Labas! (Greetings!) Lithuanian (lietuvių kalba) is the official language of Lithuania. There are about 2.9 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 300,000 abroad. A Baltic language, Lithuanian is closely related to Latvian, though they are not mutually intelligible. Learning Lithuanian is like going on linguistic time travel: it’s the language that’s changed the least in the thousands of years since the proto-Indo-European language began splitting up into the different languages now spoken across Europe and South Asia.
Lithuanian Fun Facts
Lithuanian is the oldest and least altered of the Indo-European languages. Some linguists argue that Lithuanian may have preserved words from the pre-Indo-European period dating as far back as the last Ice Age about 11,000 years ago.
Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe, converting to Christianity not till the end of the 14th Century.
Although Lithuanian is a Baltic language and related to Latvian, the two are not mutually intelligible. Both Latvian and particularly Lithuanian are considered to be the most archaic of still-spoken Indo-European languages.
Lithuanian and the Livemocha Community
- The country with the largest number of people learning Lithuanian on Livemocha is Lithuania, followed closely by the United States and, after a slightly larger gap, Russia.
- Almost 45% of Lithuanians on Livemocha are learning English. Another 10% are each learning German and Spanish.
- Over 80% of Lithuanian speakers on Livemocha live in Lithuania. The country with the next highest percent of Lithuanian speakers on Livemocha is the UK, with 5%.