Marcin R. Odelski

Faces of the Kashubian Tatczëzna (Little Homeland) – Selected Examples

Marcin R. Odelski

Abstract: Undoubtedly numerous exponents of the Kashubian identity (both verbal and non-verbal ones) enrich everyday life of the contemporary Kashubian people. The principal objective of this paper is to illustrate how the verbal exponent of the Kashubian identity encapsulated in the word Tatczëzna (little homeland), being optionally accompanied by non-verbal ones, conveys accumulated meaning. It is vital to note that the existence of the aforementioned voluminous writing – i.e. Tatczëzna, that triggers accumulated meaning, should be understood it serves educational purposes. An analysis of linguistic data, participant observation as well as interviews will be employed as research methodologies. The author will divide the collected material into thematic categories to show possible contexts that are meaningful on various levels of social interaction. The major findings of the study will depict the current understanding of the lexeme Tatczëzna compared to those ones in a diachronic perspective. The proposed interpretation of the aforementioned collected material will enable further discussion on the subject at issue.

Keywords: identity, homeland/fatherland, language, speech community

1. Introduction

Due to the fact that every article has its obvious limitations, the author only highlights most important issues choosing most relevant examples from the very vast Kashubian literary repository.

The very term homeland has numerous equivalents (such as home country, fatherland, motherland, native land, patria) that depend on its perception by a given community, cultural embedding and historical perspective within which multimodal transmission of knowledge is crucial. Moreover, the very concept of homeland needs to be discussed and understood on various levels as it is far from being a one-dimensional phenomenon. As far as the Kashubian context is concerned, one should adhere to the fatherland equivalent while thinking about the term tatczëzna (but only for a while as it turns out further in the text). It is derived from the word tatk (meaning ‘father’), even though tatczëzna is of feminine gender, the same as the Polish ojczyzna. One also needs to know that there is a synonymic expression for the word ‘father’, namely: òjc. On the other hand, there is the word ojciec in the Polish language as well. See the table below:

Table 1:

The Kashubian language

(the word ‘father’)

The Polish language

(the word ‘father’)

The Kashubian language

(the word ‘homeland’)

The Polish Language

(the word ‘homeland’)





Furthermore, the Polish lexeme tata has more diminutive forms than ojciec (tatuś, tatusiek, tatuńcio, tatunio). There is only the form ojczulek. However, both ojciec and ojczulek may also have churchly connotations referring to men in cassocks.

However, the very issue is even more complicated as the term ‘fatherland’ was used to depict a broader sense of the concept of tatczëzna because of translational reasons. It is due to the fact that an immediate connotation appears on the ‘tatk’ – ‘father’ level. If one takes a closer look at the division of micro and macro contexts of the native land, the Kashubian regional/little tatczëzna should be understood rather in German terms as ‘Heimat’ (little homeland) and the bigger one (Poland in this case) as ‘Vaterland’.

2. Faces of the Kashubian tatczëzna

Undoubtedly the concept of homeland is interwoven with the concept of identity. It is vital to note that there are, at least, four levels of understanding the lexeme tatczëzna, namely:

· cultural identity and its generational transmission,

· spatial dimension,

· linguistic dimension,

· emotional-imaginative dimension.

Father dr. Bernard Sychta’s poem entitled Kaszëba béł mój tatk (My father was a Kashubian) perfectly illustrates a certain sense of belonging and the aforementioned generational transmission:

Kaszëba béł mój ojc i stark

I jô jem też Kaszëba, […]

Tak jak Kaszëbą béł mój tatk,

Chcę nim bëc po ostatk! […]

(B. Sychta [In:] Modra Struna. Antologia Poezji Kaszubskiej, 1973, p.167)

My father and grandfather were Kashubians

And I am also a Kashubian, […]

The same as my father was a Kashubian,

I want to be the one till the end (of my days).*

*[All translations are done by the author unless otherwise stated.]

Samuel Huntington, even though writing about the American context, rightly conveys very universal reflections:

“For peoples throughout the world, national identity is often linked to a particular piece of earth. […] These people speak of their “fatherland” or “motherland” and “sacred soil”, loss of which would be tantamount to the end of their identity as people.” (Huntington, 2004, pp. 49-50)

Kashubians themselves present, at least, two approaches while their sense of belonging is concerned: the one, stating that they feel a separate Kashubian nation (Kaszëbskô Jednota/Kashubian Unity – an Association of People of the Kashubian Nationality) and the other one (the prevailing one) Zrzeszenie Kaszubsko-Pomorskie/Kashubian-Pomeranian Association, stating that they belong to both spaces: (Poland – the big homeland and Kashubia – their local/regional homeland/native land). Using medical terms, it is one body (Kashubia) having two organs (KJ and ZK-P). Even though the above mentioned two organs differ from each other, numerous actions toward the revival of the Kashubian language hold them together. Other Kashubians choose to remain independent either acting in favor of their Kashubianness or not.

As far as the spatial dimension and a certain type of hominess are concerned, one should look at priest dr Leon Heyke’s verses in his poem entitled Swiat kaszëbsczi:

Swiat kaszëbsczi

W jinëch krajach miłé żëcé,

Luby wòniô wiosnë kwiat;

Ach tam nie je mòje bëcé,

Bò to Mie je cëzy swiat.

W naszim kraju mòje bëcé.

W naszi łące mój je kwiat;

Tu mie rosce słodczé żëcé,

Mój kaszëbsczi môłi swiat. […]

(L. Heyke [In:] Kaszëbsczé spiewë, 1999, p. 20)

Kashubian world

There is enjoyable life in other countries,

A nice smell of a spring flower;

My existence is not there,

As I find this world non-native.

There is my very existence in our country

And my flower in our meadow;

My sweet life grows in here

My Kashubian little world. […]

The above-mentioned part of the priest Heyke’s poem clearly depicts the unity of thinking where ‘My Kashubian little world’ becomes the subject around which some others thinking in a similar way are grouped. Heyke highlights the connection between the human and the Kashubian space and emotional bonds are present in every line. Moreover, he juxtaposes foreignness of other countries with ‘his Kashubian little world’ that he strongly identifies himself with.

A similar approach is presented in the song written by Eugeniusz Pryczkowski. He marks approximate borders of Kashubia horizontally (from Gdańsk to Słupsk) and vertically (from Chojnice to Hel) and puts his little homeland on a privileged position.


Jaż òd Gduńska pò kréz słëpsczi

I òd Chòjnic jaż pò Hél

Sá rozcygô krôj kaszëbsczi

Mój nômilszi w swiece môl.

Tatczëzna tu je tczëwôrtnô

Z nią związóné żëcé móm.

I chòc cëzé stronë wôrtné –

Tu je môl mój jaż pò zgón […]

(E. Pryczkowski [In:] W jantarowi krôjnie, 2015,

p. 21)

Little homeland

From Gdańsk to Słupsk county

And from Chojnice to Hel

The Kashubian country ranges

My sweetest place in the world.

Little homeland is worthy here

My life is bound up in it.

And even though foreign places are worth too –

Here is my place till the end of my days.

An attempt of showing cultural as well as ethnolinguistic identity, spatial, and emotional-imaginative dimensions can be found in the following poetic creation:

Kaszëbsczé DNA

Bëlnotë ë bùsznotë

ë wszëtczégò bëlnégò trójno

– to je kaszëbsczé DNA!

Tatczëznë ë jãzëka lubòta,

pòtãpionô wiôlgô lëchòta

dërch we mie trwô!

Bëc w całoscë bënë ë përzinkã bùten,

bë na bënë móc zdrzec całowno.

To je taczé wzmòcniwanié wespółrobòtë!

bë ùgwësnic pòczëcé pòspólnotë.

Wejle! Chcemë jic wcyg dali!

Pòzytiwny pòzdrzatk na gwës je pòtrzébny!

Ùgwësnionô jawernota, swiąda

tegò wszëtczégò, co domôcëzną je

Dlô Naji Absolutno wôżnym mô bëc,

òpiarcym dlô kaszëbiznë!

Dlôte nie bòjta sã òdwôżno stôwac

ë kùńc kùńców nie sztridowac!

Bëlnotë ë bùsznotë

ë wszëtczégò bëlnégò trójno

– to je kaszëbsczé DNA!

Jaczé wcyg we mie trwô!

(M. Òdelsczi [In:] Kaszëbską stegną żëcégò, 2017,

p. 18)

Kashubian DNA

Kindness and pride

and all positive things being in abundance

– this is Kashubian DNA!

The love towards the little homeland and the language,

condemned great futility

is still in me!

To be entirely inside and a bit outside

To have a holistic insight.

It is an example of cooperation strengthening!

in order to make one aware of the sense of community.

We want to go still forward

A positive judgement call is undoubtedly needed!

Reality that one was made aware of, the awareness

of everything that belongs to patrimony

should absolutely be an important support

for our Kashubian language.

Therefore fear no more to boldly stand

and eventually give up quarrels!

Kindness and pride

and all positive things being in abundance

– this is Kashubian DNA!

Which is still in me!

The author of this text sees Kashubian kindness, pride, and all positive things – all being in abundance, the love towards the little homeland and the Kashubian language, the awareness of reality as specific components of the Kashubian DNA, i.e. ingredients of tatczëzna.

An emotional-imaginative dimension can be seen in Benedikt Karczewsczi’s poetic volume entitled Tatczëzna. Karczewsczi describes his early years as well as adult life, his relation to God, geographical locations strongly connected with his life paths, historical facts, eminent people and even his interests as a boy in quite

a humorous way.

3. Adjectives referring to tatczëzna – a contemporary approach

In order to understand the term tatczëzna even better the following range of adjectives used by thirty contemporary adult Kashubian females and males (aged 20-56) was collected in November 2017. Informants were not limited as far as the number of adjectives was concerned. Some adjectives are quite common and interestingly enough there are several adjectives that occurred less frequently but were used by younger informants.

Kashubian adjectives

English translation

nieachtnionô (1 informant)


kònającô (1 iformant)


nieùmarłô (3 informants)


żëwô (1 informant)


bòjaterskô (1 informant)


malinkô (9 informants)


wiôlgô (1 informant)


snôżô (29 informants)


piãknô (7 informants)


widzałô (1 informant)

beautiful but more dignified

pòczestnô (1 informant)


nieznónô (1 informant)


spòkójnô (1 informant)


mòja (8 informants)

my (belonging to me)

bëlnô (27 informants)


nôlepszô (12 informants)

the best

apartnô (7 informants)


lubòtnô (2 informants)


ùkòchónô (17 informants)


wëerbòwónô (1 informant)


szczestlëwô (12 informants)


4. Conclusions

The notion of Kashubian tatczëzna appears to be a multilayer phenomenon with different shades and collective as well as individual approaches. The understanding of tatczëzna can also be seen in adjectives referring to the very term and is reflected in Kashubian ethos which, according to Obracht-Prondzyński, can be encapsulated in the following way:

“(T)he Kashubian ethos consists of such values as: language, religion (attachment to the Catholic Church), family, origin (genealogy), territory (in a threefold meaning: space, native land, landscape) as well as correlated characteristics of the self stereotype (piety, diligence, persistence, patriotism, etc.)”. (Obracht-Prondzyński, 2007, p. 16)

One can manifest his/her sense of belonging to tatczëzna non-verbally through carrying Kashubian flags or wearing Kashubian traditional outfit. However, one can be an ‘architect’ of their own structure of tatczëzna using linguistic means to link the traditional romantic approach with the contemporary fresh and diversified attitude towards the indisputable value that unifies and is worth protection on a grand scale.


Heyke, L. (1999) ‘Swiat kaszëbsczi’ [In:] Kaszëbsczé spiewë, Stanisław Janke (ed.), Gdańsk: Oficyna CZEC, pp. 108.

Huntington, S. P. (2004). Who Are We. The Challenges to America’s National Identity. London: Simon & Schuster.

Karczewsczi, B. (2014) Kaszëbskô Tatczëzna. Kartuzë: Nowator, pp. 35.

Modra Struna. Antologia Poezji Kaszubskiej (1973). Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, pp. 332.

Òdelsczi, M. (2017) Kaszëbsczé DNA [In:] Kaszëbską stegną żëcégò, Katarzëna Kankòwskô-Filëpiôk (ed.), Banino-Lëzëno: Zrzeszenie Kaszubsko-Pomorskie Oddział w Baninie/Pryczkowscy. Akademia Kaszubska, pp. 64.

Obracht-Prondzyński, C. (2007) Kaszubi dzisiaj. Kultura – język – tożsamość. Gdańsk: Instytut Kaszubski

w Gdańsku.

Prëczkòwsczi, E. (2015) Tatczëzna [In:] W jantarowi krôjnie, Pryczkowska, E., Hewelt, J. (eds.), Gduńsk: Zrzeszenie Kaszubsko-Pomorskie, pp. 211.