Lithuanian (lietuvių kalba)

Lithuanian is a Baltic language related to Latvian and Old Prussian with about 3.2 million speakers in Lithuania. There are also Lithuanian speakers in Poland, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Uruguay.

Lithuanian first appeared in print in the form of a catechism in 1547. The first Lithuanian dictionary was printed during the 17th century. Between 1864 and 1904 the printing and teaching of Lithuanian was banned - Russian, Polish, Belarusian or Latin had to be used instead. After this ban was lifted in 1904, there was a resurgence of Lithuanian literature.

Lithuanian at a glance

  • Native name: lietuvių kalba
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Balto-Slavic, Eastern Baltic
  • Number of speakers: c. 3.2 million
  • Spoken in: mainly Lithuania and Poland
  • First written: 1547
  • Writing system: Latin alphabet
  • Status: state language of Lithuania

From 1918 to 1940 Lithuania was independent and over 7,000 books in Lithuanian were published. During the Soviet period (1940-1991), literature in Lithuania tended to follow the socialist realist model, while Lithuanian ex-pats wrote mainly about the culture and traditions of Lithuania. Since 1991, when Lithuania once more gained its independence, a large number of publications in Lithuanian has appeared, including newspapers, magazines and scientific and technical works.

Lithuanian is the state language of Lithuania and one of the official languages of the European Union (EU). It is also recognised as a minority language in Poland.

Lithuanian alphabet (lietuvių abėcėlė) & pronunciation

Latin alphabet for Lithuanian

Listen to Augustinas Žemaitis reading the Lithuanian alphabet

Sample text

Visi žmonės gimsta laisvi ir lygūs savo orumu ir teisėmis. Jiems suteiktas protas ir sąžinė ir jie turi elgtis vienas kito atžvilgiu kaip broliai.

Listen to Augustinas Žemaitis reading this text

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)