Pomeranian language

Pomeranian language

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For the Low German dialects also called Pomeranian, see Pommersch.


The Pomeranian language is a group of dialects from the Lechitic cluster
Lechitic languages
The Lechitic languages include three languages spoken in Central Europe, mainly in Poland, and historically also in the eastern and northern parts of modern Germany. This language group is a branch of the larger West Slavic language family...

 of the West Slavic languages
West Slavic languages
The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group that includes Czech, Polish, Slovak, Kashubian and Sorbian.Classification:* Indo-European** Balto-Slavic*** Slavic**** West Slavic***** Czech-Slovak languages****** Czech...

. In medieval contexts, it refers to the dialects spoken by the Slavic Pomeranians. In modern contexts, the term is sometimes used synonymously with "Kashubian
Kashubian language
Kashubian or Cassubian is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages....

" and may also include extinct Slovincian.

Ancient Pomeranian


During the early medieval
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 Slavic migrations, the area between the Oder
Oder
The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

 and Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

 rivers was settled
Pomerania during the Early Middle Ages
The southward movement of Germanic tribes during the migration period had left Pomerania largely depopulated by the 7th century. Between 650 and 850 AD, West Slavic tribes settled in Pomerania. The tribes between the Oder and the Vistula were collectively known as Pomeranians, and those west of the...

 by tribes grouped as Pomeranians. Their dialects, sometimes referred to as Ancient Pomeranian, had transitory character between the Polabian dialects
Polabian language
The Polabian language is an extinct West Slavic language that was spoken by the Polabian Slavs in present-day North-Eastern Germany around the Elbe river, from which derives its name...

 spoken west of Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, and the Old Polish dialects
Old Polish language
Old Polish is a name used to describe the period in the history of the Polish language between 9th and 16th centuries.-History:...

 spoken to the Southeast. While there are no surviving documents written in Pomeranian, medieval Pomeranian names are mentioned in contemporary documents written in other languages.

Slovincian and Kashubian


During the High Middle Ages
Pomerania during the High Middle Ages
Pomerania during the High Middle Ages covers the History of Pomerania in the 12th and 13th centuries.The early 12th century Obodrite, Polish, Saxon, and Danish conquests resulted in vassalage and Christianization of the formerly pagan and independent Pomeranian tribes...

, German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 immigration and assimilation of the Slavic Pomeranians (Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung , also called German eastward expansion, was the medieval eastward migration and settlement of Germans from modern day western and central Germany into less-populated regions and countries of eastern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The affected area roughly stretched from Slovenia...

) introduced Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 Pomeranian dialects which were to become dominant in Pomerania except for some areas in the East, where the populace remained largely Slavic and continued the use of the Slavic Pomeranian language. This was especially the case in Pomerelia
Pomerelia
Pomerelia is a historical region in northern Poland. Pomerelia lay in eastern Pomerania: on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea and west of the Vistula and its delta. The area centered on the city of Gdańsk at the mouth of the Vistula...

, where the Slavic population became known as Kashubians
Kashubians
Kashubians/Kaszubians , also called Kashubs, Kashubes, Kaszubians, Kassubians or Cassubians, are a West Slavic ethnic group in Pomerelia, north-central Poland. Their settlement area is referred to as Kashubia ....

 and their language accordingly as Kashubian
Kashubian language
Kashubian or Cassubian is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages....

. An insular Slavic Pomeranian dialect spoken northwest of Kashubia
Kashubia
Kashubia or Cassubia - is a language area in the historic Eastern Pomerania region of northwestern Poland. Located west of Gdańsk and the mouth of the Vistula river, it is inhabited by members of the Kashubian ethnic group....

 until the 20th century became known as Slovincian
Slovincian
Slovincian is the language formerly spoken by the Slovincians , a Slavic people living between lakes Gardno and Łebsko near Słupsk in Pomerania....

. It is disputed whether Slovincian may be regarded as a dialect of Kashubian or a separate language. Likewise, it is disputed whether Kashubian may be regarded as a dialect of Polish or a separate language.

Influence on other dialects


The Pomeranian language influenced the formation of other Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 language dialects, such as: the Kociewski, Borowiacki and Krajniacki dialects. Undoubtedly, they belong to the Polish language, but they also have some features in common with the Pomeranian language, which proves their character was transitional.

Friedrich Lorentz supposed that Kociewski and Borewiacki dialects first belonged to the Pomeranian language and was then Polonized as a result of the Polish colonization of these territories. According to Lorentz
Lorentz
Lorentz is a name derived from the Roman surname, Laurentius, which mean "from Laurentum". It is the German form of Laurence.Lorentz may refer to:- Literature :* Friedrich Lorentz, author of works on the Pomeranian language...

, the Krajniacki dialect most probably was originally a part of the Polish language.

The common feature of the Kociewski dialects and the Kashubian
Kashubian language
Kashubian or Cassubian is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages....

 language is, for example, the partial preservation of the so called “TarT” group and a part of its lexis also. For the Borowiacki dialects and the Pomeranian language, the common feature was affrication of dorsal consonants.

The Pomeranian language also influenced the Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 dialects, which were used in Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

. After Germanisation
Germanisation
Germanisation is both the spread of the German language, people and culture either by force or assimilation, and the adaptation of a foreign word to the German language in linguistics, much like the Romanisation of many languages which do not use the Latin alphabet...

, the population of Western Pomerania started to use the Low German dialects. Those dialects, though, were influenced by the Pomeranian language (Slavic).
Most words originating from Pomeranian can be found in vocabulary connected with fishery and farming. The word Zeese / Zehse may serve as an example. It describes a kind of a fishing net and is still known in the Low German dialects of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern today. The word comes from the old Pomeranian word of the same meaning- seza. It moved to Kashubian and Slovincian
Slovincian
Slovincian is the language formerly spoken by the Slovincians , a Slavic people living between lakes Gardno and Łebsko near Słupsk in Pomerania....

 dialects through Low German, and appeared in Pomeranian dictionaries as ceza meaning “flounder and perch fishing net”. Thus, it is so called “reverse loan-word” as the Pomeranian language borrowed the word from Low German in which it functioned as “pomeranism” (a borrowing from the Pomeranian language).

A borrowing from the Pomeranian language which has been used in everyday German language and has appeared in dictionaries is a phrase “dalli, dalli” (it means: come on, come on). It moved to the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 through the German dialects of West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

, and is also present in the Kashubian language (spelled: dali, dali)

Assessment


The classification of the Pomeranian ethnolect
Ethnolect
Ethnolect is a variety of a language spoken by a certain ethnic/cultural subgroup and serves as a distinguishing mark of social identity. The term combines the concepts of an ethnic group and dialect....

 is problematic. It was classified by Aleksander Bruckner
Aleksander Brückner
Aleksander Brückner was a Polish scholar of Slavic languages and literatures , philologist, lexicographer and historian of literature. He is among the most notable Slavicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the first to prepare complete monographs on the history of Polish language...

 as one of the Old Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 dialects. At the same time, he classified the extant Kashubian
Kashubian language
Kashubian or Cassubian is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages....

 and Slovincian
Slovincian
Slovincian is the language formerly spoken by the Slovincians , a Slavic people living between lakes Gardno and Łebsko near Słupsk in Pomerania....

 dialects as those belonging to the Modern Polish language. Other linguists relate the Pomeranian language to the Polabian
Polabian
Polabian may refer to:* Polabian language, an extinct Slavic language spoken by Polabians* Polabians, an extinct Slavic tribe living in the eastern part of today's Germany...

 group of dialects (forming the Pomeranian-Polabian group). There is also a third view on this matter, according to which the Pomeranian language is related neither to the Old Polish language nor to the Polabian language.

Today, the Pomeranian language is often identified with the Kashubian language. The presence of several terms describing the same language and identifying the whole language with its strongest dialect is sometimes the case with minority languages, which are diversified, but, because of the political obstacles, they cannot form one general standard language, which would gain a strong position in the country where they are spoken.

This situation is similar to the Occitan and the Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 languages. The Occitan language is often called Provençal. Provençal dialects, though, are just a part of Occitan, but have had the strongest literary tradition. Low German (Nederdüütsch, Plattdüütsch) is often identified with its Low Saxon dialect (Nedersassisch, Low Saxon) because it has a much stronger position than the other dialects.

After Slovincian and all the Pomeranian dialects (except Kashubian) became extinct, the “Kashubian language” is the term most often used in relation to the language spoken by the Pomeranians. However, it is still not clear from where the words “Kashubians
Kashubians
Kashubians/Kaszubians , also called Kashubs, Kashubes, Kaszubians, Kassubians or Cassubians, are a West Slavic ethnic group in Pomerelia, north-central Poland. Their settlement area is referred to as Kashubia ....

” and “Kashubian” (Polish: “Kaszubi” and “Kaszubski”, Kashubian language: "Kaszëbi" and "kaszëbsczi") originated and how they were brought from the area near Koszalin
Koszalin
Koszalin ; is the largest city of Middle Pomerania in north-western Poland. It is located 12 km south of the Baltic Sea coast. Koszalin is also a county-status city and capital of Koszalin County of West Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999...

 to Pomerelia
Pomerelia
Pomerelia is a historical region in northern Poland. Pomerelia lay in eastern Pomerania: on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea and west of the Vistula and its delta. The area centered on the city of Gdańsk at the mouth of the Vistula...

. None of the theories proposed has been widely accepted so far. There is also no indication Pomeranians wandered from the area of Koszalin to Pomerelia.
It has been proved, though, that the medieval inhabitants of Pomerania, who were the ancestors of the present Kashubians, did not call themselves Kashubians. It is not mentioned in the preserved sources what they called their language then. The analysis of geographical names in written sources shows that in the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, Slavic inhabitants of the whole of Pomerania used various dialects of one language. Today, linguists usually refer to these dialects as “Pomeranian dialects”. According to chronicles, the only common name for this territory was “Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

” and for its inhabitants “Pomeranians”.

While Western Pomerania was being the Germanized, the Germans (both colonizers and Germanized descendants of Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 Pomeranians) started using the words “Pomeranian” (German: Pommersch; Polish: pomorski) and “Pomeranians” (German]]: Pommern; Polish: Pomorzacy) referring to their own population. The part of the Pomeranian population which kept their Slavic language was called the Wends (German: Wenden) or the Kashubians (German]]: Kaschuben). As the West lost its Slavic character, those two terms were more often used in the East.
In 1850, in the preface to his Kashubian-Russian dictionary, Florian Ceynowa
Florian Ceynowa
Florian Ceynowa was a doctor, political activist, writer, and linguist. He undertook efforts to identitfy Kashubian language, culture and traditions. He awakened Kashubian self-identity, thereby opposing both Germanisation and Prussian authority, and Polish nobility and clergy...

 wrote about the language of Baltic Slavic peoples:
“Usually it is called the , although the would be a more proper term”


The word dialect was probably used by Ceynowa because he was a follower of Pan-Slavism
Pan-Slavism
Pan-Slavism was a movement in the mid-19th century aimed at unity of all the Slavic peoples. The main focus was in the Balkans where the South Slavs had been ruled for centuries by other empires, Byzantine Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Venice...

, according to which all the Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 were dialects of one Slavic language. In his later works, though, he called his language "kaszébsko-słovjinsko móva".

In 1893, Stefan Ramułt, the Jagiellonian University
Jagiellonian University
The Jagiellonian University was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great in Kazimierz . It is the oldest university in Poland, the second oldest university in Central Europe and one of the oldest universities in the world....

 linguist, referred to the early history of Pomerania, publishing the Dictionary of the Pomoranian i.e. Kashubian Language. In the preface, Ramułt wrote:

“As Kashubians are the direct descendants of Pomeranians, it is right to use the words Pomeranian and Kashubian as synonyms. Especially as there are other reasons for it as well…”

and

“Kashubians and Slavs are what remains of the once powerful Pomeranian tribe and they are the only inheritors of the name Pomeranians.”

Friedrich Lorentz (the author of Pomeranian Grammar and The History of Pomeranian/Kashubian Language) referred in his works to Ramułt’s dictionary. After Lorentz died, Friedhelm Hinze published a great Pomeranian dictionary in five volumes (Pomoranishes Worterbuch), which was based on Lorentz’s writing.

The status of Kashubian today


The Pomeranian language, and its only surviving form, Kashubian, traditionally have not been recognized by the majority of Polish linguists, and have been treated in Poland as "the most distinct dialect of Polish". Some Polish linguists ridiculed attempts to create a standardized form of Kashubian/Pomeranian, and tried to discredit those Kashubian authors who worked on it. However, there have also been some Polish linguists who treated Pomeranian as a separate language. The most prominent of them were Stefan Ramułt, and Alfred Majewicz, who overtly called Kashubian a language in the 1980s.

Following the collapse of communism in Poland, attitudes on the status of Kashubian have been gradually changing. It is increasingly seen as a fully-fledged language, as it is taught in state schools and has some limited usage on public radio and television. A bill passed by the Polish parliament
Polish parliament
Polish parliament is an expression referring to the historical Polish parliaments. It implies chaos and general disorder, and that no real decision can be reached during sessions...

 in 2005 recognizes it as the only regional language
Regional language
A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a nation state, whether it be a small area, a federal state or province, or some wider area....

 in the Republic of Poland, and provides for its use in official contexts in 10 communes where its speakers constitute at least 20% of the population.

See also

  • East Pomeranian
    East Pomeranian
    East Pomeranian is an East Low German dialect that is or used to be spoken in Northern Poland . It is part of the Pommersch dialect group....

  • Kashubian-Pomeranian Association
    Kashubian-Pomeranian Association
    The Kashubian-Pomeranian Association is a regional non-governmental organization of the Kashubians , Kociewiacy and other people interested in the regional affairs of Kashubia and Pomerania in northern Poland...