Lithuanian is the state language of the Republic of Lithuania. It belongs to the Baltic group of languages and uses the Latin alphabet. Several letters have special marks above or below them to indicate how they should be pronounced. For example, ?; is pronounced "sh" as in ship; č is pronounced "ch" as in check; é is pronounced "ai" as in pair; and i is pronounced "ee" as in feet.

The Lithuanian language includes several distinct dialects. Low Lithuanian, Žemaičiu, is spoken in the western part of the country, and High Lithuanian, Aukštaicių, in the highland areas. Lithuanian grammar is quite complicated, with four verb tenses more than English, and masculine and feminine genders for nouns.

 The first writing in the modern Lithuanian language was by a scholar called Martynas Mazvydas in the mid-16th century. Some of his original manuscripts are preserved at the Vilnius University library. The first Polish-Latin-Lithuanian dictionary was compiled in about 1620. The 450th anniversary of the publication of the first Lithuanian book was celebrated widely in 1997.

Lithuanian was the country's official language from 1918 to 1940. During the Soviet period, Russian displaced Lithuanian in cultural, economic, administrative and political spheres, and the Soviets made systematic attempts to suppress the use of Lithuanian. In 1989, the government reinstated Lithuanian as the official language of the republic. Today, most people speak Lithuanian, although Russian is still widely spoken. English is the most common foreign language spoken by Lithuanians, and English words are creeping into the Lithuanian vocabulary. In some areas, people also speak German.
  Did you know?
A popular Lithuanian saying is "Negirk dienos be vakaro," which means "Don't praise the day before evening."
  English Lithuanian
  Hello   Labas
  Yes   Taip
  No   Ne
  Please   Prašom
  Thank you   Ačiū Jums
  How are you?   Kaip sekasi?/ Kaip gyveni?
  Excuse me   Atsiprašau
  OK   Gerai
  Welcome   Sveiki atvykę
  Goodbye   Viso gero/ Sudievu
  See you soon   Iki

  Did you know?
Lithuanian surnames reflect gender and marital status. For example, if the father of a family is Jonas Kuprevičius, his wife's last name would be Kuprevičiené, and his unmarried daughter's last name would be Kuprevičiūité.