LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 45, No. 4 - Winter 1999
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
Copyright © 1999 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Lietuvių kalbos žodynas (Lithuanian Academy Dictionary)
Volume XIX (Veša-Zvumterėti), ed. by Irena Ermanytė, Gertrūda Naktinienė, Jonas Paulauskas, Ritutė Petrokienė and Vytautas Vitkauskas, 1999. Vilnius, Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas.
With the appearance of Volume XIX of Lietuvių kalbos žodynas, the publication of the Lithuanian Academy Dictionary is nearing completion. The editors of those volumes published in Communist times were extremely clever in publishing a dictionary with high scholarly quality while at the same time adapting to the dictates of the occupying power. Still, it is only with the recent volumes that the names of the famous émigré scholars, such as Petras Jonikas, Pranas Skardžius and my teacher Antanas Salys, could be introduced in the front matter.
This dictionary is a gold mine of Lithuanian vocabulary. I must confess that I did not know the meaning either of the first word veša 'luxuriance, luxuriant growth' or the last word zvùmterėti, under which the reader is referred to zvumteleti which, in turn, is defined as zyztelėti 'to buzz a little bit.'
Each word is defined with exhaustiveness and care. For example, the word vienas 'one' is defined separately as a numeral (pp. 147-151), as a pronoun (pp. 151-167) and as an adjective (pp. 167-173). In all, there are almost 26 pages devoted to this one word. As an example of its use as a numeral is: Vienas Dievas trijuose asmenyse 'One God in three persons.' It is interesting to note that, in the second numerical meaning, vienas is defined as pirmas 'first,' and all the examples seem to concern time expressions, e.g., Nuo vienõs valandos iki dviejų - pietūs 'Lunch is from one o'clock to two o'clock.'
The dictionary lists ten different "pronominal meanings for vienas. The first is "a person or a thing which is the direct subject of an action or a state, or denotes that the subject is performing the action under his own power without the aid of others" e.g., Džiaukis ir dainuok su visu pasauliu, kentėk ir liūdėk vienas 'Rejoice and sing with the whole world, suffer and be sorrowful alone (by yourself).' The second pronominal meaning is "only that one, no other," e.g., Tikji viena man patinka 'She is the only one I like.' The third pronominal meaning is 'indivisible, constituting a unity," e.g., Kad užtvina pieva -vienas vanduo 'When the meadow floods, there is water everywhere, nothing but water.' In the sixth pronominal meaning vienas is defined as "a certain (something, someone), not exactly defined" and thereby the meaning approaches that of the English indefinite article, although there is still a clear difference. Thus, e.g., Pats aš gimiau viename Lietuvos kaime I myself was born in a (certain) Lithuanian village.'
There are eight meanings of vienas as an adjective, the first being 'only, different from others,' e.g., Nes yra parašyta: víenas yra Dievas, víenas krikštas, víena bažnyčia, víenas kūnas Christaus 'Because it is written: there is one God, one baptism, one church and one body of Christ.' The root vien (pp. 128-130) is also known as a particle and a conjunction, and vien(-a) functions as the initial element of numerous compounds, the first of which is vienaakis 'one-eyed' (p. 130) and the last of which is vienzolis 'grass harvested only once a year' (p. 256).
I personally enjoy many of the sample phrases which come from Lithuanian literature and folklore. Under the head word vyras 'man, husband' we find such phrases as: Bobos dirba, o výrai nedirba nieko, tiktai geria arielką The women work, and the men don't do anything, only drink liquor'; Výras buvo pačios kojų apačiolje] 'the husband was under his wife's feet'; Kaip šuo su kate - teip výras su pačia 'A man and wife (get along together) like a cat and a dog'; Výras ne arklys - ne mainysi 'a husband isn't a horse, you can't trade him (for another husband)' (Well, maybe you could nowadays); Of negerai, sesule, su senu vyru gyventie 'Oh, it isn't good, little sister, to live with an old husband,' etc.
I was impressed by the length of the entry vištà 'hen; chicken' which runs from p. 781 to 787; many of the illustrative phrases reflect Lithuanian folk wisdom about the chicken. Examples include the following: Ir kytra višta uodegą įsidilgina 'Even a clever chicken gets its tail stung with a nettle' (i.e., even a clever person can get caught); Ir gudri višta kartais į notrynas įbrenda 'Even a clever chicken sometimes wanders into a bed of thorns.
One general feature of all the volumes of the Lithuanian Academy Dictionary is that examples frequently contain dialect forms that are very colorful, but sometimes do not reflect the standard language. An example is: (p. 785) nė višta, nė gaidys, nė giema, pautų nė dema 'Neither hen nor rooster, it doesn't lay eggs or crow.' In this example giema 'crows' is dialect for standard gieda and dema 'lays' is dialect for standard deda. The final -m of the stems giem- and dem-derives eventually from a generalization of the old etymological athematic first person singular ending -mi. (This certainly gives the lie to the notion that in the verb all analogical changes must start from the third person singular.) A second example is: (p. 297) Eismą arklių perkelt kiton viëton 'Let us go transfer the horses to another place' in which the first plural future eisma would be replaced by eisime in standard Lithuanian. A third example is: (p. 890) Võgti ne noru, į kalėjimą savo amžiuo neesu buvęs 'I don't want to steal, I have not been in prison at any time in my life' which would probably be in standard Lithuanian something like Võgti nenoriu, kalėjime savo amžiuje nesu buvęs. Note the lack of palatalization of noru 'I want' (for standard noriu) the apparent Germanism į kalėjimą 'in prison' instead of the prepositional case kalėjime, the dialect form savo amžiuo 'in my life' for standard savo amžių and the expanded neesu 'I am not (here: have not)' for the standard contraction nesu. Note the following example from a fairy tale: (p. 524) Ir teip visi šeši vyresníejie sūnai vagies nepagavo 'And thus all six of the oldest sons did not catch the thief in which we encounter teip 'thus' for standard taip, vyresníejie 'oldest, senior' for standard vyresnieji and sūnai for standard sūnūs.
Long ago, in the late sixties, Prof. Kostas Korsakas, at that time director of the Institute of Lithuanian Language and Literature, which was located then, as is its current successor the Lithuanian language institute, at 6 Antakalnio Street, remarked to me that a fire would be a disaster for the institute with all its card files for the Lithuanian dictionary and other scholarly community, but at least the dictionary is now practically saved from possible extinction with the publication of its penultimate volume.
I would conclude that this dictionary is the most important monument of Lithuanian linguistics of our century. It seems to me to be a complete, accurate, thorough-going scholarly work and a tribute to the scholarship, erudition and patience of its authors.
William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University