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Lithuanian: The oldest European language still spoken today

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10 facts about the Lithuanian language

01

Lithuanian belongs to the Baltic language group and has many similarities with its sister Slavic languages.

02

Lithuanian is the official language of Lithuania and also one of the official languages of the European Union.

03

Lithuanian is the oldest of all the Indo-European languages that is still spoken to this day and has changed the least.

04

Eighty-five percent of the Lithuanian population speaks Lithuanian as their first language and total of 96% of the population speaks the language.

05

During the Russian imperial occupation in Lithuania, it was illegal to speak and print Lithuanian in public.

06

During this time, many Russian words, illegally and legally, seeped into the Lithuanian speech.

07

Some of the largest Lithuanian speaking communities outside of Lithuania are found in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and Ireland.

08

The Lithuanian language uses the Latin alphabet, but, in comparison to English, Lithuanian has 9 unique letters and has dropped the letters (w, x and q).

09

The Lithuanian letters sound similar to their English equivalents but need to be stretched longer during pronunciation.

10

Lithuanian endings are attached to foreign names. For example, Tom is called Tomas and Bob is called Bobas.

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Origin of the language

Lithuanian emerged in the Baltic regions.

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History of the language

It is believed that Lithuanian originated in 1009 AD.

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Learning the language

For an English speaker, about 2100 hours are needed to learn Lithuanian.

Lithuanian language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Lithuanian:

True: Tiesa
New: Naujas
Hello: Labas
Come: Ateiti
Love: Meilė
Good: Gerai
Bye: Ate
Good morning: Labas rytas
Sad: Liūdnas
Thank you: Ačiū

Quotes

Only the other world has substance and reality; only good deeds and holy learning have tangible worth.

Abraham Cahan

Novelist, newspaper editor and politician

I became interested in photography when I found my own sketches were inadequate.

Ben Shahn

Artist

In a meadow full of flowers, you cannot walk through and breathe those smells and see all those colors and remain angry. We have to support the beauty, the poetry of life.

Jonas Mekas

Filmmaker, poet and artist

Fun facts about the Lithuanian language

One of the least spoken languages in Europe

Although it is the oldest known language of Europe, Lithuanian is now one of the least spoken with only around 3 million active speakers.

The longest word

The longest word in Lithuanian is nebeprisikiškiakopūsteliaujantiesiems, which has 37 letters, and refers to a person who is no longer capable of picking a plant called ood sorrel.

Similarity with Sanskrit

Sanskrit is an Indian language, and, yet oddly, it has many words that are similar to Lithuanian. Some examples are vyras (man) and avis(sheep).

A women’s marital status can be recognized by her surname

In Lithuania, when a woman gets married she adds -ienė to her last name. Although this is now a dying tradition, it is still an interesting fact.

Popular Lithuanian names are nature-based

Most popular names in Lithuanian are based on the names of plants, flowers and the sun. Some examples are Aušra and Ruta.

Lithuanians take a lot of pride in their language

In today's world, although Lithuanians do learn other languages, they are still very proud of their language and place great value in knowing it perfectly.

The first Lithuanian book was published in 1547

The Catechism written by Martynas Mažvydas was the first Lithuanian book and is one of the most important pieces in Lithuanian literature.

A respected language among linguistics

Lithuanian has a long and interesting history, which is why linguists consider it not just a beautiful but also a very important language.

Very fascinating grammar

Nouns have two genders, but adjectives, pronouns and participles all have three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter).

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