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Instytut Slawistyki PAN
ul. Bartoszewicza 1b/17
00-337 Warszawa
tel./fax: 22 826 76 88
22 828 44 75

Research projects



 1. Language contact and culture conflict. Acquiring linguistic competence and cultural identity creation - the case of pupils in the Sorbian Middle School in Bautzen (Upper Lusatia)


Nicole Rybińska-Dołowy
For years 2017-2020


The direct inspiration for the proposed research was the grant NCN (DEC-2011/01/D/HS2/02085) "Strategies for engaging young people in ethnic activities of autochthonic minorities across Europe: institutions, activities, identity choices (Kashubs, Sorbs, Bretons, the Welsh)." Within the project, I conducted research among and interviewed students at SG from Sorbian-speaking homes, among others. The students' statements about their German-speaking peers, the latter's attitude toward the Sorbian language, and the will to participate in the Sorbian life of the school were clearly critical. The observations I made at the school, boarding house for the students and during various events related to the Sorbian cultural life allowed me to form a research hypothesis that acquiring competences in a minority language by persons who come from families in which the language is not spoken depends on attitudes toward the language, which has an impact on one's motivation to learn the language. The minority language is not used by persons who used to study it at school if they have no chance to communicate with the language native speakers or are not willing to use the language in various "communities of practice" (Wenger 1998). Conflicts between students who use different mother tongues cause the creation of ethnic boundaries (Barth 2004). Understanding the mechanisms of their functioning will contribute to the development of a theory of revitalization of endangered languages.
The main aim of the proposed research is to examine and describe language attitudes of the youth in Upper Lusatia (both German and Sorbian speaking) combined with the analysis of language competence and observation of their language and cultural practices, which will allow us to shed new light on: the relationship between acquiring competence in minority languages; inter-group divisions and identification with the group; and the possibility to revitalize minority languages by producing new speakers thereof.
The proposed research project oscillates between culture studies (based on anthropological studies) and sociolinguistics (by referring to attitudes toward minority languages, their teaching and revitalization). Therefore, detailed scientific aims of the research are wide-ranging and include:
• enrichment of the existing theories concerning revitalization of endangered languages, especially the role of minority education
• creation of a universal model of conditions that are favouring and inhibiting the development of new speakers of minority language;
• description of the types of language learners and new speakers of minority languages as well as examination of their role in the process of revitalization of such languages;
• documenting attitudes that influence the creating of one's identity (cultural and language ones) of the contemporary minorities;
• description of the language ideologies (created by the minority and dominating groups) and their influence on the motivation to learn one's ethnic language;
• contribution to the understanding of the phenomenon of ethnic boundaries and conflicts.
For the last decades, one of the most important subjects that is in the centre of interest of sociolinguists who research the situation of minority and endangered languages is their revitalization (Grenoble, Whaley 2006) where its theoretical context (Fishman 1991) as well as practical applications are analysed (Fishman 2001; Hinton, Hale 2001). One of the most significant revitalization methods, especially in relation to the European minority languages, is education and their use in the case of native and potential speakers of a language that, in the case at hand, are German-speaking young people who study the Sorbian language. In such a research context writes in the proposed research concerning non-native students at Serbski gymnazij/Sorbisches Gymnasium (Eng. Lusatia Middle School), their attitudes toward the Upper Sorbian language and identity practices. Conducting interdisciplinary, based on sociolinguistics, research on this specific case of teaching a minority language and in the language to students who use the dominating language will not only be an important study which will show the minority group that has not been researched yet from this perspective but it will also constitute a significant contribution to a broader reflection on the importance of education in the process of revitalization of minority languages and on the concept of "new speakers" and "learners" of minority languages. Furthermore, the research can also be used in other comparative approaches to the issue of language minorities in Europe.


2. The Category of "Race" in Polish Thought till 1918. Sources - Notions- Contexts


Katarzyna Wrzesińska
For years 2017-2020


The aim of the project is to present the racial issues in Polish thought as from the end of the 18th century till 1918 – insights into its cultural, social and political backgrounds, and determining its role in perception of interpersonal relations. In the past the term "race" was used freely. It appeared interchangeably with such terms as strain, tribe, generation, people, nation. The size of the semantic range of the term resulted from the fact that it was treated as a spacious descriptive category serving to demonstrate differences between human communities. The objective of the project is to define the term "race" and to indicate the contexts that had an impact on its use, and therefore to answer the question about its biological and cultural meaning. The Polish literature (journals and books of various character) should be analysed with regard to references to biblical tradition explaining the beginnings of humanity, myths and stereotypes, which helped understand the reality and explain the past, as well as the division into physical and mental races, and inquiries about relations between body and spirit. The objective of the undertaken research is also the reconstruction of the attitude towards the Enlightenment discussions on monogenism and poligenism of peoples, starting from the Romantic perception of the role of Roman, Germanic and Slavic races, and further to the evolutionist theories, and to the scientifically accepted beliefs about the hierarchisation of races. The objective of the project is also to investigate the reception of the West European literature on the discussed subject. This reception was accompanied by cognitive objectives and aspirations to popularise scientific achievements. The above subject matter will be presented in compliance with the state of knowledge of that time, which placed a white man at the top of the ladder of evolution and simultaneously rejected the equal status and the equal rights of cultures. The centre of the research interest will be the knowledge popularised in the social circulation. The scientific works will serve only as a secondary material.
The planned studies and the results of the project in the form of a monograph prepared for publication should convince about the cognitive value of the history of discussions about the race. They will be used to obtain new knowledge of the ways of understanding the human diversity, they will enable to analyse the phenomena which had the considerable impact on the shaping of Polish thought in this field. This work will enrich the humanities in such research disciplines as history, history of anthropology, ethnography, ethnology, psychology and sociology, and it will be a point of reference for further research. The realisation of the project will help resolve ambiguities in the approach to the category of "race" which cause the incomprehension of it, and therefore the distortion of the picture of its functioning in the Polish literature. The analysis of the subject matter, not undertaken earlier in such a broad chronological range, will enable to construct the image of knowledge about man of that time, to present views on their origin and to reconstruct the specific perception of the role of the Polish nation on the background of other communities. The reconstruction of views proclaimed at that time will also help notice the transformations of opinions on the human diversity. In the scientific literature there is no historical presentation analysing the meaning of the term "race", and the realities and contexts accompanying its usage. A lack of arrangements in this respect is the cause of erroneous interpretations, which are based on the assumption that wherever the term "race" was used in descriptions, we are dealing with the racist views. The consideration of the history of knowledge about human nature in the context of the race issues, and the anthropological-cultural approach to history should favour the reconstruction of the system of terms which were used to explain the human development, the surrounding reality, and to show the perspective of the future. Although the research will be devoted to penetrating the past, due to everlasting disputes against a background of ethnic, national and civilisation issues they will remain topical and will contribute to explanation of the roots of phenomena occurring at present.


3. Ethnography of memory of the People's Republic of Poland. Everyday culture of postwar Poland 1956-1989


Wojciech Burszta
For years: 2017-2020


In the times of the People's Republic of Poland, in the period from 1952 to 1989, popular culture existed in at least two variants. The first variant was constructed according to ideological axiology, and it was aimed not at satisfying the desires of specific recipients, but rather at shaping them. The second variant – informal or unofficial, was produced by the specific tastes and needs of recipients. Both types of popular culture coexisted in a common dialectic, and thus penetrated and influenced each other. The objective of our project is to study how the dialectic of both of these variants functioned throughout the years – what were the necessary conditions and in what ways did it influence society? Our project explores not only the everyday experience of popular culture in the People's Republic, but also the ways in which it still functions today in the memory of its participants. Our project was born from the belief that if we only study material sources we are unable to fully understand the popular culture of those times, since it was active participation in culture that provided a space for creating a universe of meanings and contexts. The objective of our research is an analysis of existing source materials and testimonies such as interviews, recordings, music, film, radio auditions, press etc. However, this type of analysis can reconstruct the character of a given culture in its entirety only when it is confronted with the ways in which people remember how this culture was practiced every day. The main ambition of our project is a reconstruction of popular culture through the lens of personal experiences and histories of people living in those times.
The study of different aspects of communist Poland popular culture required the use of a complex research methodology. In order to analyze the formal dimension of popular culture – the official state policies – we will use the method of discourse analysis. It will serve as a starting point for our main research objective which will enable us to explore the dynamic nature of participation in popular culture and the dialectics between the formal and informal spheres. Our research will be based on the narratives of informants "evoked" during partially-structured ethnographic interviews, completed with interviews based on visual materials in possession of the informants (photographs, souvenirs, video recordings etc.). The study will be carried over in the following cities: Białystok, Lublin, Rzeszów, Kraków, Katowice, Wrocław, Warszawa, Gdańsk, Poznań, Szczecin, Łódź, and in cities that hosted the most popular music festivals of that time – Opole, Sopot, Zielona Góra. In order to capture the widest possible spectrum we will select the participants in a targeted manner, therefore providing maximum variability and diversity of the results. The computer programs F4 and Atlas.ti 7 will be used in organizing, transcribing and coding the gathered material. Our analysis is influenced by a transdisciplinary approach and will use the methodologies of interpretative anthropology, ethnomethodology and sociological phenomenology.
There is growing interest among national humanities in the popular culture of the People's Republic of Poland. The aim of our project is to built on this interest and expand it through the study of memories associated with experienced events and stories, enabling us therefore to examine day by day history from the perspective of its participants. This approach is undoubtedly a pioneering project in Polish humanities. It will result with an expanded and multifaceted understanding of everyday experiences in the People's Republic of Poland. Focusing on what people remember about popular culture makes it possible to discover and reconstruct the ways in which informal culture (responding to the needs and desires of participants) coexisted and interacted with official culture sanctioned by the government. Our research project will also allow for a new representation of the relations between the practices of informal popular culture, which would sometimes transform into a culture of resistance. The project is also the first step for the creation of an International Center of the Ethnography of Memory of Southern and Eastern Europe which aim is to promote studies on the everyday culture of the former "iron curtain" states. In the future the Center will become an institution responsible for initiating international and transdisciplinary comparative studies, allowing for an integration of scholars from the fields of social and cultural anthropology, sociology and cultural studies.


4. Knowledge – power - pleasure. Sexuality in the Polish and Ukrainian Galician prose at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries


Katarzyna Glinianowicz
For years: 2016-2019


5. Migrating ideas in the Slavic Balkans (XVIII-XX c.)

Grażyna Szwat-Gyłybow
For years 2015-2018


The goal of the project is to examine the problem of migration of ideas related to Enlightenment and Modernity in the Slavic Balkans from mid18th till the end of the 20th century and to analyze the process in a novel, transdisciplinary and comparative way. A typology of complex hybridization processes of ideas under the influence of local conditions (ethnic, political, religious and language-bound) will be created. Among the research foci of the project there are strategies of reinterpretation rather than substitution of old ideas by the new ones. The authors would like to cover the process of emergence of new – heterogenic in their nature – meanings and thinking categories – which is novel in its character since it has no prototype in the Slavic studies and shall fill in the research gap found in the studies of the history of ideas. Furthermore, an endeavor of this project will be elaboration of a novel research approach combining the history of ideas, history of concepts, cultural studies as well as post-secular thought. Participants of the project shall prepare an editorial material of a "Lexicon of migrating ideas in the Slavic Balkans", which results from the need for a concise form of presentation of a heteronomous and overlapping contents. Simultaneously, an outcome of the project will be scientific papers concerning 'migrating ideas'. Research outcomes will be disseminated via presentations held during national and international conferences.


6. Syntactic properties of verbs as a basis for their integrated lexicographic description (in the Polish-Bulgarian-Russian comparative perspective)


Małgorzata Korytkowska
For years 2014-2017


The main goal of the project is to study the relation between syntactic and semantic layers and to synthesize the analysis performed with regard to the contrastive perspective. The accomplishment of this goal is determined by the achievement of other detailed and interrelated objectives, i.e.:
a) a semantic and syntactic description of a chosen and semantically determined class of verbs in three Slavic languages representing three basic groups: West Slavic (Polish), East Slavic (Russian) and South Slavic (Bulgarian), on the basis of the model of semantic syntax, founded on propositional (predicate-argument) structures. The class discussed exemplifies verba sentiendi and cogitandi;
b) a coherent description of the elements belonging to a chosen semantic class in the aspect mentioned above; in case of polysemic lexemes, isolating units and semantic varieties is based on explicitly formulated criteria;
c) a comparative analysis and hence a study of the material in terms of the distributive and semantic similarities and differences;
d) an analysis of the material meant to reach conclusions of the lexicographical nature. The research hypothesis aims at revealing possibilities and efficiency of the research submitted for a coherent description of the semantic and syntactic layers of verbs and polysemantic phenomena, taking a contrastive analysis and conclusions on enhancing lexicographical information into consideration.


7. Contrastive Word Formation of Balkan Languages


Viara Maldijeva
For years 2014-2017


The main aim is to determine the specific features of the contemporary Balkan word formation in its semantic as well as formal aspect. To achieve this first we need to describe the formation systems using a common model. Thus, the starting point for synchronic comparison is the mediator-language, comprising semantic units - word formation categories. The confrontation of the linguistic data on the basis of a semantic mediator-language will allow to determine an inventory of word formation types, their activity and specificity in particular Balkan languages. In this sense it will be a contrastive, typological, as well as an areal study.
The starting point for comparison is description of the word formation systems of particular languages using the semantic mediator-language, consisting of universal units and semantic relations. This will guarantee compactness of interpretation and description of word formation means of the compared languages. In the next step it will allow to make a reliable confrontation of the results achieved in the description of particular languages and will allow to establish common and different phenomena.


8. Development trends of the Albanian word-formation from the sixteenth to the twenty first century, in time and space.


Artur Karasiński
For years 2014-2016


Project Development trends of Albanian word-formation from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, in time and space is to give a description of Albanian language during a period in which Albanian language is certified in writing. The study aims to verify the hypothesis about the natural development of Albanian language in the Balkan linguistic and cultural melting pot where linguistic convergence processes and language engineering occur. Research texts based on literary canon are grouped in time frames that has been dictated by the significant periods in the history of the Albanian people and nation. This will show mechanisms of the development of Albanian language at the level of word-formation processes and paradigms.
Research of Albanian word-formation developments is based on the analysis of texts that are grouped into stages that in fact are extremely important for the development of the Albanian language:
1. The first stage of the study: age XVI / XVII (first continuous Albanian texts, the period before Turk occupation)
2. The second stage of the study: the second half of the nineteenth century, the period before independence (1912)
3. The third stage of the study: the first half of the twentieth century - the communist period, which was characterized by the return of the northern variant (Gheg) to south (Tosk); a contemporary material.
The research will be conducted using a model based on the semantic approach to word formation. Description of lexical unit comes from the content and tends to form. The initiator of the semantic approach to word formation was Stanisław Karolak. His ideas used and expanded Viara Maldjieva to formulate a specific descriptive model of Contrastive Word formation in Contrastive Grammar of Bulgarian and Polish languages.


9. Identity of the Kaliningrad Oblast since 1991 to present day: constitutive factors and
direction of ongoing changes

Miłosz Zieliński
For years 2015-2017

The aim of this project is to create a multi-dimensional, coherent picture of the collective identity of the inhabitants of the Kaliningrad Oblast in the Russian Federation by:
• Identifying the main elements constituting the collective identity of residents and a direction of changes occurring since the fall of the Soviet Union to the present day;
• Evaluation of the importance of factors causing the above-mentioned changes;
• Evaluation of the impact of age, education, or place of inhabitancy in relation to the abovementioned factors.
After preliminary research the following hypotheses has been stated:
• The complete negation of the Kaliningrad Oblast's past (earlier the region was called East Prussia), imposed by the Soviet regime, failed and the remains of the material culture and symbolic heritage of the pre-war Prussia linger among a huge part of the population of the Kaliningrad Oblast.
• The isolation of the Oblast from its neighbors, including the Baltic Sea region, and its increase after 2004 – when Poland and Lithuania join the EU, have a direct impact on how the Oblast inhabitants perceive the region and themselves. The range of this impact should be examined. The activity of NGOs, religious communities or informal groups exchanging ideas, is visibly bigger than in other parts of Russia. This fact may influence a hierarchy of values among the huge part of the population (i.e. the sense of identity with the region), and therefore on identity itself.
• The kind of attitude the central Russian government has towards development of the Kaliningrad Oblast, and the interests of the region, that may differ from the interests of the whole Russian state, may influence the way of perception of identity of the region inhabitants.


10. The place of the Macedonian phonetics within the Slavic and Balkan linguistic areas

Irena Natalia Sawicka
For years 2013-2017


The aim of the research is to develop the systematic phonetic detail description of the Slavic Macedonian language in order to determine its position within the Slavic and Balkanic linguistic areas. This is to be geographical-typological study. The initial hypothesis (based on pre-existing knowledge and studies) sounds: unlike in the case of other Slavic languages, there are no borders between the southern Slavic languages; instead there are smooth, gradual transitions from one language to another, and the transition band may even include half of the country. The aim of the project is to establish transitional areas and determine the degree of their belonging to the neighboring languages. With regard to the Balkan area (Slavic~non-Slavic borderlands) we can talk of mixed areas. In these areas, there is a huge mutual convergence, regarding not only the lexicon but also structural facts. The research hypothesis of this part of the project sounds: part of the Macedonian dialect phonetic phenomena, occurring on the border between Macedonian-Albanian and Macedonian-Greek does not indicate the closeness to the Bulgarian language (which is used in everyday circulation unprofessional research as evidence for the Bulgarian character of Macedonian dialects, with further implications) - these phenomena are the result of convergence between Albanian-Macedonian and Greek-Macedonian.







1. Polish Language of Carpathian Bukovina. Documentation of the Disappearing National Heritage


Helena Krasowska
For years 2015-2018
1bH 15 0354 83


The main goal of the project is to document the archaic Polish speech of Poles who live in the Carpathian Bukovina (Ukraine, Romania). The particular goals include the following:

a) the registration of the sound of the Polish language which is used by the oldest members of the Polish community in Bukovina (the conduct of in-depth interviews with these people devoted to the language in the local traditions and legends, annual and family ceremonies, local customs and traditional occupations),
b) the development of a half-phonetic transcription of recordings which will be prepared in this way,
c) the development of a scholarly commentary containing a description of the sociolinguistic situation of multilingual communities,
d) the description of the functioning of the Polish dialect in various spheres of communication,
e) the development of a dictionary of terms which function in the Polish dialect in Bukovina and which have been borrowed from other languages, e.g. from Ukrainian, Romanian, German or Yiddish.
Thus the project will combine documentation-related and scholarly goals.


The urgent necessity of collecting sound materials and the preparation of their transcription and linguistic commentary is justified by the fact associated with the natural passing of the oldest users of the dialectal variant of the Polish language. Preliminary research proves that the young representatives of the Polish community in Bukovina use the archaic Polish language (dialect) very rarely. The Polish language that they use is the modern language which they were taught at school. Hence the urgent necessity to continue research especially among the people who represent the oldest generation of Poles in Bukovina in order to document their language.

Owing to the holistic approach which is planned in the project, construed by the team as the documenting of the speech of the oldest Poles both in Ukrainian Bukovina and in Romanian Bukovina, it will be possible to compare various communities whose representatives live in the same geographical area and at the same time, which are characterised by the variable extent to which the language, tradition and culture are preserved. It will also be possible to answer the question why in certain communities speech functions in day-to-day contacts and why in other communities it does not, and what factors determine the preservation of the archaic speech and which determine its decline.


2. Slavic Monographs. Linguistics and Culture Studies


For years 2014-2017


3. The Continuation of Proto-Slavic Dictionary


Mariola Jakubowicz
For years 2012-2016
11H 11 026480


4. Testimonia of ancient history of Slavs. Latin series. Volume 1: Antiquity


Ryszard Grzesik
For years 2012-2016
11H 12 0313 81


5. Dictionary of Bartholomew from Bydgoszcz (1532 and 1534) - Polish-Latin version


† Elżbieta Kędelska; since XII 2014 Lucyna Jankowiak
For years 2012-2017
11H 12 0278 81