- March 8, 2013
Who are you – a local “little”
The political disputes concerning the unified examination of the Lithuanian language in Polish schools evokes ghosts of the past, as in the discussions on education there is proposed not teaching Polish, but in the so-called ‘local language’, at all.
Supposedly, the language would be the native language of the local population, which is not any Polish minority, but Lithuanian people, who was exposed to some Slavic influence – recently, mainly the Polish one.
– Those are at least frivolous proposals – thinks Dr. Romuald Naruniec from the Department of Philology and Teaching Polish at the Lithuanian University of Etymology. In his view, the mixture of languages, which are spoken in some villages near Vilnius are hardly dialects, not to mention the status of a language.
– Anyway, which ‘language’ do the proposers plan to teach children, as this blend of languages is various in different places? — asks Dr. Naruniec.
– Different – agrees Dominik Kuzieniewicz, known as the Vilnius storyteller, Vincuk.
– Aunt Franukowa (scenic picture of Anna Adamowicz – ed.) often tells me that in her village they did not use the words I use. And it’s true, because in different places the local dialects are different – Dominik agress with Kuziniewicz. The artist has been playing for decades for his audience in the so-called Vilnius Polish dialect. But, he admits, it is not a language that should be taught in school.
– It’s silly – Kuziniewicz thinks of a possible introduction of the so-called local dialect in schools.
– This language is good on stage, but not in schools. Besides, there is no universal dialect. My stage language is also not a dialect because I based it on the pre-war language changed a little for the stage. I’m also using a variety of different accents — he explains. In his view, the idea of teaching ‘local languages’ in schools has no explanation.
– So we shouldn’t go back on our promises — Dominik Kuziniewicz assessed again the idea.
In his opinion, the so-called the local dialect is an artificial dialect, as well as the one created by the initiative of the Polish youth from the group ‘Pulaki z Wilni’.
– These are some strange people because in the same way as my stage language is not the language of local Poles, the language used by them does not have much in common with the language actually spoken — Kuziniewicz notes and admits, however, that initiatives such as “Pulaki z Wilni” should not be disturbed by anyone.
Meanwhile, according to Dr. Romuald Naruńca, the discussion about the need to teach “the local language” in schools is political, not linguistic.
– The communities proposing such ideas are not about the so-called ‘local language’, for which the is no literature to teach children. Anyway, I do not know any. The originators want the people to not know any language, because then they will mroe easily forget their national heritage – notes Dr. Romuald Naruniec.
The nationalists do not pretend to hide such intentions, they often point out that “the local” population is of Lithuanian origin, which was influenced by Polish or Belarusian culture, and the language of “locals” is a mixture of some languages, like Polish, Belarusian and Russian, but that is based on the Lithuanian language. It is therefore no accident that Lithuanian nationalists are blocking the manifestations of the Polish minority in the defense of Polish education by holding posters with slogans such as “Local, explore your Lithuanian nature”.
Similar ideas are also shared by the Lithuanian academic circles, in which, however, there are ongoing disputes about the roots of the local population and “the local” language.
Dr. Edvardas Statkevičius for years promotes the idea that the local population is derived from the tribe “Wiczowie” from the eastern areas of China, where “Wiczowie” inhabited 3 000 years ago. According to Dr. Statkevičius, their language is a separate language derived from the ancient language of the tribe.
This theory is opposed by professor Zigmas Zinkevičius, who, however, has his own explanation of the heritage of the local people and their language. In his view, the local population are ethnic Lithuanians who first succumbed to the influence of Russians (Belarusians) and later became polonized. Therefore, according to professor Zinkevičius, “local” dialect is a variation of the Polish language, which contains some remnants of Belarusian and Lithuanian.
“Most people believe the language to be rural, abnormal when compared with the general Polish language. But for Lithuanian language experts the language is interesting because of the presence of many elements of Lithuanian. Anyway, it could not be otherwise, since the language was created in the mouth of the Lithuanians. From this language, and not from Polish, some Polish words penetrated the Lithuanian language, so that language can not help but absorb the Lithuanian language historians. Many elements of the language we find also in the works of prominent Polish writers coming from the land of Lithuania, who considered themselves Lithuanians (Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, Louis Syrokomli, Józef Kraszewski, Ignacy Chodzko, Felix Bernatowicz, and others). For this reason, you should not underestimate the language, which is being done by Lithuanian Poles – prof. Zinkevičius wrote in ‘Šiaurės Atėna’.
A serious study of the local dialect, in turn, are conducted by the Belarusian linguists from the Lithuanian University of Etymologies. They recently completed a research study and are currently preparing a publication. ‘Kurier’ shared the preliminary results of this research. They show that the so-called “local language”| is a dialect of Belarusian, however, the linguists also use the term “dialect” very carefully.
– This is a substrate rather than a dialect of the language – notes Dr. Borys Plygavka, director of the Center of the Belarusian Language, Ethnic Literature and Culture. According to the study, one surely cannot afford to call the local speech a separate language.
Tłumaczenie Emil Iracki w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emil Iracki the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.