New Course to Reinvigorate the Tatar Language
#language & literature
small, New Course to Reinvigorate the Tatar Language, A 19th-century Tatar prayer book, photo: Anatol Chomicz / Forum, full_tatarzy_forum_323_770.jpg
Thanks to a special course organised by Związek Tatarów RP (the Tatar Association of Poland), dozens of people will get the chance to learn the Tatar language. During the classes, they will learn the Tatar alphabet and fundamental grammar, as well as practise short dialogues.
The Tatar language course was organised thanks to funding by the Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration, which granted a subsidy of 17,000zl.
According to Jan Adamowicz, the president of the Tatar Association of Poland, the course will start in February and continue until the end of the year. Currently, there are 30 people enrolled, hailing mainly from the Tatar community.
The classes will take place once a week in Białystok. The association has organised such courses before, in Białystok as well as in Sokółka, a small town historically linked with Tatar tradition and history. Till now, some 100 people have taken the course, with the age of participants ranging from 10 to 60.
Adamowicz believes that this shows significant interest and is a signal that the Tatar community wants to learn its ancestral language. He considers it to be an important part of ‘constructing one’s identity’. Adamowicz is also pleased that non-Tatars are interested in taking the course.
This year, the participants will learn Crimean Tatar which, according to Adamowicz, is easier than the Kazan dialect spoken in Tatarstan. Kazan Tatar is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, which has proved to be difficult for some learners. Crimean Tatar, on the other hand, uses the Latin alphabet.
The participants will learn Tatar on an elementary level: they will start with the alphabet, numerals and basic words. They will also study grammar and practise short dialogues.
The history of the Tatar community in Poland is over 600 years old. According to the medieval Polish chronicler Jan Długosz, the first Tatar settlement in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland was built in 1397. Tatar settlers were the first to introduce Islam to Poland. In the 16th and 17th century, however, they started to assimilate, forgetting their native language and some customs, and polonising their names.
It is difficult to tell how many Tatars currently live in Poland. Muzułmański Związek Religijny w RP (the Muslim Religious Association of Poland), states the number of Polish Muslims to be around 5,000, mostly of Tatar descent. In the 2011 Polish census, however, Tatar ethnicity was declared by less than 2,000 people.
Source: PAP, edited by PW, translated by OK, 13 Jan 2016