For several weeks I had been trying to grasp the basics of Lithuanian intonation, oh-so-poorly described in my introductory grammar. While Beginner’s Lithuanian by Dambriunas, Klimas and Schmalstieg (New York: Hippocrene, 1998) does a lot of things well, its discussion of pronunciation isn’t so hot. But then a simple Usenet post by Miguel Carrasquer Vidal on sci.lang made it all clear:
Lith. has either ˜ (rising) or ´ (falling) tone on long
syllables. Short syllables have only stress (marked as `).
That’s all there is to it. Can it really be that simple? Terje Mathiassen’s A Short Grammar of Lithuanian (Columbus: Slavica, 1996), which I picked up later today through inter-library loan, states the same in just as few words. Moral of the story: never depend on one textbook for anything. Of course, the fact that the acute accent represents falling tone causes some consternation for students like myself whose first experience with a tonal accent was in Greek.