- January 1, 2013
“Pulaki z Wilni” – At Home in Vilnius?
A cross-section of Polish society in Lithuania can be seen not only at concerts of the Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Wilia”, but also on the internet. On the internet one may encounter so popular, and so “Polish” – “bickering with thy neighbours”, and struggling, luckily not to death but to the first ban, about one’s being right.
It all started with a humorous website – written in Vilnius dialect, with a significant addition of Russian and Lithuanian influence – “Pulaki z Wilni” (PzW- the name is the alteration of a proper Polish into the dialect which tend to be used by Poles citizens in the Vilnius region). The authors of the facebook’s fun-page, describe their page in the following way:
“What is the main goal of the PzW? – Promotion of culture of Polish minority in Lithuania, so-called: “Wilniuki”, or “Pulaki”. PwZ show the everyday’s lives of Poles here in a humorous way, as in a distorting mirror. For whom the PzW is not? For people with no sense of humour, nor with distance for themselves, viewing the Polish minority in Lithuania from the angle of history, national quarrels etc.”.
A number of PzW’s fans has been growing constantly – currently over 2700 people “liked” the page. Among the fans of PzW, one can find, people that are well-known in Vilnius society – journalists, artists, activists, teachers. However, the teenagers constitute most of the fans. The phenomenon of the fun-page has been published in media, and even was described in academic dissertations- so far by students only.
Original cartoons became hallmarks of the page, the cartoons accurately comment on social life (sometimes referring to the politics), and series of “My Pulaki z Wilni, bo….”
A lot of people seem to be satisfied that they don’t have to be ashamed of their “simple speech manner” any longer, quite the opposite, they may finally feel proud to be different. Providing that the Polish highland dialect is valued and exists, why can’t the Vilnius dialect be?
However, texts from the PzW are not always pure dialect. Sometimes it’s an incredible mix of dialects, that is composed of utterances of all the users of the page. This “dialect” comprises: slang, Russian and Lithuanian expressions, and everything in it seems to be exaggerated. This may cause laughter, but is also likely to annoy.
Shortly after, the pages to oppose “Pulaki z Wilni” were hosted (obviously it’s not their primary objective). “Polacy z Wilnia” (a proper Polish version of “Pulaki z Wilni”) – currently approx. 1700 fans, also show their presence in the Vilnius region, they also put on local patriotism, nevertheless they put emphasis on a proper Polish, and strong association with the Polish culture.
On the other hand a page “U siebie w Wilnie” (At Home in Vilnius)- currently approx. 1700 fans, represents more radical point of view, they genuinely propagate uncompromising attitude towards Polish-Lithuanian issues, which in fact reveal separatist ideas, and dream (openly) to have Gediminas under the white-red flague.
Some opponents of “Pulaki z Wilni” claim, that “nobody speaks so improperly”, that the page contains too many Russian and Lithuanian expressions, and that it is common nowadays to escalate the incorrectness of the language. Others are sure, that it’s a conspiracy from Warsaw (according to them, the founder of the page, who had lived in Poland for many years, hasn’t a clue about the Vilnius reality), which aim is to stupefy, and to deprive the Polish youth in Lithuania of their national identity.
“Each individual who tries to separate Poles in Vilnius from their “Polishness”, each one, who makes them some kind of separated, local tribe with proletarian dialect instead of their mother tongue, is doing nothing, but preparing the next step of Lithuanization or Russianization” – quotation from the authors of “Polska młodzież z Wilna” blog. (Polish Youth from Vilnius).
On Facebook, one may encounter even more drastic comments. These are some of the examples extracted from the discussion on harmfulness of using “Pulacki” dialect in print: “hang them by feet? From the petrol station like they did with Mussolini, the revenge of people”, ”Bury them alive”, “They will slay themselves, as history showed us”.
“Pulaki z Wilni” Rather do not get into flaming, because they do not get into any discussions. Everyone who has a different opinion, is soon to receive a ban on their page (is going to be blocked), thus won’t be able to comment, or sometimes even to read the content. The page is only for its followers, and not in any case for opponents.
However, one who thinks, that “Pulaks” create an artificial dialect, is wrong. They just move into the internet, what they hear at home, at street, at school. Such a great number of fans proves that people identify themselves with this dialect and this kind of perception. Unfortunately, no matter how much would the opponents of “Pulaks” be irritated, most of the Vilnius region citizens won’t just start using the proper language. Maybe it isn’t a reason to be proud, but a reason to laugh? Why not?
But can we blame this on a humorous webpage? Perhaps it’s a fault of Polish schools, media and other organizations, that fail to attract the youth with the proper Polish language and the Polish culture?
A clash between users of three Vilnius pages on Facebook, probably will last as long, as those fun-pages. As accurately stated by one of the users – in the Vilnius region, there have always been two political parties, two scout organizations, and two performing groups, who happen to have to put on their premiere plays at the same time…
There’s, however, an undeniable value in all of that. It’s not all for nothing. People active on those three sites, not only type on keyboards. Those societies are also active outside of the internet, for example announcing a football competition for Polish schools, supporting a football team “Polonia Wilno”, organizing charity events- about the last example – organized by “Pulaki z Wilni” – in a footage.
Tłumaczenie Jacek Malatyński w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Jacek Malatyński the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.