1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

One state, one language - a Central European invention or condition imposed upon it?

Discussion in 'World History' started by Domen, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    Pangur Bán in another thread quoted the following text:


    But was that really a Central European invention, or a condition imposed to Central and East-Central Europe by foreign powers, especially by Great Britain, who was the main proponent of political boundaries based on ethno-linguistic divisions in this part of Europe during and after WW1?


    Two famous Central Europeans - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels considered the rebirth of Poland as a necessary considtion for European well-being and peace, and they did not mean "Polish-speaking Poland", but the ethnically diverse Old Poland in its borders from time before the partitions:

    http://lewicowo.pl/karol_marks_a_powstanie_styczniowe/

    ==================

    (...) Marx and Engels considered Poland as a nation first of all indispensible (nécessaire), and secondly - revolutionary. The indispensibility of the Polish nation resulted from fact, that the whole power of the Reaction in Europe since 1815 (and maybe even since the French Revolution) was based on the "sacred aliance" of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, cemented together by the Partitions of Poland. Crushing the reactionaries, destroying the "sacred alliance, required the restoration of Poland. The revolutionary character of the Polish nation - according to Marx and Engels - resulted from fact that Poles had to be revolutional, if they did not want to die as a nation under the yoke of despotic monarchies. Aiming at destruction of the "sacred alliance" of three reactionary powers, the Poles therefore became leaders of revolutionary movements of the whole of Europe, against the patriarchal-feudal absolutism in Europe. During the hot days of "the Springtime of the Peoples" of 1848, Marx wrote: "the Poles are everywhere the generous (hochherzigen) generals of the Revolution. Glory, three times glory, to the Poles." [13] Morevoer Poles connected their struggle for national liberation with fight for enfranchisement of peasants and agrarian democracy, the only democracy possible at that time in Eastern Europe, and by doing so they affected in a revolutionary way the entire system of social relations among the nations neighbouring Poland. "The merit of Poles - wrote Engels - "is that they were the first ones who proclaimed the truth about the connection which occurs between independence [of a nation] from external factors and the land reform inside the country."[14] The politics of democratic movements in entire Europe at that time was concentrated on three main goals: liberation and unification of Italy; restoration of free and independent Poland; unification of Germany. Those three goals can be found in the act of the French National Assemply from 23 May 1848 and also in the headline of each number of "Tribune des Peuples" newspaper from Paris. Marx and Engels argued, that liberation and unification of Germany was not possible as long as Prussia and Austria were oppressing the Poles. They maintained, that the emergence of independent and democratic Poland was the first condition to the emergence of democratic Germany. Hence their two demands: that Germany should resign from Polish lands remaining under Prussian rule and to demand - with use of military force if necessary - the return of Polish lands occupied by Russia. Marx and Engels proclaimed a revolutionary war against Russia under the slogal of rebuilding independent Poland. They considered Russia to be the main pillar of the Reaction in Germany and as the ligament of the Reaction in entire Europe. "Between Russia and Germany - wrote Engels - there must be created not some sham of Poland, but a state capable of its own life: independent Poland must cover at least the same territory as before 1772, it must control not only the basins of its major rivers, but also their outlets, and it must posses a significant strip of coastline at least along the Baltic Sea. In the best interest of European democracy an independent Poland - a strong and territorially vast Poland - is absolutely necessary."[15] (...)

    [13] "Neue Rheinische Zeitung”, Köln, No 135, 5 November 1848.
    [14] "Neue Rheinische Zeitung", No 81, 20 August 1848.
    [15] "Neue Rheinische Zeitung", No 81, 20 August 1848.


    ==================

    As you can see Marx and Engels did not want a restoration of "ethno-linguistic Poland", but of historical Poland with all of its ethnic diversity.

    It was Britain - a North-Western European power - which wanted to draw political borders along the lines corresponding to languages and their speakers:

    ==================

    (...) As the Russian ally declined to continue fighting, the western powers found it easier to formulate the requirements for establishing an independent Poland. The successive declarations issued by the countries of the Entente were increasingly realistic and more widely agreed on. One of the first such declarations was put forward on December 3rd, 1917, and contained the following stipulation: “the establishment of an independent Poland, ensuring its free political and economic development, constitutes one of the preconditions for a persistent and just peace in Europe”1. The subsequent statement of the French Foreign Minister, Stéphane Pinchon, of December 12th, 1917, was very similar in its content: “We wish for an independent Poland with all the guarantees of free political, economic and military development, and all the consequences thereof.” Then, David Lloyd George made a declaration on behalf of Great Britain in his speech of January 5th, 1918, saying: “We think that independent Poland, encompassing all the genuinely Polish elements who want to become a part of it, is a pressing need for the stabilisation of Western Europe” (see also classical position in Polish literature: Piszczkowski 1969). In this statement the expression of “genuinely Polish elements” was underlined, which clearly indicated that the British Prime Minister supported the concept of an ‘ethnic’ Poland. He remained faithful to this concept later on, consistently proposing what was to be called the Curzon Line as the eastern boundary of Poland. (...)

    ==================

    But Polish political leaders wanted the same thing as Marx and Engels - namely, Poland within the borders of 1772, or at least close to those borders:

    ==================

    (...) After the ultimate defeat of the Central Powers, a new European order was to be established by the peace conference, organised by the victorious powers. On January 18th, 1919, the conference started in Paris by establishing the Highest Council, composed of the representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan. Representatives of other allied countries were also invited. Poland had the right to delegate two representatives. A number of territorial commissions were established, including one for Poland, chaired by the French diplomat Jules Cambon (Kumaniecki 1924; Cieślak & Basiński 1967). The issue of the Polish eastern boundary was not a subject of deeper interest at the Conference of Versailles. The additional proposals and suggestions which were put forward were not favourable. Initially, the Polish delegation tried to promote the idea of returning to the boundaries as of 1772, i.e. those from before the partitions of Poland. (...)

    ==================

    It was the British Empire which was the main proponent of "ethnic Poland" - more details on this subject can be found in the link below:

    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=536835

    So why should we blame Central or East-Central Europeans ??? :confused:
     
  2. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    Coming back to Pangur Bán's citation:

    As demonstrated above, Polish nationalism was not that of the ethno-linguistic type. Poles wanted to restore the Old Commonwealth, with all of its great ethno-linguistic diversity. Poles wanted free acess to the sea via the German-speaking port of Danzig - an idea that was also supported by Marx and Engels. But events of WW1 and those that followed it, ethnic policies of Great Britain, as well as growing nationalisms of the ethno-linguistic type among speakers of languages other than Polish who lived in the territories which had belonged to the Old Commonwealth before 1772 - made that goal impossible to become reality.
     
  3. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    9,492
    Gender:
    Male
    Many states are multilingual, with one language being spoken by the elite. Modern French was originally spoken by the elite of France, with ordinary French speaking numerous regional languages, save for the regions close to modern-day Belgium and Paris and the surrounding areas.

    Germany and Poland were no exceptions. Even a nation as small as the Netherlands had vast regional differences between languages, though modern day Dutch originated from what could be called Hollandic, with a couple of Flemish influences. Monolingualism in European polities is largely a product of democratic nation building aided by technologies such as radio and telegram and institutions such as compulsory education.
     
  4. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    If anything, the experience that Greece had is good evidence for just how little influence that compulsory education can have on spoken language. I can imagine that conscription was quite a force for standardisation - soldiers tend to speak an odd patois which mixes elements from different accents and dialects but can only vaguely be pinned down to any location. Obviously mass media played a huge role too, particularly that which can be heard.
     
  5. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    Interesting, what exactly are you referring too?
     
  6. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    The so-called Greek Language Question. The Greek government after independence tried and failed to replace the demotic Greek language with katharevousa, which was consciously modelled on ancient Attic Greek and only barely mutually intelligible with demotic. The idea was to eventually 'return' the Greeks to speaking full-blown Attic. As such they made katharevousa or even Ancient Greek the language of education, academia and the military. Although they were partially successful and demotic was 'tamed' somewhat, they totally overestimated the influence that schools can have on how children - who spend most of their lives not in school - end up speaking.
     
  7. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    OK, but still there are many other examples on how great influence could compulsory education have on spoken language.

    For example that was the case with Standard German:

    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?p=13660272#post13660272

    Though of course factors other than compulsory schooling - that you and Kaiserguard mentioned - were also very important.
     
  8. Carolus I

    Carolus I Chieftain

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    75
    Location:
    Regnum Francorum Orientalium
    I think the expression should be "one state, one nation, one language" or rather: un état, une nation, une langue (in French). All modern states in Europe are the results of conquests, treaties and even mariages.

    Take for example la France:the Kings of France tried to gain political control, gain territories, subjects and influence and so in the course of the centuries their territory expanded. And so did all other rulers of kingdoms, empires, duchies or whatever. It is a bit like this good, old board game Risk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_(game))

    After the French Révolution in 1789 the newly elected French parliament decided to break with the old monarchy, the ancien régime and found a new state based on Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité.



    (Let's no forget that during the time of terreur there was also a little bit of brutalité when the King and Queen of France, noblemen, gentry and whoever was regarded as an enemy of the Révolution were executed in public by the national shaver (the Guillotine).)

    I would like to quote the Wiki-article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_policy_in_France#French_Revolution


    We have to keep in mind that until 1789 (the year of the Révolution) only a fraction spoke more or less French. There were still numerous dialects and languages:



    Linguitical map of France with the historical languages.
    But it is still a tricky question what dialects are dialects of French, what are separate languages. Breton, Basque, Flamand (Flemish), Francique, Alsatian (the last two are both dialects of German or Western Germanic languages) are defintively separate languages. It is more difficult with the Romance languages: there is a dialect continuum between those languages. Linguists have tried to define the borderlines between Catalan, Occitan (with a lot of different dialects) and Franco-Provençal, but the results are debatable. The case of Corsican is especially tricky: is it still a dialect of Italian or is it yet a separate language?


    I would like to quote myself:goodjob: (http://historum.com/european-histor...ia-separate-22.html#post1955090?postcount=216)

    So my clonclusion is:

    1. one State (political unity of different territories)
    2. one Nation (defined of the citizens of the state)
    3. one language (French approach) or several languages (Swiss approach)
     
  9. Louis XXIV

    Louis XXIV Le Roi Soleil

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2003
    Messages:
    13,579
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    Standard Italian is another example. It was a literary language, not anything in widespread use (it's based on the Florentine dialect). But it also took quite a long time for it to become universal (and it isn't even really universal). But I think there's a difference there. Greece wanted the Greeks to stop speaking one language with which they could communicate with each other and start speaking another. Italy and Germany had dialects that didn't travel over distance. At least with Italy, radio and television was in standard, which necessitated learning the language.
     
  10. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    Were the partitions of Poland legal or illegal in the light of the international law ???

    No international power (apart from those which were directly involved in partitioning Poland - i.e. Russia, Prussia and Austria) recognized the partitions of Poland directly (i.e. declared that "we accept the partitions of Poland...", or something similar). We can argue whether any of international powers recognized them indirectly (implicitly). Indeed there were arguments about this during the decades following the Polish regaining of independence in 1918.

    In 1918 the Polish Supreme Court initiated a discussion about the character of the bond between the I Republic (pre-1795) and the II Republic of Poland (post-1918) in the context of Polish private property and estates confiscated by the partitioning powers after the January Uprising (1863-1864).

    The Polish Supreme Court stated, that Poland after the 3rd Partition continued to exist. It argued that:

    - Poland collapsed by force, which was contrary to the international law.
    - Western Powers never recognized the partitions of Poland.
    - partitioning Poland was contrary to the right of self-determination of peoples.

    In 1918 the Supreme Court announced the resumption of activities of state authorities of the Polish state, which had never ceased to exist (according to the Supreme Court).
    In the 1920s this position of the Polish Supreme Court was not questioned by anyone.

    Also Poland's Constitution of March 1921 supported this position of the Supreme Court. The preamble of this constitution says:

    a) In Polish:

    Spoiler :
    W imię Boga Wszechmogącego!
    My, Naród Polski, dziękując Opatrzności za wyzwolenie nas z półtorawiekowej niewoli, wspominając z wdzięcznością męstwo i wytrwałość ofiarnej walki pokoleń, które najlepsze wysiłki sprawie niepodległości bez przerwy poświęcały, nawiązując do świetnej tradycji wiekopomnej Konstytucji 3-go Maja - dobro całej zjednoczonej i niepodległej Matki Ojczyzny mając na oku, a pragnąc jej byt niepodległy, potęgę i bezpieczeństwo, oraz ład społeczny utwierdzić na wiekuistych zasadach prawa i wolności, pragnąc zarazem zapewnić rozwój jej sił moralnych i materialnych dla dobra całej odradzającej się ludzkości, wszystkim obywatelom Rzeczypospolitej równość, a pracy poszanowanie, należne prawa i szczególną opiekę Państwa zabezpieczyć - tę oto Ustawę Konstytucyjną na Sejmie Ustawodawczym Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej uchwalamy i stanowimy.

    b) English translation:

    In the name of Almighty God!
    We, the Polish Nation, thanking Providence for liberating us from a hundred years long enslavement, remembering with gratitude the courage and perseverance of sacrificial struggle of generations, who their best efforts constantly devoted to the case of independence, referring to the great tradition of the memorable Constitution of May 3 1791 - bearing in mind the welfare of the entire united and independent Mother Homeland, and desiring to reassure its independent existence, power and safety, as well as social order on everlasting principles of law and freedom, desiring also to ensure the development of its moral and material forces for the sake of entire renascent humanity, protecting equality, respect for labor, owing rights and special state care of all citizens of Rzeczpospolita - this here's Constitutional Act on the Legislative Sejm of Rzeczpospolita Polska resolve and proclaim.


    However, in the 1930s Polish experts of international law started a huge discussion about this issue.

    Professor Hubert from Lviv and his followers claimed that the II Republic of Poland and the I Republic of Poland were the same state. Professor Berezowski from Warsaw and his followers did not agree with Hubert and claimed that the post-1918 II Republic of Poland was a brand new state.

    The question of wartime occupation was raised. Was Poland between 1795 and 1918 only occupied, but still existed? Or maybe it was not occupied but simply ceased to exist? There are three basic factors characteristic to any state - territory, population and supreme authorities.

    After the 3rd Partition, Poland lost its territory. But Polish population and Polish supreme authority continued to exist even after that date.

    On 25 November of 1797 king Stanislav August Poniatowski officially abdicated - the supreme authority factor of the Polish statehood also ceased to exist.

    Now only population of the Polish state (the Polish nation) remained.

    Professor Berezowski and his followers claimed that the Polish Supreme Court's statement that "Poland collapsed by force, which was contrary to the international law" was wrong, because at that time (the 18th century) war - practically - was not considered illegal and was one of instruments of international relations, also used to liquidate other states.

    Prof. Berezowski claimed that also the right of self- determination of peoples was something completely unheard of and unknown back then in 18th century.

    In international law most of issues are related to recognition by other states. Did the abdication of the Polish king mean the end of the Polish statehood? De facto a lot depended on recognition or lack of such by other states. There can be some "legal fictions" after all.

    Then the Napoleonic wars came. Poland sided with Napoleon and was among the defeated states. At the Congress of Vienna the victorious powers - Austria, Russia, Prussia (so the three partitioning powers from 1795) and Great Britain - permitted the existence of Poland but in a very truncated form - the Kingdom of Poland (sometimes also called the Congress Kingdom of Poland).

    According to prof. Berezowski decisions of the Congress of Vienna de facto meant another - fourth - partition of Poland. The partitions of Poland were sanctioned at the Congress of Vienna. However, this is not entirely true, because the truncated form of Poland remained as autonomous state (Kingdom of Poland).

    Anyway - according to prof. Berezowski due to the decisions of the Congress of the Vienna it couldn't be stated, that "western states" did not recognize the partitions of Poland (as the Polish Supreme Court had stated previously, in 1918).

    But - this is again - in my opinion - not entirely true. Out of all "western states", at the Congress of Vienna only Great Britain had any impact on decisions taken there. Apart from Great Britain, there were also the three partitioning powers of Poland - Prussia, Austria and Russia - and it was more than obvious that they would not accept the restoration of Poland in its pre-1795 borders.

    ===========================

    However, then comes the Treaty of Versailles of 1919.

    In this Treaty Germany acts as the sovereign of territories which are ceded to Poland and - formally - Germany itself is waiving these territories. The same refers to territories regained by Poland from Austria in the Treaty of Trianon.

    When it comes to recognizing the partitions of Poland by other states or not - it is obvious that Turkey (Ottoman Empire) never recognized the partitions of Poland. In 1923 Poland signed a treaty of friendship with Turkey, in which both states agreed on restoration of diplomatic relations between themselves.

    Back to the Treaty of Versailles:

    In that treaty Poland was considered partial successor of the German Reich due to cession of part of German territories. As the result Poland was burdened with the German debt from this treaty (the dept of the German Empire, the debt of the Kingdom of Prussia and the debpt of the dynasty of Hohenzollerns). Poland had to pay off its part of this debt on account of the Compensation Commission in Paris.

    Poland participated in paying off the war reparations (for France and Great Briain mainly) imposed to Germany. Poland had to pay for the property of the Prussian state taken over by Poland - all post-German public buildings (buildings built before the Partitions not included), all military barracks and all airfields - for all of this Poland had to pay. Money for this property was being payed by Poland on account of the Compensation Commission in Paris.

    There were only two exceptions from that rule:

    - Poland did not have to pay for this part of German debts, which were being spent by Germany for the German colonization in Poland and related matters (for example buying Polish property by the German state, in order to settle German colonists there).

    - when it comes to payable takeover of post-Prussian property by Poland, property which belonged to Poland before the partitions was excluded (Poland did not have to pay for this property - I already wrote about this above).

    Similar solutions were accepted in post-1918 Polish relations with Austria.

    According to prof. Berezowski all of this indicated that "western powers" recognized the collapse of Poland. When did they do it? Hard to say exactly.

    I think again that prof. Berezowski is not entirely correct. The last mentioned point ("- when it comes to payable takeover of post-Prussian property by Poland, property which belonged to Poland before the partitions was excluded") indicates that "western powers" acknowledged some connection between the pre-1795 Poland and the post-1918 Polish state as they recognized the property which belonged to Poland before 1795 as rightfully belonging to the new Polish state (without the need of purchasing it - contrary to post-Prussian property) in 1918.

    ================================

    In fact the entire concept of "sameness, continuity and succession of states" is a sort of fiction. But it is useful because it conduces to preserving certain rights and obligations of states.

    But in this case there were no even any significant rights or obligations to maintain. Of course the pre-1795 Poland signed some treaties - for example the Polish-Prussian alliance of 1791 (which was - by the way - ingloriously violated by Prussia just a few years later in 1794).

    So there was nothing to inherit by new Poland from old Poland in international law.

    There was only the question of properties of January insurgents of 1863 and 1864. Their descendants were demanidng the return of their property. But that issue could be resolved simply by the Polish Parliament.
     
  11. gyozelemlg

    gyozelemlg Chieftain

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2014
    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Greater Hunnia
    Now this....I have a thesis on what I call "linear extrapolation" meaning artificial extension of the range of an idea to regions where the original conditions giving rise to that idea are dramatically different. I have seen this problem playing out in practice both in medicine and history. It is largely due to the inertness of some less potent minds with a lot of influence. Well, this one natien one state thing is a prime example for this. The tragedy of Central Europe in the XXth century is largely a result of importing French ideas to where their application proved to be catastrophic. The Balkan problem, the Polish problem, the problem of the Austro-Hungarian Empire all were made not less but more acute by people clinging to this idea. When importing an idea, it is crucial to thoroughly assess local factors to avoid this fallacy. The other problem of course is the error committed by Hungarians and Poles believing that the Western Power were somehow benign or at least correct. Well....the making of small nation states in Central EWurope somehow did not seem to work out very well.
     
  12. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    9,492
    Gender:
    Male
    A possible reason is that there was no practical use in switching from Modern Greek to Attic Greek. Learning Modern French in lieu of say, Occitain at least gave you the advantage of speaking with the elite of France. Idem dito for Modern Dutch in lieu of Platduutsch, Zeeuws and Frisian. Hochdeutsch came in to being through the printing press and the need for a common German language that was useful for inter-German trade.
     
  13. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    Well, it's interesting because that didn't happen, at least not in the time observed. Greek politicians, academics and high society did speak katharevousa, but ordinary people simply didn't follow suit. Perhaps it was simply a matter of time - I mean, the attempt lasted only a few generations. On the other hand, although not speaking katharevousa meant that a judge might look down on you, he would at least be sure to understand you, which might not have been the case in Germany or France.
     
  14. Louis XXIV

    Louis XXIV Le Roi Soleil

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2003
    Messages:
    13,579
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    Yeah, I think that's the reason it didn't stick. A standard language is only useful when there are issues of people not understanding each other otherwise.

    The only ancient language to be revived (that I'm aware of) is Hebrew. That's the rare success story. And the reason, I'd argue, is there were issues of mutual intelligibility between various Jewish groups and Hebrew was at least a point in common.
     
  15. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    9,492
    Gender:
    Male
    In the 1900s, there was a linguistic struggle between supporters of a German-speaking Zionist polity and a Hebrew-speaking one. Eventually, the Technion became Hebrew-speaking, despite there was strong backing to have it German-speaking instead.

    If Technion was founded as a German-speaking institution, Israel probably would have been refounded as a Germanophone state.
     
  16. Louis XXIV

    Louis XXIV Le Roi Soleil

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2003
    Messages:
    13,579
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    True, and I recognize those debates. There was good reason for German to be the language at the time - it was a language that people actually spoke for daily use. But there were plenty of people going to the new state that did not speak German. It made it easier for Hebrew to be adopted. I suspect if the entire population spoke German, they wouldn't have switched.

    Although, I have to say, adopted Hebrew has made the situation less awkward now. ;)
     
  17. Carolus I

    Carolus I Chieftain

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    75
    Location:
    Regnum Francorum Orientalium
    Hebrew is an artificial language. Until it was revived in the beginning of the 20th century it had not been used as a spoken language for more than 2000 years. The decision to adopt German as the new language would have made sense, as Yiddish which is derived from German and to a large degree mutually understandable with was spoken by a large part of the Jewish population especially in Eastern Europe.
     
  18. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    Yiddish was also gradually falling out of use during the 19th and the 20th centuries, among the young generations. Moreover, Jews of Ashkenazi origin are only about half of the total Jewish population of Israel (and in the mid-1960s they were less than half). This is most likely why Israel adopted Hebrew.

    Today the 2nd most spoken Non-Arabic language in Israel is Russian, due to large-scale immigration after the collapse of the USSR.

    Yiddish is currently experiencing a cultural revival and 2% of Israelis speak it (a few decades ago it was a smaller percent):

    Also Polish used to be widely spoken. In 1949 the Knesset considered giving it a status of an auxiliary language (Hebrew was official since 1948).

    But by the end of the 1980s the Polish language largely fell out of use in Israel, IIRC.

    The revival of Hebrew was possible because it never fell out of use entirely, not in writing (literature) and reading (liturgy).

    In fact all educated Jews had at least some knowledge of Hebrew, though of course they did not use it as an everyday language.
     
  19. Louis XXIV

    Louis XXIV Le Roi Soleil

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2003
    Messages:
    13,579
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    But Eastern Europe wasn't the entire Jewish diaspora, which was my point. I realize it made sense for a large group, but it couldn't establish itself as universal. It would be excluding a large group that way.

    I'm certainly not entering this debate to suggest what was the best course of action, such normative thinking isn't really helpful in a history discussion. However, as a discussion of why Hebrew was the only artificial language to succeed, I think the fact that there was no other mutually intelligible language was a large factor in explaining its success.
     
  20. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    8,088
    Location:
    Doggerland
    In Eastern Europe Yiddish was also gradually falling out of use in the 19th and the 20th centuries, being replaced by other languages, which is for example why today 15% of the population of Israel speak Russian. According to the Austrian census of 31.12.1910 almost 93% (92.72%) of Jews in the province of Galicia spoke Polish as their everyday language (Umgangssprache). Of course most of them would later report Yiddish or Hebrew, as their mother tongues, in the census of 1931. But "mother tongue" doesn't mean that they spoke it in everyday conversations. Perhaps majority of Polish Jews were at least bilingual.

    Though many (if not most) of Polish Jews in the 1930s spoke Polish as a secondary language, with a specific Jewish accent. They also spoke it imperfectly. Which made it much harder for them to hide as Non-Jews during WW2, just like their Orthodox clothes, circumcisions and customs.

    Today in Israel only 49% of people report Hebrew as their mother tongue, but 90% of Jews and over 60% of Arabs have a good understanding of it.

    The situation was similar (only percentages were different) when it comes to Polish language among Polish Jews.
     

Share This Page