Campaign to save Kashubian language gains momentum – The First News

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A crowdfunding campaign is underway to raise 50,000 PLN to create an online Kashubian dictionary and thus save the language.
Adam Warzawa/PAP

A foundation in Kashubia seeks to create the first professional online dictionary dedicated to the endangered Kashubian language.

The Kashubian Language Internet Dictionary, or Jinternetowi Słowôrz Kaszebsczégò Jãzeka, is necessary, according to the Kaszuby Foundation, to keep the language alive.

Although dictionaries of the regional language exist in book form, the foundation says the world has changed so much that an online dictionary is now needed to serve the interests of younger generations.

A typical Kashubian parade passes through a northern town – however activists have warned that an online dictionary is essential if young people are to learn the language.Adam Warzawa/PAP

Kashubian is spoken by about 100,000 people in the Kashubian region west and south of Gdansk. About 20,000 children learn it in schools, but there is still no dictionary on the Internet, the foundation points out.

Mateùsz Titës Meyer of the foundation said: “Kashub is used less and less in homes, and without attractive modern tools, children will not want to learn it in years to come – it will be a dead language.

The language is already on UNESCO’s list of endangered languages. Earlier this year, the foundation set up online fundraising and has so far raised just over half of the 50,000 PLN it needs.

Opinions differ on how to categorize Kashubian, with some claiming it is a language in its own right, while others consider it a dialect of Pomeranian or Polish.Wikicommons

If they raise the full amount, the dictionary will be ready in November this year. With the money, they hope to create a free dictionary of around 25,000 entries with Kashubian and Polish descriptions.

In the future, the dictionary will expand to include English, German and Ukrainian. Kashubian word sound recordings will also be added along with online lessons.

The site will also allow users to report new words, possible errors or different variations of a word.

The Kaszuby Foundation claims that the world has changed so much that an online dictionary is needed to serve the interests of younger generations.Kaszuby Foundation

The foundation explained on its crowdfunding page: “The main cost is the creation and development of the language database. It is tedious and time-consuming work and the preparation of vocabulary takes months.

“One has to browse many sources, leaf through existing dictionaries published in paper form, as well as check articles published by the Kashubian Language Council.”

The foundation does not hide the urgency of the task. “Due to the state of the Kashubian language, we can’t wait any longer. Today we can still try to save the word of our fathers, the foundation wrote.

President Andrzej Duda proudly holds a Kashubian scarf during a visit to the north.Adam Warzawa/PAP

The crowdfunding campaign is the foundation’s latest attempt to raise the money needed for an online dictionary.

“For two years we have been trying to get funding for this from various sources, but unfortunately the committees evaluating our applications […] continue to reject our requests on the grounds that such a dictionary is not a cultural activity, but an academic one,” writes the foundation.

For more than three years, the foundation has maintained the Facebook page Pòlskò-kaszëbsczi słowôrz with the aim of introducing the Kashubian language to a wider audience. The page has nearly 4,500 subscribers.

Last year, the first Kashubian translation of Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland was published under the Kashubian title Przigòdë Alice in Cëdaczny Zemie.Kaszuby Foundation

Last year, the first Kashubian translation of Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland was published under the Kashubian title Przigòdë Alice in Cëdaczny Zemie. Other translations of classics are in preparation.

Kashubian subtitles are also being produced for the first installment of The Godfather trilogy directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

The foundation has also been organizing a poll for the Kashubian word of the year for two years. The winners in 2020 were larwa, meaning mask, and in 2021 spisënk, meaning census.

Kashubian is a West Slavic language belonging to the Lechitic subgroup along with the dialects of Polish and Silesian. Opinions differ on how to categorize Kashubian, with some saying it is a language in its own right, while others consider it a dialect of
Pomeranian or Polish.

Kashubian is spoken by about 100,000 people in the Kashubian region west and south of Gdansk.Adam Warzawa/PAP

According to 2011 census information, 108,140 people said Kashubian was the language they spoke most often at home. In Poland, it has been an officially recognized ethnic minority language since 2005.

In the same year, Kashubian received a huge boost when it was granted regional language status. Since then it is possible to take secondary school exams in Kashubian. The language is currently taught in around 400 schools.

It can even be used on an equal footing with Polish in state administration offices of the Kashubian region, and the names of towns and villages are marked in both language versions.

The dictionary crowdfunding campaign can be found at: https://zrzutka.pl/5xw6zz

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