Baltic Online

Lesson 7: Lithuanian

Virginija Vasiliauskiene and Jonathan Slocum

Jonas Bretkunas (1536-1602) was born in East Prussia, but he did not come from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania like Mazvydas and Vilentas. In his origin Bretkunas reflects the complicated history of this region. It is thought that his mother was an Old Prussian (i.e. of Baltic origin), but that his father was most likely a German. Since Jonas Bretkunas knew well the local languages of the region, not yet having finished his studies in Wittenberg he was appointed pastor in the small town of Labguva and after 25 years was transferred to Karaliaucius (= Koenigsberg, nowadays called Kaliningrad and located in the Russian Federation) where he managed to finish and publish the religious books which he had prepared. Bretkunas was not a man of narrow interests. He also collected ethnographic material about East Prussia and wrote the history of the region.

His most important work, however, is his translation of the Bible into Lithuanian. Fate was not kind, however, to this work. Once Protestantism had become established in East Prussia, the Lithuanians' attention to religious writings waned and this important contribution to Lithuanian literature and culture was not published. In translating the Bible, Bretkunas could not rely on any grammar or dictionary, and a good knowledge of the spoken language couldn't always help him translate abstract concepts. He frequently had to create neologisms, e.g., trivienýbė 'trinity' (cf: trejýbė), and long and patiently hunt for the most appropriate word. In the margins of the Bible translation we run across many synonyms.

Bretkunas was the first to prepare religious texts on the basis of the southern variant of the Western High Lithuanian dialect, although adapting himself to the tradition of earlier religious writings he did not stick consistently to this dialect. In the middle of the 17th century the aforementioned dialect was codified in Daniel Klein's grammar and people began to use it in all the East Prussian publications and at the end of the 19th century the standard Lithuanian language began to be formed on the basis of this dialect. Thus Bretkunas' written language is connected directly to the contemporary Lithuanian language.

In Bretkunas' written language here and there we encounter long a in place of the contemporary language long o, e.g., áras 'whether' (cf. óras), in word initial position e and a may be exchanged, e.g., e\s^ (a\s^) 'I,' etc. At the same time there was a rather strong nasal resonance which is either omitted in the printed books or else is rendered by the diphthongs an, en, in, un, e.g., lìkens 'having remained' (cf.: lìkęs). Of the Samogitian (Zemaitish, Low Lithuanian) elements encountered in his writings either from the tradition of religious writings or from local dialects one can mention the forms without affrication, e.g., dideĩ 'largely' (cf. didžiaĩ), the imperative with the suffix ke, e.g., atmiñkem 'let us remember' (cf.: atmiñkim), the dropping of short endings tùr 'has, have (to)' (cf.: tùri) etc. Bretkunas' texts are rich in archaic case forms, e.g., mùmus (cf: mùms), athematic verbs, e.g., ateĩt(i) 'comes' (cf: ateĩna), syntactic constructions especially with participles, e.g., Gir̃dim schìcze Põna Krìstu iñg Jerùsalem añt Aslíczios ir assiláiczio raĩta atẽiusi 'We hear (that) this master Christ (having) arrived in Jerusalem riding on an ass and a small foal.' Bretkunas uses a fair number of archaic words, e.g., apýpenai 'poison' (cf: nuodaĩ), draugalà 'lover', (cf: meilùžė), penùkšlas 'food' (cf: maĩstas). There aren't many Germanisms in his sermons and translations, e.g., ver̃delis 'island' (cf: salà), but there is a rather abundant stratum of Slavisms and they are especially frequent in the naming of religious concepts, e.g. prarãkas 'prophet' (cf: prãnašas), vierà 'faith' (cf: tikė́jimas), etc. There are also some Old Prussian words, e.g., bùtas 'house' (cf: nãmas).

Reading and Textual Analysis

Bretkunas' huge book of sermons, published in 1591, is written in an uncomplicated folk style. The excerpt given here comes from p. 57 of this book. In it Bretkunas explains the miracle of Christ's birth. Even while remaining a virgin Mary bears Christ. This is a difficult matter to understand not only for humans, but also for the angels. However such was the will of God which he expressed through the prophet Isaiah.

The rules for writing 16th century Lithuanian in East Prussia were significantly different from the contemporary rules. All books were printed in the Gothic script. Long vowels were not marked, e.g., kúno (cf: kū́no) 'body's', irà (cf: yrà) 'is, are', after short vowels two consonants were frequently written as in German, e.g., nussistebeti (cf: nusistebė́ti) 'to be surprised'. Again as in German, sch was written for š. Many nouns were written with capital letters. Among other orthographic features one must mention cz for č. j was written several ways: gh, i, j; uo was written as u with a diacritic mark resembling a small circle written above it; v was written as w. For the nasalized letters either the diphthongs an, en, in, un were written or else the nasalized sounds were not marked, e.g., acc. sg. Krìstu (cf: Krìstų) 'Christ', pranẽschens (cf: pranẽšęs) 'having prophesied'. Sometimes there is no marker of softness before back vowels, e.g., schos 'these' (cf: šiõs). ė is never written; in its place, e is always used. Many of the orthographic rules mentioned here were not consistently observed.

In the text given here, short final vowels are frequently dropped, e.g., bilódams 'saying', negãl 'cannot', tùr 'has, have'. Long final vowels are shortened, e.g., bùwa (cf: bùvo) 'was, were', pagim̃da (cf: pagim̃do) 'bears, gives birth', sàwa (cf: sàwo) 'one's own', etc. The longer forms of conjunctions and adverbs are used, e.g., nèsa 'because', teipõ 'thus'. There is one athematic verb passiliẽkt (cf: pasiliẽka) 'remains, remain', and there are also words affected by dialect phonetics teĩp (cf: taĩp) 'yes', teipõ (cf: taipõ) 'so', èsch (cf: àš) 'I'. Characteristic of this excerpt as of other writings of this region is the appearance of ė stem nouns in place of the io stem, e.g., vãle (cf: valià) 'will', dvãse (cf: dvasià) 'soul'. Likewise many Slavisms are encountered, e.g., dĩwas 'miracle', prarãkas 'prophet', suwenczawóti 'to marry, to join together', czĩstas 'pure', dabótis 'to observe, to pay attention to', ischrakúoti 'to comprehend', words created on the Slavic model (so-called calques), e.g., sunkì 'heavy' for nėščià 'pregnant,' nezinnóti (cf: nepažìnti) 'not to know, not to recognize'. Among the syntactic characteristics the accusative cum participio construction must be mentioned, e.g., ...ìsch schõs històrios atmiñk, Krìstu zmogumì gìmusi ìsch giminnẽs karãliu 'from this story remember, Christ having been born from his ancestry a king, i.e., that Christ was born a king'. The use of the postpositional modifier is frequent, e.g., karalĩstes iõ 'his kingdom', dárbo Schwentõs Dwãses 'of the work of the Holy Spirit', mergà czistà 'pure virgin', põ pagim̃dimo sàwa 'after her giving birth', etc.

Expand All
  • taĩp -- particle; <taĩp> so, therefore -- therefore
  • tataĩ -- pronoun; neuter of <tàs, tà> this, that -- this
  • -- adverb,; <nū̃> now -- now
  • añt -- preposition; <añt> in, on -- in
  • añtro -- number; genitive singular masculine of <añtras, antrà> other -- the second (chapter)
  • sáw -- pronoun; dative of <savę̃s> oneself, itself -- for yourself
  • ìsch -- preposition; <ìš> from -- from
  • schõs -- pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <šìs, šì> this -- this
  • històrios -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <istòrija> history -- story
  • atmiñk -- verb; 2nd person singular imperative of <atmiñti, àtmena, àtminė> remember -- remember
  • Krìstu -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Krìstus> Christ -- Christ
  • zmogumì -- noun, masculine; instrumental singular of <žmogùs> human being, person -- as a man
  • gìmusi -- verb; accusative singular masculine of preterit participle active of <gìmti, gìmsta, gìmė> be born -- having been born
  • ìsch -- preposition; <ìš> from -- from
  • gimminẽs -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <giminė̃> lineage -- (his) lineage
  • karãliu -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <karãlius> king -- of kings
  • bútent -- conjunction; <bū́tent> namely -- namely
  • Dówido -- proper noun, masculine; genitive plural of <Dóvydas> David -- of David
  • nèsa -- conjunction; <nèsa> because -- because
  • ir̃ -- particle; <ir̃> and -- ...
  • tataĩ -- pronoun; neuter of <tàs, tà> this, that -- this
  • Diẽwas -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Diẽvas> God -- God
  • teipõ -- particle; <teipõ> also -- also
  • bùwa -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- had
  • lìkens -- verb; nominative singular masculine of preterit participle active of <lìkti, líeka, lìko> remain -- remained
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • prannẽschens -- verb; nominative singular masculine of preterit participle active of <pranèšti, pràneša, prànešė> announce, inform -- prophesied
  • pacziám -- pronoun; dative singular masculine of <pàts, patì> himself -- himself
  • Karãlui -- noun used as title; dative singular masculine of <Karãlius> King -- King
  • Dówidui -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Dóvydas> David -- David
  • bilódams -- verb; singular masculine of half participle of <bylóti, bylója, bylójo> say -- saying

Expand All
  • èsch -- pronoun; nominative singular of <àš> I -- I
  • tàwa -- pronoun; genitive singular of <tù> you -- your
  • Sékla -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <sė́kla> seed -- seed
  • pãskui -- conjunction; <pãskui> after -- after
  • tawè -- pronoun; accusative singular of <tù> you -- you
  • prikélsiu -- verb; 1st person singular future of <prikélti, prìkelia, prikė́lė> raise -- will raise
  • kurì -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <kurìs, kurì> which, who -- which (seed)
  • ìsh -- preposition; <ìš> from -- from
  • tàwa -- pronoun; genitive singular of <tù> you -- your
  • kúno -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <kū́nas> body -- body
  • turẽs -- verb; 3rd person future of <turė́ti, tùri, turė́jo> have -- shall
  • ateĩti -- verb; infinitive of <ateĩti, ateĩna, atė̃jo> come -- come
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • tõs -- pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <tàs, tà> this, that -- of this (seed)
  • karalĩste -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <karalỹstė> kingdom -- the kingdom
  • èsch -- pronoun; nominative singular of <àš> I -- I
  • patwìrtinsiu -- verb; 1st person singular future of <patvìrtinti, patvìrtina, patvìrtino> confirm -- will confirm
  • beĩ -- conjunction; <beĩ> and -- and
  • karalĩstes -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <karalỹstė> kingdom -- to (this) kingdom
  • -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <jìs, jì> he, she, it -- of his (seed)
  • -- particle; <nè> no, not -- no
  • bùs -- verb; 3rd person future of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- (there) will be
  • gãlo -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <gãlas> end -- end

Expand All
  • bèt -- conjunction; <bèt> but -- but
  • schìcze -- adverb; <šìčia> here -- here
  • dĩwu -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <dỹvas> miracle, wonder -- of miracles
  • dĩwai -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <dỹvas> miracle, wonder -- the miracle
  • irà -- verb; 3rd person present of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- is
  • Marià -- proper noun, feminine; nominative singular of <Marijà> Mary -- Mary
  • kurì -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <kurìs, kurì> which, who -- who
  • dabar̃ -- adverb; <dabar̃> now -- yet
  • -- preposition; <sù> with -- ...
  • wiru -- noun, masculine; instrumental singular of <výras> man, husband -- a man
  • -- particle; <nè> no, not -- not
  • bùwa -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- had
  • suwenczawóta -- verb; nominative singular feminine of preterit participle passive of <suvenčiavóti, suvenčiavója, suvenčiavójo> marry -- married
  • kuriõs -- pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <kurìs, kurì> which, who -- whom
  • wirìschkis -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <vyrìškis> man, husband -- the man
  • nepakrùtina -- negative particle; <ne> not + verb; 3rd person preterit of <krùtinti, krùtina, krùtino> touch -- had not touched
  • kurì -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <kurìs, kurì> which, who -- who
  • wíro -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <výras> man, husband -- a man
  • nezinnóia -- negative particle; <ne> not + verb; 3rd person preterit of <žinóti, žìno, žinójo> know -- had not known
  • kaĩp -- adverb; <kaĩp> how -- how
  • -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <tàs, tà> this, that -- she
  • ìsch -- preposition; <ìš> from -- from
  • dárbo -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <dárbas> work, action -- the action
  • Schwentõs -- adjective; genitive singular feminine of <šveñtas, šventà> holy -- Holy
  • Dwãses -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <dvãsė> Ghost -- of the ... Ghost
  • nieschczià -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <nėščià> pregnant -- pregnant
  • álba -- conjunction; <álba> or -- or
  • sunkì -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <sunkùs, sunkì> heavy -- heavy
  • rañdasi -- verb; 3rd person present reflexive of <ràstis, rañdasi, rãdosi> become -- becomes
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • bernẽli -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <bernẽlis> child -- a child
  • pagim̃da -- verb; 3rd person present of <pagimdýti, pagim̃do, pagim̃dė> bear -- bears

Expand All
  • -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <tàs, tà> this, that -- this
  • sakaũ -- verb; 1st person present singular of <sakýti, sãko, sãkė> say -- (I) say
  • newíena -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <nė víenas, nė vienà> not one -- not one
  • zmogaũs -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <žmogùs> human being, person -- of... man
  • prõtas -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <prõtas> mind -- the mind
  • negãl -- negative particle; <ne> not + verb; 3rd person present of <galė́ti, gãli, galė́jo> can -- can
  • pérmaniti -- verb; infinitive of <pérmanyti, pérmano, pérmanė> understand -- understand
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • ischrakúoti -- verb; infinitive of <išrokúoti, išrokúoja, išrokãvo> decribe, tell -- decribe

Expand All
  • Marià -- proper noun, feminine; nominative singular of <Marijà> Mary -- Mary
  • irà -- verb; 3rd person present of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- is
  • mergà -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <mergà> virgin -- a virgin
  • czistà -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <čỹstas, čystà> pure -- pure
  • pir̃m -- preposition; <pir̃m> before -- before
  • uzgimìmo -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <užgimìmas> birth -- (her) birth
  • patimè -- pronoun; locative singular masculine of <pàts, patì> itself -- itself
  • uzgimimmè -- noun, masculine; locative singular of <užgimìmas> birth -- during (her) birth
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • passiliẽkt -- verb; 3rd person present reflexive of <pasilìkti, pasiliẽka, pasilìko> remain -- (she) remains
  • czistà -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <čỹstas, čystà> pure -- pure
  • mergà -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <mergà> virgin -- a... virgin
  • -- preposition; <põ> after, over, on -- after
  • pagim̃dimo -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <pagim̃dymas> giving birth -- giving birth
  • sàwa -- pronoun; genitive of <sàvo> he, she -- her

Expand All
  • -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <tàs, tà> this, that -- at this
  • tùr -- verb; 3rd person present of <turė́ti, tùri, turė́jo> have -- have
  • nussistebéti -- verb; infinitive reflexive of <nusistebė́ti, nusìstebi, nusistebė́jo> marvel -- to marvel
  • netiktaĩ -- negative particle; <ne> not + particle; <tiktaĩ> only -- not only
  • zmogùs -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <žmogùs> human being, person -- man
  • bèt -- conjunction; <bèt> but -- but
  • ir̃ -- particle; <ir̃> and -- even
  • pãtis -- pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <pàts, patì> themselves -- themselves
  • schwentíeghi -- definite adjective; nominative plural masculine of <šveñtas, šventà> holy -- holy
  • Angelaĩ -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <ángelas> angel -- the... angels

Expand All
  • nès -- conjunction; <nès> because -- because
  • tataĩ -- pronoun; neuter of <tàs, tà> this, that -- that
  • taipaièg -- adverb; <teipajèg> also -- also
  • bùwa -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- was
  • Diẽwo -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Diẽvas> God -- God's
  • nóras -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <nóras> wish -- wish
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • wãle -- noun, feminine; nominative singular genitive of <vãlė> will -- will
  • jr̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • teĩp -- adverb; <teĩp> this way -- ...
  • tataĩ -- pronoun; neuter of <tàs, tà> this, that -- that
  • per̃ -- preposition; <per̃> through -- through
  • prarãka -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <prarãkas> prophet -- the prophet
  • Esaiõschu -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Esajošius> Isaiah -- Isaiah
  • búsent -- verb; future gerund(ive) of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- ...
  • bùwa -- verb; 3rd person preterit of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- (he) had
  • pranẽschdinens -- verb; nominative singular masculine of preterit participle active of <pranèšdinti, pranẽšdina, pranẽšdino> prophesy -- prophesied
  • bilódams -- verb; singular masculine of half participle of <bylóti, bylója, bylójo> say -- saying

Expand All
  • schìtai -- pronoun; neuter of <šìtas, šità> this -- behold
  • kaĩp -- particle; <kaĩp> as, like -- as if
  • kadà -- adverb; <kadà> when -- ...
  • tar̃tu -- verb; 3rd person subjunctive of <tar̃ti, tãria, tãrė> say -- He would say
  • dabókes -- verb; 2nd person imperative singular reflexive of <dabótis, dabójasi, dabójosi> await -- await
  • zmogaũ -- noun, masculine; vocative singular of <žmogùs> human being, person -- oh man
  • stebùklo -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <stebùklas> miracle -- this... miracle
  • dìdzio -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <dìdis, didì> great -- great
  • Pannà -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <panà> girl -- the girl
  • bùs -- verb; 3rd person future of <bū́ti, yrà, bùvo> be -- will be
  • nieschczià -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <nėščià> pregnant -- pregnant
  • álba -- conjunction; <álba> or -- or
  • sunkì -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <sunkùs, sunkì> heavy -- heavy
  • ir̃ -- conjunction; <ir̃> and -- and
  • pagimdĩs -- verb; 3rd person future of <pagimdýti, pagim̃do, pagim̃dė> bear -- will bear
  • Súnu -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <sūnùs> son -- a son

Lesson Text

Taĩp tataĩ nũ añt añtro sáw ìsch schõs històrios atmiñk, Krìstu zmogumì gìmusi ìsch gimminẽs karãliu, bútent Dówido, nèsa ir̃ tataĩ Diẽwas teipõ bùwa lìkens ir̃ prannẽschens pacziám Karãlui Dówidui bilódams. Èsch tàwa Sékla pãskui tawè prikélsiu, kurì ìsh tàwa kúno turẽs ateĩti, ir̃ tõs karalĩste èsch patwìrtinsiu, beĩ karalĩstes iõ nè bùs gãlo. Bèt schìcze dĩwu dĩwai irà Marià, kurì dabar̃ sù wiru nè bùwa suwenczawóta, kuriõs wirìschkis nepakrùtina, kurì wíro nezinnóia, kaĩp tà ìsch dárbo Schwentõs Dwãses nieschczià álba sunkì rañdasi ir̃ bernẽli pagim̃da. Tõ sakaũ newíena zmogaũs prõtas negãl, pérmaniti ir̃ ischrakúoti. Marià irà mergà czistà, pir̃m uzgimìmo, patimè uzgimimmè, ir̃ passiliẽkt czistà mergà, põ pagim̃dimo sàwa. Tõ tùr nussistebéti, netiktaĩ zmogùs bèt ir̃ pãtis schwentíeghi Angelaĩ. Nès tataĩ taipaièg bùwa Diẽwo nóras ir̃ wãle, jr̃ teĩp tataĩ per̃ prarãka Esaiõschu búsent bùwa pranẽschdinens, bilódams: Schìtai (kaĩp kadà tar̃tu, dabókes zmogaũ stebùklo dìdzio) Pannà bùs nieschczià álba sunkì ir̃ pagimdĩs Súnu.


Therefore now in the second (chapter) remember from this story for yourself this, that Christ was born as a man, from his lineage as a king, namely of David, because God had remained (where David was) and prophesized also this to King David himself, saying: I will raise your seed after you, which (seed) shall come from your body and I will confirm the kingdom of this (seed) and there will be no end to this kingdom of his (seed).
But here the miracle of miracles is Mary, who had not married a man yet, whom the man had not touched, who had not known a man, how from the action of the Holy Ghost she becomes pregnant or heavy and bears a child. I say that the mind of not one man can understand or describe this. Mary is a pure virgin before her birth, during her birth and she remains a pure virgin after her giving birth. At this not only man, but even the holy angels themselves have to marvel. Because that also was God's wish and will and through the prophet Isaiah He had prophesied that, saying: Behold (as if He would say, await, oh man, this great miracle) the girl will be pregnant (or heavy) and will bear a son.


31 The Stress and Intonation of Old Lithuanian

There were two types of accentuation for disyllabic nouns before Saussure's law took effect. Nouns of the first type (barytones) maintained a fixed stress in the root when inflected. The other type (oxytones) had a mobile stress. All long syllables (stressed and unstressed) were pronounced with the acute or the circumflex intonation. A dominant rise in pitch or stress was characteristic of the acute, and a fall in pitch or stress was characteristic of the circumflex. In Modern Lithuanian the acute syllables are pronounced rather with a fall in pitch or stress, and the circumflex syllables with a rise in pitch or stress. As Kazìmieras Būgà, one of the most prominent Lithuanian scholars of historical linguistics, says, this change occurred after the 12th century. Latvian maintained the ancient intonation pattern. However, none of these things are as yet sufficiently explained. The most recent works suggest an original different spectrum of sounds rather than the rise or fall in the syllable.

According to Saussure's law the stress on an original circumflex or short syllable shifted to a following acute stressed syllable, e.g., rañka, pùpa (the endings had the acute) became ranká, pupá and later changed to rankà 'hand', pupà 'bean' (i.e., they were shortened according to Leskien's law). The shift in stress also occurred in the middle of a word, cf. žolė́tas 'grassy' and acc. sg. fem. žõlę 'grass'. Linguists disagree as to when the shift in stress took place. There were also some attempts to extend the effect of this law to the Slavic languages. The Polish linguist J. Kurylowicz defines the law as the shifting of the stress from a circumflex or short syllable to the ending due to the shortening of the ending. Thus he combines Saussure's and Leskien's law into one.

The shifting of the stress changed the Lithuanian accentuation system. The current four accent classes developed from the earlier two accent types.

32 The Phonetics of Old Lithuanian
32.1 Vowels

The lexicon, phonetics and grammatical structure of the Lithuanian language are comparatively archaic. There is still much similarity between the Indo-European protolanguage and Lithuanian.

In this lesson the focus of attention will be the phonetic and grammatical peculiarities of the Lithuanian language at the time when the first written documents appeared (16-17th centuries).

In the East Baltic languages (Lithuanian and Latvian) the etymological Baltic diphthong ei became the diphthong ie in certain instances, and the etymological long o was diphthongized and became uo, e.g., diẽvas 'god', puódas 'pot'. The ancient long a and e were narrowed and became o and ė. The process affected e earlier and a later. In the writings of Mazvydas, Bretkunas, etc., we can still find long a instead of o, e.g., bralis (cf. brólis) 'brother'. Latvian has retained the long a. The tautosyllabic sequences an, en, in, un in position before nonplosive consonants and in the word-final position changed into the nasal vowels ą, ę, į, ų, e.g., kę̃sti 'suffer', dañtį 'tooth', rañkų 'hand'. The vocalic nasalization survived up to the time when the first Lithuanian written texts appeared (16-17 c.). The denasalization occurred in the 17th-18th c., however, it had started before the first written texts had appeared. Nasal resonance is recorded in the earliest grammars (e.g., in Daniel Klein's grammar).

This process was similar to the denasalization encountered in the Slavonic languages, but there is only a partial parallel development. The Latvian language was affected by this process more than Lithuanian.

The old short a, e were lengthened under stress, e.g., kãras 'war', rẽtas 'rare', but the vowels a, e both remained short in the final syllable or in a monosyllabic word, e.g., loc. sg. butè 'in the apartment', kàs 'who, what', 'no, not'. In the beginning lengthened a, e were only positional variants of the short vowels a, e. Later, short a, e developed as a result of a change of the stress because newly stressed a, e were not lengthened, e.g., didèsnis 'bigger', tàvo 'your', mèsiu 'I will throw'.

In Lithuanian there has been no phonetic reduction of short vowels in word endings, e.g., naktìs 'night', gražù 'it is nice', par̃še 'pig'. The short endings were only dropped in dialects or for morphological reasons. The long vowels in circumflex endings have remaind long, e.g., žolė̃ 'grass', vanduõ 'water'. In acute stressed endings all of the ancient stressed endings were shortened and uo, ie were replaced with u,i, cf. 1st pres. ruošiù 'I prepare' and 1st pres. refl. ruošiuó-si 'I prepare for, I am going'; nom. pl. masc. baltì 'white' and nom. pl. def. baltíe-ji. In contemporary Lithuanian the only acute stressed endings arose from the shortening of morphological forms, e.g., vaikáms 'children' from vaikãmus; baltám 'white' from baltãmui. In 1881 the German linguist August Leskien noticed this and proposed the rule which we now call Leskien's law. Later, it was established that acute stressed long vowels and uo, ie were shortened only in the endings of words that have no fewer than two syllables. The acute in monosyllabic words was changed to the circumflex, e.g., griáuti 'to destroy', griaũs '(he) will destroy', jū́sų 'your', jū̃s 'you'.

Non-front vowels tend to be fronted in position after palatalized consonants and j, e.g., brólei 'brothers' instead of bróliai, naũjes 'new' instead of naũjas.

The old texts contain quite a few examples of the contraction a+e=o, e.g., nopykanta (cf. neapýkanta) 'hatred', noteiti (cf. neateĩti) 'not to come'.

32.2 Consonants

In Lithuanian the hushing spirants š, ž (from Indo-European soft k, g) were kept intact, e.g., Lithuanian širdis 'heart' žinóti 'to know' and Latin cor, noscit (from the older form gnoscit). Other Baltic languages changed them to the hissing s, z, cf. Lithuanian žiemà 'winter', dẽšimt, 'ten' vs. Latvian ziema, desmit. The voiceless spirant s and the voiced spirant z are used in Lithuanian. The latter is quite rare in Lithuanian. It arose in the sequence zd (the voiceless s was pronounced as z before d) and can be found in loanwords and onomatopoetic words, e.g., drum̃zlės 'dregs' from older drumzdlės, zigzãgas 'zigzag', zvim̃bti 'to hum, to buzz'.

Iotation and palatalization of consonants was very important in the formation of the Lithuanian consonantal system. Palatalization must have been a very long process. The earliest palatalized consonants were k and g. j disappeared after l and some other consonants also quite early. The j after the labial consonants b, p, m, v survived the longest. In some dialects they are not yet palatalized. In Standard Lithuanian we have palatalized b, p only in the position before endings, in other positions they are still pronounced pj, bj. The soft t, d changed to the affricates č, .

The assimilative palatalization of consonants before front vowels occurred later, and was not so intensive as iotation. This process must have started in the eastern part of Lithuania so it might be related to East Slavic influence. The velar consonants k, g in a position before front vowels were softened quite early, e.g., kẽlias 'road', gẽras 'good'. This softening is reflected in the first written texts. The other consonants were softened at a later time. The consonants before i y, į, ie were softened more intensively than before e, ė, ę, ei. The Latvian language does not have the assimilative palatalization of consonants. Many consonants before e type vowels were palatalized after the appearance of written texts. In the eastern dialects more consonants were palatalized and the softening was stronger than in the western dialects. The labials p, b, m, v are barely palatalized in Lithuanian. The consonants f, ch, h did not exist in early Lithuanian. In loanwords, Lithuanians used to replace these consonants with their own sounds p, b, e.g., Prancìškus 'Francis', kỹtras 'clever', cf. Russian xitryj. Later, Lithuanians learned to pronounce them. In the earliest written texts of the eastern and central part of Lithuania the consonant v was affixed to the beginning of the word which started with a back vowel, and the consonant j to the beginning to the word which started with a front vowel, e.g., Wóras instead of óras 'weather', jieškóti instead of ieškoti 'to look for'.

Lithuanian has the affricates č, in place of the older tj, dj. It is quite difficult to determine exactly when the earlier tj, dj become affricates. However, the affricates existed before the appearance of the first Lithuanian books and other documents. Latvian has š, ž instead of ancient tj and dj, cf. Lithuanian vókiečiai 'Germans', bríedžiai 'elks' and Latvian vacieši, brieži.

In addition the affricates č, resulted from juncture of t+š and d+ž respectively, e.g., giñčas 'argument' from gint + šas, kárdžuvė 'swordfish' from kárdas 'sword' + žuvìs 'fish'. Affricates also occur in loanwords and onomatopoetic words, e.g. čiaumóti 'to champ, to chew', čempiònas 'champion'. The affricates c, dz arose from the juncture of t + s and d + z, e.g., atsiràsti 'to be found, to appear'. We can also find them in loanwords, onomatopoetic words and in the southern dialects of Lithuanian, e.g., dzenbudìzmas 'Zen Buddhism', citrinà 'lemon', dzìmbinti 'to walk lazily', cỹpti 'to squeal', dialectical cià 'here', dziaũgsmas 'joy'.

33 Old Lithuanian Nominal System
33.1 Nouns

Processes which had started in the East Baltic (Lithuanian, Latvian, etc.) period continued to affect the Lithuanian nominal and verbal system.

There are two genders possible in the Lithuanian noun. The neuter had disappeared already in East Baltic. Prussian (a West Baltic language) retained the neuter.

Nouns also had the dual number. Only the dual nominative-accusative, dative and instrumental endings differ from those of the plural:

Nom-Acc.   vaikù 'children', šakì 'limbs', katì 'cats', akì 'eyes', sū́nu 'sons', dukterì 'daughters'
Dat.   vaikám, šakóm, katė́m, akìm, sūnùm, dukterìm
Inst.   vaikam̃, šakõm, katė̃m, akim̃, sūnum̃, dukterim̃

Dual forms of the dative and instrumental are different only in stress. Examples:

  • Tiktaĩ dù výru pajė̃gs tą̃ leñtą užnèšti į̃ vir̃šų 'Only two men will be able to carry this plank up'.
  • Didžiúojuosi dviẽm sàvo seserim̃ 'I am proud of my two sisters'.

Lithuanian inherited seven cases. The Indo-European locative was replaced by the following four postpositive cases: innesive, illative, adessive and allative. Postpositive cases were used frequently in the first Lithuanian written texts. The innesive has adopted the function of the locative, e.g.:

  • Dangujè žibė́jo tū́kstančiai žvaigždžių̃
  • 'Thousands of stars were twinkling in the sky'.

The inessive was formed by affixing the postposition en to the old locative.

Other postpositive cases were used in addition to corresponding prepositional phrases. The illative denotes movement into something, e.g.:

  • Pakeliuĩ užsùksiu ir̃ savivaldýbėn 'On the way I will also drop in at the municipality office'.
  • Vakarè eĩsim svečiúosna 'Tonight we will pay a visit'.

This case was replaced by the preposition į̃ plus the accusative in Modern Lithuanian, e.g.:

  • Pakeliuĩ užsùksiu ir̃ į̃ savivaldýbę 'On the way I will also drop in at the municipality office'.
  • Vakarè eĩsim į̃ svečiùs 'Tonight we will pay a visit'.

The illative was formed by affixing the postposition n(a) to the accusative.

The adessive denotes proximity to something, e.g.:

Tiẽ dabar̃ sė́di kójosemp Viẽšpaties 'They are sitting now at the feet of the Lord'.

The allative indicates direction towards something, e.g.:

  • Jìs nedrį̃so pakélt dangaũsp akių̃ savų̃
  • 'He did not dare to raise his eyes to the sky'.

Both the adessive and the allative were formed by affixing the postposition pie. The adessive was formed when the postposition pie was added to the old locative and the allative was formed when pie was added to the genitive. The adessive and the allative competed with the preposition prie 'by, near, to' plus the genitive and pàs 'by, to' plus the accusative, e.g.:

  • Tiẽ dabar̃ sė́di priẽ Viẽšpaties kójų 'They are siting now at the feet of the Lord'.
  • Jìs nedrĩso pakélt į̃ dañgų sàvo akių̃ ''He did not dare to raise his eyes to the sky'.

Corresponding plural forms were created later.

Lithuanian inherited a very complex declensional system from the Indo-European protolanguage (see declension types and stems in Lesson 1). The historical stems of nouns are as follows:

    Historical stems   Modern stems
    Short o   a
    Short io   ia
    Short iio   ia
    Long a   o
    Long ia   io
    Long e   ė
    Short i   i
    Short u   u
    Short iu   iu
    Consonant n   n
    Consonant r   r
    Consonant s   s

All of these declension types, except for the long e stem were inherited from the Indo-European. The historical iio stem with contraction of the ending is represented by contemporary Lithuanian ys, e.g., žaltỹs 'grass-snake'. The contemporary ending is represents a variant of the etymological iio, e.g., brólis 'brother'. However, the relative frequency of these various stems has changed in contemporary Lithuanian. The (ii)o, (i)a and e stems predominate in Modern Lithuanian whereas the others are gradually disappearing. The consonant (athematic) stems n, r and s began disappearing first. Most of these stems had i stem endings before the first written texts had appeared. The process started when the form of the consonant stem accusative endings merged with the i stem, cf. the consonant stem šùnį 'dog', dùkterį 'daughter' and the i stem acc. sg. vãgį 'thief'',šãlį 'country'. In addition the (ii)o stem paradigm began influencing the i stem masculine noun paradigm, cf.

    io stem   i stem
Gen sg   vìnio 'nail'   viniẽs
Dat sg   vìniui   vìniui
Acc sg   vìnį   vìnį
Inst sg   viniù   vinimì
Nom pl   viniaĩ   vìnys
Dat pl   viniáms   vinìms
Acc pl   viniùs   vinìs
Inst pl   viniaĩs   vinimìs
Loc pl   viniuosè   vinysè

The dative singular ending -ui predominates in Modern Lithuanian for the masculine gender, e.g., nãmui 'house', vãgiui 'thief', sū́nui 'son'. The feminine paradigm ending -iai became dominant in the`, cf.: vãliai 'will' and šãliai 'country'. The shortening of the acute endings provided a stimulus for the o stem endings to influence the u stem paradigm (cf. stalùs 'tables' and sū́nus 'sons'). There are a few innovative forms in dialects and old documents, e.g.:

Nom pl   sūnaĩ 'sons' (instead of sū́nūs)
Dat pl   sūnáms (instead of sūnùms)
Inst pl   sūnaĩs (instead of sūnumìs)

The iu stem forms were rapidly replaced by the corresponding io stem forms. The plural cases now have only the new forms. The old endings were retained only in old texts.

The i, (i)u and consonant stems inherited instrumental singular and dative and instrumental plural forms with the Baltic-Slavic-Germanic consonant m, e.g., dalimì 'part', sūnumì 'son', šunimì 'dog', dalìms, sūnùms, šunìms, dalimìs, sūnumìs, šunimìs.

In the old writings we can find many long forms of the dative plural, cf.

  • daiktãmus 'things' and daiktáms
  • sūnùmus 'sons' and sūnùms
  • šalìmus 'countries' and šalìms
  • seserìmus 'sisters' and seserìms
33.2 Adjectives

In Modern Lithuanian disyllabic adjectives are stressed according to accentuation classes 3 or 4 (they are oxytones). However, accents in old texts indicate that there were many barytones in Lithuanian (accentuation classes 1 and 2), e.g., brángus 'dear', támsus 'dark', skáistus 'bright', bjaũrus 'hideous', kañtrus 'patient', teĩsus 'right', etc. Later the root stress started to disappear. Comparative degree adjectives with the suffix -esnis were also often stressed on the root (barytones), e.g., bjaũresnis 'more hideous'. Later they were accented according to accentuation class 2. Now it is changing to accentuation class 4.

There are three genders for adjectives: feminine, masculine and neuter. Neuter gender nominative-accusative forms are used to form nominal predicates, e.g.:

  • Laukè šil̃ta
  • 'It is warm outside'.

They can also agree with neuter pronouns, e.g.:

  • vìsa kìta mán bùvo áišku
  • 'The rest was clear for me'.

Like nouns, adjectives had singular, plural, and dual forms; e.g., dual:

Nom-Acc   dù gerù draugù 'two good friends'
Dat   dvíem geríem draugám
Inst   dviem̃ geriem̃ draugam̃

The adjectival declensional system is simpler than that of the nouns (see Lesson 3):

    Historical stems       Modern stems    
    Masculine   Feminine   Masculine   Feminine
    Short o   Long a   a   o
    Short io   Long ia   ia   io
    Short iio   Long e   ia   ė
    Short u   Long ia   u   io

We can also find remnants of the i stem (masc.) in the old texts and dialects, e.g., didimè pulkè 'in the big crowd'. The i stem gradually merged with the io stem (masc.). Comparative degree adjectives (masc.) now are declined according to the iio stem paradigm, although, at one time they belonged to the i stem paradigm, e.g., gerèsnime 'better' (cf. iio stem geresniamè). The superlative degree with the suffix -iausias now has the io stem paradigm. We can also find remnants of the i stem paradigm in old texts, e.g., mažiáusime 'smallest' (cf. io stem mažiáusiame).

Feminine adjectives are declined like nouns, but the masculine adjectives (also numerals and participles) inherited the following endings from pronouns:

Dat sg   tám(ui) senám(ui) páltui 'that old coat'
Loc sg   tamè senamè pálte
Nom pl   tiẽ senì páltai
Dat pl   tíem(us) seníem(us) páltam(u)s

There may have been a syntactic reason for the adjectives to adopt the pronominal endings. The pronouns always occupy the first position in a phrase. For this reason the other parts of speech which follow the pronoun agree with it. The ancient nominal endings and pronominal endings were used parallel for a long time. The adjectives that can be used as nouns have retained nominal endings in Lithuanian up to present, e.g., didžiaãkiui vaĩkui 'large-eyed child'.

At the end of preliterate period the io stem paradigm (masc.) began appearing in the u stem adjective paradigms on the influence of the corresponding ia stem feminine adjectives, cf. (he) žãlias 'green', (she) žalià, inst. sg. (he) žaliù, (she) žalià and nom. sg. (he) gražùs 'beautiful', (she) gražì, inst. sg. (he) gržiù, (she) gražià. We find now gražiù in place of ancient form gražumì (cf. sūnumì 'son'). In the first writings the following cases had io stem endings (the ancient endings were also used):

Inst sg   rūgščiù 'sour' (cf. u stem rūgštumì)
Loc sg   rūgščiamè (cf. u stem rūgštumè)
Gen pl   rūgščių̃ (cf. u stem rūgštų̃)
Acc pl   rū́gščius (cf. u stem rū́gštus)
Inst pl   rūgščiaĩs (cf. u stem rūgštumìs)

The io stem forms for the and were established early so we can find no examples in old documents.

Definite adjectives had not yet merged into one word when the first written texts appeared. However, the merged forms inherited from earlier times were already being used. The adjective (or participle) and pronoun could change position in non-merged sequences, e.g., pa-jo-prasto (cf. pàprastojo) 'ordinary', nu-jie-vargę (cf. nuvar̃gusieji) 'tired'. There are also remnants of the use of pronouns with nouns, e.g., dangujęjis 'heavenly' (literally 'which is in heaven'). The final merger of the adjectives and pronouns into one word occurred quite late. In old texts we can find, e.g., the gerojejoje 'good', geramejame, geramuijamui, etc. This process was hindered by the existence of the indefinite adjective and pronoun jìs 'he', 'she'. Because of these pronouns more recent forms were often replaced with the older forms. This process led to the creation of many parallel forms for the same case. There was a different number of syllables in the definite adjective paradigm (trisyllabic, tetrasyllabic and pentasyllabic). Pentasyllabic forms were shortened due to systemic constraints, e.g., instead of baltojejoje 'white' baltõjoje appeared.

The definite adjectives must have maintained the indefinite adjective stress position because the pronoun was affixed as an enclitic word, e.g., brángusis 'dear', meĩlusis 'loving'. As the accentuation of indefinite adjectives changed so did that of definite adjectives.

34 Verbal System of Old Lithuanian
34.1 Verbs

There are four tenses in Lithuanian. The present, preterit and future tenses were inherited from the East Baltic period. The past frequentative was formed later, e.g., nèšdavo '(he) used to carry'. This tense does not exist in all the Lithuanian dialects. Samogitian (Lowland) dialects use phrases comprised of the auxilary verb liuobė́ti 'to be used to' (cf. Russian "ljubit") and infinitive, e.g., liúobu šókt(i) 'I used to dance'. The past frequentative tense forms have not yet been sufficiently explained. There have been some attempts to link the suffix -dav- to the frequentative verb suffix -d-, e.g., jo-d-inė́ti 'to ride the horse often'. In the old texts we can also find the past frequentative suffix -lav- or -dlav- (the latter contains both suffixes).

The dual forms for verbs were inherited from early times:

    Present   Past   Frequentative   Future   Subjunctive   Imperative
1st dual   nẽšava 'carry'   nẽšėva   nèšdavova   nèšiva   nèštuva   nèškiva
2nd dual   nẽšata   nẽšėta   nèšdavota   nèšita   nèštuta   nèškita

The present tense had thematic and athematic paradigms. There are three thematic paradigms depending on the stem-final vowels:

    Historical stems   Modern stems
    Short (i)o   (i)a
    Short i   i
    Long a   o

The present tense o stems are complex, since they include infixed derivatives (e.g., señka 'it becomes lower') and derivatives with the suffixes -st-, -n-, -d-, -j-, e.g., sveĩksta '(he) is improving', ráuna '(he) pulls up', vérda '(he) cooks', gìria '(he) praises'. We can also find forms derived from nouns, e.g., lapója '(it) puts forth leaves'. Many suffixed denominatives and deverbatives have o stem forms, e.g., grybáuja '(he) gathers mushrooms', šū́kauja ' (he) cries out'.

Except for the shift of the stress to the ending due to Saussure's law, all present tense disyllabic thematic forms have a root-stressed accentuation.

In old texts io stem forms began appearing instead of a stem forms on the influence of e stem past forms (cf. 3 pres. šìldo '(he) warms', 3 pret. šìldė 'warmed' and 3 pres. láukia ' (he) waits' and láukė 'waited'), e.g., 3 pres. šìldžia '(he) warms', gýdžia '(he) heals', mìgdžia '(he) lulls to sleep', etc.

The athematic paradigm was as follows:

    'be'   'remain'   'give'   'save'
1st sg   esmì   liekmì   dúomi   gélbmi
2nd sg   esì   lieksì   dúosi   gélbsi
3rd sg   ẽst(i)   liẽkt(i)   dúost(i)   gélbt(i)
1st pl   esmè   liekmè   dúome   gélbme
2nd pl   estè   liektè   dúoste   gélbte
3rd pl   ẽsti   liẽkt(i)   dúost(i)   gélbt(i)
1st dual   esvà   liekvà   dúova   gélbva
2nd dual   està   liektà   dúosta   gélbta

Some verbs do not have athematic equivalents in other Indo-European languages, e.g., lìkti 'remain', giedóti 'to sing hymns', miegóti 'to sleep', bė́gti 'to run', etc. There are verbs whose athematic forms appeared quite late, even in the 18th century. The athematic conjugation, which was disappearing in the Lithuanian language, had at one time been quite widespread. Quite a few athematic and thematic doublets were already used in the earliest written texts. Most frequently the athematic stems were replaced with the pure o stem. Some verbs acquired an infixed sto, no, etc. forms, e.g., mė́gsta '(he) likes', eĩna '(he) goes'.

The past tense (preterite) had two stems: long a stem and long e stem:

    Historical stems   Modern stems
    Long a   o
    Long e   ė

Their origin is not clear. This tense takes the place of the old aorist and the perfect tense. The root vocalism of past tense forms often differs from that of present tense forms. The past tense forms often have zero or lengthened grade ablaut, e.g., 3 pres. per̃ka '(he) buys', 3 pret. pir̃ko 'bought'; 3 pres. gìna '(he) defends', 3 pret. gýnė 'defended'. There was a past tense stem bi- instead of bùvo 'was' in very early times. It has survived in Latvian. This change in the past tense occurred in the preliterate period.

The Lithuanian sigmatic future was inherited from the Baltic protolanguage. There are two variants of the sigmatic formant -si- (i stem) and -s- (athematic). We do not have enough data to indicate which of these stems is older. The future tense paradigm is a mixture of two old inherited conjugation types (see Lesson 2). Because of the shortening of acute stressed endings (Leskien's law) and the change of the acute to the circumflex in monosyllabic words, we have two models of the 3rd person future: the first has a shortened vowel and the second has a long vowel. From the old form rýs '(he) will swallow' regular development would produce rỹs '(he) will swallow' in the monosyllabic word and in the disyllabic prefixed form prarìs 'swallow up'. This double development was regularized by the adoption of monosyllabic rìs on the model of disyllabic prarìs. In disyllabic verbs the long vowel model was supported by other personal forms (cf. 1 fut. galvósiu 'I will think', skaitýsiu 'I will read'), e.g., galvõs '(he) will think', skaitỹs '(he) will read'. Regular development should have produced 3 fut. galvòs '(he) will think', skaitìs '(he) will read', but such forms are not used in standard Lithuanian, although they may be encountered in dialects. Long vowels are not graphically differentiated in old texts so it is difficult to ascertain the time of these processes. In standard Lithuanian the stress of the 1st person singular and 2nd person singular ending of disyllabic verbs having circumflex or short stressed roots is shifted to the root from the former acute stressed ending, cf.

1st sg   šaũksiu 'I will cry' and šauksiù; ràsiu 'I will find' and rasiù
2nd sg   šaũksi 'you will cry' and šauksì; ràsi 'you will find' and rasì

Eastern Lithuanian dialects have still maintained the stressed endings.

Imperative mood forms have the infinitive stem expanded with the formant -ki- plus the personal endings (see Lesson 3). The origin of this formant might have been some sort of particle (cf. Lithuanian gi, Slavic "ka"). Besides these forms, Lithuanian has forms deriving from the Indo-European optative. The East Lithuanian Vilnius dialect has retained forms the basis of which is not the infinitive, but rather the present tense stem, e.g.,

2nd sg   nèš(i) 'carry' (3 pres. nẽša '(he) carries'), duõd(i) 'give' (3 pres. dúoda '(he) gives').
2nd sg   mýly 'love' (3 pres. mýli '(he) loves'), žiūrỹ 'look' (3 pres. žiū̃ri '(he) looks').
2nd sg   dãrai 'make' (3 pres. dãro ' (he) makes'), gáudai 'catch' (3 pres. gáudo '(he) catches').

This type of the imperative mood is related to the desiderative mood (permisive). It has only the third person forms derived from the Indo-European optative. They are reinforced with the preposed particle te-, e.g.:

  • tenešiẽ 'let (someone) carry';
  • težiūrỹ 'let (someone) look';
  • tegáudai 'let (someone) catch'.

Eventually this mood was also expressed by the present tense forms, e.g., tèneša 'let (someone) carry', težiū̃ri 'let (someone) look', tegù(l) nẽša 'let (someone) carry', etc. In dialects we can find testà instead of tegùl. These particles are derived from the permissive forms of the verbs gulė́ti 'to lie, to be in a recumbent position' and stovė́ti 'to stand'.

The subjunctive mood was formed from the supine which was expanded with the formant -bi- and personal endings. Its paradigm was as follows:

1st sg   pasakytum̃biau   'I would tell'
2nd sg   pasakytum̃bei    
3rd sg   pasakytų̃    
1st pl   pasakytum̃bime    
2nd pl   pasakytum̃bite    
3rd pl   pasakytų̃    
1st dual   pasakytum̃biva    
2nd dual   pasakytum̃bita    

The third person form was a pure supine. The -bi- is derived from some form of the auxiliary verb bū́ti 'to be'. The 1st person form pasakyčià predominates in old texts. Later this paradigm was simplified. At present forms of the subjunctive mood maintain the infinitive stress position.

Reflexive verbs were formed before the appearance of the first written texts. However, the particle si might still have some degree of freedom, e.g., tàs vélnias netùri kur̃ si-dė̃tis(i) 'that devil has nowhere to go'. The position of the reflexive particle in prefixed verbs was much freer in old texts and dialects than in the contemporary standard language, e.g., with the reflexive particle occurring both between the second prefix and the root as well as in word final position ne-pa-si-piktysiuo-si 'I will not become indignant', nu-žemyki-si 'abase yourself'. Besides the reflexive particle si there was also another variant se. Both these particles were shortened to s in word-final position, e.g., kreĩpkimės 'let us appeal to (somebody)'.

34.2 Participles

Lithuanian participles are inherited from the earliest times, except for the active past frequentative participle. The present active participle has the present tense stem of the verb expanded by the suffix -nt-. o and a stem participles have a participial stem with -a-nt- and i stem participles have a stem with -i-nt-, e.g., šókantį 'dancing', jumping', stóvintį 'standing'.

The past active participial forms are based on the past tense stem of the verbs. They are expanded with the suffix -us-, e.g., šókusį 'having danced, having jumped'. Their forms have the ending -ęs instead of -us-, e.g., augęs 'having grown'. This ending is the result of the influence of the present participle, cf. áugąs 'growing'.

Future active participles are formed from the future tense stem with the same suffix -nt- as in present participles, e.g., stovė́siantį 'will be standing'. They are expanded not with -s(i)- as in verbal forms but rather with -sio-.

Frequentative past active participles were formed late, when the past frequentative tense came into use. They have the frequentative tense stem of the verb and the same suffix -us- as the past active participles, e.g., šoḱdavusį 'she used to dance'. Some dialects do not use these participles.

The masculine active participles were inflected according to the consonant declension paradigm. Corresponding feminine forms had long ia stems (with the exception of ending i, e.g., stóvinti 'standing'). Under the influence of the feminine ia stem the masculine consonant declension began disappearing. The consonant declension forms were replaced with short io stem forms. The pronominal inflection paradigm also influenced the masculine participle inflectional system.

Passive participles had developed from certain adjectives a long time ago. The present passive participle has the present tense stem of the verb which is expanded with the suffix -mo-, e.g., láukiamas 'being awaited', mýlimas 'being loved'. The past passive participles have the infinitive stem expanded with the suffix -to-, e.g., láuktas 'awaited', mylė́tas 'loved'. Future passive participles are formed from the future tense stem expanded with the same suffix -mo- that is in present passive participles, e.g., láuksimas 'will be awaited'.

In early times the accentuation of participles was dependent on the accentuation of verbs. Participles formed from barytone verbs had the fixed verbal stem stress, and participles that were formed from oxytone verbs had a mobile stress paradigm. Later this difference started disappearing. It was partly retained only by present participles.

Gerunds arose from the dative singular forms of old active participles with the consonantal ending i (or ie) used in the the dative absolute construction, e.g., pàtekanti (cf. pàtekant) 'rising'. Pronominal endings are not encountered in dative absolute constructions because the participle functioned here as the predicate. Being isolated from the active participle paradigm, they lost their dative meaning and changed to the gerunds. The long forms were already quite rare in the first written texts. Absolute participle constructions (with the pronominal dative endings) survived even when the old active participial datives had changed to gerunds. We can find parallel constructions in old texts, e.g.:

  • Sáulei nusiléidusiai (nusiléidus) ė̃jome namõ 'We were going home when the sun had set'.
  • Giesmė̃ pàkasañti (pàkasant) žmogaũs kū́ną 'The hymn (which is sung) when burying a man's body'.

The half-participles have the infinitive stem expanded with the suffix -dama-. Its origin is not clear. Researchers tend to think that the suffix is a compound form consisting of -da- and -ma- (cf. 3 pres. vér-da 'boils' and pres.ptc.pass. laukia-mas 'being awaited'). Half-participles function as predicate modifiers. They have only nominative forms. In the period of East Baltic development, half-participles had already begun replacing active participles when they were used adverbially.

The current participle system is the result of a long development. Participles were derived from the nominal forms and linked to verbal forms at a later time. Verbal nouns having the suffixes -nt- and -us- became nonfinite verbal forms first, later verbal adjectives with -to- and still later with -mo-. The nominal nature of participles is the most evident in their attributive usage, e.g.:

  • Gyvulė̃lis žiūrė́jo į̃ manè pavar̃gusiomis maldáujančiomis akimìs
  • 'The small animal was looking at me with tired and pleading eyes'.

Researchers consider the usage of participles in a semi-predicative manner to be primary and most important. Many of these participles have had a secondary predicate function since early times, e.g.:

  • Žinójo namõ vėlaĩ sugrįšiąs
  • 'He knew that he would return home late'.

The predicate usage of participles was the basis for the development of compound verbal forms and for the so-called indirect discourse. In indirect discourse participles may be used instead of verbs. We have to do with indirect discourse when the writer or the speaker transmits the conversation or narrative of other person in his own words, e.g.;

  • Jõnas sãkosi vìsą vãkarą televìzorių žiūrė́jęs ir̃ niẽko negirdė́jęs
  • 'John says (now) that he watched television the whole evening and heard nothing'.
35 Uninflected Parts of Speech of Old Lithuanian

The Lithuanian language inherited many adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and particles from early times. A number of new ones were derived from inflected forms.

The adverbial system changed quickly. Some adverbs eventually disappeared, while new ones appeared. The adverbs kur̃ 'where', nū̃ 'now', jaũ 'already', teñ 'there', etc. were inherited from the Baltic or Proto-Indo-European period. Adverbs were also formed from adjectives using the formant ai, e.g., from šil̃tas 'warm' šiltaĩ 'warmly'. Their comparative degree had the suffix -iaus, e.g., geriaũs 'better', šilčiaus' warmer'. This suffix was shortened later to -iau, e.g., geriau 'better', šilčiau 'warmer'. Now the same suffix is used in the superlative degree of adjectives (cf. šilč-iaus-ias 'the warmest'). The superlative degree for adverbs was also formed with -iaus, e.g., geriáusiai 'best', šilčiausiai 'most warmly'.

Many adverbs are formed using the suffix -yn(iui), e.g., artỹn 'nearer', šiltỹn 'warmer'.

Many adverbs are derived from various inflected parts of speech. The process of adverbialization is quite long. The former endings are dropped or are changed to an adverbial formants. Most adverbs are derived from the instrumental case as its forms function often as modifiers, e.g., pamažù 'slowly', príešais 'in front of', staigà 'suddenly', netyčiomìs 'not on purpose'. From the neuter nominative-accusative we have gaĩla 'feeling pity', etc. and from the genitive visadõs 'always', iš tiesų̃ 'truly', etc. There are quite a few adverbs with -ui, e.g., paskuĩ 'later' ìlgainiui 'eventually', etc. Most of the accusative forms are compound words, e.g., kasmẽt 'every year', šį̃ryt 'this morning', etc. Some adverbs are derived from the old locative (e.g., namie 'at home', ankstì 'early') and the new postpositive locative (e.g., šaliñ 'away', vakaróp 'towards evening').

The nonfinite forms of verbs tend to be adverbialized more often than finite forms, especially gerunds, e.g., bemãtant 'immediately', ver̃kiant 'certainly'.

Many prepositions have correspondences in other Indo-European languages, e.g., apiẽ 'about, around', 'without' ìš 'from', nuõ 'from', per̃ 'through', 'over', priẽ 'by, near', etc. Some prepositions were shortened, e.g., antà (cf. añt) 'on', užù (cf. ùž) 'behind, outside'. In old written texts we can find the longer prefix variants that are linked to corresponding prepositions, e.g., užunèšti 'to carry up', apinèšti 'to carry round'. There are also postpositions in Lithuanian, e.g., dė̃lei 'because of', liñk 'towards':

  • Pasisténk jo dė̃lei 'Do your best for him'
  • Pasùkome ùpės liñk 'We turned towards the river'.

The prepositions ikì 'until', 'under, after', priẽ 'by, near' were used with the dative in old writings, e.g., ikì sū̃do diẽnai 'until the day of the judgement', põ tái mal̃dai 'after that prayer', nusidėjìmai priẽ(g) dū̃šiai pasiliẽka 'the sins remain in the soul'. These prepositions commonly govern the genitive today. We also find the preposition drin 'because of' instead of dė̃l 'because of' in these texts.

New prepositions may be derived from inflected words, e.g., príešais 'before, across from' (cf. priéšas 'enemy'), tar̃p 'between' (cf. tárpas 'interval'), tiẽs 'towards' (cf. tiesùs 'straight').

The role of prepositions has been constantly expanding in Lithuanian. This process continues in Modern Lithuanian.

The Lithuanian language has some conjunctions that are related to conjunctions in other Indo-European languages, e.g., ir̃ 'and', õ 'but, while', ar̃ 'if, whether'. The number of conjunctions is also constantly increasing. Some of them are connected to adverbs or prepositions, e.g., kadà 'when' (cf. kàd 'that'), ligì 'until', kaĩp 'how'.

Since early times the same words could function both as conjunctions and as particles. In Lithuanian these small words are combined with other particles, mostly with those beginning with g- or b-, e.g., ar̃gi 'if', argu 'if', ir̃gi 'also', arba 'or', etc. In old writings the inherited particle gi (and its variants ga, ge) was used very frequently, being affixed to both uninflected as well as inflected words, e.g.

  • Klausýkimeg(i) ką̃ kal̃ba 'Listen what (they) speak'.
  • Todė̃lig(i) sakaũ táu 'Therefore I say to you'.

'without' is inherently related to , , . The variant bei 'and' was at some point lengthened with the particle -i. The particle bèt 'but' is derived from the small words mentioned above; its variant bàt is also used in old writings. Linguists also infer a connection between jóg 'that', jéi 'if, whether' and the Indo-European relative pronoun ios expanded with the particle gi. 'no, not', nė̃ 'not a' and neĩ 'neither... nor' are inherited words. Nèt 'even' can also be connected with these particles.

previous lesson   |   next lesson

  • Linguistics Research Center

    University of Texas at Austin
    PCL 5.556
    Mailcode S5490
    Austin, Texas 78712

  • For comments and inquiries, or to report issues, please contact the Web Master at