The Lithuanian language is spoken primarily in the Republic of Lithuania, where it is the official language. It is also a minority language in Belarus, Poland, Latvia, and Russia. In addition, Lithuanian has been chosen as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are just about 3 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania with additional speakers abroad.
Lithuanian is a Baltic language and is closely relevant to Latvian. Lithuanian is written in an adapted version of the Roman script. Lithuania and Latvia are the two remaining Baltic languages. The other Western Baltic languages, Curonian and Sudovian are now extinct.
Why learn Lithuanian?
Travel – Vilnius has become a popular tourist destination. Learning Lithuanian will help you feel more at ease while traveling to Lithuania. Even a basic knowledge of Lithuanian will make a visit more enjoyable.
Friendship and relationships – Greater movement of people from Lithuania to other Western European countries, mainly for work reasons, has led into broader possibilities for friendship and relationships.
A linguistic challenge – As a direct descendent of the original Indo-European language, Lithuanian shares many resemblances in vocabulary with other languages in this group, including remarkably Latin.
The Lithuanian Alphabet and Lithuanian Pronunciation
Lithuanian is written in a version of the Latin alphabet, the same alphabet used by English. The Lithuanian alphabet has 32 letters, including some identical letters, especially vowels with diacritic marks to distinguish between their sounds. The letters Q, W, and X do not exist in the Lithuanian alphabet. The alphabetical order for Lithuanian also may differ from English in that the letter Y occurs in the middle of the alphabet.
Lithuanian pronunciation is straightforward. Each Lithuanian letter corresponds to a specific sound. There are also several diphthongs, or vowel combinations. Some of the most commonly used diphthongs include ai, ei, ui, au, uo, and ie. All of the vowels and diphthongs have both short and long sounds.
Lithuanian nouns are either masculine or feminine. There are five declension types, and thus there are many possible endings for nouns. Lithuanian adjectives, which commonly come before nouns, must agree in gender, case, and number with the nouns or pronouns they modify. Lithuanian verbs are conjugated to show tense and person. There are no definite or indefinite articles in Lithuanian.
Because the Lithuanian language has remained closer to its Indo-European roots than most other Indo-European languages, many Lithuanian words have cognates in ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Latin, or Ancient Greek. Lithuanian has traditionally been conservative in terms of vocabulary, preferring to coin its own terms rather than borrow from other languages. However, Lithuanian did take in words from Russian during the period that Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union, and it has more recently begun to borrow words from English and occasionally other European languages.