Hello All,

In April I discussed the situation of Upper and Lower Silesian, and their 
relationships to Czech and Polish with the Ethnologue staff. After that, I 
sent this message (on 26-4-2006) to the JAC (I have removed the earlier 
discussion that was mostly information from the applicant):

Hello All,

I discussed the matter of Upper Silesian and Lower Silesian as they are 
identified in the Ethnologue with the Ethnologue Editor, sharing with him 
the information provided by the applicant. He reviewed the sources of the 
Ethnologue information. We also did some independent research for English 
language references, finding this reference particularly helpful: Hannan, 
Kevin. 1996. Borders of language and identity in Teschen Silesia. New York 
: Peter Lang. Our conclusion is that a previous editor had, in effect, 
switched the relationships of Upper and Lower Silesian language varieties 
to Polish, German and Czech, mistakenly identifying Upper Silesian as a 
dialect of Polish, rather than Lower Silesian (a conclusion which agrees 
with the submitter's expanded information.

We believe the simplest solution would be to correct the name confusion:
leave the code [sli] as it is and just change the name for [sli] from 
Lower Silesian to Upper Silesian
change the name of the Polish dialect from Upper Silesian to Lower 

If this would cause more confusion than it would resolve (as, for 
instance, with the existing references in Wikipedia), we would 
alternatively propose retiring [sli] 'Lower Silesian' and merging it into 
Polish, and creating a new code element for Upper Silesian (perhaps 


Personally, I favor the second solution (the unnumbered statement in the 
final paragraph), as I think the two steps suggested (by the Ethnologue 
staff) would leave lingering confusion--would, in essence, violate the 
identifier reuse principle, even though the original use was a result of 
error, not intention. The identifier for Polish would not be adversely 
affected by either approach.

I can recommend to our Ethnologue staff to initiate a formal change 
proposal along either course of action, or I suppose the JAC can do so. Or 
I can ask the original requester to make a formal proposal to add Upper 
Silesian to Part 3 (though I think we have required quite enough from them 

Basically, the resolution is just awaiting final adoption of Part 3 so we 
can get the formal change process rolling. Which leads me to ask: when did 
it enter Final Draft International Standard status and when is the voting 
to be finished? And where does the question about SIL as the RA stand?


Joan Spanne
SIL International

Håvard  Hjulstad <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent by: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>
09/28/2006 05:55 AM
Please respond to
ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>

[log in to unmask]

FW: ISO 639 encoding proposal: Silesian

The message below is forwarded to the JAC.
Any comments?
Håvard Hjulstad
mailto:[log in to unmask]

From: onet [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2006 11:12 AM
To: Håvard Hjulstad
Subject: Re: ISO 639 encoding proposal: Silesian
Importance: High

Dear Mr Håvard Hjulstad and Ms Rebecca S Guenther,
Thank you for your e-letter of 19 Sept 2006.
We appreciate your suggestion that our Silesian language should be coded 
under the sil identifier for Lower Silesian or pol for Polish with its 
Upper Silesian dialect.
However, we cannot agree to this makeshift solution on several grounds. 
First, Lower Silesian (Niederschlesisch) is a Germanic dialect of the 
German language, also sometimes used for literary pursuits as in the works 
of G. Hauptman’s. Second, it is faulty to classify the Silesian language 
as an Upper Silesian dialect of Polish, because from the point of view of 
areal dialectology, Silesian construed as a dialect is as much a dialect 
of Polish as of Czech. Third, we believe that our Silesian language (based 
on Upper Silesia’s Slavic dialect and Slavic-Germanic creole, nowadays, 
spoken in Poland, the Czech Republic, and among the [Upper] Silesian 
diaspora in Germany) deserves a separate identifier code, like 
aforementioned Lower Silesian, because literature has been created in 
Silesian. Fourth, the speakers of Lower Silesian identify themselves as 
Germans, while the speakers of our Silesian language identify themselves 
as the Silesian nation separate from the Poles, the Czechs, or the 
In the 2002 Polish census, Poland’s largest national minority registered 
in this census (with 173,000 members) is that of the Silesians. 50,000 of 
them declared the Silesian language as the language of everyday 
communication in families.
Hence, in the view of these facts, Silesian is not a mere Slavic dialect, 
or a dialect sometimes used for literary purposes (like Germanic Lower 
Silesian), but a national language of the distinct nation of the 
Silesians. A language in which the Silesians speak, and in which 
literature is created and an increasing number of printed, internet, audio 
and TV texts of various kinds are available.
The ethnogenesis of the Silesian nation and its language was recently 
presented and analyzed in the following book:
Tomasz Kamusella.2006. Silesia and Central European Nationalisms: The 
Emergence of Nagtional and Ethnic Groups in Prussian Silesia and Austrian 
Silesia, 1848-1918. West Lafayette IN: Purdue University Press.
A shorter version of his argument, also covering the 20th century, is 
available in:
Tomasz Kamusella. 2003. The Szlonzoks and Their Language: Between Germany, 
Poland and Szlonzokian Nationalism. 2003. Florence, European University 
Institute: Working Papers Series of the Department of History and 
Civilization (HEC 2003/1). [] 
Almost twenty books in Silesian and about the Silesians and their language 
were published by Mr Andrzej Roczniok’s publishing house, Nacyjna Łoficyna 
Ślunska (in Silesian) / Narodowa Oficyna Śląska (in Polish)  (
The name of the Silesian language is: Oberschlesisch, Wasserpolnisch, 
Schlesisch, Slonzakisch in German; język śląski or język górnośląski in 
Polish; slezsky jazyk or hornoslezsky jazyk in Czech; slůnsko godka, 
ślůnsko szpracha or szlonski jynzyk in Silesian. In English it is commonly 
referred to as Silesian or Szlonzokian. All the terms can be used for 
retrieving further documents on the Silesian language from the web.
In addition, in May 2003, the ISO 639 Registration Authorities' Joint 
Advisory Committee (JAC) approved the Alpha-3 identifier: csb for the 
Kashubian language. Until 2005, the Polish authorities considered 
Kashubian a dialect of Polish, and now recognize it as a regional 
language. (The approach is similar to the German view of Lower Silesian.) 
The Kashubs see themselves as part of the Polish nation, like Lower 
Silesian-speakers who consider themselves part of the German nation.
If such regional and dialectal languages as Kashubian and Lower Silesian 
can be supplied with their specific identifier codes, the more right 
Silesian, as the national language of the Silesian nation, has to be 
provided with its separate identifier code in order to ensure the 
preserving and development of linguistic diversity and heritage in Europe.
I hope that these arguments convince you to consider allocating our 
Silesian language an appropriate code, nowadays already enjoyed by almost 
extinct Lower Silesian, or languages with much fewer speakers than 
Silesian, for instance, Sorbian. In addition, we believe we have supplied 
you with all the materials and met all the requirements stipulated by the 
guidelines posted by the JAC to ensure the swift allocation of an 
appropriate identified code for the Silesian language.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Andrzej Roczniok and Gregory Kozubek
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Håvard Hjulstad 
To: [log in to unmask] ; [log in to unmask] 
Cc: Rebecca S. Guenther 
Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 3:41 PM
Subject: ISO 639 encoding proposal: Silesian

Dear Sirs,
Your proposal to encode "Silesian" in ISO 639-2 has been received some 
time ago and discussed by the ISO 639 RAs Joint Advisory Committee (JAC). 
I am sorry that the proposal has been somewhat long in the pipeline.
Part of the reason for the delay is the finalization of ISO 639-3, which 
extends the alpha-3 language code to include some 7000 languages. The item 
in question is possibly encoded in ISO 639-3. That part of ISO 639 will 
become an International Standard very soon.
Please see for 
documentation of how the item is encoded in ISO 639-3. Please also follow 
the link to the Ethnologue database. It is stated that sli = "Lower 
Silesian", which is "different from Upper Silesian, a dialect of Polish".
It may be that the encoding in ISO 639-3 makes an encoding in ISO 639-2 
superfluous. The identifier would be the same (sli), and the scope of the 
encoding would be the same.
However, the exact extension of the proposal isn't quite clear. We invite 
you to study the encoding in ISO 639-3 and the Ethnologue database (start 
through the link provided above) and to comment or submit proposal(s) for 
changes or additions based on the current encoding.
Please send any comment to me and I shall forward it to the JAC for 
Best regards,
Håvard Hjulstad
(secretary ISO 639 RAs-JAC)
Håvard Hjulstad
  Standard Norge / Standards Norway
  direkte tel / direct tel: (+47) 67838645
  mailto:[log in to unmask]