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Antanas Juska



Antanas Juska (1819-1880), lexicographer and folklorist born in Daujotai, county of Kaunas.Graduating from the Vilnius Theological Seminary, he was ordained in 1843, and served as curate and pastor in several parishes, the longest in Veliuona and Alsedziai. Although he never formally studied philology or ethnology, he nevertheless distinguished himself in both fields.   Juska was the author of a dictionary of the Lithuanian language, published by the Russian Academy of Science in St. Petersburg. Three fascicles of the work entitled Litovskii slovar’ were published posthumously in 1897, 1904 and 1922. The work comprises some 70 000 words, including many which did not appear in previously published dictionaries. He gathered words from the living language spoken in these districts where he lived, especially Veliuona and Vilkija. To illustrate usage he included whole phrases. Initially the work of preparing the dictionary for publication was undertaken by his brother Jonas Juska and later by a number of other philologists, Jagic, Fortunatov, Vytautas Juska (the son of Jonas Juska), Jablonskis, Buga and Slapelis. The editors checked the text and changed some details, but the text remained basically unaltered. Since written Standard Lithuanian in Lithuania Major was not yet stabilized at that time, the dictionary’s accentuation, phonology, and morphology were based on the dialect of the author’s birthplace, but with some admixture of the other dialects. The dictionary is especially valuable for its inclusion of unfamiliar words and their forms and for its inclusion of expressions from popular speech. Rev. Juska also wrote three unpublished dictionaries, Polish-Lithuanian, Latvian-Lithuanian-Polish, and Lithuanian-Polish. Another important work by Juska was a collection of Lithuanian songs. He wrote down about 7 000 folk songs, some 5 000 of them from the district of Veliuona. The first collection of 33 songs and their Russian translation was published under the name of Litovskie narodnye pesni (Lithuanian Folk songs) in St. Petersburg in 1867. The songs collected by Rev. Juska are remarkable for variety of themes and for his novel method of writing down and classifying the songs. He was the first Lithuanian to record the names of the singers, giving their social conditions and the occasion on which each song was sung. He wrote down the songs in dialect, without changes or omissions, and he classified some of the songs according to contents. These anthologies are especially valuable in the study of Lithuanian folklore.