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Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian

2002 saw the release of the 20th and last volume of the Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian, marking the completion of the largest Lithuanian linguistics work of the 20th century, containing texts written and edited by several generations of linguists, over 70 lexicographers, 23 editors, several thousand word collectors. The dictionary comprises 22,000 pages, over 11 million words used in the text of the dictionary, and about 236 thousand lexicographic articles. The Dictionary took 100 years to compile, based on a card index of 5 million cards. It’s a treasure trove of a wide variety of lexicon, encompassing about 1,000 sources. The twenty volumes of the Dictionary cover the lexicon of Lithuanian writings from 1547 to 2001, as well as the lexicon of the living language (dialects), collected since 1902. The twenty volumes of the Dictionary are made of about half a million Lithuanian words.

The Dictionary came a long way in its development. The first book of the Dictionary, drawn up by Kazimieras Būga, came out in 1924, followed by the second one in 1925, posthumously. In 1930, the Ministry of Education tasked Prof. Juozas Balčikonis with resuming the work. Volume 1 of the ADL was released in 1941, Volume 2 – in 1947. Both volumes were edited by Juozas Balčikonis. Volume 2 did not escape Soviet censorship. With Volume 3 in 1956 (ed. Kazys Ulvydas), the instructions for compiling the Dictionary were changed, the first two volumes were hidden in a special fund. A requirement was imposed to provide examples from Soviet literature, and only then were sentences from dialects, old writings, and folklore allowed to be added. Starting from 1956, volumes of the Dictionary were released at the intervals of 3–4–5 years. Volumes 3 to 5 were edited by Kazys Ulvydas, volumes 6 to 10 – by Jonas Kruopas, volumes 11 to 16 – by Kazys Ulvydas again meanwhile the position of editor-in-chief of Volumes 17 to 20 was entrusted to Prof. Vytautas Vitkauskas.

The Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian is one of the largest dictionaries in the world (vol. 1 to 20, 1941–2002)

Vol. 1 (1st edition, 1941, 2nd edition, 1968); Vol. 2 (1st edition, 1947, 2nd edition, 1969); Vol.  3 (1956); Vol. 4 (1957); Vol.  5 (1959); Vol. 6 (1962); Vol. 7 (1966); Vol. 8 (1970); Vol. 9 (1973), Vol. 10 (1976); Vol. 11 (1978); Vol. 12 (1981); Vol. 13 (1984); Vol. 14 (1986); Vol. 15 (1991); Vol. 16 (1995); Vol. 17 (1996); Vol. 18 (1997); Vol. 19 (1999); Vol. 20 (2002).

Numerous scholars, cultural and public figures have shared their insights on the value of the Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian.

Romualdas Granauskas: ‘My fellow man, why are not hunched over the pages of the Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian at this very moment? Why is your nose not in it, why haven’t you read it at least three times yet you are intending to write? In what language? That inferior language of yours? Perhaps you could at least gain some clarity that the Lithuanian nation has never created anything more valuable and dignified than this? The nation is going to disappear from the surface of the Earth but IT will remain. So, you do not happen to have any dialect – well, hell with it, what can one do about it, but at least make sure that your attempt at writing does not subject others to second-hand embarrassment’. (Romualdas Granauskas. White Dove of Sorrow. Essays, Conversations, Jokes. Vilnius, 2005).

Viktorija Daujotytė–Pakerienė: ‘Let's be clear about this: this dictionary is the most important work of Lithuanian linguistics; it serves as the framework text for Lithuanian culture. All of us, dead or alive, have become (or will become) engrained into it, as well as those who are yet to come into this world as Lithuanians’. (Viktorija Daujotytė-Pakerienė. Framework Cultural Text. Book: The Twenty Volumes of the Lithuanian Dictionary (compiled by J. Zabarskaitė, Z. Šimėnaitė). Vilnius, 2002).

Vladimiras Toporovas: ‘What is important to emphasise is that a lexicographic work of this scale has not been accomplished in many countries with far more established traditions required for such an undertaking and an abundance of sources (not only old written texts, but also those recorded during dialectological expeditions) greatly exceeding the possibilities that were at the disposal of the compilers of this dictionary (to their credit, it must be said that they did their best with the available resources), where the number of people speaking their ‘own’ language and ‘producing words’ is much higher, resulting, in, of course, wider opportunities for lexicographic searches’. (Vladimiras Toporovas. Upon Release of the Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian. Book: Vladimiras Toporovas and Lithuania (compiled by A. Sabaliauskas, J. Zabarskaitė). Vilnius, 2009).