1547 1997



Native Language

Let me ask: is there in the world such a nation, however impoverished it might be, that does not have these three basic things: ancestral homeland, customs and native language? Always and everywhere people have spoken their native language and always struggled to protect it, and to beautify, improve and perfect it.

Nowhere on earth is there such a miserable nation as would abandon its own native language. Every nation aspires to use its native language for its laws, its affairs of state, its literature, and wishes to use it proudly and appropriately at all times, be it in the church, or at work, or at home.

One might ask, would there not be a sensation amongst the animals if the crow decided to sing like the nightingale, and the nightingale to croak like the crow? Or if the goat began to bellow like a lion, and the lion to bleat like the goat?

It is not the bounty of its crops, nor the distinctiveness of its garments, nor the beauty of its countryside, nor the strength of its castles and cities that make a nation hale; rather it is the maintenance and use of its native language, which strengthens fellowship, peace and brotherly love. For our language is our common bond of love, the mother of unity, the father of civic solidarity, the guardian of nationhood. If you destroy our language you destroy cooperation, unity and well-being.

Mikalojus DAUKŠA

From the Foreword of Postilla (1599),
Translation by Gintautas KAMINSKAS, Sydney