Volume 34, No. 4 - Winter 1989
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1989 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Dr. Petras Jonikas. Lietuvių kalba ir tauta amžių būvyje: Visuomeniniai lietuvių kalbos istorijos bruožai. 

(The Lithuanian language and nation through the ages: Outline of a history of Lithuanian in its social context.)
 Institute of Lithuanian Studies Press,
Chicago, 1987.

In the foreword the author writes that the goal of his book is an investigation of the relationships between the Lithuanian language and nation, i.e., the development of the Lithuanian language along with the development of the Lithuanian nation (Up to 1904). The subject, although rather frequently mentioned is almost uninvestigated. The author himself had to search out original documentation in many cases and was indeed hampered by the inaccessibility of the most important archival sources. An additional hindrance was the lack of a well worked out method for this kind of research. Likewise there was a lack of any clear classification according to historical periods. Nevertheless the author felt that even under such circumstances someone should undertake this work. It has been remarked by many important Lithuanian cultural figures that without the Lithuanian language and existence of the Lithuanian nation is imperiled.

In addition to the foreword and introduction the book consists of five chapters entitled respectively: (1) Žiloji senovė (The distant past); (2) XVI-XV1I amžius (XVI-XVII centuries); (3) XVIII amžius (XVIII century); (4) XIX amžius: bendroji dalis (XIX century: general part) (5) XIX amžius: specialioji dalis (XIX century: special part). Following this is a list of abbreviations, a bibliography, facsimiles of old writings and an index of personal names.

In the first chapter the author discusses the Baits in prehistoric and early historic times, the period of Lithuanian as a non-written language, the source of the words Lietuva 'Lithuania' and lietuvis 'Lithuanian' (most likely of hydronymic origin), the linguistic and ethnic boundaries of Lithuania (changing in the course of time), the beginnings of the formation of dialects, the use of Lithuanian and other languages in private and public life.

The second chapter continues the discussion of the use of Latin and Polish in Lithuanian public life and the problem of borrowings from Slavic and other languages into Lithuanian. The use of Lithuanian among the noble families, which were frequently Polonized, and common people is discussed and the place of Lithuanian in the school, church and administration is considered. This chapter discusses the creation of the Lithuanian literary (or standard) language and the author notes (p. 100), for example, that Mažvydas' 1547 Catechism (the first printed book known in Lithuanian)' used an orthography that did not distinguish the phoneme (e) from (ė) and that short and long (i) and (u) could not be distinguished although in a few cases a double writing denotes a long vowel, e.g., Suunaus (contemporary sūnaus son (gen. sg.)'), and praschiikiet 'ask for' which would be rendered (with a different ending) in contemporary standard Lithuanian as prašykite. The author writes that in the course of time during the 16th and 17th centuries Lithuanian orthography was gradually improved upon, becoming simpler and more accurate (p. 103).

The second chapter also contains a discussion of the contributions of such 17th century figures as Daniel Klein (1609-1666), the author of Grammatica Litvanica (1653) and Compendium Litvanica-Cermanicum (1654), the first published grammars of Lithuanian; Konstantinas Sirvydas (1579-1631), the author of the first Lithuanian dictionary (the trilingual Polish-Latin-Lithuanian Dictionarium trium linguarum (various editions); Kristupas Sapūnas, the author of the Compendium Grammaticae Lithvanicae (written circa 1643, but published by Teofilis Gotlybas Šulcas in Konigsberg in 1673 and Mikalojus Daukša (?-1613) the translator of Wujek's Postilla Catholicka.

Chapter three begins by noting that in the second half of the 17th century and the 18th century the reasons for the use of the Lithuanian language were more of a practical nature than in the 16th century when Mikalojus Daukša had stated that the use of the Lithuanian language was necessary for the maintenance of the Lithuanian nation (p. 113). The Lithuanian language was now necessary in the pastoral work of the church to communicate with the Lithuanian peasants and serfs. In the beginning of the 18th century Lithuanian sermons were given in the church of St. John in Vilnius (p. 118).

The author writes that at first the Jesuit priests were required to know Lithuanian in order to fight the Reformation, but later, once the Reformation was overcome and the nobility was being more and more Polonized, Lithuanian (in the view of the upper classes and the authorities of the Polish-Lithuanian state) was felt to be unnecessary and an ever decreasing percentage of Jesuit priests knew this language. The bishop of Vilnius, K.P. Pancerzynski (1724-1729) forbade the use of Lithuanian in Vilnius churches (p. 123).

At the same time that the Lithuanians in the old Lithuanian Grand Duchy had to fear Polonization, there was increasing Germanization in Lithuania Minor. Thus L. Rėza noted that Germanisms had penetrated into the Lithuanian language since the 17th century and that the Lithuanian translation of the Bible published in 1735 was full of them (p. 151). The famous 18th century poet Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714-1780) in a letter to a friend wrote that one should not forget Lithuanian nor accept any advancement in position in a German land (p. 153).

Chapter four begins with the observation that although from the beginning of the 19th century the use of the Lithuanian language was limited to Lithuanian peasants and a part of the minor nobility (especially in Samogitia), attention to the Lithuanian language was increasing and gradually intellectual leaders appeared from the peasant milieu, mostly after the abolishment of serfdom. An additional factor was the development of Indo-European linguistics and the realization of the importance of Lithuanian for linguistic science (p. 155).

In this chapter the author discusses the contributions of such individuals as Juozapas Arnulpas Giedraitis (1754-1838), a Samogi-tian bishop who was for a brief time the leader of the Samogitian Lithuanian literary movement, Dionizas Poška (1757-1830) famous for his language and literary work, Jurgis Pabrėža (1771-1849) who developed a special orthography and others. The author discusses further the influence of the University of Vilnius, the importance of the Lithuanian students' group and the influence of Kajetonas Nezabitauskis (1800-1876), the author of an elementary text (Naujas mokslas skaitymo, 1824) and a grammar written in Polish (Gramatyka žmudzko-litewska z uwzględnieniem innych, narzec-zych litewskich 'A Samogitian-Lithuanian grammar with a consideration of other Lithuanian dialects' (ms. 1837)). Considerable attention is given (and rightly so) to Simonas Daukantas (1793-1864) who among other things replaced many of the borrowings from other languages with native Lithuanian words, e.g. aukuras for altorius 'altar', laikrodis for dziegorius 'watch', etc. (p. 203).

Already Catherine the Great in 1764 in secret instructions to her administrators had written that all people in lands conquered by the Russians should be Russianized and Tsar Nicholas the First's minister of education, S. Uvarov had devised the formula: orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality. Such a policy was continued and in a Russian ministry of education protocol issued in 1870 it was stated that for all foreigners living within the boundaries of the fatherland the goal of education should be Russianization and assimilation to the Russian people (p. 209).

The Russian Slavophile scholar A. Hilferding (1831-1872) wishing to attract the Lithuanians from the Polish to the Russian side suggested giving more rights to the Lithuanian language in public life. Therefore in order to facilitate the study of Lithuanian for Russian philologists he devised a variant of the Russian alphabet that could be used for Lithuanian. This notion pleased the Russian administration to the extent that one prominent official, N. Miljutin, wrote in 1864 that Russian letters will finish that which was begun with the Russian sword (russkija pis'mena okončat to, čto načato russkim mečom). Thus in Lithuania until 1904 publications in the Lithuanian language had to be written in the Russian alphabet. The author's account of this period (pp. 208-224) is the most complete and useful account known to me in any general work on the Lithuanian language.

The chapter also contains sections on Motiejus Valančius (pp. 234-240), Jonas and Antanas Juška (pp. 248-260), Antanas Baranauskas (pp. 268-281), Kazimieras Jaunius (pp. 295-299), the first Lithuanian popular newspaper Aušra 'Dawn' and its founder Jonas Basanavičius, the newspaper Varpas 'Bell' and other newspapers. A section on Vincas Kudirka, a firm defender of the Lithuanian language, notes that as an answer to those who said that Lithuanian is a peasants' language, Kudirka replied that not only intellectuals, but peasants speak Polish also (p. 324). The author writes that Jablonskis' work on Varpas helped him improve his own language. At first Jablonskis used the Lithuanian word įtalpa 'Inhalt, contents' but soon replaced it with the more suitable turinys 'contents' (derived from turėti 'to have'; p. 334). The final chapter, XIX century (special part), discusses the Lithuanian language in public life and the Lithuanian language in Lithuania Minor.

This is the only book I know of which can be considered a sociolinguistic history of Lithuanian. Many sociological and cultur-historical aspects of Lithuanian are included, aspects which a simple linguistic history of the language would not include. It seems to me that the author has, indeed, accomplished his purpose, creating a book which incorporates the human details of history in addition to pure linguistic facts. I congratulate the author on his writing a stimulating book with a new and different approach. 

William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University