Volume 24, No.3 - Fall 1978
Editor of this issue: Kęstutis Girnius
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1978 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Anglų-lietuvių kalbų žodynas. English-Lithuanian Dictionary. Sudarė (Compiled by) A. Laučka, B. Piesarskas, E. Stasiulevičiūtė. Apie (about) 60,000 žodžių (words). Leidykla "Mintis"—Mintis Publishers. Vilnius, 1975. 1094 pages.

English was taught in independent Lithuania (i.e., in the period of 1918-1940) in several secondary schools and in a few institutions of higher learning. However, there were very few bilingual (i.e., English-Lithuanian and/or Lithuanian-English) dictionaries available in Lithuania at that time. Some English-Lithuanian and Lithuanian-English dictionaries were published in the USA— primarily by the Lithuanian immigrants—some even in the 19th century. More bilingual dictionaries of these two languages were published after WWII, both in the West and in Soviet-occupied Lithuania. Lituanus, vol. 15 (1969), No. 3, pp. 78-79, lists and briefly discusses some of these dictionaries.

One should note that the Lithuanian-English and/or English-Lithuanian dictionary-making has always been a kind of one-sided affair: all these dictionaries were published in Lithuanian, or by Lithuanians living in English-speaking countries. The English-speaking countries themselves have not shown any interest in producing any bilingual dictionaries for the two languages in question. Only the so-called major languages (e.g. French, German, Spanish, Russian and similar ones) have bilingual dictionaries produced in several English speaking countries. Apparently, the English speaking peoples, and countries, if one may express oneself thusly, do not have, and have not had any particular desire, and need, to learn the "minor" languages. (There was one time, rather recently, when these minor languages were called "neglected languages," at least in the USA).

Be it as it may, we have now before us a large, exhaustive dictionary, published in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1975. It is a large dictionary: over 1000 large pages in small print; about 60,000 words and phrases. It is, however, not only the pure word-count, but the extent of many individual entries that makes this dictionary rather exhaustive. E.g., the English verb to get has more than one entire page of small print: 17 basic meanings are listed (on the "Lithuanian side"), and then come many expressions and/or phrases, like the following: to get up, to get through, to get into one's head, to get on somebody's nerves, and many others.

This becomes even more impressive if one compares, as it were, the "predecessor" to this dictionary, i.e., the English-Lithuanian dictionary by V. Baravykas (2nd edition was edited by A. Laučka and A. Dantaitė—Vilnius, 1961; ca. 30,000 words and phrases); in this latter dictionary, for instance, the English verb to get has only 5 main meanings listed (i.e., in Lithuanian: 1) gauti; 2) pasiekti, atvykti; 3) priversti, įtikinti, 4) ateiti; 5) tapti), and several phrases with to get, such as to get off, etc. It is obvious that the large 1975 dictionary under consideration here is more than just containing twice the number of main entries (ca. 60,000 for 1975, and 30,000 for the 1961), but it also goes much more into the detailed, idiomatic usage of words and phrases. The "Lithuanian part" of the dictionary is well-thought out, and it shows that the approximately hundred-years tradition of dictionary making (cf., for example, the article by Antanas Salys and the present writer, Dictionaries (of Lithuanian) in Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. II, pp. 67-71). To illustrate what was said above, let us cite a few expressions from the entry we have been referring to above, i.e., get, pp. 341-342:



to get the best of 
to get wind of 
to get out of bed on the wrong side

sužinoti (iš pasakojimo ir pan.)
ne ta koja iš lovos išlipti

All these "translations" are really not translations, but, rather, idiomatic equivalents or "suggestions" for rendering the English phrases into Lithuanian. They are well selected. If one remembers that old cliché, "there is no end to perfection," then one could find here, too, place for some minor, or very minute, improvements. E.g., although to get wind of is correctly given as 'sužinoti (iš pasakojimo ir pan.), but the Lithuanian expression such as 'nugirsti (iš pasikalbėjimo ir pan.) could also be considered here. In some contexts, 'sužinoti' would be more proper, in other cases, 'nugirsti', in some other cases, even patirti (lit.: 'to experience; to find out; to get to know', etc.) could be most appropriate. Certainly, no dictionary, even a multi-volume one, can possibly provide all the contextual possibilities. A careful translator will, of course, consider also all the synonyms and antonyms possible in both languages.

There are in this large dictionary many very interesting idiomatic expressions—both in English and in Lithuanian. This fact is particularly interesting since, as far as this reviewer knows, there is no dictionary of idioms of Lithuanian in existence. If someone had enough time and patience to carefully list and arrange—-let's say alphabetically, or in some other way—all the Lithuanian idioms and idiomatic expressions, one would most certainly obtain a rather decent dictionary of Lithuanian idioms. And most of these idioms are very well chosen, both from spoken everyday usage, as well as from Lithuanian literature of various types and genres, including the recorded folklore. Just a few samples:



it nearly killed me
to move in for the kill
to kick the bucket (pop, speech)
to keep one's head
to keep one's hair/shirt on (pop.)
to keep smth. under one's hat
to pull smb.'s leg
to pump lead into smb. (po.)

aš vos nenumiriau iš juoko
pasiruošti paskutiniam smūgiui
kojas pakratyti (mirti)
išlaikyti ramybę, nepasimesti
laikyti ką paslaptyje
mulkinti, kvailinti
suvaryti kam švino (daug kulkų)

And there are hundreds and hundreds more of such beautiful expressions of all kinds.

As always, one could find a few cases which do not exactly render certain features, or possibilities of English into Lithuanian. Just a few examples. On p. 346, we find glib—1) iškalbingus; kalbus; sklandus (apie kalbą). The very last meaning, Lith. sklandus, at least in my humble opinion, would not fit here 100%. I feel, as a native speaker of Lithuanian, that sklandus basically implies "smooth; smoothly going/flowing;" but in addition to that sklandus implies something that is done, primarily, in a sincere and serious manner. Or take the third (Lithuanian) meaning of the (English) verb to gnaw which is given here as "3) kankinti." Now, kankinti does mean, primarily, to torture (physically, and/or spiritually). All the larger dictionaries of English, indeed, list this meaning of to gnaw as "to torment," but all the examples, or illustrations given clearly point to "torment by and/or from conscience, memories, reminiscences, etc." I think, it would have been much more precise to add something here, like: „3) kankinti (apie sąžinę, mintis ir pan.}"—(3) torment (ab. conscience, thoughts and similar things).

On the other hand, there are long complicated entries for which this reviewer can express only admiration. Take, for example the verb to go. In this dictionary, it occupies one and a half of large pages, in small print. 20 main meanings are given first, then there are dozens and dozens of phrases and expressions with to go. I cannot find any mistakes at all in this long and complex entry. Even special American meanings are marked e.g. to go under-(Amer.) mirti, etc,

The main part of the dictionary (pp. 9-1024) is followed by a rather lengthy listing of English proper names, with their Lithuanian equivalents (pp. 1025-1052); then there follows a listing of British and American abbreviations (pp. 1053-1094).

It is a very useful and usable dictionary.

Antanas Klimas 
The University of Rochester