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Jonas Juska (Jonas Juška)


Jonas JUŠKA (Juškevičius) 1815-1886. Educator and linguist, born in Žarėnai, county of Telšiai, on May 27, 1815. In 1844 he graduated from the University of Kharkov, where he studied classical languages and later taught them at several gymnasiums (high schools) in Russia. From 1858-63 he served as an inspector of the Russian Cadet Corps. His request to be given a teaching position in Lithuania was denied by the governor-general of Vilnius because his brother, Rev. Antanas Juska, stood accused of having had connections with the insurrection of 1863. While employed in the school system Juška applied himself to the study of problems of teaching, producing a number of essays that earned the praise of officials in the ministry of education. The remainder of his time was devoted to research in the Lithuanian language.
Jonas Juška evinced interest in the scientific study of Lithuanian since 1852, having made the acquaintance of the Russian academician. L Sreznevsky and later that of the Polish linguist J. Baudouin de Courtenay, professor at the University of Kazan' from 1875-83. In that same city Juška taught school from 1875-86. On an assignment from the Russian Academy of Sciem he undertook a critical review of A Schleicher's Litauische Grammati (1856) and in this way deepened hi knowledge of the Lithuanian language. Soon he became an authority on Lithuanian and its dialects. One of his important works is a study of Lithuania) dialects and orthography, Kalbos letuviszko lėžuv'o ir letuviszkas statraszy mas arisa ortografija (1861), wherein he divides the former into four groups: 1) Samogitian, 2) Prussian Lithuanian, 3) dialect of the Ariogala area, and 4) Eastern Lithuanian. This classification was essentially based on phonetic criteria, i.e., pronunciation of ie, no, an, en, d', t', I (unpalatalized), i-diphthongs (ai, ei), and half-'open e in those dialect groups. Despite its shortcomings Juška's classification represented an advance over that of Schleicher. Since at that time no single dialect was accepted as the base of Standard Lithuanian, Juška advised his readers to write each in his own dialect, while nevertheless adhering to a uniform Lithuanian orthography.
However, his proposals for a common Lithuanian alphabet, diverging considerably from those currently in vogue (Schleicher, Kurschat), did not meet with much success. To be sure, his suggestion that cz, sz w be replaced by č, š, v, respectively, eventually came to be adopted (v had already been used by Schleicher), as was his recommendation to substitute the unpalatalized ; for the Polish I. But the same was not true of his proposal to introduce a special letter for the lowmid vowel e and to write e in place of diphthong ie, nor of his suggestion that palatalization of consonants be indicated by means of the acute (') as, for example, in lėžuv'o instead of liežuvio. When the Latin alphabet was forbidden and forcibly supplanted by the Russian in 1864 (see Press Ban), Juška composed a unique alphabet consisting of Russian and Latin characters on the grounds that Russian letters alone would be incapable of representing all of the basic sounds occurring in Lithuanian. This mixed alphabet was used in an edition of 33 Lithuanian folksongs, Litovskie narodnye pesni (1867) which failed to satisfy either the Russians or the Lithuanians. Juska also wrote a grammar of the Lithuanian language in Russian, Uchebnaia grammatika litovskogo iazyka (1862), but this work remained unpublished. In order to facilitate his obtaining a teaching assignment in Lithuania, he began to rewrite all of its Lithuanian words in Russian characters, but when his request was refused, he did not finish preparing the manuscript for publication. In addition, Juška was working on a Lithuanian-Russian dictionary Ruchnoi litovsko-ruskii slovar', which he brought up to the word marnastis.
Juška came into additional contact with problems of Lithuanian linguistics when he collaborated with his brother in publishing a collection of Lithuanian folksongs and a dictionary of the Lithuanian language (see Antanas Juška). After his brother's death in 1880, the Russian Academy of Science entrusted Juška with preparation of the final draft for publication after taking account of comments by the Russian linguist A. Potebnia.iHe put much effort into the execution of this task. Juška translated the dictionary into Russian up to the letter L, corrected his brother's translation, provided some of the entries with accentuation marks, and made a number of changes and additions to the Lithuanian phrases and orthography. It is believed that on account of certain inconsistencies for which he was held responsible Juška was relieved from the editorship on April 27, 1886. Nervous over this development, he died two days later in Kazan', having previously sustained a heart attack in 1885.
Bibl.: J. Baudouin de Courtenay, "Jan Juszkiewicz. Prace Filologiczne, I, Warszawa, 1885; E. Wolter, "Johann Juschkewitsch," Mitteilungen der' Litauischen Literarischen Gesellschaft, Vol. 12, Heidelberg, 1887; J. Tumas, Lietuvių literatūra rusų raidėmis ir broliai Juškos-Juškevičiai, Kaunas, 1924; P. Jonikas, "Jonas Juška," Tautos Mokykla, No. 12-13, 1936 (Kaunas); -, "Iš lletuvių kalbos rašybos istorijos," Archivum. Philologicum, Vol. 8, Kaunas, 1939; V. Drotvinas, "Kalbininkas Jonas Juška," Tarybinis Mokytojas, June 9, 1955 (Vilnius); V. Biržiška, Aleksandrynas, Chicago, 1965.
Text from the ENCYCLOPEDIA LITUANICA I-VI.  Boston, 1970-1978