The Lithuanian Language in the Digital Age

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Introduction

Buy Softcover. Rent the eBook. FAQ Policy. About this book This white paper is part of a series that promotes knowledge about language technology and its potential. Show all. Executive Summary Pages Rehm, Georg et al. Show next xx. Reflexive verbs were already formed in the preliterate epoch. The participles were mostly inherited from the East Baltic. From early times Lithuanian belonged to the languages of the accusative nominative structure. All the features described in 1.

Written Lithuanian from the 16th c. A number of circumstances have created conditions for the beginning of written Lithuanian, e. Two main periods in the history of written Lithuanian are usually distinguished: the old 16thth c. The old period encompasses both the first attempts to form a national language 16thth c.

Two stages are usually distinguished in this period: 1 16thth c.


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The main peculiarities of this period are as follows: 1 the gradual stabilization and codification of uniform norms, 2 the formation and development of various styles, and 3 the expansion of the sphere of usage of the written language. The development of written Lithuanian in the 19th c.

The popular uprisings in and had resulted in the prohibition of the use of the Latin alphabet for Lithuanian in Lithuania Major The 20th c. Taking into account the mentioned extralinguistic as well as linguistic factors several stages of the development of written Lithuanian are distinguished in the modern period, namely: 1 from the beginning of the 19th c. Palionis : , pp. The Lithuanians, being the largest and strongest non-German ethnic group in the Duchy of Prussia, played an important role in the history of written and standard Lithuanian.

Besides a Lutheran catechism, it also includes a primer, a hymnal and two prefaces. The first Lithuanian grammar was written in Latin and published by Danielius Kleinas in One year later he also published a smaller grammar in German. Both grammars reprints see in Kruopas et. In contrast to Prussia, in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the beginning and functioning of written Lithuanian was short of favourable conditions.

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Because of the union with Poland, the Lithuanian aristocracy became used to speaking Polish. Lithuanian was spoken mostly by common people. The Jesuits understood that the Christianization of Lithuanians could be successful only with printed Lithuanian texts. Because of the existing two different interdialects, two variants of the written language were forming: the eastern and the central one. The first Lithuanian book in Lithuania was published in the central variant in However, there were differences, e. As a quick reaction to the Catholic books the Reformist catechism and book of sermons appeared.

The language of the texts is said to be poor. An anonymous catechism of was the first book published in the eastern, or Vilnius, variant of written Lithuanian used in Lithuania. The first Lithuanian i.

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Latin-Polish-Lithuanian dictionary by Konstantinas Sirvydas was published before in this variant for reprint see Pakalka : In , Sirvydas published a larger dictionary. The eastern variant of the written Lithuanian languished at the beginning of the 18th c. The Kingdom of Prussia proclaimed in became an influential European state. In spite of the Germanization and colonization of the territories inhabited by Lithuanians, the northern regions of the Kingdom still were predominantly Lithuanian.

In , a compulsory primary education was introduced, and in the areas inhabited by Lithuanians lessons were conducted in Lithuanian. The 18th c. Because of governmental support many religious and linguistic books appeared in the 18th c. Under the conditions just described, the first original and world famous work of fiction was created in Prussia. It was translated into many languages. Because of the spreading of Polish through the estates, churches and schools, the conditions for written Lithuanian were bad in the Commonwealth, i.

Lithuania Major, in the 18th c. Only the central variant of the written language was used. Among the works Universitas lingvarum Litvaniae , for reprint see Eigminas : , the first surviving grammar printed in Lithuania, is worthy of note. The author of it was the first to describe and mark the tones of the Lithuanian words. The cultural life of Lithuanians became more active and versatile in czarist Russian-ruled Lithuania than in Prussia, though in both countries the. Under the influence of democratic ideas a number of Vilnius University graduates devoted themselves to their ethnic culture.

Unfortunately, many of their works remained in manuscript-form.

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Jonas, being the first educated linguist in Lithuania, contributed greatly to the publishing lexicographic and folkloric material compiled by brother. An important feature of the 19th c. Quite a few authors writing in different dialects expressed their views on the modelling of standard language. In Prussia, the 19th c. After the emergence of comparative Indo-European linguistics Lithuanian became very important for comparative studies.

August Schleicher was the first famous scholar who in arrived in Prussia, learned Lithuanian from common people and collected a lot of data. His Lithuanian grammar Schleicher : brought Lithuanian into European universities. This stage encompasses more than three decades of national revival, which spurred the need to create Standard Lithuanian in Lithuania. The normalization of standard written Lithuanian was based on the principle of the language of common people and carried out in the following directions: 1 the unification of orthography, 2 the elimination of dialectal elements, and 3 the purification of vocabulary and syntax.

After , the cultural and social situation made a turn for the better as they allowed Lithuanian press and schools. The rapid development of styles esp. A great number of writers and publicists should also be mentioned, e. Independence was a fruitful stage in the history of Lithuanian in spite of the territorial truncations. In , Lithuanian became a state language for the first time. Because of that the formation and codification of terms became important.

The actual problems of normalization of Standard Lithuanian were discussed in the monthly periodical Gimtoji kalba from , in the Lithuanian Language Association from The creation of the Lithuanian language programme at Kaunas University founded in as well as the foundation of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies in was of great. Lithuanian was more intensively researched outside Lithuania.

Fifty years of Soviet and German occupation was a very complicated, contradictory and in general unfavourable stage in the development of written Standard Lithuanian mostly because of war, repressions and the Sovietization of all life of the country. Lithuania lost more than a third of its population and a third of Lithuanian speakers, which partly was replaced by newcomers, especially in the Vilnius area, which , repatriated Poles departed from.

The cities were filled mostly with Russians, while the countryside filled with Belarusians. Moreover, the Bolsheviks changed the borders of Belarus and Lithuania and began the Polonization of the Vilnius region. Southeast Lithuania became a multilingual area. More than million people of Lithuanian origin lived outside ethnic Lithuania. They published many Lithuanian books, periodicals.

The Lithuanian Language in the Digital Age

In the first decade after the war, the Lithuanian language in Lithuania experienced a very difficult period. Lithuanian was ousted from diplomatic affairs, the army and from other governmental spheres. The normalization of Lithuanian was crippled while the development of linguistics was hindered by the Sovietization of the humanities. The intense penetration of Russian loanwords and especially of semantic and syntactic calques was one of the most negative features in the development of Lithuanian.

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Starting at the end of the fifties, the economical and partly political situation began to change because of the collectivization of agriculture, industrialization of the country, and reforms in education. In order to educate people in the spirit of the ideas of communism Soviet authorities introduced compulsory primary, then eight-year and later secondary education.

The network of schools, libraries, cinemas and other establishments of culture and information was greatly enlarged, the number of Lithuanian books and periodicals increased substantially. So, the sphere of the use of written Lithuanian has widened. The correctness of the language was achieved and improved by a great number of editors and stylists.

Linguists played an important role in fostering a standard language. The dictionaries of orthography see Lazauskas et al. A number of terminological dictionaries were revised and approved by the Terminology Commission. The recommendations on the use of language were published see Pupkis et al. The appearance of the three-volume academy grammar Ulvydas et al. The changes were revised and approved by the Lithuanian Language Commission, founded in The Commission spent much time discussing the principles of the spelling of foreign proper names written in the Latin alphabet.

The original spelling has been approved while the adapted forms can be used in popular publications, handbooks earlier the latter forms were used everywhere. The following tendencies in the development of written Lithuanian can be noted: 1 the intensified shortening of long forms by analogy with the dominating short ones in a paradigm, e. Mostly because of the Soviet propaganda, the development of journalistic style was very intense. The influence of Russian syntax is most evident in academic and administrative writing styles cf. In , in the last years of the Soviet empire, Lithuanian was proclaimed a state language for the second time.

In , the Law on the State Language of the Republic. The Language Commission addresses the issues of codification of the Lithuanian language and is in charge of the implementation of the Law, while enforcement of it lies within the responsibility of the State Language Inspectorate, which since operates as a separate entity, and municipal language officers.

The Language Commission contributed and contributes substantially to the normalization of Standard Lithuanian, to the usage, fostering and spread of Lithuanian, to the research of Lithuanian, to the preservation of dialects and ethnic place names as well as to the creation of digital corpora, and bank of terms, thus adapting Lithuanian to the needs of knowledge-based society.

A widespread digitalization of the databases and written monuments of Lithuanian seems to be one of the particular features of the recent stage of the modern period of written Lithuanian. The geography. Expansion and contraction. Lithuania has never included all Lithuanian ethnic lands since the formation of the state in the middle of the 13th c. In the southwest territories, which were occupied by the Teutonic Order, Lithuania Minor emerged in East Prussia in the 16th c. From the end of the 15th c. In , the territory of In , the Polish army annexed the Vilnius region, which comprised about a third of Lithuania.

On March 11, , the independence of Lithuania was restored without changes to its borders. The territorially truncated Lithuanian population now lives in the Republic of Lithuania encompassing 65, km2 and in ethnicallymixed bordering areas in Poland, Belarus, Russia the Kaliningrad district and Latvia. About 1.

Lithuanian in contact. Borrowing from all contact languages is characteristic both of old and modern Lithuanian and of its dialects in particular. As it is usually typical of. The majority of borrowings loanwords, calques, etc. The words of the Slavic origin comprise about 1. Many borrowed words and calques were replaced with Lithuanian neologisms at different stages of the development of the standard language.

On the other hand, contact languages have been influenced by Lithuanian as well. Hundreds of borrowings from Lithuanian are encountered in the dialects of Belarusian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, German, and Latvian while in the standard languages they are rare, e. Lithuanian borrowings are also found in the languages of Jews, Karaites and Tatars who live or have lived in Lithuania. The languages of the insiders. Lithuanian exhibiting strong dialectal differentiation is the main language of insiders. Both names known from the 13th the first and the 14th c. The main criteria used in classifying the Lithuanian dialects are differences in the vowel system.

There are ethnic minorities, which have lived in Lithuania since ancient times, e. So their languages could be treated as the languages of insiders. Polish is used as a home language by about a third of the people of Polish nationality, constituting about 6. Polish-speaking Poles live mostly in the Vilnius and Trakai area. The majority of them speak a local Polish sociolect, which was formed on the basis of the Lithuanian and a partly Belarusian substratum.

The majority of several thousands of Jews consider Yiddish as their native language, which has been influenced by Lithuanian, especially at the level of vocabulary. About 3, Tatars live in the districts of Vilnius and Alytus, and generally speak Belarusian or Polish. About Karaites live mostly in Trakai and speak their own language, which is a conservative form of Turkic influenced by Lithuanian at the level of vocabulary. Latvian is spoken by about 2, Latvians living mostly in the northern part of Lithuania.

Half of more than 3, Germans living mostly in western and southern Lithuania speak German. The languages of the outsiders. Russian is the main language of the outsiders the majority of which came to Lithuania after World War 2. About one half of Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Germans, one third of Jews, and a small number of Poles and other minorities declare Russian as their mother tongue as well. A small number of newcomers use English, Ukrainian, Chinese, Turkish, and many other languages as their mother tongues. The Lithuanian speakers. Outside Lithuania, autochthonous Lithuanians live in north-eastern Poland near the Lithuanian-Polish border and in a few villages in Belarus.

The largest amount of emigrants of Lithuanian origin, more than one million people, live in the USA Chicago, etc. More than half a million Lithuanians, mostly those who left the country after the restoration of independence in , live in other countries, the countries of note being Ireland, England, and Spain. The majority of them speak Lithuanian. Lithuanian speaking Lithuanians also live in Australia, Canada, Germany, Russia, Scandinavian countries and elsewhere. The auxiliaries. Institutions and language planning.

The Lithuanian Language Institute in Vilnius founded in www. The Lithuanian language and Lithuanian studies departments at the University of Vilnius www. The State Lithuanian Language Commission www. Linguistic resources. Conventional resources. Since the main conventional resources were mentioned in section 2. Besides the three-volume academy grammar Ulvydas et al. There are also grammars or reference books, which serve mostly for teaching e.

Besides the twenty-volume academy dictionary and one-volume modern language dictionary mentioned above, the dictionaries of synonyms Lyberis:. From a great number of bilingual dictionaries, those of English e. Piesarskas: ; Piesarskas : , French e.

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Lemchenas et al. Lithuanian can be taught and learned from both traditional and modern textbooks, e. Up-to-date surveys on Lithuanian can be found in many languages, e. Electronic resources. Present and future role. The use of Lithuanian as the official and state language in Lithuania is regulated by the Law on the State Language of the Republic of Lithuania a new version of the Law is now under discussion.


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The language functions in all spheres of the life of the country and satisfies all needs of citizens. Because of that and of the EU language policy, it seems that Lithuanian in Lithuania will be vital in the future as well. Nevertheless there are certain indications of danger associated with emigration and gradual decreasing of the Lithuanian population in the country as well as with the fact that many Lithuanian scientists use mostly English.

As for Lithuanian in other countries, the numerous amount of Lithuanian emigrants, especially to the UK and Spain, raises questions of teaching the Lithuanian language and culture to the children of these emigrants. The Lithuanian state has to help emigrants to preserve and develop Lithuanian as well as to promote the spread of Lithuanian among non-Lithuanians both abroad and in Lithuania. Bibliographical orientation. Vilnius :. Vilnius : MELI. Vilnius : LKIL. Contact Linguistics. Halle : Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses.



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