Lingua franca in Lithuania

Moai
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Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Moai » 2015-05-30, 23:15

I'm a spanish engineering student who just found out that I'm going to spend the next autumn semester studying in Kaunas, and probably extend it to the spring semester. From what I've read, I know that apart from lithuanian young people learn Russian at school and old people know the language from the time their country was part of the Soviet Union. I've read as well that Lithuania is one of the slavic countries with less russians and less fraction of the population understanding russian (but still above two thirds or so). I'm obviously going to end up learning some basic Lithuanian for survival purposes, but I feel that Russian would be a much stronger language to put my efforts into learning, mainly because of its potentia future uses, as an engineer (the more widely spoken language I can speak, the better). ¿What do you think?

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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Varaleiva » 2015-05-31, 6:13

Lingua franca in Lithuania is lithuanian.

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Saim
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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Saim » 2015-05-31, 8:52

Moai wrote:I've read as well that Lithuania is one of the slavic countries with less russians


Lithuania is not a Slavic country - the Lithuanians are a Baltic nation related to Latvians and then only more distantly to Slavs - and most Slavic countries have very few Russians in them. The only exceptions are the Czech Republic (immigrants in Prague) and former USSR republics (Ukraine and Belarus).

I think if you're going to make a point of learning a language while in Lithuania it would make more sense to learn Lithuanian. That's not to say you shouldn't learn Russian, I just don't think you'll find much immersion in Russian in Lithuania as its use there is limited. It would be like learning Spanish in Portugal or German in Denmark - you may find lots of classes available, but using it socially with the average local would be difficult.

You can learn Russian if you really want, just don't learn it because you're going to live in Lithuania.

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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Yasna » 2015-05-31, 14:10

I think you've got the right idea about learning basic Lithuanian but concentrating on Russian. In addition to the Russian minority, more than 70% of international students* in Lithuania come from the Commonwealth of Independent States, where Russian is dominant. On top of that, Lithuania is surrounded on almost all sides by Russophone places like Kaliningrad, Belarus, and Latvia. Russia itself is also not too far away and definitely worth a visit. So when you travel around the region, you'll have many opportunities to use Russian. As you rightly point out, Russian is also far more useful for engineering. Russian is a great international language that connects many people. One of the most popular Russian songs** in recent years was sung by a Ukrainian and a Moldovan.


*http://www.iom.lt/images/publikacijos/failai/1427788491_9.International-Students-in-Lithuania-EN.pdf
**https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec8Yui1PmTs
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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Sol Invictus » 2015-05-31, 16:44

Russophone places like [..] Latvia

I get that you are pro-Russian and all, but maybe tone down on teaching somebody confused about a country on the other side of continent ideas that can potentially be taken as extremely offensive by some locals
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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby TheStrayCat » 2015-06-01, 4:00

Kaunas, as Wikipedia says, is ethnically 94% Lithuanian, therefore, I can presume that Lithuanian is the predominant language in all spheres of the city life. I haven't been to the city and don't know this for sure, but you should not assume that the younger population, especially students, speaks Russian only because it's a post-USSR country. They simply have no incentive to choose it over English.

In Vilnius (63% Lithuanians, 16% Poles, 12% Russians), I had no problem using Russian in downtown stores and cafés, but even with this ethnic makeup Lithuanian was clearly predominant in the streets, and some people just didn't understand Russian.

As another example, two years ago I met a group of five math students from Tartu (Estonia, another Baltic state). Among them, only one girl spoke fluent Russian. The rest didn't speak it beyond basics.

To sum it up, I don't discourage you from learning Russian, because even in Kaunas you probably can use it with older generations and obviously for traveling, and there's a lot of useful stuff on science and engineering in it. But concentrating on it while living in an area where it isn't widely spoken, especially by your potential colleagues, doesn't seem to be the right choice.
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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby IpseDixit » 2015-06-01, 19:52

Yasna wrote: So when you travel around the region, you'll have many opportunities to use Russian.


:?:

Where does Moai say that he/she will travel around the region?

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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Yasna » 2015-06-01, 23:37

IpseDixit wrote:Where does Moai say that he/she will travel around the region?

I assumed he would. Does that bother you?
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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Moai » 2015-06-02, 12:29

I will definitely travel as much as I can, throughout the baltic states, Rusia, Poland, Scandinavia, whatever gets within range. From your messages (and toher replies that I've gotten so far in other forums) I now know I'll mainly learn Lithuanian (and I really wanted to before, for example for its linguistic rarity). And of course, I didn't mean to bring up any misleading language/ethnicity mixture or discussion, as well as I hope not to find anyone over there that finds it offensive if I try to speak a language more familiar to them, while not their mother tongue.

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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Saim » 2015-06-02, 12:52

I think given that you're actually interested in Lithuanian it would be best to make use of it there in Lithuania and learn some Russian on the side of you have time. The fact that Russian is more widespread will mean that it'll be easier to learn (due to the presence of Russians and Russian-speakers in many European countries, not just ex-Soviet) even after you leave Lithuania, whereas if you're interested in Lithuania the main place to do that is Lithuania itself.

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Re: Lingua franca in Lithuania

Postby Rokas » 2015-06-05, 8:52

Just a few brief remarks from me, a native speaker of Lithuanian.

When you come to Lithuania, you will soon see that the younger generation (30 and below) will be able to speak English and usually not Russian whereas older people can usually speak Russian very well and not so well (if at all) English.

Lithuania is currently in the middle of a change where Russian (as a second language) is getting replaced by English and this process is nearly halfway through.

That said, it would certainly benefit you to invest some time into learning Lithuanian but you can stick to English as well. If you are interested specifically in Russian, then you can learn Russian as well since you will have better opportunities to use Russian in Lithuania than in the Western countries because of the higher Russian-speaking population and Soviet past.

To sum up, Russian is a foreign language in Lithuania, still with a strong yet diminishing presence, and it is worthwhile learning it if you're genuinely interested in it. If you plan to use it in your everyday life, then you should instead focus on Lithuanian. (Learning Russian instead of Lithuanian while in Lithuania is something like learning French instead of Spanish while in Spain and expecting it to help you survive in the country.)


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