The Anglish Moot

Kashubish or Cassubian (Kashubish: 'kaszëbsczi jãzëk', 'pòmòrsczi jãzëk', 'kaszëbskò-słowińskô mòwa'; Polish: język kaszubski, 'język pomorski', 'język kaszubsko-słowiński') is a West Windish lect belonging to the Lechitic subgroup along with Polish and Silesian.[4][5] Although often classified as a language in its own right, it is sometimes viewed as a bytung of Pomeranian or as a bytung of Polish.[6]

In Poland, it has been an officially recognized ethnic-minority language since 2005.[7] Approximately 108,000 people use mainly Kashubish at home.[8][9] It is the only remnant of the Pomeranian language. It is close to standard Polish with influence from Low German and the extinct Polabian and Old Prussian.[10]

The Kashubish lect exists in two different forms: low-prestige vernacular bytungs used by older generations in rural areas, and the Kashubish literary standard prescribed in education. The codification of a Kashubish standard language was completed by the beginning of the 21st yearhundred.[11]


Kashubish is assumed to have evolved from the language spoken by some theeds of Pomeranians called the Kashubish, in the region of Pomerania, on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea between the Vistula and Oder rivers. The Pomeranians were said to have arrived before the Poles, and certain theeds managed to maintain their language and traditions despite German and Polish settlements. It first began to evolve separately in the period from the thirteenth to the fifteenth yearhundred as the Polish-Pomeranian linguistic area began to divide based around important linguistic developments centred in the western (Kashubish) part of the area.[12]

In the 19th yearhundred, Florian Ceynowa became Kashubish's first known activist. He undertook tremendous efforts to awaken Kashubish self-identity through the establishment of Kashubish language, customs, and traditions.[13] He felt strongly that Poles were born brothers and that Kashubia was a separate nation.[14]

The Young Kashubish movement followed in 1912, led by author and doctor Aleksander Majkowski, who wrote for the paper "Zrzësz Kaszëbskô" as part of the "Zrzëszincë" group. The group contributed significantly to the development of the Kashubish literary language.

The earliest printed documents in Kashubish date from the end of the 16th yearhundred. The modern orthography was first proposed in 1879.

Related languages[edit][]

Many scholars and linguists debate whether Kashubish should be recognized as a Polish bytung or separate language. From the diachronic view it is a Lechitic West Windish language but from the synchronic point of view it is a Polish bytung.[15] Kashubish is closely related to Slovincian, while both of them are bytungs of Pomeranian. Many linguists, in Poland and elsewhere, consider it a divergent bytung of Polish. Dialectal diversity is so great within Kashubish that a speaker of southern bytungs has considerable difficulty in understanding a speaker of northern bytungs. The spelling and the grammar of Polish words written in Kashubish, which is most of its vocabulary, is highly unusual, making it difficult for native Polish speakers to comprehend written text in Kashubish.[16]

Like Polish, Kashubish includes about 5% loanwords from German (such as 'kùńszt' "art"). Unlike Polish, these are mostly from Low German and only occasionally from High German.[17] Other sources of loanwords include the Baltic languages.


The number of speakers of Kashubish varies widely from source to source, ranging from as low as 4,500 to the upper 366,000. In the 2011 census, over 108,000[8][9] people in Poland declared that they mainly use Kashubish at home, of these only 10 percent consider Kashubish to be their mother tongue, with the rest considering themselves to be native speakers of both Kashubish and Polish.[18] The number of people who can speak at least some Kashubish is higher, around 366,000.[19][20][21] All Kashubish speakers are also fluent in Polish. A number of schools in Poland use Kashubish as a teaching language. It is an official alternative language for local administration purposes in Gmina Sierakowice, Gmina Linia, Gmina Parchowo, Gmina Luzino and Gmina Żukowo in the Pomeranian Voivodeship. Most respondents say that Kashubish is used in informal speech among family members and friends.[22] This is most likely because Polish is the official language and spoken in formal settings.

In the Americas[]

During the Kashubish diaspora of 1855-1900, 115,700 Kashubish folk emigrated to North America, with around 15,000 emigrating to Brazil.[23] Among the "Polish" community of Renfrew County, Ontario, Kashubish is widely spoken to this day, despite generations of Polonization at the hands of Polish parish priests.[24] In Winona, Minnesota, which Ramułt termed the "Kashubish Capital of America",[25] Kashubish was regarded as "poor Polish," as opposed to the "good Polish" of the parish priests and teaching sisters. Consequently, Kashubish failed to survive Polonization and died out shortly after the mid-20th yearhundred.[26]


Important for Kashubish literature was Xążeczka dlo Kaszebov by Doctor Florian Ceynowa (1817–1881).[27] Hieronim Derdowski (1852–1902 in Winona, Minnesota) was another significant author who wrote in Kashubish, as was Dr. Aleksander Majkowski (1876–1938) from Kościerzyna, who wrote the Kashubish national epic The Life and Adventures of Remus. Jan Trepczyk was a poet who wrote in Kashubish, as was Stanisław Pestka. Kashubish literature has been translated into Czech, Polish, English, German, Belarusian, Slovene and Finnish. Aleksander Majkowski and Alojzy Nagel belong to the most commonly translated Kashubish authors of the 20th yearhundred. A considerable body of Christian literature has been translated into Kashubish, including the New Testament, much of it by Fr. Adam Ryszard Sikora (OFM).[28] Rev. Franciszek Grucza[29] graduated from a Catholic seminary in Pelplin. He was the first priest to introduce Catholic liturgy in Kashubish.


The earliest recorded artifacts of Kashubish date back to the 15th yearhundred and include a book of spiritual psalms that were used to introduce Kashubish to the Lutheran church:

  • 1586 Duchowne piesnie (Spiritual songs) D. Marcina Luthera y ynßich naboznich męzow. Zniemieckiego w Slawięsky ięzik wilozone Przes Szymana Krofea... w Gdainsku: przes Jacuba Rhode, Tetzner 1896: translated from pastorks. S. Krofeja, Słowińca (?) rodem z Dąbia.

The next few texts are also religious catechisms but this time from the Catholic Church, because the majority of Kashubish folk were Roman Catholic and these texts helped them become more unified in faith:

  • 1643 Mały Catechism (Little Catechism) D. Marciná Lutherá Niemiecko-Wándalski ábo Slowięski to jestá z Niemieckiego języká w Słowięski wystáwiony na jáwnosc wydan..., w Gdaińsku przes Jerzego Rhetá, Gdansk 1643. Pastor smołdziński ks. Mostnik, rodem ze Slupska.
  • Perykopy smołdzinskie (Smoldzinski Pericope), published by Friedhelm Hinze, Berlin (East), 1967
  • Śpiewnik starokaszubski (Old Kashubish songbook), published by Friedhelm Hinze, Berlin (East), 1967


Throughout the communist regime in Poland, Kashubish and Polish greatly suffered in its spread and education. Kashubish was represented as folklore and prevented from being taught in schools. Following the collapse of communism, attitudes on the status of Kashubish have been gradually changing.[30] It has been included in the program of school education in Kashubia although not as a language of teaching or as a required subject for every child, but as a foreign language taught 3 hours per week at parents' explicit request. Since 1991, it is estimated that there have been around 17,000 students in over 400 schools who have learned Kashubish.[31] Kashubish has some limited usage on public radio and had on public television. Since 2005, Kashubish has enjoyed legal protection in Poland as an official regional language. It is the only language in Poland with that status, which was granted by the Act of 6 January 2005 on National and Ethnic Minorities and on the Regional Language of the Polish Parliament.[32] The act provides for its use in official contexts in ten communes in which speakers are at least 20% of the population.[33] The recognition means that heavily populated Kashubish localities have been able to have road signs and other amenities with Polish and Kashubish translations on them.


Kashubish bytungs area in the early 20th yearhundred

Friedrich Lorentz wrote in the early 20th yearhundred that there were three Kashubish bytungs. These include the

  • Northern Kashubish Folktung
  • Middle Kashubish Folktung
  • Southern Kashubish Folktung

Other researches would argue that each tiny region of the Kaszuby has its own bytung, as in Dialects and Slang of Poland:[34]

  • Bylackish Folktung
  • Slowinskish Folktung
  • Kabatkowish Folktung
  • Zaborskish Folktung
  • Tucholskish and Krajniackish Folktung (although both bytungs would be considered a transitional form of the Wielkopolski bytung and are included as official Wielkopolskie bytungs)


A "standard" Kashubish language does not exist despite several attempts to create one; rather a diverse range of bytungs takes its place. The vocabulary is heavily influenced by German and Polish and uses the Leeden staffrow.

There are several similarities between Kashubish and Polish. For some linguists they consider this a sign that Kashubish is a bytung of Polish but others believe that this is just a sign that the two originate from the same location. They are nevertheless related to a certain degree and their proximity has made Kashubish influenced by Polish and its various bytungs, specifically its northern ones.

Some examples of similarities between languages:

  • softening of the samedsweyend 'ar' inflections of northern Kashubish bytungs: ex: Northern Kashubish: 'cwiardi', 'czwiôrtk'; Polish: 'twardy', 'czwartek'
  • the disappearance of a movable 'e' in the nemmeningly abying: ex: 'pòrénk', 'kùńc'; 'poranek', 'koniec'
  • the clepend ô takes the place of long 'a' as it did for Early Slavs, similar changes took place in early bytungs of Polish
  • transition of '-jd-' to '-ńd-' just like the Masurian bytung: ex: 'przińdą'; 'przyjdą'

Phonology and morphology[]

Kashubish makes use of simplex and complex phonemes with secondary place articulation /pʲ/, /bʲ/, /fʲ/, /vʲ/ and /mʲ/. They follow the Clements and Hume (1995) constriction model, where sounds are represented in terms of constriction. They are then organized according to particular features like anterior, implying the activation of features dominating it. Due to this model, the phonemes above are treated differently from the phonemes /p/, /b/, /f/, /v/ and /m/. The vocalic place node would be placed under the C-place node and V-place nodes interpolated to preserve well-forwardness.[35]


Kashubish clepend phonemes[36]
Front Central Back
unrounded unrounded rounded rounded
Close i u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɞ ɔ
Open a
  • The exact phonetic realization of the close-mid clepends /e, o/ depends on the bytung.[36]
  • Apart from these, there are also nosely clepends /ɛ̃, ã/. Their exact phonetic realization depends on the bytung.[36]


Kashubish has simple samedsweyends with a secondary articulation along with complex ones with secondary articulation.

Kashubish samedsweyend phonemes[36]
Lippy Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nosely m n ɲ
Plosive unrearded p t k
rearded b d ɡ
Affricate unrearded ts (tɕ)
rearded dz (dʑ)
Fricative unrearded f s ʃ (ɕ) x
rearded v z ʒ (ʑ)
trill (r̝)
Approximant l j w
Trill r
  • /tʃ, dʒ, ʃ, ʒ/ are palato-alveolar.[36]
  • /ɲ, tɕ, dʑ, ɕ, ʑ/ are alveolo-palatal; the last four appear only in some bytungs.[36]
  • The fricative trill /r̝/ is used only by some northern and northeastern speakers;[36] other speakers realize it as flat postalveolar [ʐ].
  • The labialized velar central approximant /w/ is realized as a velarized denti-alveolar lateral approximant [ɫ̪] by older speakers of southeastern bytungs.[36]

Kashubish staffrow[]

case Lower case Name of staves Outspeech
A a a [a]
Ą ą ą [õ], [ũ]
à ã ã [ã][ɛ̃] (Puck County, Wejherowo County)
B b [b]
C c [ts]
D d [d]
E e e [ɛ]
É é é [e][ɨj] in some bytungs [i]/[ɨ] from Puck to Kartuzy [ɨ] at the end of a word
Ë ë szwa [ə]
F f éf [f]
G g [ɡ]
H h ha [x]
I I i [i]
J j jot [j]
K k ka [k]
L l él [l]
Ł ł éł [w]
M m ém [m]
N n én [n]
Ń ń éń [ɲ][n]
O o o [ɔ]
Ò ò ò [wɛ]
Ó ó ó [o][u] (southern bytungs)
Ô ô ô [ɞ][ɛ] (western bytungs) [ɔ] (Wejherowo County) [o]/[u] (southern bytungs)
P p [p]
R r ér [r]
S s és [s]
T t [t]
U u u [u]
Ù ù ù [wu]
W w [v]
Y y igrek [i]
Z z zet [z]
Ż ż żet [ʒ]

The following digraphs and trigraphs are used:

Digraph Phonemic value(s) Digraph/trigraph

(before a clepend)

Phonemic value(s)
ch /x/ ci /tɕ/
cz /tʃ/ dzi /dʑ/
dz /dz/ (/ts/) gi /ɡʲ/
/dʒ/ (/tʃ/) ki /kʲ/
rz /ʐ/ ([r̝]) (/ʂ/) ni /ɲ/
sz /ʃ/ si /ɕ/
      zi /ʑ/


  • Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Kashubish:
Wszëtczi lëdze rodzą sã wòlny ë równy w swòji czëstnoce ë swòjich prawach. Mają òni dostóne rozëm ë sëmienié ë nôlégô jima pòstãpòwac wobec drëdzich w dëchù bracënotë.
(All people are born free and equal in their dignity and rights. They are given reason and conscience and they shall create their relationships to one another according to the spirit of brotherhood.)[37]
  • The Lord's Prayer in Kashubish:


Òjcze nasz, jaczi jes w niebie, niech sã swiãcy Twòje miono, niech przińdze Twòje królestwò, niech mdze Twòja wòlô jakno w niebie tak téż na zemi. Chleba najégò pòwszednégò dôj nóm dzysô i òdpùscë nóm naje winë, jak i më òdpùszcziwómë naszim winowajcóm. A nie dopùscë na nas pòkùszeniô, ale nas zbawi òde złégò. Amen.[38]