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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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Tomasz WicherkiewiczLanguage Policy and the Sociolinguistics of Kashubian 141

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Tomasz Wicherkiewicz Language Policy and the Sociolinguistics of Kashubian The current sociolinguistic and socio-political position of Kashubian is the result of both the internal linguistic history of the community and external instruments of administrative language policy. The debate about the linguistic status of Kashubian initiated by the publication of Stefan Ramułt’s dictionary in 1983 has irrevocably determined the objective and subjective position of the language, on a regional, national and interna- tional scale. Declarations made on this subject by successive organisations of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Kashubian activists have already been presented in detail in earlier chapters. Obracht-Prondzyński (2007c: 16) has stated that: The Kashubian ethos consists of such values as language, religion […], family, origin (genealogy), territory […], as well as correlated characteristics of the self-stereotype (piety, diligence, persistence, patriotism, etc). Obviously, that system of values has undergone constant changes deriving from global processes and transformations started after 1989, their ef fect being a weakening of the dominant cultural canon under the conditions of a ‘disclosed multiculturalism’ and progressing pluralisation, changes in the state policy towards minorities, social acceptance for such aspirations, widespread tolerance and openness of the society, and particularly its elites, etc. Still, the main question remains that of the Kashubian language: not only its condition and use extent, language attitudes of the Kashubs themselves (quite diverse – from profound af firmation to total rejection), but also its prestige and social status. The same factors have been cited by Synak (2001: 295): ‘The Kashubs belong to the ethnic communities...

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