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On the situation of Polish in Ireland Ewelina Debaene Dept. of Russian and Slavonic Studies School of Languges, Literatures and Cultural Studies Trinity College Dublin. Some facts about Polish:.

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On the situation of Polish

in Ireland

Ewelina Debaene

Dept. of Russian and Slavonic Studies

School of Languges, Literatures and Cultural Studies

Trinity College Dublin

some facts about polish
Some facts about Polish:
  • The second largest Slavic language after Russian - spoken by most of the 38 million inhabitants of Poland (census 2002) and there are about 43 million first language speakers of Polish worldwide.
  • In 2004 Polish was awarded its status as an official language of the EU.
  • Notorious for its endless consonant clustres:

W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie.

polish in ireland
Polish in Ireland:
  • There are around 200 000 Poles in Ireland (PPSN) (‘Irish Times’ Feb. 16, 2007);
  • Polish press: 3 weeklies, 1 fortnightly, 2 monthlies;
  • Polish website;
  • Irish media: Polish Herald, 8-page-long Polish supplement, (Media and Multicultural Award for the contribution to the integration of cultures);
  • Radio broadcast time in Polish;
  • The TV station City Channel co-produced by the most popular Polish news magazine Wiadomosci;
  • State exams sat in Polish, both at the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate levels; Polish is one of the 15 ‘mother-tongue languages’ examined in the Leaving Certificatelevel;
  • Polish infrastructure: Polish shops, bars;
  • Polish religious and cultural organisations;
  • Ireland\'s first ever Polish bank is set to open in 2007 in Limerick
  • Polish schools in Dublin and Limerick;
  • Scheduled flights on 32 routes between Ireland and Poland offered by at least 7 airlines.
polish in ireland contd a unique phenomenon
Polish in Ireland (contd) ‘A unique phenomenon’:
  • Polish community in Ireland constitutes approximately 5 percent of the whole population. There are more speakers of Polish in Ireland than the native Irish speakers.
  • Poles now constitute about 8 per cent of the workforce and are the biggest group of immigrants representing one country.
  • Rise in commercial value of Polish on the linguistic market: advertisements (radio/TV), professional needs (job ads).
polish language programmes department of russian and slavonic studies
Polish Language Programmes -Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies:
  • Day time programmes: European Studies, TSM, envisaged also in the School of Business
  • Evening programmes
  • Collaboration with the the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Socrates Erasmus Exchange)
  • Collaboration with the Polish Embassy in Dublin – summer scholarships to Poland, Polish cultural events
  • Extramural courses – Introduction into Polish

cultural history in the 20th century

  • Thomas Brown lectureship redepolyed from

Russian to Polish in 2007/2008

evening programmes
Evening programmes:

Courses offered at beginner, lower-intermediate

and advanced levels

Student numbers:



1. personal - Polish spouses(-to-be)

2. integrative and instrumental motivation

- response to the changing linguistic landscape

- job requirements

- travels to Poland

- investment in property in Poland

Support from the Polish Embassy and the Ministry of Education for the provision and maintenance of Polish language skills in Ireland:
  • Patronage over the Polish weekend school in Blackrock (since 2005)
  • Polish summer courses – 12 scholarships funded in 2007 (Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchnage: 9; Polish for the Best: 3)
  • Polish language lectorship in TCD part-funded by the Polish Ministery of Education (matched funding: The Dept. of Russian and Slavonic Studies, TCD)
RESEARCH PROJECT: Second language acquisition and nativelanguage maintenance in the Polish Diaspora in Irealnd and France

Launched in June 2007 in the Polish Embassy in Dublin Funding body: Irish ResearchCouncil for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Longitudinal research project designed to investigate the Polish Diaspora in Ireland from a linguistic and social perspective. The main focus:

  • Second language acquisition
  • First language maintenance
  • Integration into the host


areas to be addressed
Areas to be addressed:
  • How do newly arrived Polish people in Ireland acquire and use English?
  • How does the acquisition of socio-linguistic competence in English relate to their integration into the community?
  • What difficulties do they encounter?
  • Do they transmit Polish language and culture to their children and, if they do, how exactly does this happen?
  • Do people send their children to Saturday school to learn Polish or to other Polish institutions (social/cultural/religious)?
  • Do they pass their Polish traditions onto their children?
  • How does the acquisition of English take place among their children?
  • Do the Polish children learn Irish as well as English?
  • SOCIOLINGUISTIC INTEREST IN THE INFLUENCE OF L2 ON L1 (switching between language varities), Marcelina Szumer: „Ponglish” (‘Metro’, Jan. 31, 2007)
popularity of polish possible threats
Popularity of Polish: Possible Threats:
  • Hindrance to SLA
  • Creating a hermetic babble by the Polish community (cf. ‘parallel society’)
  • Limited integration into the host culture
  • Ban on the use of Polish in the work place (SIPTU intervention)
  • The issue of Polish names given to Polish children born in Ireland

Some concerns: