Poland Takes a Step Toward Official Recognition of a New Language

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.26 - 2024 12:21 PM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Poland has taken a step toward the official recognition of another regional language.

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The Polish Sejm has taken a great step towards officially recognizing the Silesian language as a regional language, potentially making it the second such language in Poland, alongside Kashubian.

This move acknowledges the unique cultural and linguistic identity of the Silesian region and could pave the way for greater representation and support for the Silesian-speaking community.

The Sejm's vote to recognize Silesian as a regional language passed with 236 votes in favor, 186 against, and five abstentions. The law still requires approval from the Senate and the President's signature to become official.

If the law is fully enacted, the Silesian language will gain similar recognition to Kashubian, which is already a recognized regional language in Poland.

This would allow Silesian to be taught in schools in areas where it is spoken by at least 20% of the population, allow city and village names to be displayed in both Polish and Silesian, and provide funding for activities aimed at preserving the language.

Silesian Identity and Speakers

A 2021 survey revealed that nearly 470,000 people in Poland identify as Silesian speakers, with over 50,000 communicating exclusively in Silesian at home.

Nearly 600,000 people consider themselves Silesian.

The historical region of Silesia spans across parts of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany, indicating a diverse cultural and linguistic background. The move to officially recognize Silesian aligns with efforts to embrace this diversity and ensure that regional languages are respected and preserved.

Official recognition of the Silesian language as a regional language would have several practical implications. It would open doors for educational opportunities, cultural representation, and funding for programs aimed at supporting Silesian heritage.

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