Slovincian is an extinct dialect of the Pomeranian language, spoken between the lakes Gardno and Lebsko in Pomerania. Slovincian died out as the everyday language of the community and had been replaced by Low German by the turn of the 20th century, however single words and expressions survived until the years after World War II. At that time there were also reports of elders who were able to hold simple conversations in their dialect.

Slovincian was so closely related to Kashubian that it could be regarded as its dialect. It is disputed whether Slovincians actually used that name, given by Russian scientist Aleksander Hilferding, for themselves. Some scholars believe that Slovincians regarded themselves only as Lutheran Kashubians and their language as Kashubian. Nevertheless, the name "Slovincian" prevails in the literature and is also used officially (e.g. Slowinski Park Narodowy - Slovincian National Park in the Pomeranian voivodship).

The ancestors of Slovincians probably came to their area some 1500 years ago, as part of the large tribe of Slavic Pomeranians. Following its forcible Christianization (Northern Crusade, Western Pomerania ruling classes gradually became more and more Germanized. The adoption of Lutheranism in 1525 and 1538 broke most of links with Poles and Kashubes. Moreover, it was decided that German language will be used in the Church in Pomerania, instead of native language of people.

The relative isolation of the Slovincian settlements from major cities has delayed this process there until late 19th century. In the 16th and 17th century Michal Mostnik (also known as Pontanus or Michael Brüggeman) and Szimon Krofej attempted to introduce Slovincian into the Lutheran Church. They translated and published several religious works in Slovincian.

Their efforts did not stop the process of Germanization of the Slavic population in Pomerania. After the unification of Germany in 1871, the former Prussian province of Pomerania became part of national Germany. At that point of time any language except of German was strongly forbidden in the church, education and offices - germanisation. The Slavic Pomeranian language was becoming more and more obsolete and was gradually replaced by Low German. The same process much slower was taking place for Catholic Kashubians in the Prussian province of Westpreussen. Nevertheless, Kashubians survived until the Treaty of Versailles put them under Polish government. The Slovincian area was left in the borders of Germany. With Nazi era years of minorities in Germany were counted. The obligatory membership in Hitlerjugend made dialogue between old and young next to impossible, while using other languages then German had been not warmly welcome by officials.

Areas populated by the Slovincë became part of Poland after World War II in 1945. The newly arrived Polish settlers from Eastern Poland treated them as Germans, due to participation in the German military and Nazi organisations. The relations between both groups remained tense, since they opposed each other during WW2. The ownership rights to property of German citizens have been taken over by the state, unless they proved the rights to naturalise. Slovincians haven't been given chance to apply for Polish citizenship. Some Polish intellectuals wrote protest letters against such treatment of Pomerania's indigenous population to the Communist authorities, but that did not change much. Slovincians began to ask for the right to leave for Germany, and virtually all families had emigrated to Germany by the 1980s.

See also

de:Slowinzische Sprache


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