The Social Differentiation of the Polish Language of the Upper Silesia in the Second Half of the 19th Century


The industrialisation of the Upper Silesia, development of new towns and industrial settlements, and various methods of Germanisation applied to the society caused changes in the ethnic structure of this region and strengthened the position of the German language there. The major opponent to German was the Silesian dialect used both by town dwellers and countrymen in their families and neighbouring communities, and also by the scarce representatives of the Silesian intelligentsia.
The differences between the village slang and that of the people living in towns were mainly connected with vocabulary which, especially in the industrious centres, was exposed to strong German influence. The common language of the intelligentsia was that of a mixed character; it included many phonetic dialectical characteristics, even though irregularly used ones. The general Polish language was known passively, but not used. It was the language of the prayer books, songs, sermons, calendars, and magazines printed by the local publishing houses. All of these factors created a specific linguistic situation which was based on the following issue: in the Silesia of the second half of the 19th century, the opposition of spoken language versus the language of printed texts equalled the opposition of dialect versus the literary Polish language.

Słowa kluczowe

Upper Silesia; Polish language; Silesian dialect

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Opublikowane : 2019-12-20

Kowalska, A. (2019). The Social Differentiation of the Polish Language of the Upper Silesia in the Second Half of the 19th Century. Forum Lingwistyczne, 6(6), 125-136.

Alina Kowalska 
University of Silesia in Katowice  Polska