Kashubian is a language, not a dialect. It belongs to the West Slavic languages group. The legal status of the Kashubian language is regulated by the Act from 6 January 2005 about national and ethnic minorities and on the regional language, defining it as a regional language.
We will read and hear Kashubian
Books and magazines are published in the Kashubian language, as well as radio and television programmes. For many years, competitions related to this language have been organized, such as: Kashubian Literature Recitation Competition “RÔDNÔ MÒWA”, Kashubian dictation “PISZÃ PÒ KASZËBSKÙ – QUEEN IN THE PALACE”, Competition for Readers “MÉSTER BËLNÉGÒ CZËTANIÔ”
About twenty thousand children learn Kashubian in Pomorskie Region. Since 2005, it is possible to take the final exam in the high school in this language. It is used by Kashubians in Poland, emigrants in Canada, less numerous Kashubians in Germany and the USA.
The beginnings of the Kashubian language
The two oldest literary records containing elements of the Kashubian language are:
- “Spiritual writings of D. Martin Luther and other pious men” with the subtitle “From German language to Slavic language by Szymon Krofea servant of the God in Bytów. Printed in Gdansk by Jacub Rhode in the year of Our Lord 1586”.
2. “Little Catechism of D. Marcin Luther” from 1643, by Michael Brüggemann (Latin Pontanus, Polish Mostnik), a pastor from Smoldzino.
Precursors of the written language
Florian Ceynowa (1817-81) was hailed as the “father” of Kashubian literature. He created his own alphabet, spelling, he created a linguistic norm, and grammar. Among others, in 1879 in Poznan he published “Zarés do Grammatikj Kašébsko-Słovjnskjè Mòvé”, where he testified passion to the Kashubian language. For him, Kashubian was the language used in writing and literature.
The first Kashubian poet and writer was Hieronim Derdowski (1852-1902) from Wiele. He continued writing in Kashubian. In the poem “Ò Panu Czôrlińsczim co do Pùcka pò sécë jachôł”, where he described the geography of Kashuby, the history the region with their religion and speech, legends, superstitions and folklore into the hero’s journey. This is the work from the period when Poland was not existing on the European map, with a dedication to J. Kraszewski with the famous quote “There is no Kashuby without Poland, and no Poland without Kaszuby”.
After the actions of F. Ceynowa and H. Derdowski, the Young Kashubian movement (Young Kashubian Society founded in 1912 in Gdansk) led to strengthening the Kashubian identity and protect the Kashubian language. The three young Kashubian writers were: Aleksander Majkowski, who was the leader, Jan Karnowki and Fr. Leon Heyke.
Aleksander Majkowski (1876-1938) is the author of, among others, the first novel written in the Kashubian language “Żëcé i przigòdë Remùsa. The mirror of kasëbsczé” published in 1939.
Where historically the Kashubian language was used
In the mid-nineteenth century, maps of the range and diversity of the Kashubian language began to be created. Aleksander Hilferding divided the Kashubian region meridionally into: Dialect of Pomorskie Slovinians and Kashubians.
At the beginning of the 20th century, this division was updated by Friedrich Lorentz and he distinguished 21 groups, including 70 dialects. In the middle of the 20th century, in the Language Atlas of the Kashubian Region, a division was created into archaic and innovative.
Created by Florian Ceynowa in the second half of the 19th century, it has been amended. Today, the Kashubian alphabet contains 34 letters.
A Ą Ã B C D E É Ë F G H I J K L Ł M N Ń O Ò Ó Ô P R S T U Ù W Y Z Ż
Characteristic features of the Kashubian language
- movable and initial stress;
- letters Ã, É Ë, Ò, Ô, Ù,
- there are no consonants ś, ź, ś, dź.