2.1. Lithuanian Letters

2.1.1. Main alphabet

Lithuanian by its gramatical structure is one of the most ancient languages of living Indo-European languages. It is spoken approximately by 5 millions people and is delivered at many Universities all over the world for linguistic studies.

The main Lithuanian alphabet consists at the Latin alphabet (excluding Q, q, W, w, X, x) with extra 18 letters with diacritics (9 capital and 9 small):

These letters are included in 8-bit single-byte coded character sets (ISO/IEC 8859-13, MS CP 1257, IBM CP 775, etc.). Thus there is no problems to use them.

2.1.2. Extended alphabet (with accented letters)

Lithuanian has a free word stress: stress may fall on every syllable of the word. it performs at least two functions. Its constitutive function manifests itself in distinguishing word from a combination of words, cf.:

The second function of word stress is the distinctive function, which distinguishes otherwise identical words by the place where the stress falls, e.g.:

For the word stressing (or accenting) there are three accent marks (or diacritical marks in ISO terms): grave accent, acute accent and tilde. The position of the stress depends on the stress pattern (or accentual paradigm) of the word and its morphological structure (see examples above).

Word stress is expressed by the means of accented letters.

There are 68 accented letters in the Lithuanian language:

The accented letters together with main letters comprise the extended alphabet.

Usage of accented letters goes back to the first Lithuanian writings. The first Lithuanian books were accented, e.g. "Kathechismas" (1595) and "Postilla catholicka" (1599). At present, the publishing practice all dictionaries, special vocabularies and encycklopaediae are accented. Accented letters are used in textbooks for schools, reference books, linguistic texts, and in publication of laws.

In common press (newspapers, fiction, etc.) only the letters of the main Lithuanian alphabet are used. Accented letters are used only in those words where it has a distinctive function.

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