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Such an opinion was first represented by the likes of August Schleicher, and to a certain extent, Antoine Meillet.

Endzelīns thought that the similarity between Baltic and Slavic was explicable through language contact while Schleicher, Meillet and others argued for a genetic kinship between the two families.

As a Baltic language, Lithuanian is closely related to neighbouring Latvian and more distantly to Slavic, Germanic and other Indo-European languages. Lithuanian is often said to be the most conservative living Indo-European language, retaining features of Proto-Indo-European now lost in other languages.

The earliest known Lithuanian glosses (~1520–1530) written in the margins of Johannes Herolt book Liber Discipuli de eruditione Christifidelium.

Baltic languages passed through a Proto-Balto-Slavic stage, from which Baltic languages retain numerous exclusive and non-exclusive lexical, morphological, phonological and accentual isoglosses in common with the Slavic languages, which represent their closest living Indo-European relatives. The Greek geographer Ptolemy had already written of two Baltic tribe/nations by name, the Galindai and Sudinoi (Γαλίνδαι, Σουδινοί) in the 2nd century AD.

Moreover, with Lithuanian being so archaic in phonology, Slavic words can often be deduced from Lithuanian by regular sound laws; for example, Lith. The differentiation between Lithuanian and Latvian started after 800; for a long period, they could be considered dialects of a single language.

Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1918.

During the Soviet era (see History of Lithuania), it was used in official discourse along with Russian, which, as the official language of the USSR, took precedence over Lithuanian.

An earlier Baltic language, Old Prussian, was extinct by the 18th century; the other Western Baltic languages, Curonian and Sudovian, became extinct earlier.