Kashubian: No, not the band


Kashubian is a language spoken by and estimated 100,000 people in the north of modern day Poland and it’s special in this context as it is the only other language with any official status in Poland.

It’s a slavic language and somtimes known as Pomeranian but linguists generally agree that it is more a derivation of Pomeranian than the same language.

It achieved official status in 2005 (here’s the law for those interested) and is now a co-official language in parts of Pomerania (capital Gdankz) where it’s used to provide local public services, on signage and in certain cases, if desired by the parents, in education.

For a long time, as was common all around Europe, it was repressed and not even considered a language. This was par for the course, not only for communist countries, despite early pointers towards tolerance and promotion of minority languages by communist countries, but also for all the major western european countries and their colonies. Language tolerance was few and far between until the last quarter of the 20th century and the point must be made that when there is no tolerance of minority languages there is language repression.

This repression can be overt by banning the language and forcing it’s speakers to learn and speak another language, often by accompanied by violence or punishment. Other more subtle language pressure involves limiting it’s use in most spheres of life and treating it’s speakers with disdain.

Kashubian speakers suffered under these forms of oppression during years under many different empires, especially the Prussian and German empires, but mainly from non-violent forms of oppression. Over the last few decades though they have won recognition for their language and some concessions from the Polish government regarding education cultural expression.

The first documents were published in Kashubian in the 16th century and nowadays there are radio programmes in the language, a language management agency, classes and a moderate digital presence.

The most important part of this mini-revival has been the official recognition as this had bestowed a certain level of prestige upon the language. As a result of this there has been a moderate revival of the Kashubian language and it may well continue being a living language throughout the 21st century if it can be organised effectively and create a place and prestige for the language so that the younger generation continue to use the language.



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