The Lithuanian language is very concrete. Many foreign languages commonly spoken nowadays, including English, in this respect differ from Lithuanian – for example, the English word ‘place’ usually conveys the abstract meaning of a place, house, work, yard, square, street, alley and many other things. In addition, Lithuanian language is highly inflectional, whereas English has a rather limited amount of prefixes and endings – instead, it uses a lot of auxiliaries, pronouns in particular.
The origin of the name Lithuania has not yet been established. It was mentioned for the first time in 1009 in the Quedlinburg Chronicles which were written in Latin. As time passed by, the Lithuanian language endured a great number of challenges: continuous wars, oppression, Polonization, prohibition of the language, and finally Russification left many scars, but did not destroy the language. The oldest record of Lithuanian dates back to the 16th century (a prayer by an anonymous author). Some linguists controversially propose that the Balts and Slavs once formed a single language group, which later divided into two. Indeed, several hundred words are common to both Baltic and Slavic languages (eg ranka – ruka, galva – golova, ragas – rog), but the Slavic origins of these words have been disputed.
Some hold an opinion 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. The names of lakes and rivers, which have existed for millennia, might evidence this assumption. Below you will find several examples of archaic hydronyms, the origin of which has not yet been established. These beautiful words bear a mysterious echo of time immemorial, gradually intermingling into familiar assonances…
Lithuanian rivers and lakes