German in the Worldview of the “Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language”

  • Danutė Liutkevičienė
Keywords: dictionary, semantics, illustrative example, worldview, German


    The image of the German in the eyes of a Lithuanian has been scrutinised by ethnologists, folklorists, historians, linguists. However, their studies in that regard have so far omitted our largest linguistic tract, the Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language, which can be approached as some kind of a chronicle covering material from our first writings dated 1547 until 2001.
    A semantic analysis of roughly 650 illustrative examples associated with the German has revealed a very thorough image of how Lithuanians have looked at Germans. According to the Dictionary, Germans usually were enemies. Their cohorts would assault Lithuanians since ancient times. Germans would do Lithuanians harm, taking away their livestock, grain, feed, food, etc. The people would be burdened by various obligations, even taken away to work in Germany.
    On the other hand, Lithuanians saw positive traits in Germans as well, even though material pointing to that is much scarcer. In addition to warriors, Germans were craftsmen, merchants who introduced Lithuanians to some of the things the country had never known before. They were hard-working, they would return favours and their women were pretty and well-dressed.