Lithuanian language

lietuvių kalba
Native toLithuania
RegionBaltic region
Native speakers
3.0–3.1 million (2016)[1]
Latin (Lithuanian alphabet)
Lithuanian Braille
Official status
Official language in
European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byCommission of the Lithuanian Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
lit – Modern Lithuanian
olt – Old Lithuanian
Map of Lithuanian language.svg
Map of the area of the Lithuanian language in the late 20th century and the 21st centuy
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Lithuanian (Lithuanian: lietuvių kalba) is a Baltic language spoken in the Baltic region. It is the language of Lithuanians and the official language of Lithuania as well as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.9 million[3] native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 200,000 abroad.

As a Baltic language, Lithuanian is closely related to neighbouring Latvian and more distantly to Slavic, Germanic and other Indo-European languages. It is written in a Latin alphabet. Lithuanian is often said to be the most conservative living Indo-European language, retaining features of Proto-Indo-European now lost in other languages.[4]


Area of the Lithuanian language in the 16th century
The oldest surviving manuscript in Lithuanian (around 1503), rewritten from 15th century original text
The earliest known Lithuanian glosses (~1520–1530) written in the margins of Johannes Herolt book Liber Discipuli de eruditione Christifidelium. 1) word ßch[ÿ]kſtu[m]aſ (parsimony) 2) words teprÿdav[ſ]ʒÿ (let it strike); vbagÿſte (indigence)
A map of European languages (1741) with the first verse of the Lord's Prayer in Lithuanian
Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 (boundaries are approximate).

Among Indo-European languages, Lithuanian is conservative in some aspects of its grammar and phonology, retaining archaic features otherwise found only in ancient languages such as Sanskrit[5] (particularly its early form, Vedic Sanskrit) or Ancient Greek. For this reason, it is an important source for the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language despite its late attestation (with the earliest texts dating only to c. 1500).[6]

Lithuanian was studied by linguists such as Franz Bopp, August Schleicher, Adalbert Bezzenberger, Louis Hjelmslev,[7] Ferdinand de Saussure,[8] Winfred P. Lehmann and Vladimir Toporov[9] and others.

The Proto-Balto-Slavic languages branched off directly from Proto-Indo-European, then sub-branched into Proto-Baltic and Proto-Slavic. Proto-Baltic branched off into Proto-West Baltic and Proto-East Baltic.[10] Baltic languages passed through a Proto-Balto-Slavic stage, from which Baltic languages retain numerous exclusive and non-exclusive lexical, morphological, phonological and accentual isoglosses in common with the Slavic languages, which represent their closest living Indo-European relatives. Moreover, with Lithuanian being so archaic in phonology, Slavic words can often be deduced from Lithuanian by regular sound laws; for example, Lith. vilkas and Polish wilkPBSl. *wilkas (cf. PSl. *vьlkъ) ← PIE *wĺ̥kʷos, all meaning "wolf".

According to some glottochronological speculations,[11][12] the Eastern Baltic languages split from the Western Baltic ones between AD 400 and 600. The Greek geographer Ptolemy had already written of two Baltic tribe/nations by name, the Galindai and Sudinoi (Γαλίνδαι, Σουδινοί) in the 2nd century AD. The differentiation between Lithuanian and Latvian started after 800; for a long period, they could be considered dialects of a single language. At a minimum, transitional dialects existed until the 14th or 15th century and perhaps as late as the 17th century. Also, the 13th- and 14th-century occupation of the western part of the Daugava basin (closely coinciding with the territory of modern Latvia) by the German Sword Brethren had a significant influence on the languages' independent development.

The earliest surviving written Lithuanian text is a translation dating from about 1503–1525 of the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Nicene Creed written in the Southern Aukštaitian dialect. Printed books existed after 1547, but the level of literacy among Lithuanians was low through the 18th century, and books were not commonly available. In 1864, following the January Uprising, Mikhail Muravyov, the Russian Governor General of Lithuania, banned the language in education and publishing and barred use of the Latin alphabet altogether, although books printed in Lithuanian continued to be printed across the border in East Prussia and in the United States. Brought into the country by book smugglers despite the threat of stiff prison sentences, they helped fuel a growing nationalist sentiment that finally led to the lifting of the ban in 1904.

Jonas Jablonskis (1860–1930) made significant contributions to the formation of the standard Lithuanian language. The conventions of written Lithuanian had been evolving during the 19th century, but Jablonskis, in the introduction to his Lietuviškos kalbos gramatika, was the first to formulate and expound the essential principles that were so indispensable to its later development. His proposal for Standard Lithuanian was based on his native Western Aukštaitijan dialect with some features of the eastern Prussian Lithuanians' dialect spoken in Lithuania Minor. These dialects[clarification needed] had preserved archaic phonetics mostly intact due to the influence of the neighbouring Old Prussian language, while the other dialects had experienced different phonetic shifts. Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1918. During the Soviet era (see History of Lithuania), it was used in official discourse along with Russian, which, as the official language of the USSR, took precedence over Lithuanian.[13]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Litaus
አማርኛ: ሊትዌንኛ
aragonés: Idioma lituán
asturianu: Idioma lituanu
Avañe'ẽ: Lituañañe'ẽ
Aymar aru: Lituaña aru
azərbaycanca: Litva dili
Bân-lâm-gú: Lietuva-gí
беларуская: Літоўская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Летувіская мова
български: Литовски език
bosanski: Litvanski jezik
brezhoneg: Lituaneg
català: Lituà
Чӑвашла: Литва чĕлхи
čeština: Litevština
Cymraeg: Lithwaneg
davvisámegiella: Lietuvagiella
dolnoserbski: Litawšćina
eesti: Leedu keel
español: Idioma lituano
Esperanto: Litova lingvo
euskara: Lituaniera
Fiji Hindi: Lithuanian bhasa
føroyskt: Litaviskt mál
français: Lituanien
Frysk: Litousk
Gaelg: Litaanish
Gàidhlig: Liotuànais
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Lithuania-ngî
հայերեն: Լիտվերեն
hornjoserbsce: Litawšćina
hrvatski: Litavski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Lituavi
íslenska: Litháíska
italiano: Lingua lituana
עברית: ליטאית
kalaallisut: Litauenimiutut
ქართული: ლიტვური ენა
kaszëbsczi: Lëtewsczi jãzëk
қазақша: Литва тілі
kernowek: Lithywanek
Kinyarwanda: Ikilituwaniya
Kiswahili: Kilituanya
Кыргызча: Литва тили
Lëtzebuergesch: Litauesch
lietuvių: Lietuvių kalba
Limburgs: Litouws
Lingua Franca Nova: Lietuvisce (lingua)
lumbaart: Lengua lituana
македонски: Литвански јазик
მარგალური: ლიტვური ნინა
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Lithuania
монгол: Литва хэл
Dorerin Naoero: Dorerin Rituainiya
Nederlands: Litouws
Nordfriisk: Litauisk
Norfuk / Pitkern: Lithyuanyan
norsk: Litauisk
norsk nynorsk: Litauisk
occitan: Lituanian
олык марий: Литва йылме
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Litva tili
پنجابی: لتھوانی
Piemontèis: Lenga lituan-a
Tok Pisin: Tok Lituwenia
Plattdüütsch: Litausche Spraak
português: Língua lituana
Runa Simi: Lituwa simi
Gagana Samoa: Gagana Lufiana
संस्कृतम्: लेतुवाभाषा
Simple English: Lithuanian language
slovenčina: Litovčina
slovenščina: Litovščina
ślůnski: Litewsko godka
српски / srpski: Литвански језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Litvanski jezik
svenska: Litauiska
Taqbaylit: Talitwanit
татарча/tatarça: Литва теле
Türkçe: Litvanca
удмурт: Литва кыл
українська: Литовська мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: لىتۋا تىلى
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Litva
Võro: Leedu kiil
文言: 立陶宛語
Winaray: Linituano
ייִדיש: ליטוויש
粵語: 立陶宛文
Zazaki: Litwanki
Zeêuws: Litouws
žemaitėška: Lietoviu kalba
中文: 立陶宛语