Kashubian as an ausbau language: a sociolinguistic perspective

Rafał Gołąbek, Uniwersytetu Technologiczno-Humanistycznego im. Kazimierza Pułaskiego w Radomiu, Poland;     Abstract: The article addresses a long-standing issue with regard to the status of Kashubian, a lect spoken in northern Poland. Should it be treated as a language, or a 'mere' dialect of Polish? To answer the question, one may turn to the concepts of abstand and ausbau languages postulated by Kloss (1967). An abstand language is one that is distinctly separate from any other languages. In turn, an ausbau language is a standard variety which often develops from a part of a dialect continuum. Hence, Kloss’s framework addresses situations in which varieties belonging to a dialect continuum have been standardized and elaborated upon to be considered separate languages although are (partially) mutually intelligible. As to Kashubian, one may claim that it was an abstand language in the past to be subsequently relegated to a dialect-like status in the process of near-dialectalization. In the recent decades, there have been attempts to standardize Kashubian and expand its scope of use to the areas previously occupied by Polish. Kashubian has an extensive body of publications such as grammars, dictionaries and literature. Furthermore, the lect has made advances into numerous new areas: it is used, inter alia, in the media, in the church, or as the language of schooling and education. All things considered, it seems plausible to postulate that Kashubian has attained the status of an ausbau language.


Key words: sociolinguistics, abstand and ausbau languages, Kashubian, standardization



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