How To Be Courteous When Speaking Lithuanian

avatarMille Larsen
3 mins read

In anticipation of a coming trip to Lithuania this fall, I wanted to learn a little about the language. I decided this would be a good opportunity for me to put my list of the 10 most important things to know, to get by in any language to the test.

Last week, we learned some Lithuanian greetings. This week we'll take a look at common courtesies.

Common courtesies

When I use the term common courtesies here, I am referring to the basic courtesy phrases we all learn as children. These are things like please, thank you, excuse me, bless you, and so on.

  • Atsiprašau. - Excuse me.
  • Atleiskite. - Excuse me.
  • Dovanokite. - Excuse me.
  • Labai atsiprašau. - I am very sorry.
  • Prašau. - Please.
  • Ačiū. - Thank you.
  • Laba ačiū. - Thank you very much.
  • Nėra už ką. - You are welcome.
  • Jokių problemų. - No problem.
  • Į sveikatą! - Cheers! or Bless you! (lit: to your health)
  • Mano vardas ... - My name is ...
  • Malonu susipažinti. - Pleased to meet you.
  • Ir man malonu. - It's my pleasure.
  • Geros dienos - Hava a nice day!
  • Gero vakaro - Have a nice evening

If you were paying attention, you'll notice that I found three different expressions, all meaning "excuse me". I wish I could elaborate, but I'm brand new. My expectation is that probably one is archaic and unused... and maybe one is more formal and one more casual... but that's all just a guess. Perhaps a Lithuanian-speaker could clear things up.

More familiar words

Just as I did last week, I am able to look at some of these expressions and recognize similarities with Slavic terms I already know. Prašau reminds me of the Polish word proszę, which also means "please". With a little creativity, I can relate nėra už ką to the Russian phrase не за что, which is almost word-for-word the same. And man/mano bears quite a resemblance to mine, so I have no doubt they share similar Latin roots.

What's more, though... I can recognize the -ti ending on susipažinti and know that it's a verb. And I can recognize the su- prefix which means "with". A quick look in my dictionary reveals that pažinti is the verb "to know". So I could gamble and assume the si in the middle indicates "you" in some way (as it would in Italian), and infer that su-si-pažinti literally builds the ideas of "to be acquainted – with – you".

See that? Learning is easy!