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2005 | 62 | 47-56
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The Role of Towns in the Formation of Standard Slavic Languages

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The standard language is always founded on a specific dialect. It is not folk speech but the spoken language of towns located in the given territory. The history of Slavic languages shows various aspects of this (simplified out of necessity) process. The Gorenjsko dialect of Ljubljana became a pattern for the standard language as it was used by prominent writers and scholars of the 19th century. The Stokavian dialect of Dubrovnik was considered, among others by V. Karadzic, as the foundation for the Serbo-Croatian language because this town was the most prominent cultural centre of the region. In the 18th century, the Language School of Tarnov popularized the Eastern-Bulgarian dialect of Tarnov. The elements of this dialect also prevail in the writings of the nation's teacher S. Vrancansky. The literary Czech language was forming as early as the 14th century on the basis of the central-Czech dialect of Prague, which was used by the earliest writers. The foundations of the Polish literary language were laid in the period of the political and cultural supremacy of Cracow, that is why the standard language includes a vast number of Little Polish elements. In Slovakia, the standard language includes numerous elements of the western dialect of Trnava where the first codifiers operated. Although inhabited overwhelmingly by the Germans, Budziszyn/Bautzen and Chociebuz/Cottbus – as the greatest towns of Lusatia - raised the status of the local dialects. As model dialects were considered the Eastern-Ukrainian dialects from the vicinity of the most prestigious town of Kiev - the ancient capital of Kievan Rus and in the 17th century the town of origin of the first national writers. In Belarus centrally located dialects of the outskirts of Minsk assumed such a role. M. Lomonosow, in the 18th century, chose the dialect of Moscow as the most familiar in Russia. The fathers of the Macedonian standard language did not draw upon the town speech.
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  • E. Siatkowska, pl. Konstytucji 4 m. 8, 00-552 Warszawa, Poland
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