Language is always integral to the national cultural identity of a people. In Lithuania this must be a particulalry strong identity because it has remained so pure and unchanged compared to other languages that have been born, developed and evolved in the same time. I wonder if the refusal to give up or allow change in their language in troubled times reveals something about the typical Lithuanian personality. Some sort of stubbornness? A nostalgia? Timelessness?
My first idea for piece would invlove interviewing some citizens or going to the country to talk to the Lithuanian farmer sited by the french linguist Antoine Meillet in the text below, and ask them how they feel about their language, why it has been so important to them to retain it and preserve it exactly as it has always been. Then I’d like to write a short piece expressing these sentiments and have it read out in all the different Lithuanian dialects. I would then edit it together so that the dialects run into each other, going from region to neighbouring region consecutively. I’d have subtitles in Standard Lithuanian and English for the whole piece. I’m not sure what else there would be visually… but I quite like the idea so far.
One thought on “An Idea…”
Interestingly, the French prescriptivists, as you likely already know, regulate their own language heavily and Standard French does not permit many foreign words no matter how commonly used they are in everyday speech.
Now that I think about it some, a language would be extremely protective especially if its speaker count is small. However, it goes without saying that “million-plus-speaker languages” can also be protective (Chinese and French). But given a small and less-commonly taught language, chances are it would hate loan words and gravitate towards calques.
In response to your comment (thanks for being brave!), I regret I don’t know anyone who actually speaks Lithuanian or Sanskrit. Anyway, I’m really curious about the outcome of the translations for “I’m saving my language” in each.
Well, I look forward to reading more of your Lost Languages pages.