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The Kashubs: Past and Present

Past and Present

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Edited By Cezary Obracht-Prondzynski and Tomasz Wicherkiewicz

The Kashubs, a regional autochthonous group inhabiting northern Poland, represent one of the most dynamic ethnic groups in Europe. As a community, they have undergone significant political, social, economic and cultural change over the last hundred years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Kashubs were citizens of Germany. In the period between the two World Wars they were divided between three political entities: the Republic of Poland, the Free City of Danzig and Germany. During the Second World War, many Kashubs were murdered, and communist Poland subsequently tried to destroy the social ties that bound the community together. The year 1989 finally brought about a democratic breakthrough, at which point the Kashubs became actively engaged in the construction of their regional identity, with the Kashubian language performing a particularly important role.
This volume is the first scholarly monograph on the history, culture and language of the Kashubs to be published in English since 1935. The book systematically explores the most important aspects of Kashubian identity – national, regional, linguistic, cultural and religious – from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

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Jerzy TrederThe Kashubian Language and its Dialects: The Range of Use 75

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Jerzy Treder The Kashubian Language and its Dialects: The Range of Use Kashubian as a Slavonic language If the notion of language is attributed to an ethno-cultural group (and not to a nation-state), its distinct identity depends primarily on such factors as: a) suf ficient distinctness of the linguistic sphere; b) its own literary tradition; c) deliberate development of the language, literature and culture; d) considerable specificity of the socio-cultural sphere; e) a feeling of separateness shared by the intellectual elite as well as the community at large. If this is the case, then Kashubian (in particular in its written literary form) should be treated as a language (Treder 1990: 80–1). Kashubian is one of the Slavonic languages. It has emerged gradually from the Proto-Slavonic as one of the Pomeranian dialects within the Lekhitic languages (see below). Almost from the outset it has been subject to inf luence from Polish dialects, and later also from literary Polish, as well as interferences from German. The most important ancient distinctive fea- tures of Kashubian are: the evolution of Proto-Slavonic *ę ≥ i, later also ë ( jastrzib, jastrzëba ‘hawk’); so-called ‘Kashubation’ (sedzec, Polish siedzieć ‘sit’); vowel shwa (ë – Kaszëbë, Polish Kaszuby ‘Kashubia’); af fricatisation of consonants k’, g’ ≥ cz, dż (taczé nodżi, Polish takie nogi ‘such legs’). The status and position of Kashubian, as the only survivor of the his- torical dialects of Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, has 76 Jerzy Treder been subject to heated discussion in the...

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