Silesian language

#redirectTemplate:Dated maintenance category

Ślůnsko godka
Spoken in Silesian Voivodeship and Opole Voivodeship in Poland, Moravian-Silesian Region and Olomouc Region (only Jeseník District) in Czech Republic, Germany and USA
Region Upper Silesia / Silesia
Total speakers no data
(about 60,000 people declared Silesian as their native language in Polish census)[1]
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 sla
ISO 639-3 szl

Silesian or Upper Silesian (Silesian: Ślůnsko godka, Czech: Slezský jazyk, Polish: Język śląski) is a Slavic language[2] member of group of Lechitic languages spoken in the region of Silesia. The ISO 639-3 language code is szl[3].


Silesian speakers currently live in the region of Upper Silesia, which is split between southwestern Poland and the northeastern Czech Republic. At present Silesian is commonly spoken in the area between historical border of Silesia on the east, and a line from Syców to Prudnik on the west, as well as in the Rawicz area. Until 1945 Silesian was also spoken in enclaves in Lower Silesia, as Lower Silesian, a German dialect, was spoken by the ethnic German majority population of that region at the time.

According to the last official census in Poland (2002), about 60,000[4] people declared Silesian as their native language, and over 173,000 people declared Silesian nationality (mainly in the Silesian Voivodeship)[5]. There are also about 100,000 Silesian (Cieszyn Silesian) speakers living in the Czech Republic; Cieszyn Silesian is also commonly spoken in the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia. Speakers of Cieszyn Silesian dialect usually identify themselves on the nationality level as Poles[6]. According to the last official census in Czech Republic, 10,878 Czechs declared Silesian nationality.


In 2003, the National Publishing Company of Silesia (Narodowa Oficyna Śląska) commenced operations[7]. This publisher was started by the Alliance of People of the Silesian Nation (Związek Ludności Narodowości Śląskiej) and it prints books about Silesia and books in Silesian language.

In July 2007, the Slavic Silesian language was recognized by an ISO Joint Advisory Committee[8], Library of Congress[9][10][11], International Information Centre for Terminology and SIL International. Language was attributed ISO code: SZL[12][13][14][15].

On 6 September 2007, 23 politicians of the Polish parliament notified about a project of a new law to give the Silesian language the official status of a regional language.[16]

The first official National Dictation contest of the Silesian language (Ogólnopolskie Dyktando Języka Śląskiego) took place in August 2007[17].

On 30 January 2008 and in June 2008, two organizations promoting Silesian language were started: Pro Loquela Silesiana and "Tôwarzistwo Piastowaniô Ślónskij Môwy "Danga"[18].

On 26 May 2008, Silesian Wikipedia was started.[19]

On 30 June 2008 in the edifice of the Silesian Parliament in Katowice, a conference took place on the status of Silesian language. This conference was a forum for politicians, linguists, representatives of interested organizations, and persons who deal with the Silesian language. The conference was titled "Silesian - still a dialect or already a language?" ("Śląsko godka - jeszcze gwara czy jednak już język"?)[20].

Steuer's Silesian alphabet

The attempts at codification of Silesian are numerous. One of the first alphabets created specifically for Silesian was Steuer's Silesian alphabet, used by Feliks Steuer to write his poems in Silesian. The alphabet consists of 30 graphemes and eight digraphs.

Letters: A, B, C, Ć, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Ł, M, N, Ń, O, P, R, S, Ś, T, U, Ů, W, Y, Z, Ź, Ż

Digraphs: Au, Ch, Cz, Dz, , , Rz, Sz