The internal diversification of Kashubian as a factor impeding the standardization of the language

Rafał Gołąbek, University of Technology and Humanities in Radom, Poland;    Abstract: The article addresses the problem of the internal diversification of Kashubian as a factor hindering the process of bringing about a standard variety in the language. Kashubian, a West Slavic language, spoken in the north of Poland, is very much internally diversified. One may distinguish three main dialectal areas within Kashubian: the northern, the central, and the southern dialects which may be further subdivided into as many as 70 subdialects. It goes without saying that the division entails the existence of certain linguistic differences among those dialects. In general, the northern dialect is rather archaic, the central dialect is more innovative, whereas the southern one has been largely Polonised. Apart from the differences in the lexicon, morphology, and syntax, one may find numerous differences in the phonological nature in the Kashubian dialects. Inter alia, those include lexical stress differences: in the north, the stress is variable, in the centre, it fixed on the first syllable, whereas in the south it usually falls on the penultimate syllable. Furthermore, there are striking differences consisting of vowel alternations between individual dialects. The Kashubian standard has been evolving since the 19th century. In the beginning, the northern dialect had the greatest impact on the arising standard. Later, the developing standard variety was influenced by the southern dialect, whereas it has been recently based on the central dialect with northern elements. Undoubtedly, numerous and significant differences among the dialects constitute an important factor that impedes and slows down the process of standardization of Kashubian. At the present, the standard has not been clearly defined and its actual use depends largely on the Kashubian dialectal variety spoken by individual speakers.

Keywords: standardization, Kashubian, Kashubian dialects, language diversification, sociolinguistics



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