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Migration or Immigration? Ireland’s New and Unexpected Polish-Language Community

  • Tomasz Kamusella

Abstract

Today’s Poland as an ethnolinguistically homogenous nation-state of ethnic Poles (that is, Polish-speaking monolinguals) came into being in the 1940s. In interwar Poland, at least one-third of the polity’s citizenry was composed of people of ethnicities other than Polish (Jankowiak-Konik 2011: 120). From the linguistic vantage, the biggest groups among these other ethnicities spoke Ukrainian, Yiddish, Belarusian and German in everyday life. There were also numerically smaller ethnic groups speaking other languages. However, members of many of the minorities had a command of other languages in addition to their own ethnic ones. The lands that composed interwar Poland had previously belonged to the Russian Empire, the German Empire or Austria-Hungary. This meant that many of the speakers of the aforementioned languages also had a working command of Russian, German or Polish (in the latter case due to the official status of Polish in Vienna’s Crownland of Galicia after 1869). By the same token, many among the two-thirds of the population of interwar Poland who were Polish-speaking also shared with their fellow citizens this bilingual facility, in these cases generally speaking either Russian or German, as well as Polish. Under the influence of Warsaw’s Polonizing policies, there was a lessening of the pressure on Polish-speakers to continue to acquire languages other than the standard Polish then taught in school. Conversely, Poland’s non-Polish-speakers were increasingly forced to acquire Polish, in part through being gradually deprived by the state administration of educational opportunities in their own languages (Horak 1961).

Keywords

European Union European Union Member State Slavic Language Polish Migrant European Union State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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