Silesian language: Wikis


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Ślůnsko godka
Spoken in Silesian Voivodeship and Opole Voivodeship in Poland, Moravian-Silesian Region and Olomouc Region (only Jeseník District) in Czech Republic, Germany and USA
Region Upper Silesia / Silesia
Total speakers no data
* ≈56,000 (data from Census in Poland)
* speakers outside of Poland: no data
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 sla
ISO 639-3 szl
Range of Silesian language on map of East-Central Europe (marked as G1, G2)

Silesian or Upper Silesian (Silesian: Ślůnsko godka, Czech: Slezský jazyk, Polish: Język śląski) is a Slavic language spoken in the region of Silesia. The ISO 639-3 language code is szl[1].



Silesian speakers currently live in the region of Upper Silesia, which is split between southwestern Poland and the northeastern Czech Republic. At present Silesian is commonly spoken in the area between historical border of Silesia on the east, and a line from Syców to Prudnik on the west, as well as in the Rawicz area. Until 1945 Silesian was also spoken in enclaves in Lower Silesia, as Lower Silesian language was spoken by the ethnic German majority population of that region at the time.

According to the last official census in Poland (2002), about 60,000 people declared Silesian as their native tongue, and over 173,000 people declared Silesian nationality[2]. There are also about 100,000 Silesian (Cieszyn Silesian) speakers living in the Czech Republic; Cieszyn Silesian is also commonly spoken in the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia. Speakers of Cieszyn Silesian dialect usually identify themselves on the nationality level as Poles[3]. According to the last official census in Czech Republic, 10,878 Czechs declared Silesian nationality.[citation needed]


In 2003, the National Publishing Company of Silesia (Narodowa Oficyna Śląska) commenced operations[4]. This publisher was started by the Alliance of People of the Silesian Nation (Związek Ludności Narodowości Śląskiej) and it prints books about Silesia and books in Silesian language.

In July 2007, the Slavic Silesian language was recognized by an ISO Joint Advisory Committee[5], Library of Congress[6][7][8], International Information Centre for Terminology and SIL International. Language was attributed ISO code: SZL[9][10][11][12].

On 6 September 2007, 23 politicians of the Polish parliament notified about a project of a new law to give the Silesian language the official status of a regional language.[citation needed]

The first official National Dictation contest of the Silesian language (Ogólnopolskie Dyktando Języka Śląskiego) took place in August 2007[13].

On 30 January 2008 and in June 2008, two organizations promoting Silesian language were started: Pro Loquela Silesiana and "Tôwarzistwo Piastowaniô Ślónskij Môwy "Danga"[14].

On 26 May 2008, Silesian Wikipedia was started.[15]

On 30 June 2008 in the edifice of the Silesian Parliament in Katowice, a conference took place on the status of Silesian language. This conference was a forum for politicians, linguists, representatives of interested organizations, and persons who deal with the Silesian language. The conference was titled "Silesian - still a dialect or already a language?" ("Śląsko godka - jeszcze gwara czy jednak już język"?)[16].


Steuer's Silesian alphabet

The attempts at codification of Silesian are numerous. One of the first alphabets created specifically for Silesian was Steuer's Silesian alphabet, used by Feliks Steuer to write his poems in Silesian. The alphabet consists of 30 graphemes and eight digraphs.

Letters: A, B, C, Ć, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Ł, M, N, Ń, O, P, R, S, Ś, T, U, Ů, W, Y, Z, Ź, Ż

Digraphs: Au, Ch, Cz, Dz, , , Rz, Sz

Tadzikowy muster

This alphabet came into being in the 1990s. It was created by Ted Jeczalik (Tadzik Jeczalik, Tadeusz Jaczalik)[17] from the USA (one of jurors of National Dictation contest of the Silesian language / Ogólnopolskie Dyktando Języka Śląskiego). This alphabet is based on the standard Latin alphabet/English alphabet (compatible with ISO) and consists of 26 graphemes and 15 digraphs. Instead of special diacritics, an apostrophe after a letter is used.

Majuscule Forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)
Minuscule Forms (also called lowercase or small letters)
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
c' ci l' n' ni oo rz s' si z' zi dz dz' dzi drz

Phonetic Silesian alphabet

In 2006 a new Silesian alphabet was proposed. It consists of 32 graphemes and four digraphs.

Letters: A, B, C, Ć, Č, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, Ń, O, P, R, Ř, S, Ś, Š, T, U, Ů, W, Y, Z, Ź, Ž

Digraphs: Ch, Dz, , .

Polish alphabet for Silesian

Silesian is also written in an adaptation of the Polish alphabet.[17] It contains 30 graphemes and 7 digraphs.

Letters: A, B, C, Ć, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Ł, M, N, Ń, O, Ó, P, R, S, Ś, T, U, W, Y, Z, Ź, Ż

Digraphs: Ch, Cz, Dz, Dź, Dż, Rz, Sz

It is widely used, as Silesians in Poland are taught in Polish schools and they know only the Polish way of writing. This method is used in approximately half of Silesian-language web pages and books.[17]

Writing in this alphabet is rather problematic, since there are many ways to write one sound, e.g. ź ([ʑ]) from the "phonetic alphabet" used inter alia on the Silesian Wikipedia can be written as ź or zi, but zi in the phonetic script stands for [zi]. There is also the risk of losing the characteristic Silesian pronunciation - there is not one method of writing ů ([o]) - the word Ślůnsk can be written as Ślonsk, Ślónsk, Ślunsk and even Śląsk (although there are no phonemic nasal vowels in Silesian).

The same thing is with the diphthong uo ([wɔ]). According to the Polish orthography it must be transcribed unetymologically as ło, which is wrong, because it destroys the rule that "ł" comes from a velarized l. This alphabet is criticised by supporters of radical writings.


The Lord's Prayer in Silesian, Polish and Czech.

Silesian Polish Czech
Uojcze nasz, kery jeżeś we ńebje,
bydź pośwjyncůne mjano Twoje.
Przińdź krůlestwo Twoje,
bydź wola Twoja,
jako we ńebje, tak tyż na źymji.
Chlyb nasz kożdodźynny dej nům dźiśej.
A uodpuść nům nasze winy,
jako a my uodpuszczůmy naszym wińńikům.
A ńy wůdź nos na pokuszyńy,
nale zbow nos uode złygo.
Ojcze nasz, któryś jest w niebie,
święć się imię Twoje,
przyjdź królestwo Twoje,
bądź wola Twoja
jako w niebie tak i na ziemi.
Chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj.
I odpuść nam nasze winy,
jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom.
I nie wódź nas na pokuszenie,
ale zbaw nas ode złego.
Otče náš, jenž jsi na nebesích,
posvěť se jméno Tvé
Přijď království Tvé.
Buď vůle Tvá,
jako v nebi, tak i na zemi.
Chléb náš vezdejší dej nám dnes
A odpusť nám naše viny,
jako i my odpouštíme naším viníkům
a neuveď nás v pokušení,
ale zbav nás od zlého.

Dialects of Silesian language

Grave inscription at Lutheran cemetery in Střítež (Frýdek-Místek District) near Český Těšín. The inscription, which says "Rest in Peace", is in the Cieszyn Silesian Dialect.

The Silesian language has many local dialects:

Dialect vs language

Opinions are divided between Polish linguists whether Silesian is a distinct language or simply another dialect of Polish. The issue can be contentious as some Silesians consider themselves to be a nationality within Poland. Linguists from Poland, for example; Jan Niecisław Baudouin de Courtenay (19th-20th century)[18] Jolanta Tambor[19], Tomasz Wicherkiewicz[20] and Tomasz Kamusella[21][22] support its status as a language.

International linguists and other scholars such as Reinhold Olesch[23][24] from Germany, Ewald Osers (1949)[25][26], Norman Davies[27] from the United Kingdom, and Czech Óndra Łysohorsky also support the status of Silesian as a Slavic language.

Gerd Hentschel from Germany disagrees. He wrote "(...) ohne Zweifel als Dialekt des Polnischen beschrieben werden" (engl.: is without doubt a dialect of Polish.)[28]. Encyclopaedia Britannica also defines it as a dialect of Polish.[29]


The Silesian language has recently seen an increased use in culture, for example:


The oldest known Silesian sentence

Book of Henryków (1270) is the earliest document to include a sentence written in the Silesian language, though it is also recognised as Polish or Czech.[34]

See also


  1. ^ (English)
  2. ^ (Polish) - Main Statistical Office of Polish government: report of Polish census of 2002
  3. ^ (English) "Borders of Language and Identity in Teschen Silesia" - Kevin Hannan, 1996. New York: Peter Lang, page 162
  4. ^ (Polish) Page of National printing house of Silesia (Narodowa Oficyna Śląska)
  5. ^ (English) Official page of Joint Advisory Committee (ISO 639/JAC)
  6. ^ (Polish) "Język śląski jest językiem obcym" - Dziennik Polska-Europa-Świat, 2007
  7. ^ (English) "US Library of Congress recognizes the Silesian language" -, 2007
  8. ^ (English) "Silesian – a language, not a dialect" - (en.
  9. ^ (English) - ISO documentation of Silesian language
  10. ^ (English) - list of languages with codes ISO (letter "S")
  11. ^ (English) - list of languages with codes ISO
  12. ^ (English)
  13. ^ (Silesian)/(Polish) - official page of National Dictation contest of the Silesian language
  14. ^ (Polish) "Śląski wśród języków świata" - Dziennik Zachodni, 2008
  15. ^ (Polish) "Śląska Wikipedia już działa" - Gazeta Wyborcza-Gospodarka, 2008
  16. ^ (Polish) "Katowice: konferencja dotycząca statusu śląskiej mowy" - article in pl.Wikinews
  17. ^ a b c Dyktando 2008 - Ogólnopolskie Dyktando Języka Śląskiego
  18. ^ (English)/(Polish) "God's Playground" - Norman Davies, ISBN 83-240-0020-8
  19. ^ (Polish) "Językoznawcy o mowie śląskiej" - Gazeta Wyborcza-Katowice, 2006
  20. ^ (Polish) "Język śląski uznany w Stanach Zjednoczonych" - Gazeta Wyborcza-Katowice, 2007
  21. ^ (Polish) "Schlonzska mowa - Język, Górny Śląsk i nacjonalizm" - Tomasz Kamusella, ISBN 83-919589-2-2
  22. ^ (English) "The Szlonzoks and their Language: Between Germany, Poland and Szlonzokian Nationalism" - Tomasz Kamusella, European University Institute - Department of History and Civilization and Opole University, 2003
  23. ^ (German) "Zur schlesischen Sprachlandschaft: Ihr alter slawischer Anteil" - Reinhold Olesch, 1987, page 32-45
  24. ^ (Polish) Joanna Rostropowicz: Śląski był jego językiem ojczystym [Reinhold Olesch, 1910-1990] w: Śląsk bogaty różnorodnością - kultur, narodów i wyznań. Historia lokalna na przykładzie wybranych powiatów, miast i gmin (red. Krzysztof Kluczniok, Tomasz Zając), Urząd Gm. i M. Czerwionka-Leszczyny, Dom Współpracy Pol.-Niem., Czerwionka-Leszczyny 2004, ISBN 83-920458-5-8
  25. ^ (English) "Silesian Idiom and Language" - Ewald Osers, New York 1949
  26. ^ (English) "Slavonic Encyclopedia", page 1149-1151
  27. ^ (English) "Europe: A History" - Norman Davies, page 1233, ISBN 0-19-820171-0
  28. ^ (German) Gerd Hentschel - Schlesisch
  29. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, Silesian
  30. ^ (Silesian)
  31. ^ (Polish)
  32. ^ (Polish) (Silesian Theatre)
  33. ^ (Silesian) Przemysław Jedlicki, Mirosław Syniawa "Ślabikorz dlo Slůnzokůw", Gazeta Wyborcza Katowice, 2009-February-13 (copy)
  34. ^ (Silesian)

External links

Silesian language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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