Central Europe’s Most Mysterious Language

Located between Bielsko-Biała and Oświęcim, Wilamowice may seem like a regular southern Polish town lost somewhere in the hilly landscape of the Lesser Poland region. Yet to some, Wilamowice may be the most fascinating place on the map of Europe – the linguistic map of Europe, that is.

All of this is because of a group of approximately 20 to 25 people, predominantly elderly, who speak a language amongst themselves that has made linguists scratch their heads. Here are just a few examples of why: derarpuł (‘potato’), dyȧjsomer (’fridge’), s’błimła (‘flower’), derdźjada (‘grandpa’), deroduł (‘eagle’), derśiłer (‘teacher’), derśpjelik (‘sparrow’), dyböśtowatöwuł (‘keyboard’). Asa means ‘to eat’ and kuza ‘to speak’. And how about this: ‘ny ołys ej gułd, wos zih fynklt, glanct oba łiöeht?’* Any ideas?

The language is called Wymysorys (Wymysiöeryś), but it has been also known as Vilamovian or Wilamowicean. In fact, the population of Wilamowice (or Wymysoü) has been speaking it for the last eight centuries. And while linguists today are generally inclined to consider it one of the variety of West German dialects – and possibly the smallest micro-language belonging to the Germanic language group – Wilamowiceans themselves have been consistent in descending their pedigree from Flemish colonists.

In fact, it is this ‘Flemish’ identity, as vague and unverifiable as it is, that may have helped the community to survive some of the most vicious events of history, including the times of Interwar Germanisation, the atrocities of WW2, and the subsequent Communist persecution. So what is Wymysiöeryś?

Read more: Culture.pl

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