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:
  1. leave the code [sli] as it is and just change the name for [sli] from Lower Silesian to Upper Silesian
  2. change the name of the Polish dialect from Upper Silesian to Lower Silesian.

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 [szl]?).


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 already).

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]>

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FW: ISO 639 encoding proposal: Silesian

The message below is forwarded to the JAC.
Any comments?
Håvard Hjulstad
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From: onet [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Thursday, September 28, 2006 11:12 AM
Håvard Hjulstad
Re: ISO 639 encoding proposal: Silesian

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 Germans.
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). [http://cadmus.iue.it/dspace/handle/1814/1351] [PDF]

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)  (http://www.republika.pl/narodowaoficynaslaska/).
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 http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/documentation.asp?id=sli 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 consideration.
Best regards,
Håvard Hjulstad
(secretary ISO 639 RAs-JAC)
Håvard Hjulstad
  Standard Norge / Standards Norway
  direkte tel / direct tel: (+47) 67838645
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