Wymysorys (Wymysiöeryś), also known as Vilamovian or Wilamowicean, is a variety of High German, spoken in the small town of Wilamowice, Poland (Wymysoü in Wymysorys), on the border between Silesia and Lesser Poland, near Bielsko-Biała. It is considered an endangered language. There are probably between 70 and 100 native users of Wymysorys, virtually all bilingual; the majority are elderly.
In origin, Wymysorys appears to derive from 12th-century Middle High German, with a strong influence from Low German, Dutch, Polish, Old English and perhaps Frisian. The inhabitants of Wilamowice are thought to be descendants of German, Flemish and Scottish settlers who arrived in Poland during the 13th century. However, the inhabitants of Wilamowice always denied any connections with Germany and proclaimed their Flemish origins. Although related to German, Wymysorys is not mutually intelligible with Standard German (that is the case for most other German dialects as well).
Wymysorys was the vernacular language of Wilamowice until 1939–1945. However, it seems it has been in decline since the late 19th century. In 1880 as many as 92% of the town's inhabitants spoke Wymysorys (1525 out of 1662), in 1890 - only 72%, in 1900 - 67%, in 1910 - 73% again. Although Wymysorys was taught in local schools (under the name of "local variety of German"), since 1875 the basic language of instruction in most schools in Austro-Hungarian Galicia was Polish. During World War II and the German occupation of Poland Wymysorys was openly promoted by the Nazi administration, but after the war the tables turned: local communist authorities forbade the use of Wymysorys in any form. The widespread bilingualism of the people saved most local residents from being forcibly resettled to Germany, many of them stopped teaching their children their language or even using it in daily life. Although the ban was lifted after 1956, Wymysorys has been gradually replaced by Polish, especially amongst the younger generation.
Acting on a proposal by Tymoteusz Król, the Library of Congress added the Wymysorys language to the register of languages on July 18, 2007. It was also registered in the International Organization for Standardization, where it received the wym ISO 639-3 code. In a 2009 UNESCO report Wymysorys has been reported as "severely endangered" and nearly extinct.
Some new revitalization efforts have been started within the first decade of the 21st century, led by speaker Tymoteusz Król, whose efforts include private lessons with a group of pupils as well as compiling language records, standardizing written orthography and compiling the first ever dictionary of Wymysorys. Additionally, a new project called The Wymysiöeryśy Akademyj – Accademia Wilamowicziana or WA-AW was established under the "Artes Liberales" program at the University of Warsaw with the intention of creating a unified scholastic body for the study of the Wymysorys language.
Wymysorys has been for centuries mostly a spoken language. It was not until the times of Florian Biesik, the first author of major literary works in the language, that a need for a separate version of a Latin alphabet arose. Biesik wrote most of his works in plain Polish alphabet, which he considered better-suited for the phonetics of his language. In recent times Józef Gara (1929–2013), another author of works in the local language, devised a distinct Wymysorys alphabet, consisting of 34 letters derived from the Latin script and mostly based on Polish as well:
|Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)|
|Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)|
Wilamowicean orthography includes the digraph "AO", which is treated as a separate letter.
A sample of Wymysorys words with German, Dutch and English translations. Note that ł is read in Wymysorys like English w (as in Polish), and w like v (as in Polish and German):
|Meaning||Wymysorys||Middle High German||German||Dutch||Comment|
|and||ana, an||und(e), unt||und||en|
|dolt||duł||tol, dol ‘foolish, nonsensical’||toll ‘mad, fantastic, wonderful’||dol ‘crazy’|
|hear||fulgia||< Frisian; WFris folgje, EFris foulgje ‘to follow’||hören||horen||cf. German folgen, Dutch volgen "to follow"|
|wholly||ganc||ganz||ganz||heel (Flemish: gans)|
|court||gyrycht||geriht||Gericht||gerecht||cf. German Recht "(legal) right", English right)|
|dog||hund||hunt||Hund||hond||cf. English hound|
|a bit||a mikieła||michel ‘much’||ein bisschen||een beetje||Scots mickle, English much; antonymic switch ‘much’ → ‘little’|
|breath||ödum||< Middle German||Atem||adem||cf. obsolete German Odem, Middle Franconian Öödem|
|picture||obrozła||< Slavic; Polish obraz||Bild||beeld|
|seven||zyjwa||< Middle German siven||sieben||zeven|
Lord's Prayer in Wymysorys
Ynzer Foter, dü byst ym hymuł,
Daj noma zuł zajn gywajt;
Daj Kyngrajch zuł dö kuma;
Daj wyła zuł zajn ym hymuł an uf der aot;
dos ynzer gywynłichys brut gao yns haojt;
an fercaj yns ynzer siułda,
wi wir aoj fercajn y ynzyn siułdigia;
ny łat yns cyn zynda;
zunder kaonst yns reta fum nistgüta.
[Do Dajs ej z Kyngrajch an dy maocht, ans łaowa uf inda.]
A lullaby in Wymysorys with English translation:
Śłöf maj buwła fest!
Skumma fremdy gest,
Skumma muma ana fettyn,
Z' brennia nysła ana epułn,
Śłöf maj Jasiu fest!
Sleep, my boy, soundly!
Foreign guests are coming,
Aunts and uncles are coming,
Bringing nuts and apples,
Sleep, my Johnny, soundly!
|Wymysorys language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|