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Lithuanian belongs to the Indo-European family, Baltic group, and is spoken by 4 million people. The Baltic languages are divided into two branches, the West and East Baltic languages. Today, only the East Baltic languages (Latvian and Lithuanian) survive as spoken languages, the last West Baltic language to die was Old Prussian, which ceased to be a spoken language in the late 16th or 17th Century. The Baltic languages are considered to be among the most archaic of the Indo-European languages. This especially applies to Lithuanian, whose system of intonations, as well as morphologies and lexical features are no longer found in most other Indo-European languages.
While other Indo-European languages underwent rapid transformations, Lithuanian in particular remained relatively unchanged. For this reason researchers cannot fully comprehend Indo-European languages without knowledge of Lithuanian. It has been said that the speech of a Lithuanian peasant is the closest thing existing today to the speech of the original Indo-Europeans. Lithuanian also bears certain remarkable similarities to Sanskrit, the progenitor of the modern Indic languages.
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