Lithuanian Language Services
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Lithuanian is the official language of Lithuania since 1918, and it is primarily spoken in the country. Just like Latvian, it is a Baltic and not a Slavic language, as it is sometimes perceived as. It is the oldest and the most archaic language spoken in Europe today.
The basis of Standard Lithuanian is the Kauniškiai dialect, a subdialect of High Lithuanian, spoken in the southwest of Kaunas, the country’s second largest city. The Standard form of the language has a concise pronunciation that is very consistent with the spelling, which means that the sounds usually correspond to the letters. Standard Lithuanian is therefore the most widely established dialect in the media, literature and in everyday schools and universities.
Dialect spoken in the Aukštaitija, Dzūkija and Suvalkija regions of Lithuania. The Aukštatijan dialect became the basis for Standard Lithuanian. High Lithuanian is further divided into subdialects: western, eastern, and southern. Western Aukštaitian is the most similar to Standard Lithuanian, as it preserves its diphthongs and vowels. Eastern Aukštaitian replaces the diphthongs with “un”, “um”, “in”, “im”, “on”, “om”, “en” and “em”. For instance, Standard Lithuanian “rankà” (hand) becomes “runkà”. Southern Aukštaitian preserves the diphthongs but replaces some vowels,i.e, Standard Lithuanian “katę” (cat) becomes “katī”.
Dialect of the Samogitia region, in the northwest of Lithuania. Some linguists consider Samogitian a language by itself, and not a dialect. The main difference between this dialect and Standard Lithuanian is the replacement of diphthongs with long or short vowels that emphasize pronunciation. Low Lithuanian, or Samogitian, is further divided into three subdialects: western, northern, and southern. Western Samogitian uses long vowels. For example, “duona” (bread) becomes “dōna”. Northern Samogitian replaces diphthongs. For example, “duona” becomes “douna”. Southern Samogitian also replaces diphthongs but does so with long vowels. For example, “duona” becomes “dūna”.
Labas, Sveikas or Sveiki (Hello), and Labas rytas (Good morning), Laba diena (Good Afternoon), and Labas Vakaras (Good evening) are all common verbal greetings that can be used in both formal and informal situations. Lithuanians usually greet each other with a handshake accompanied by direct eye contact and a smile. Among friends it is also common to greet with a hug or kiss. However, it is probably best to wait for your Lithuanian counterpart to make that move.
A direct approach to communication is preferred among Lithuanians. Even though they are usually reserved and quite conservative mannered, Lithuanians are often warm and very polite people. Straightforwardness is expected among Lithuanians, so it is important to keep conversations short and to the point, especially in business scenarios. This does not mean that one should be dry when in a casual setting and among friends.
Personal Space and Touching
Lithuanians value personal space “dearly”, therefore keeping a distance of an arm’s length is advised. Distance may be shortened when speaking with close friends and relatives.
Touching is not particularly common during conversation, but a gentle pat on the shoulder is not a crime and it may happen on occasion. Lithuanians are usually very respectful and “affectionate” people.
Eye Contact and Gestures
Maintaining eye contact is expected and it demonstrates respect. Lithuanians are usually formal and do not make use of a lot of gestures or facial expressions while speaking. Pointing is considered rude.
Lithuanian Culture Reference Guide
Lithuanian is the official language of Lithuania. It is spoken by less than 3 million people worldwide. This comes as no surprise, but most Lithuanian speakers live in Lithuania, where the language is spoken by over 80% of the population, around 2.3 million people. The second country with the most Lithuanian speakers is Latvia, Lithuania’s northern neighbor. Additionally, considerable numbers of Lithuanian speakers can be found in the U.K., Ireland, Poland, Estonia and in the United States.