native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 200,000 abroad.Lithuanian is a Baltic language, related to Latvian. Lithuanian is often said to be the most conservative living Indo-European language, retaining many features of Proto-Indo-European now lost in other Indo-European languages. For this reason, it is one of the most important sources in the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language despite its late attestation (with the earliest texts dating only to c. The phonology and especially the nominal morphology of Lithuanian is almost certainly the most conservative of any living Indo-European language, although its verbal morphology is less conservative and may be exceeded by the conservatism of Modern Greek verbs, which maintain a number of archaic features lacking in Lithuanian, such as the synthetic aorist and mediopassive forms.
Baltic languages passed through a Proto-Balto-Slavic stage, from which Baltic languages retain numerous exclusive and non-exclusive lexical, morphological, phonological and accentual isoglosses in common with the Slavic languages, which represent their closest living Indo-European relatives. The Greek geographer Ptolemy had already written of two Baltic tribe/nations by name, the Galindai and Sudinoi (Γαλίνδαι, Σουδινοί) in the 2nd century AD.
Moreover, with Lithuanian being so archaic in phonology, Slavic words can often be deduced from Lithuanian by regular sound laws; for example, Lith. The differentiation between Lithuanian and Latvian started after AD 800; for a long period, they could be considered dialects of a single language.
At a minimum, transitional dialects existed until the 14th or 15th century and perhaps as late as the 17th century.
Also, the 13th- and 14th-century occupation of the western part of the Daugava basin (closely coinciding with the territory of modern Latvia) by the German Sword Brethren had a significant influence on the languages' independent development.
Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1918.
During the Soviet era (see History of Lithuania), it was used in official discourse along with Russian, which, as the official language of the USSR, took precedence over Lithuanian.Lithuanian is one of two living Baltic languages, along with Latvian.An earlier Baltic language, Old Prussian, was extinct by the 18th century; the other Western Baltic languages, Curonian and Sudovian, became extinct earlier.The earliest surviving written Lithuanian text is a translation dating from about 1503–1525 of the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Nicene Creed written in the Southern Aukštaitian dialect.Printed books existed after 1547, but the level of literacy among Lithuanians was low through the 18th century, and books were not commonly available.In 1864, following the January Uprising, Mikhail Muravyov, the Russian Governor General of Lithuania, banned the language in education and publishing and barred use of the Latin alphabet altogether, although books printed in Lithuanian continued to be printed across the border in East Prussia and in the United States.