialect that is spoken. Samogitian can be divided into West, North and South, while Aukstaitian is divided into West, East, and Dainavian.
Lithuanian is the official language of the country of Lithuania, and also in the Gmina Punsk area of Poland. Around 75% of the population in Gmina Punsk is Lithuanian, though the population itself only amounts to around 4000 people as it is a very rural district.
There are 32 letters in the Lithuanian language. The Latin alphabet is used in combination with diacritics to show difference. The language itself, and the writing system, is for the most part phonemic. This means that each letter corresponds to a certain sound and unlike English, keeps the same sound regardless of their placement within the word.
There are certain exceptions, with colloquialisms and outside influences to the language, but for the most part, each letter keeps its sound value regardless of the context. As a highly inflected language, Lithuanian grammar expresses relationships between words and their role in the sentence through various kinds of inflection.
The Lithuanian government has set up a section of government to create new words that the Lithuanian language does not yet have. These are primarily from the fields of science and technology, which are areas of interest that progress very quickly. However, many English words are being appropriated for use in the Lithuanian language, even making it into many dictionaries. The English language is very popular among young people of Lithuania, particularly those in the cities and urban areas of living.
Why Learn The Lithuanian Language?
Before the economic financial crisis in 2007, the country of Lithuania had actually one of the fastest growing economies in the E.U. It is a country with an above average income compared to other countries, with less than 2% of people living below the poverty line. If you are looking to relocate with business or just personally, Lithuania could be the country for you, as it has a high standard of living. In terms of business, there is a market shift towards technology and computing. If this is your area of expertise and you would like a very different change of scenery, learning the Lithuanian language might be a great move for you.