Journal article Open Access

Language: Talking or trading blows in the Upper Silesian industrial basin?

Kamusella, Tomasz

In the 19th century, in the eastern half of Prussia's region of Upper Silesia, continental Europe's second largest industrial basin emerged. In the course of the accelerated urbanization that followed, an increasing number of German- and Germanic-speakers arrived in this overwhelmingly Slavophone area that historically skirted the Germanic dialect continuum to the west. The resultant dynamic interaction between Slavicand German/ic-speakers led to the emergence of an Upper Silesian Slavic-Germanic pidgin that, in the late 19th century, became creolized. The 1922 partition of this region between Germany and Poland led to respective Germanization and Polonization of a population that was typically multiglossic in the creole, in the local Slavic dialect, in standard German, and in standard Polish. Successive dramatic reversals in these policies of Germanization and Polonization between 1939 and 1989 ensured the survival of a Polonized version of the creole, which the local population perceives either as a dialect of German, or a dialect of Polish, or their own (national) Silesian language.

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