Influence of Lithuanian on the Other Languages Spoken in the Region
Lithuanian, being the tongue of the authochtonous population, has had an influence on the Slavic languages which displaced it due to historical circumstance.
The Polish language first came to Lithuania in 1387 when Jogaila and Vytautas reintroduced Western Christianity to the country. It was spread at first by Polish missionaries and Church hierarchs who had studied in Poland. The Union of Lublin in 1569 exposed the Lithuanian ruling class (magnates and boyars) to Polish political liberties and cultural influence. This Sed to the nobility's Polonization by the 18th century. In the iate 18th century the Polonization process (see supra) affected the peasantry of Vilnius and Gardinas provinces.
Despite the fact that the Polish language was a culturally aggressive medium, it was foreign import. Ethnographically foreign to the region the Polish language was transformed into a distinctly Lithuanian-Polish dialect which differed from literary Polish in its phonetics, morphology, lexicon, syntax and idiom.
K. Nitsch and Haiina Turska's studies about the Polish dialect of Vilnius province show that the majority of "Poles" of Vilnius region are Polonized Lithuanians and not ethnic Poles.
Influenced by Lithuanian not all the syllables are accentuated uniformly (viz., in standard Polish the stress is on the penultimate syllable). Accented vowels become long, the accented "o" is pronounced like "uo" (viz., ''most” is pronounced "muost" — "bridge"); the unaccented "e" becomes "a'' (viz., moze is pronounced "moюa'' — can be). Nasal vowels are duplicated or pronounced without nasal articulation (zwiаzaи becomes zvionzac — to bind, "mowiа'' is pronounced "muvio" they speak). The palatalized р, ю, и, dю are pronounced s, z, c, dz. The letter "n’" before a consonant becomes hard: "pan’stwo" is pronounced panstva (state). Neuter words become feminine (viz., drzewo becomes dюeva (tree)), other neuter words become masculine gender. The Vilnius Pole says "ten miasto" (cf. Lithuanian tas miestas) instead of "to miasto". No’ю (knife), sto’l (table) become noz and stol. Instead of rжce one says "rency" or "renke". In lieu of rаk (hands) one says rencof or renkof; instead of rжkoma or rжkami, the Vilnius Pole says rencach or renkach (in the hands).
The use of the past tense byl and the future bжdzie are commonly used to form compound tenses. The past participle with the suffix -fрy is used. Thus. one says: "Ona nie byla byfрy'' (She has not been. Compare with Lithuanian: "Ji nлra buvus.'').
There are lexical and syntactical differences. Lithuanianisms abound in the phonetics: the Polish "y" is interchanged with 'i' ("gryka" is pronounced "grika" (buckwheat)). The Vilnius inhabitant pronounces the Slavic "ch" and "f" in the Lithuanian dialectical manner — "k" and "p". Thus, kochaи, chodю, chleb, pojechaи, chmiel become kokac. kodz. kleb, pojekac, kmiel; fotografia and firanka become potograpija, piranka. The letter "h" is never pronounced; thus, hektar and hygiena become aktar and igiena. Double consonants are pronounced as if they were single: winna (fault) becomes vina.
Many of the Polonized peasants retained words of Lithuanian origin in their vocabularies: "jaura" (Lithuanian jaura or dirva}, "jodajka" (juodoji karvл - black heifer), "margajka" (margoji karvл or spotted cow), "palszajka" (palрoji karvл), "kumpia" (kumpis or ham), "puodynka" (puodynл), "porejscie" (paraistл). "poszar" (paрaras - fodder), "rateluke" (stakliu rateliukai), "rezgini" (rezginлs), "szakal'' (рakalys), "warюa" (varюa), "wikswa” (viksva), "юagar"' (юagaras), etc.
Among Poionized Lithuanians are many distorted Lithuanian proper names, such as place-names (Baltupie = Baltupiai, Dukszty = Dыkрtos, Gulbiny = Gulbinai, Mejszagola = Maiрiagaia, Werki = Verkiai) and surnames (Gajdis = Gaidys, Kiszkis = Kiрkis, Rasztutis = Raрtutis, Tarutis = Tarutis, Zwirblis = Юvirblis. Zujkis = Zuikis, Zemajtis = Юemaitis, etc.) (See K. Nitsch, "Jжzyk polski na Wilenszczyznie", Przeglаd wspolczesny, Cracow, 1925, Nr. 12; Halina Turska, "O powstaniu polskich obszarow jжzykowych na Wiienszczyznie ", Vilnius, 1939).
The "Byelorussian" dialects of the Vilnius region are amalgams or Lithuanian and Polish patois, In the counties of Gardinas, Aрmena, and Lyda, the "Byelorussians'' accentuate their words in the Dzыkian way. The so-called "western" Byelorussian dialects are in all probability tutejszy jargons and not true dialects of Polish or Byelorussian. As an example of this hodgepodge one calls to mind the Pater Noster that Rev. Aleksandras Burba recorded in the so-called Byelorussian dialect of the Vilnius Province, to wit: "Vina Ojca i Sina ir Duka sviжtago. Omen. Jezau Kristau. Ojce nas, kuri jest niebik. senci imin Toje, boc volik stoja, ajce niebik, tak ir юeme, kleba naрiaga pauрedniaga daj nam dzisa i odpuри naрa vinia, jak i mi adpuриaem svoim inavaicam, alia nas zbab oda vрago юlago, Omen."
The Soviet historian V.Piиeta points out that the nucleus of the Byelorussian nation was to be found in the provinces of Vitebsk and Mogilev and that the Byelorussians who lived to the west called themselves Lithuanians (litovcami, litvakami). (V. Piиeta, Belorussija i Litva, Moscow, 1961, p. 70, 597). In his work Belorusskij jazyk, the linguist T. Lomtov said that evidence points to the fact that the Byelorussian language as a living language was formed at the beginning of the 16th century. It was strongly influenced by the Church Slavonic used by the chancellery and courts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as well as by the liturgical language of the Orthodox Church (op. cit, Moscow, 1951, p. 6). A number of Lithuanian terms entered the literary Byelorussian language.
However, in the case of the Byelorussian speech in Vilnius and Gardinas areas, the everyday speech of peasants contains corrupted Lithuanian terms. Since both the Dzыkian dialect of Lithuanian as well as Byelorussian use dzekanie and tsekanie in their phonetics, it was not a difficult task for southern and eastern Dzыkians to assimilate into the Byelorussian speech. The Lithuanian linguists point out that there are several hundred words of Lithuanian origin in the western dialects of Byelorussian, mostly dealing with agricultural implements. The studies of prof. E. Karskij and Dr. M. Grinblat agree with this.
A partial list of Byelorussian words of Lithuanian origin with their root-words are given below: arac (arklas), arud (aruodas), baric (barti), bonda (banda), brinda (brindos), daubury (dauburys), djaklo (duoklл), doilid (dailidл), donos (duona), dorob (darbas), dregut (degutas), dubas (daubus), galic (galлti), jandova (indauja), kankala (kankalas), ketvirtajni (ketvirtainis), kletj (klлtis), klunja (kluonas), kojmincy (kaimynas), kovр (kauрas), kul (kulys), kumpjak (kumpis), kurpy (kurpл), lalynриiki (cf. Dzыkian lalauninkai), litovki (long-handled scythes like those used by Lithuanians), litviny (Lithuanian-type flail), margi (margas), mezlevo (mлzliava), milta (miltai), nauda (nauda), otmet (atmata), ozorod (юardas), pakule (pakulos), parрuk (parрiukas), pelki (pelkлs), primen (priemenл), raugenja (raugas), rezginy (rezginлs), rojtinik (raitininkas), rupic (rыpintis), sviron (svirnas), terp (tarpas), valandaca (valanda), veldomyj (veldлti), vencer (venteris), vilic (vylius), vorsa (varsa), zvir (юviras), юibint or юibintaj (юibintas), юlukto (юluktas).
These facts demonstrate that the Slavic (Polish and Byelorussian) jargons of the people of the Vilnius and Gardinas Regions are corruptions of Lithuanian dialects or replacements thereof, the results of 19th century policies of Polonization and Russification.
Another language influenced by the Lithuanian speech of Vilnius Province was Yiddssh. The so-called northeast European dialect of the Yiddish language is popularly and scientifically referred to as Lithuanian Yiddish. The historical split between the speech of Jews of northeastern Europe and other parts of Eastern Europe began in the 16th century. The dividing line between Polish Yiddish and Lithuanian Yiddish was the state boundary between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after 1569.
Lithuanian Yiddish differs from the Yiddish spoken in Poland and Volhynia mainly in the pronunciation of the vowels and in certain dialects in the pronunciation of shin as sin or samekh. Three grammatical changes are marked in Lithuanian Yiddish. First, the distinction between the dative and accusative has collapsed. Second, due to the influence of Lithuania , the historical neuter gender has been abandoned and replaced by the masculine. And, third, Lithuanian Yiddish has adopted inflected adjectives.
The pronunciation of the following vowels and diphthongs shows that the Yiddish spoken by Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) is distinct from their co-religionists in ethnographic Poland:
Term-Northeaster (Lithuanian) Yiddish-Central (Polish) Yiddish
2. to drag-trogn-trugn
8. to buy-keifn/keufn-koyfn
Adoptive and copious, the Yiddish language has the capacity to adopt and assimilate words from local languages. Numerous Lithuanian loanwords have entered the Yiddish language spoken in the regions of Vilnius, Gardinas, and Suvalkai. A few examples should suffice for illustrative purposes: kroistenen (kraustyti, to move), kirpenen (kirpti, to cut), gaiрenen (gaiрti, to waste), kniaukenen (kniaukti, to meow), piaunen (piauti, to sever), etc.