Volume 27, No.4 - Winter 1981
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1981 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.



Since this profession of mine — the preparation of the dictionary — is very closely intertwined with my life, perhaps the reader will find it advantageous to possess some knowledge of my life. I came into the light of the world in Pažiegė (Dusetos parish, Zarasai county) on the 25 th day of October, 1879 (according to the old calendar). I learned my ABC's from my father. I spent two winters learning to read and write from private village teachers who taught from prayer books and from Šiaulėniškių senelis. One winter was spent with Ropolis on the shores of Lake Žiegelis, and the second winter with my uncle Mekuška in the village of Mižiuškės, at the original farmstead of my mother (in Južintai parish). In the winter of 1890-91 my father took me to the district school of Dusetos so that I could learn some Russian. At the time, this school forbade the speaking of even one word of Lithuanian. In the fall of 1891 my father took my two cousins and me to the county school in Zarasai where I attended the first form up until May, 1892. In the second half of July, 1892, my father took me (again with my two cousins — children of my aunts) to St. Petersburg, and left us in the care of one of our relatives who worked as a coachman for a rich family of Russian gentry. Although a simple, poor, and unschooled villager, my father did not fear such difficult and expensive undertakings because one hope gladdened and sustained him: to see his son a priest, who would then not only shelter his parents in their old age, but would also help the whole family. My father did not shy from spending his last penny on his son's education. To live one school year in St. Petersburg cost at least 150 rubles in plain cash, and it was difficult for my father to make such an income from his farm. Frequently he even had to borrow money for my schooling. In St. Peterburg, from the fall of 1892 until the spring of 1895, I completed the whole three year course of the church school of St. Stanislaus (a three-year county school named after Sestrzentsevich). Since one needed four years of secondary school to be accepted into the priest seminary, it was decided I must finish one more year. Thus, I wound up in the four-year secondary school of St. Catherine, graduates of which could enter the priest seminary.

In the spring of 1897, I completed the fourth year of secondary school, and in that fall I entered the priest seminary of St. Petersburg. When I left one year later (September, 1898), I drew down upon myself the anger of my parents and of my entire clan.

From the first days of October, 1898, I began living on my own. Upon the recommendation of one of my seminary friends, I obtained a position as a private tutor at the rectory of Reverend Bernotas in the town of Mosar (in the diocese of Vilnius). Here, during the winter of 1898-1899 I tutored two of his nephews (both surnamed Bernotas) for the entrance examination of St. Catherine's school in St. Petersburg. Both youngsters (Antanas and Juozas) passed. The pastor asked me to be their guardian; thus, in the fall of 1899 I returned to St. Petersburg and moved into two rooms with my pupils. In November or December of the same year, upon the recommendations of my former classmates and upon rendering a bribe (a collection of over one thousand rather rare stamps), I obtained a position at the meteorological observatory (Main Nikalaev Physics Observatory). I worked there for almost four years (until September 20,1903) when I left in order to continue my education.

As it happened, some friends of mine — such as Rev. Prof. A. Dambrauskas, Rev. Prof. P. Būčys, Rev. J. Tumas (Vaižgantas) — had found out I was very intent upon language; indeed, that I was crazy about linguistics. Rev. Tumas could easily have known this from the letters I wrote him, and also from several articles I had sent him in his capacity as the editor of Tėvynės Sargas (Our Country's Guardian). Dambrauskas and Būčys could have learned of my passion for linguistics directly from me and also from my discussions with Professors E. Volteris and Jaunius. I had become acquainted with the former at the beginning of 1900 or 1901, and with the latter — in the spring of 1902.

Approaching Jaunius was not easy. At the beginning he would not always admit me. But after he got to know me better, seeing him was no longer difficult. From the fall of 1902 I became a frequent visitor of Jaunius, and this continued to the day of his death (February 25, 1908). The Academicians P. Fortunatov and A. Šachmatov helped me gain acceptance from Jaunius: upon the urging of Professor E. Volteris, they appointed me private secretary to Jaunius. Through me they hoped to obtain for publication Jaunius' writings in the field of linguistics, especially Jaunius' grammar of Lithuanian and his description of the Lithuanian dialects. But the Academy received little benefit from my being secretary to Jaunius. Indeed, I was the sole beneficiary. The progress of his grammar illustrates the difficulty of getting something from Jaunius for publication: in five years (from 1903 to February 1908) Jaunius was able to check only 48 pages!

Upon leaving the observatory on September 20, 1903, nearing the age of 24, I devoted myself to study, determined to obtain my maturity certificate so that I could matriculate at the university and concentrate exclusively upon the study of linguistics. I took the maturity examination (to complete the 8-year secondary school course) as an external student in 1905 (from April 25th til May 30th) at the 5th Classical High School of St. Petersburg. I did it together with A. Voldemaras who was completing his high school course at that time.

In the fall of 1905 I matriculated at the University of St. Petersburg, at the Department of Philology (Slavic — Russian Dept.) where I completed my studies early in 1911. I stayed longer at the university because preparing my would-be scholarly writings preoccupied me. You see, in May of 1905 I had to take the first part of my Aistian Studies back from the printer's because no publisher had yet accepted my manuscript. On April 5, 1907 — unfortunately — I managed to start printing those Studies, and they came out in March, 1908. I spent the academic year 1906-1907 uselessly preparing the second part of these Aistian Studies.

In 1911, the University appointed me to a position requiring to prepare for an academic career in the department of comparative linguistics, headed then by Professor Jan Baudoin de Courtenay. In January, 1914, the University gave me a fellowship to study abroad for two years. The world war, however, stopped this right at its beginning. In July, 1914, as if having a premonition of the onset of the war, I returned from Königsberg just three to four days before the border closed. The war interrupted my studies as well as my preparation for the Master's Degree Examination. I finally passed this in the spring of 1916. Immediately after these examinations entitled me to become a "Privat-Dozent" (approximately "assistant professor" — transl.) at the University of St. Petersburg. On the first of July, 1916, I was appointed an assistant professor at the then forming University of Perm, and in 1917 I was appointed to associate professor (e. o. prof.). I returned to Lithuania from the University of Perm at the end of August, 1920 (about August 27th).

From my first days at school I belonged to a group of Lithuanians conscious of their national identity. As early as the fourth grade, and then in the seminary (1896-1898) I would sometimes lock horns with my Polish classmates over questions of nationality. I had become acquainted with Lithuanian writings — banned at the time (by Czarist Russia — transl.) — while yet in the seminary, through the sacristan of the cathedral, Jurgis Zauka, who kept a secret cache of Lithuanian books and newspapers among the liturgical vestments and vessels. During summer vacations spent in my native village, with no urging from anyone, I started gathering Lithuanian folksongs, riddles, and proverbs. By the years 1897-1899, I had collected from various sources a rather large collection of folksongs, riddles, and proverbs; a part of this collection was gathered directly from the local people. In 1898 at the seminary I became acquainted with the just-published first fascicle of the dictionary of Juškevičius and also with Jaunius' grammar (printed in hectograph), both of which deeply affected my soul.

From the fall of 1899 I became an almost daily visitor at St. Petersburg's public library. Here I met an official of the library, S. Baltramaitis, who would take the responsibility for letting me bring a book home from time to time. At this library I became acquainted with all the available folksong and folktale collections, and with some writings of Daukantas, Valančiauskas and Ivinskis. From the dictionary and grammar of Kuršaitis, and from Baranauskas' Ostlitauische Texte I discovered that Lithuanian distinguishes two types of intonations. While still working at the observatory, taking half hour and hour breaks from my duties, I learned how to note these intonations. This knowledge was not easy for me to attain, for there was no one around who could have explained things to me. The only teacher of intonation I had was Kuršaitis' dictionary. Thre was no one in corporem to help me, since I did not get to know Jaunius.

I set eyes on Jaunius for the first time, I believe, in 1901, at an evening program of the Lithuanian Fraternal Association in St. Petersburg. (I later became active in this society, serving for several years as its secretary as well as its prompter in theatrical productions it put on.) I came into closer contact with Jaunius only a few months later, in the spring of 1902 (soon after Easter).

By the time I had begun to visit Jaunius, I had already collected a considerable amount of material pertaining to Lithuanian dialects, as well as to the dictionary. I gathered most of this material from my friends. By June, 1902, I already had filled several notebooks with material for the dictionary; in the summer I transcribed it all alphabetically in a thick book. At that time I had Daukantas' writings on the brain. These gave me the majority of my rarer or more unusual words. My Samogitian friends (dr. D. Bukantas, Gurauskas, and others) helped me master the meaning and purpose of Daukantas' words, many of which I could not have otherwise fathomed.

From around May or June, 1902, Jaunius began explaining many of Daukantas' words to me. In that same year I began to record my dictionary material not in a notebook but on cards. The first lexical items so recorded were taken from Daukantas' Lietuvos Istorija (History of Lithuania) (vol. I & II, published in Plymouth, PA in 1893 and 1897), and Giwatos Didiuju Karwaidu (Lives of Great Warriors) (1846). Additionally, I would bring home much material for the dictionary from every visit to Jaunius, and I would immediately enter this on my cards.

At the start of my work with Jaunius, I had only two goals in mind: 1) to expand my knowledge of Lithuanian grammar, dialects, and lexicology; 2) to achieve the objective given me by the Academicians P. Fortunatov and A. Šachmatov at the instigation of Prof. A. Volteris — namely, to obtain from Jaunius for publication his grammar and his description of the dialects. This second aim was only partially achieved. But much was achieved in regard to the first goal because Jaunius opened to me all of his tremendous knowledge, much of which I could not fully grasp at the start.

Jaunius' ideas on linguistics — which he disclosed to me in their fullness — were very interesting and mysterious to me, explaining even the most recondite secrets of language origin and development. More than anything else, it was mysterious to me, a novice in linguistics. I remained under the spell of the secrets of comparative linguistics for a long time. Upon seeing that Jaunius would not manage to publish his fascinating linguistic secrets because his strength of will had lessened, and that he would not, thus, be able to "correct" the linguists of the world, I took it upon myself to write down all Jaunius' theories concerning Lithuanian, Latvian, Old Prussian, and the mother language of all three: the so-called Aistian proto-language.

Marvel, ye in Lithuania and neighboring countries! The young squirt Būgaboy, a university freshman, set out to teach the world's linguists! In 1905 I compose the first part of Aistian Studies, and take it to the printer in May of 1906; but soon I have to take it back (21st of June), not having enough money for its printing. In 1908 I do manage to publish my Aistian Studies, but in vain, for they do not cause any linguists to learn the error of their ways and return to the correct path. Only the author himself, after a year and a half, learned the error of his own ways and criticized these Studies himself, sending this self-criticism to various linguists in November, 1909.

So, my Aistian Studies is an unsuccessful, thoroughly incorrect piece of writing, whose only good effect was that it forced me to concentrate virtually all my energies on the dictionary of Lithuanian.

Thus, from the fall of 1909 I devote more time to the dictionary. My greater devotion, from the fall of 1909, to the dictionary, is due to the failure of my Aistian Studies, and also because of a letter on that matter from Professor Endzelins to Professor E. Volteris. Endzelins praised my diligence and the breadth of my knowledge, but also advised me (through Volteris) to give up the dreams of Jaunius and instead to use my knowledge to prepare the dictionary. These words of Endzelins deeply and everlastingly impressed me.

I devoted practically all my time to the dictionary in 1912, when the Academy of Sciences appointed me the editor of the second volume of Juškevičius' dictionary (K-L). The first part was finished in February, 1913 (February 16th). By October, 1915, 222 pages of the second volume were set to type — up to the word kretalas. That I didn't finish the second volume is the fault of the academician Fortunatov, without whose signature even corrected proofsheets could not be printed. Fortunatov's signature was very hard to get.

While editing the dictionary I would send proof sheets and even sometimes manuscript notebooks — to many people all of whom contributed significantly to the dictionary. Of these I have to mention the Reverend Peliksas Sragys, Antanas Vireliūnas, Jonas Murka, Jonas Jablonskis, Staje Naginskas, J. Šveistis, J. Elisonas, the Reverend Jazdauskas, and others.

In the years 1905-1913 I collected much material during my trips throughout Lithuania. I collected some material in Vilnius as well where I sometimes stayed for longer periods of time during the summer. I also would get some material at the conferences and meetings of the Learned Society where I would meet people from various corners of Lithuania. During this time I also gathered quite a bit of material from Professor J. Jablonskis, Dr. J. Šlapelis, and the Reverend Msgr. J. Laukaitis. In addition, the Reverend Tumas-Vaižgantas had been corresponding with me about language from 1902-1913.

In 1914 the dictionary makes great gains — especially for the 16th through 18th centuries in Karaliaučius (Königsberg) — where I spent four months working at the University Library. I also got a lot of material in 1916-1919 when I was a professor at the University at Perm and had much free time.

For the fact that all this dictionary material of mine — weighing several hundred pounds — made it to Lithuania we must tank the Lithuanian delegation to the peace negotiations: they included this collection as part of their documentation: in 1920 the Russian government did not allow anyone to remove any manuscripts from the country.

I had hardly returned from Russia in the fall of 1920 when the Lithuanian minister of education K. Bizauskas invited me to Kaunas to serve on the Commission of Publication, and appointed me to organize the publication of the dictionary of Lithuanian. Because I felt there was still insufficient material collected as yet, I suggested several clerks be hired, who would, under my direction, continue to gather words and sentences for the dictionary.

In 1921, four clerks were hired to work on the dictionary. Unfortunately, not only had they never done such work before, but they had never even seen a dictionary in their lives. I felt better after getting rid of two of the four: there was less tension than before. But I wasn't at all pleased even with the two remaining clerks, for they were suitable only for copying material. During 1922-1923 I had a so-called assistant that I twice had to exchange. In truth, these assistants helped me more than a little with the dictionary work, but I had been expecting much more from them. From September, 1923 I was alone, unless we count the Reverend Peliksas Sragis who worked for the dictionary in Plunge.

My cards for the dictionary now amassed from 14 to 17 poods (A Russian weight, equal to 36.113 Ibs. — transl.), of which 10-13 poods had been gathered in Kaunas from 1921 to December 1,1923. Do not be aghast at the weight of the material because several poods are of doubles: you see, sometimes the same word or sentence gets written down two or three times.

The dictionary material, measured in cards, reached about 600,000 cards, government monies having paid for 60,000 from St. Dabušis and 17,000 from A. Vireliūnas.

From 1921 to 1923 I received material for the dictionary from the following people: 1) Professor J. Jablonskis (comprising about 10,000 cards) 2) The Men and Women's Classical High Schools of Panevėžys through the teachers M. Grigonis and J. Elisonas, 3) Reverend D. Tuskenis, 4) the teacher A. Giedraitis, 5) St. Česūnas from Stuoriai and Anykščiai district 6) the teacher A. Klumbis of Svėkšna, 7) from A. Kirtiklis, a student in the sixth year of the Rygiškių Jonas High School at Marijampolė and his friends (K. Botyrius, J. Dabulevičius, A. Galinis, Kl. Kačergius, J. Liutkevičius, A. Mėšlius, A. Pauliukonis, Z. Staugaitytė, P. Šolys; 8) the students P. Butėnas, J. Bukota, E. Viskanta, A. Salys, 9) St. Dabušis, 10) P. Morkūnas. All others that the dictionary's editor does not yet have registered, who have or will have contributed a hundred or more cards with sentences will be listed at the end of the first volume.

The dictionary has concerned me for a long time, but I had not yet thought to publish it, considering it imperfect and unfinished. That I agreed to allow it to see the light of the world in its present form is because of the public and the government, especially the latter, who has for a long time urged me through the Minister of Education to begin publishing the dictionary.

On behalf of myself and other linguists, I take this opportunity to thank our government — both the legislative and the administrative branch — that did not shrink from considerable expense in this cultural and scientific endeavor. I also thank all contributors to the dictionary.

The dictionary's structure is not very rich, for not only does it not contain all Lithuanian words used today in speaking and writing, but not even all those words that have appeared in our writings to this day. My dictionary would be more aptly titled "Material for a Dictionary." My dictionary hasn't even been systematically compiled, for all the material was gathered in fits and starts; haphazardly. Moreover, not thinking to publish so soon, I had not even prepared a plan for the dictionary. All the work was unmethodical, and therefore has many gaps and shortcomings.

My dictionary does contain, however, in addition to words of the living, spoken language, those of all published dictionaries (except Haack's), and even of some manuscript dictionaries. Other sources include certain writings of the XVI—XVIII centuries, as well as collections of folk songs, folktales, and the like. Also, the writings of Daukantas and Valančiauskas furnished much to the dictionary. None of the dictionary's sources, however, was fully utilized. Working systematically I myself could still gather as much again material as we have now from these sources.

Here I must say to the reader that many very important writings were not used for my dictionary because 1 simply could not obtain them in Kaunas. Of the omitted writings I will mention these: 1) A. Juškevičius' Svotbinė Rėda, 2) Jurkšaitis' Litauische Märchen und Erzählungen, 3) Leskien und Brugmann Litauische Volkslieder und Märchen, 4) Valančiauskas' Bishopric of Žemaičiai (1848), 5) the calendars of Ivinskis, 6) Basanavičius' Various Lithuanian Stories, etc.

The dictionary does not discriminate against any words in the Lithuanian language. Not only do common nouns (appellativa) find a place therein — akis, alus, akmuo — but also proper nouns (nomina propria) — Abrutls, Aguika, Alantas, Alsėdžiai. It does not matter to the dictionary whether a word is Lithuanian or foreign, for all words are equal in this regard. Thus I find no reason to discard words like abroz(d)as, agroz(d)as, akselis, (akselys), for such are the sole source for the history of language and culture. But I have marked every foreign word with a letter (I., g.) or several letters (ger., si.) designating the language from which Lithuanians derived the word.

I use seferal typefaces in the dictionary. I print the fundamental words in black if the gender and spelling are not suspect to me. Doubtful or suspect fundamental words I print in petite italic type. I also use petite italic for notes and for all texts reproduced in their original spelling if this differes from that of today. I always provide the gender of fundamental words, even if they are unknown to the written language. I usually print sentences given in dialect in cursive type.

The corresponding Latvian (La. la.) or Old Prussian (Pr. p.) word appears at the end of the illustrative sentence of any word related to Latvian or Old Prussian words.

At the end of some word entries, I add the so-called etymology (see Bg10 268). The non-Lithuanian words appearing after the characters "ETIM" signify the word is of Lithuanian origin, but has etymological relatives in other Indo-European tongues.

Because in the etymologies and in the notes section I often must deal with Baltic and with less closely related languages, it is fitting that in the introduction I should, without elaboration, touch upon the Lithuanian people and their relation to other Indo-European peoples.

The spelling I use in the dictionary is the same we agreed upon back in 1911-1913 to use in scholarly writings together with Professor Jonas Endzelynas (who was at that time in Kharkov and is now in Riga). This way of spelling is used today also by professors Jurgis Gerulis (in German he calls himself Georg Gerullis), R. Trautmann, and others.

The spelling used in the dictionary differs in only one detail from that announced in the article "About Our Spelling" (Draugija, vd. XIX, no. 76, pp. 350-374) and separately as Fine Points in Spelling (Kaunas, 1923. 27 pages). That is, today I spell vesdamas, mesdamas (s instead of z!).

I still am not completely sure whether certain words should be written as one word or two. In these cases I stay with the spelling used In my source. I favor writing words like visugeriausia, kuopikčiausia, pergera, and nebegera as single words, because this seems to be demanded by the very pronunciation of the word.

Additionally, I perhaps do not connect two words with a dash in the same way others do: Kai — kas, — bet — kam.

I do not know how to syllabify, therefore the reader should not consider learning to do so from this dictionary.

Let not, neither in this preface the reader has before him, nor in my other writings, any one look for perfection, beauty, or grace. For they will not find all that here. I do not yet know the language perfectly; I try to learn. Please God I were able to say I've learned it — even if in my old age! I think it will not cast aspersions on me that in teaching I have not yet learned; for only those are disgraced who call themselves knowledgeable while not knowing nor trying to learn.

In my dictionary not all of the definitions are in the same language. The reader will find one word explained in Lithuanian, another in German, a third in Russian or Polish, and a fourth in Latin or yet some other tongue. I could not escape this admixture of languages — this "Babel" — because of the lack of time. To have used one language throughout the dictionary was of course possible and even desireable — but would simply have taken too long. Wanting to hasten the dictionary's composition and publication, I had to leave the definitions in the language of the source.

Kaunas, December 5, 1923

Translated by A. T. K.