Kazimieras Būga

I am Kazimieras Būga (1879–1924)

  • “For the first time I saw light of the world on the 25th of October (old cal.), Pažiegė (Dusetos, Zarasai District)”.

While being deadly sick I feared that the boxes, together with the started to arrange “The Lithuanian Vocabulary” would not be lost: “These boxes are not befit to Būga, but for the Lithuanian asset”, – I wrote for my wife on the 7th of October, 1924.

  • You gave me the name of honour “The Great Lithuania Linguist”. Every time you emphasize that I – the first Lithuanian professional of the historical comparative linguistics.

Kostas Korsakas once said: „Pažiegė and Dusetos are like Mecca – a saint place for those, who treasure the Lithuanian language, who come to bow for the grand and noble individual, <…>. After all, Kazimieras Būga was the first Lithuanian linguist professional, who raised Lithuanian linguistics into the high scientific level, also, took it to the international language science arena.”

Skirmantas Valentas reminded us that „Algirdas Sabaliauskas divides that time linguists into two groups – first includes other nation individuals, who have a perfect knowledge of linguistics’ methods and directions, but the skills of Lithuanian language were average, second group – Lithuanians enthusiasts, who were lacking the linguistic education. Būga did not lack anything: he was the first Lithuanian professional of the historical comparative linguistics, who directed the Lithuanian linguistics to the way, defined by Franz Bopp, Rasmus Christian Rask, August Schleicher, Leipzig Linguistic School.”  

  • I am glad that when distinguishing my greatest merits for my country – for its dictionary and treasury, it is said that I am the originator of the twenty volume Lithuanian Language Dictionary. “I managed to collect the material, required for the subdialects and the dictionary from my friends. On June of 1902, I already had several notebooks of material for the dictionary, during the summer, all the collected words were written alphabetically in the thick book. <…> At the same year, I have started to write down the collected vocabulary material not in the notebooks, but in the cards.” So, in 1902, by writing the vocabulary material into cards, I have started the “Lithuanian language dictionary” epopee. Until the 1924 (my death), with the help of my aids, I have collected around the 617 thousand (almost 280 kilograms) words – “little sheets” (sometimes I called the cards like it). Can you imagine that the vocabulary has been written for exactly a century! – In 2002, the last vocabulary volume was published – while twenty volumes of the vocabulary were arranged by the several scientists’ generations, a total of 70 of linguists. On the first vocabulary notebook cover (and in some other places) I did wrote that “One person cannot write the good and perfect vocabulary. Aids are needed for the vocabulary work. The larger number of good and committed people will help, the richer and better vocabulary will be.”

Decide yourselves if its right to say that I am the linguistics romantic just because I wanted to create the particular thesaurus – “vocabulary treasure”: I thought up to register all the Lithuanian language words (not only the appellatives, but also the proper nouns – place names and personal names) and even to reveal the word origin – its historical, social, geographical and literary context. My three-decker “Rinktiniai raštai” (1958–1962) compiler Zigmas Zinkevičius is right “Būga vocabulary is not just explanatory, but also the historical and etymological one.” While I every time reminded “Every language vocabulary should be like a mirror, which reflects the face of the nation”.

  • There is nothing to wonder about that while being the first Lithuanian professional of linguistics, I became the predecessor in the majority of areas of the Lithuanian linguistics. My work analyses almost all of the Lithuanian language science branches. It is interesting that I am even considered as the predecessor analysing the Lithuanian historical poetry: show these detailed research to me too!
  • I managed to recreate the Lithuanian names that were written in the other languages in the historical sources.

So, I am reasonably acknowledged as the predecessor of the Lithuanian onomastics. It was me, who revived the old personal names for the new life. At first, my study of “Regarding the Lithuanian Personal Names” should be noted. There, Lithuanian name forms of the Lithuania dukes (GDL duke names that in historical sources were written in the other – Latin, German, Russian, Polish – languages, very varied, for example Jogaila, Jogailis, Jagėla, Jėgaila, Jogėlis; Algirdas, Algerdas, Algertas, Algirtas, Algirtis; Kęstutis, Keistutis, Keistutas, Kinstutis and other) were identified. My recreated duke names Mindaugas, Vaišvilkas, Treniota, Traidenis, Vytenis, Jogaila, Lengvenis, Vytautas, Švitrigaila have taken a strong position in our history, works of fiction. Maybe YOU, my listener or reader, are named by one of these names? And how many people do you know by these names? Best wishes for them…

  • Truthfully, it is very significant that I have found the Aistian (or maybe you still more often say – Balts?) homeland and their tribe residences.

“Linguists’ research has shown that the languages are the best historical source. You just need to know how to use it.”, “Only the ground may say where and what nations have lived there: you just need to know how to ask it and understand its answers”– these words of mine defines the research meaning at its best. “My Lithuanian, Latvian, Prussian and Belorussian land name studies have taken me to these conclusions: 1) Lithuanian and Latvian ancestors have lived in the modern Belorussian (Minsk, Mogiliov, Smolensk Gub.) land to the north from the Pripyat beside the sources of Berezina, Nemunas and Dniepre until the 6th our era century, 2) Suomi (Libyans and Estonian ancestors) tribes, before Latvians, have lived in the modern Latvia lands, 3) before Lithuanians settled in the districts of Utena, Dusetos, Salakas, Kupiškis, Biržai, there lived the Selonian tribes, in the districts of Linkuva, Joniškis, Žagarė – Semigallion tribes, Telšiai, Rietavas, Skuodas, Klaipėda – Coronians, in all Suvalkai land – Yotvingians or Sudovians.“

In my ethnonym works dominating conclusion: Lithuanian and Latvian ancestors may be found at the north from the Pripyat (beside the left affluents), near the source of Berezina and Dniepre, almost until the Soza mid-river in Smolensk Gubernia; Lithuanians have settled in their lands later than the Selonians and Latvians. For me, the unknown Aistian place-names were found in the Dniepre basin by the Russian linguists V. Toporovas and O. Trubačiovas, who have identified that there, Aistians have lived in a larger area than I thought.

  • How did I teach the “language emasculators”! – in such a way I have saved quite a number of Lithuanian words that were announced to be barbarisms.

Around 1920, the movement of language protection and purification against the barbarisms have started to devolve. I called the inordinate language purificators “language emasculators”, that is why I really hated the invented coinages that the worthless language amateurs, going with a language trend flow, “invented”. I always did announce that “This reducing of language treasure may take us to its impoverishment, ruin”.

I protected these old and for you already common words as: atspėti, boba, keliauninkas, kūdikis, labas, liaudis, marios, nieku būdu, pirmenybė, pragyventi, priepuolis, riba, sarmata, skriauda, stebėtinas, tik ką, užgaida, užmušti, užsigeisti, užtekti, vilna, krėslas and many more that could have been taken from the language. It is known from long time ago that similar sound words do not necessary need to be lent, but also they may be inherited from the old periods. And only the language science specialists, who have studied the sound development laws, can separate and identify it.

In the work “Origin of the suffix -ūnas and diphthong –uo”, I have proved the Lithuanian side of the suffix –ūnas and defended for you already known common words and surnames, for example atėjūnas, bastūnas, bėgūnas, didžiūnas, pagyrūnas, pirmūnas, seniūnas, Braziūnas, Žebriūnas, Motiejūnas, Valančiūnas and many more. My dears, send a kiss from me to all –ūnams, –ūnienėms and –ūnaitėms.

  • God sees, can you see that too that “For science and vocabulary I have sacrificed myself”; and, is there many, who have so much merit in the areas of Balts, ethnonym, onomastic, historical phonetics and morphology, Aistian dialectology and mythology, Lithuanian accentology, standardization of Lithuanian language, and, of course, in Lithuanian lexicology and lexicography as me. Only my friends linguists can confirm and explain.


For science and vocabulary you have sacrificed yourself,

Modest, diligent and treasuring the truth

Staying still light, alive in the land of your birth <…>

So loved, cherished as the largest of treasures

(Vytautas Strioga)

Beside the blue “Žiegas” (the name of the lake),

Crumbled cottages

Have written a native language

in to your heart.

Even though in the flood of the words

Quickly melted the life.

But we still see You

Immortal and beautiful.

(Vytautas Strioga)


Memorial Museum of Kazimieras Buga in Pažiegė waits for visitors from 10 a.m until the 6 p.m. Rest days – Monday and Tuesday. For people, who want to order the educational program, please call tel.: +370 610 25972

Address: Pažiegė 13, Dusetos Mun., Zarasai District Mun., LT-32310; GPS: 55.741527, 25.761199

Tel. +370 672 73406 Laima Giparienė, museum supervisor, Tel.: +370 610 25972 Rytis Pivoriūnas, museum man (manager of cultural activity)

Exhibition Hall of the Memorial Museum of Kazimieras Būga (K. Būgos str. 31A, building of Dusetos Municipality, 1st floor) kindly invites you for a visit on working days from 10 a.m. until the 4 p.m.


E-mail: rytispivoriunas@gmail.com

Internet website: http://www.buga.zarasumuziejus.lt

Detailed biography of Kazimieras Būga: http://www.buga.zarasumuziejus.lt/kazimieras-buga/biografija

  1. Būga scientific heritage (bibliography): http://www.buga.zarasumuziejus.lt/kazimieras-buga/bibliografija

References in the Internet: http://www.buga.zarasumuziejus.lt/kazimieras-buga/nuorodos-internete

  1. Būga commemoration marks: http://www.buga.zarasumuziejus.lt/kazimieras-buga/iamzinimas-ir-nuorodos

Everything about the museum:  http://www.buga.zarasumuziejus.lt/apie-muzieju