Zigmas ZINKEVIČIUS was born on January 4, 1925, at the Juodausiai farmstead near Ukmergė. During 1939-45 he attended the gymnasium in Ukmergė. During 1945-50 he studied Lithuanian at the University of Vilnius. After 1946 he worked there. During 1956-62 and 1964-68 he was assistant dean of the faculty of history and philology; in 1973-88, he was chairman of the Lithuanian department; in 1988-89, of the Baltic philology department; in 1995-96, director of the Lithuanian Language Institute; from December 10, 1996, to March 25, 1998, minister of education and science.

He is an habilitated member of the Academy of Humanities; a professor; since 1982, a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities; since 1991, of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences; since 1995, of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and of the Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Sciences.

He received honorary doctorates from the University of Latvia (1991) and Vytautas the Great University (1994); he won the Herder Prize in 1994.

His fields of research are the history of the Lithuanian language, dialectology, and Baltic philology. He has written 26 books, including "The History of the Lithuanian Language" (in six volumes plus an index), and more than 500 articles in Lithuanian and other languages.