Language and the Making of Nations British Library, London Friday 14 November 2014 Silesian: A Language or a Dialect? Dr Tomasz Kamusella University of St Andrews Upper Silesia: Dialect Continua, 1910 Upper Silesia: Dialect Continua, Today Germanisms or Upper Silesian Creole? Renewal in the st 21 Century 2002: PL census > 60,000 Silesian-speakers, 173,000 members of the Silesian nation 2003: First-ever Silesian-language publisher established (Ślōnsko Nacyjno Ôficyno) 2007: ISO693-3 registration code szl for the Silesian language 2008: Silesian Wikipedia 2008: First Conference on the Silesian language/dialect, Katowice 2009: Standardization of Silesian orthography; 1st book in this orthography (Óndra Lysohorsky (sic) (Erwin Goj). Spiwajuco piaść. ) 2011: PL census > 0.53 m Silesian-speakers, 0.85 m members of the Silesian nation Scholarly article in Standard Silesian and Polish (2011, Tartu, Estonia) Silesian for Spanish- and Portuguese-speakers, http://slonzoki.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/07/%C5%9Al%C5%8Dnsk%C5%8F-G%C5%8Fdka.pdf TV News in Silesian, http://www.sferatv.pl/ vod/wydarzenia-poslasku/audycje/39wydarzenia-poslasku.html Plays in Silesian, https://www.youtube.co m/playlist?list=PLSW4B3 W4DNE9zhhn5sBjGSePKV Rlg3BvJ Silesian primers Silesian-language keyboard, http://szkryfka.eu/index.php?option=com_co ntent&view=article&id=180&Itemid=107 Airplane safety instructions in Silesian, http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=72C0mq4nBbA Silesian blog in a mainstream daily, http://blogi.dz iennikzachodni .pl/slonskifusb al/ Dialect or Language? • Dialect: the language variety (lect) of a speech community, employed by this community to distinguish itself from other communities; from the vantage of linguistics all dialects (language varieties, lects) are equal • No linguistic definition of ‘a language’ (one of many languages, Einzalsprache) • Tacitly, we understand languages to be the dialects of power centers (capitals) and/or elites, endowed with a writing system (NB: writing is not part of language) • Western in its origin dichotomy: language vs dialect = oral vs written; languages are seen as ‘better,’ ‘developed,’ ‘civilized;’ while dialects are ‘idioms,’ ‘jargons,’ ‘kitchen speech’ of the ‘riff-raff,’ ‘natives,’ ‘barbarians.’ Ethnolinguistic Nationalism • Languages are employed as the very basis of nation-building and statehood legitimation in Central Europe: language = nation = state (‘normative isomorphism’) - The speakers of a language constitute a nation - The territory inhabited by this language’s speakers should become coterminous with the nation’s polity - The language cannot be shared with any other nation or state • Ergo, language differentiation in the nation-states is construed as dialects that belong to the national language • Logic of ethnolgsc nationalism in practice: The parallel breakups of Yugoslavia and Serbo-Croatian • Hence, in this model of statehood, no recognition for the Silesian language in Poland; in one polity there must be one nation only (This is at variance with the Polish Constitution: Polish nation = all Polish citizens [not speakers of the Polish language]) Democracy and the Social Sciences • Outsider (etic) perspective of the scholar / politician / administrator, who is not part of the group concerned • Insider (emic) perspective of the members of the group concerned Research & Civil Service, or Power Games? • Emic view of Silesians > Silesian is a language [desire for respect and for the observance of the Constitution and its provisions] • Etic view of Polish scholars and political elite > Silesian is an idiom / jargon (gwara) or dialect [an undemocratic imposition from above and outside, with no respect for the wishes of almost 1 m citizens] • Etic view of scholars outside Poland > Silesian is a language, because Silesians / Silesian-speakers say or wish so [no comprehension that despite the civic character of the PL Constitution, the nature of statehood in Poland and elsewhere in C Europe is still strongly ethnolinguistic in its character.