Kashubian or Cassubian (Kashubian: kaszëbsczi jãzëk, pòmòrsczi jãzëk, kaszëbskò-słowińskô mòwa; Polish: język kaszubski) is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages.
Kashubian is assumed to have evolved from the language spoken by some tribes of Pomeranians called Kashubians, in the region of Pomerania, on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea between the Vistula and Oder rivers.
It is closely related to Slovincian, and both of them are dialects of Pomeranian. Many linguists, including in Poland, consider it a divergent dialect of Polish, although now it is usually recognized as the closest living relative of Polish, being the only other Lechitic language still spoken. The Polish Wikipedia article on Kashubian contains a thorough discussion of this question.
Similarly to Polish, Kashubian includes numerous loanwords from Low German, such as kùńszt (art), and some from German. Other sources of loanwords include the Baltic languages, Russian and Polish. In dialects of Kashubian a schwa occurs.
The first printed documents in Kashubian date from the end of the 16th century. The modern orthography was first proposed in 1879.
In the 2002 census, 53,000 people in Poland declared that they mainly use Kashubian at home. All Kashubian speakers are also fluent in Polish. A number of schools in Poland teach in Kashubian as a lecture language. It is used as an official alternative language for local administration purposes in Gmina Sierakowice and Gmina Parchowo in Pomeranian Voivodeship. Kashubian is also spoken by Kashubians living in Canada.
Important for Kashubian literature was Xazeczka dlo Kaszebov by doctor Florian Ceynowa (1817–1881). Hieronim Derdowski (1852-1902 in Winona, Minnesota) was another important author who wrote in Kashubian, as did doctor Aleksander Majkowski (1876–1938) from Kościerzyna. Jan Trepczyk was a poet who wrote in Kashubian, as was Stanisław Pestka. There is Kashubian literature translated into Polish, English, German, Belarusian, Slovak and Finnish.
Following the collapse of communism in Poland, attitudes on the status of Kashubian have been gradually changing. It is increasingly seen as a fully-fledged language, as it is taught in state schools and has some limited usage on public radio and television. Since 2005 Kashubian has enjoyed legal protection in Poland as an official regional language. It is the only language in Poland with this status. Such status was granted by an act Polish Parliament on January 6 of the same year. The bill passed by the Polish parliament in 2005 provides for its use in official contexts in ten communes where Kashubian speakers constitute at least 20 percent of the population.
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