Slavistica Vilnensis
Slavistica Vilnensis

Slavistica Vilnensis ISSN 2351-6895 eISSN 2424-6115
2019, vol. 64(2), pp. 99–113 DOI:

Some Types of Archaisms in Polish Dialects in Lithuania

Viktorija Ušinskienė
Vilnius University (Lithuania)

Abstract. The subject of the article is related to the author’s work on the international project “Polish Dialects in Lithuania” (“Gwary polskie na Litwie”, 2016–2018). The purpose of this paper was to identify and study lexical archaisms in the dialect material selected by the project group. In the article the concept of ‘archaism’ is interpreted widely: both archaic and obsolete words are considered. In total, it was identified about 200 lexical units classified as obsolete or archaic: proper lexical archaisms constitute approximately 50% of the material (arenda, bachur, czernica etc.), semantic archaisms constitute about 35% (baczyć, cacka, czeladź etc.), and about 15% of the material are lexical word-building archaisms (kradkiem, lenować się, nadgrobek etc.). By comparing the studied material with the data of the historical sources, it was possible to realize that a number of lexemes qualified in some scientific papers as regionalisms borrowed from the Eastern Slavic languages should be recognized as archaisms, once known to the common Polish language. Тhe results allow us to confirm the undoubtedly significant role of the Belarusian and Russian languages in supporting the functioning of lexical archaisms in Polish dialects in Lithuania. About half of the identified lexical archaisms are also known to a number of dialects in Poland.

Keywords: archaisms, Polish language in Lithuania, Polish dialect vocabulary

Keletas archaizmų rūšių Lietuvos lenkų tarmėse

Anotacija. Straipsnio tema yra tiesiogiai susijusi su autorės dalyvavimu tarptautiniame mokslo projekte „Lietuvos lenkų tarmės“ (“Gwary polskie na Litwie”, 2016–2018, vadovė prof. K. Rutkovska, projektą rėmė Lenkijos Respublikos užsienio reikalų ministerija). Pasitelkiant projekto darbo grupės surinktą medžiagą pristatomos labiausiai paplitusių lenkų tarmių Lietuvoje leksinių archaizmų rūšys. Darbo metu pavyko atrinkti apie 200 pasenusių leksinių vienetų, iš kurių apie 50 proc. sudaro žodiniai archaizmai (arenda, bachur, czernica ir kt.), apie 35 proc. – semantiniai archaizmai (baczyć, cacka, czeladź ir kt.) ir apie 15 proc. – pasenę šiuolaikinių leksemų darybiniai variantai (kradkiem, lenować się, nadgrobek ir kt.). Kiekvieno žodžio chronologinė verifikacija remiasi tiek šiuolaikinių, tiek istorinių lenkų kalbos žodynų duomenimis. Taip pat pateikiami rytų slavų kalbų atitikmenys, o pagal poreikį – ir lietuvių kalbos medžiaga. Maždaug pusę nagrinėjamos medžiagos sudaro archaizmai, išlikę tik Lietuvos teritorijoje. Kiti pasenę žodžiai (arba pasenusios reikšmės) taip pat žinomi etninėse tarmėse Lenkijos teritorijoje. Be abejo, archajinių leksemų ir reikšmių išsaugojimą Lietuvos lenkų dialektuose palaikė jų funkcionavimas gretimose rytų slavų kalbose – baltarusių ir rusų. Lietuvių kalbos įtaka šiuo atveju neatrodo labai reikšminga.

Reikšminiai žodžiai: archaizmai, lenkų kalba Lietuvoje, lenkų kalbos tarminė leksika

О некоторыx типаx арxаизмов в польскиx говораx Литвы

Аннотация. Тема статьи непосредственно связана с работой автора в международном проекте “Польские говоры в Литве” (“Gwary polskie na Litwie”, 2016–2018, под руководством проф. К.Рутковской, при финансовой поддержке МИД Республики Польша). Задачей данной работы явилось изучение арxаичной и устарелой лексики, обнаруженной в диалектном материале, собранном рабочей группой. В общей сложности удалось выявить ок. 200 лексическиx единиц, классифицируемыx нормативными словарями как устарелые или арxаичные: около 50 % составляют собственно лексические арxаизмы (arenda, bachur, czernica и др.); ок. 35% — лексико-семантические (baczyć, cacka, czeladź и др.); ок. 15% — лексико-словообразовательные архаизмы (kradkiem ‘ukradkiem’, lenować się ‘lenić się’, nadgrobek ‘nagrobek’ и т. п.). Сопоставление исследуемого материала с данными историческиx словарей показало, что многие лексемы, отмеченные в ряде работ как “кресовые” заимствования из восточнославянскиx языков, можно признать арxаизмами, некогда известными общепольскому языку. В то же время изученный материал подтверждает несомненную роль белорусского и русского языков в поддержке функционирования выявленныx архаизмов в польскиx говораx на территории Литвы. Влияние литовского языка в данном случае не представляется значительным.

Ключевые слова: арxаизмы, польский язык в Литве, польская диалектная лексика

Received: 20/9/2019. Accepted: 20/10/2019
Copyright © 2019 Viktorija Ušinskienė. Published by Vilnius University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

The subject of the article is directly related to the author’s work on the international project “Polish Dialects in Lithuania”1. The project was devoted to the processing and analyzing the richest dialect material collected during the numerous expeditions organized by Vilnius University in 1995–2014.

I. Currently Poles make up about 7% of the Lithuanian population. The Po­lish language is represented by a number of territorial and functional dialects: in the field of culture and education the cultural dialect is prevailing; in everyday communication, especially in rural areas in the northern part of Vilnius County, in the southern part of Širvintos district and in the south-east of Lithuania (e.g. in Zarasai district, Turmantas), the so-called Northern Kresy (Borderland) dialect is widely spread. The entire southern part of Vilnius County, Šalčininkai district and the eastern part of Trakai district are inhabited by Poles (according to their self-identification) whose mother tongue is “prosta mova”, a subdialect of Belarusian. Polish is spoken there mainly by the older generation [Grek-Pabisowa 1992, 55–62; Kurzowa 1993, 62–64; Karaś 2002, 22, 47].

The emergence and development of the Polish language on the territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (hereinafter GDL) were determined by the two historical factors: (1) the intensified immigration of the population from the Kingdom of Poland as a result of the signing of the unions (the end of the 14th–16th centuries); (2) the process of polonization of the autochthonous population. It being known that judging by the degree of the exposed influence, the dominant role was played precisely by the process of polonization that gradually encompassed various social strata, which led to the exclusion of other languages of the GDL from the field of formal communication [Kurzowa 1993, 17–43].

It is relevant to mention that the first wave of polonization, which had an influence on the gentry and the educated strata of the GDL, did not affect the peasantry at all: rural Polish dialects based on the Belarusian and Lithuanian substrate were mainly formed only by the middle of the 19th century [Turska 1939/1982, 21, 30; Rieger 1995, 31–38; Koniusz 2005, 101–118]. Since the Polish dialects were formed on the territory of Lithuania under the impact of the close interaction with other local languages, the mutual interference contributed to the formation of the Polish regional variant with a set of specific features that distinguished it both from the literary Polish and from its other dialects. On the other hand, the conditions under which the local Polish dialect existed among other languages, as well as its long isolation from the Polish cultural influence in the 20th century contributed to the preservation of various archaic features in it, both on the grammatical and lexical levels.

II. During my work on the mentioned project, various types of archaisms2 were found. The aim of this research was to identify and study lexical archaisms in the dialect material selected by our research group. The interest in this subject was determined by the fact the issue of archaisms both in Polish dialects in general [cf., Boryś 2007, 532–538; Gotówka 2015, 207–221; Kłobus 1987, 209–219] and in periphery dialects in particular is poorly developed in the scientific literature3. The main problem in the process of identifying archaisms was to distinguish relicts preserved in local Polish dialects from the regionalisms borrowed from the Eastern Slavic languages as a result of interference. In order to verify the chronology, history and semantic development of each word, historical, etymological and dialect dictionaries of the Polish language were utilized in the analysis. In addition, the material from Belarusian, Russian and Lithuanian that had had a significant impact on the Polish dialects on the territory of Lithuania was applied. The most important criteria on defining a lexical unit as an archaism were the presence of chronological qualifiers in the dictionaries of the Polish language (both modern and historical, see list of dictionaries).

In total, it was possible to identify about 200 lexical units classified as obsolete or archaic. Not only the native vocabulary was considered, but also the old borrowings that once had functioned in the common Polish language. Within the scope of this article, I would like to share the preliminary observations and conclusions.

III. As a result of the analysis, the collected material was divided into several groups:

1. Proper lexical archaisms. The most numerous group (about 100 units) constitutes proper lexical archaisms, i.e. obsolete words that are no longer used in the modern Polish. Hardly is it possible to cite all the studied lexemes within the scope of the article. Thus, only the most characteristic examples are provided.

1.1. This group includes a number of obsolete NOUNS.

1.1.1. Primarily this is the vocabulary related to various economic activities (e.g., names of buildings, premises, food names, etc.). Compare:

arenda ‘rent’< Lat. arrendare ‘to rent’; SWil, SW and SJPDor consider it obsolete; acc. SGP, it remained in a number of Polish dialects (cf. Belar. arenda, Russ. ar’enda id.)

czarnica, czernica ‘blueberry, Vaccinium myrtillus’: in this meaning the word is mentioned in L, SW, SJPDor, SGP; in the modern Polish, its meaning was replaced with black berry and bilberry in the 19th cent. [Kurzowa 1993, 345] (cf. Belar. čarnica, Russ. černika).

drwotnia ‘wood-shed’: the old apophonic variant of Polish dialect drewotnia/ drewótnia/ drewutnia (SGP) that is also known in Lithuania, cf. the alternation drwa — drewno; another local form is drywotnia id. (cf. Belar. drywotn’a); L notes; SWil and SW consider it a provincialism.

fest ‘holiday, parish holiday’ < Germ. Fest < Lat. festum ‘holiday, a festive day’: L, Arct — since the 16th cent.; in SW it is considered a provincialism; SJPDor treats it as an obsolete word; cf. Belar. fest id.

kleć ‘a small, cramped room’, ‘an extension, outhouse, chamber’: acc. Bańkowski [SE] since the 15th cent.; L indicates it in the 16th–18th cent.; SJPDor considers it rare and obsolete; cf. Belar. klec’, Russ. klet’.

kram ‘a shop’: Sławski [SE] notes kram as an old Germ. word starting with the 13th cent.; L illustrates the use of it in the 17th–18th cent.; an alternative form krama is mentioned in SW and SGP as a regional variant, cf. Belar. krama ‘a stall’.

kroba / krobia, króbka, króbeczka ‘a bark basket, box, box of bast’: acc. SESł it has been mentioned in the Old Polish since the 14th cent.; SW and SJPDor mark it as an obsolete and dialectal word; cf. Belar. korab, karabok, Russ. korob, korobok, korobka.

kuczma ‘tangled cords’, ‘tangled messy hair’; L mentions it as ‘a kind of fur hat’; SJPDor considers it obsolete; is also known as a dialect word (SGP); cf. Belar. dial. kučma.

mleczno ‘dairy products’; L says it goes back to the 16th–18th cent.; SW and SJPDor consider it obsolete; SGP mentiones that only a few examples are found, however, in different regions; Kurzowa [1993, 388] notes the synonym mleczniwo as a result of contamination of the forms mleczno and mleczywo.

młoćba / młóćba ‘grind’: an old form is noted in L, Arct, SWil, SW; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; cf. Belar. małac’ba, Russ. mołot’ba.

pastka ‘trap’: L mentions paść, pastka ‘mouse trap’ (the 16th–17th cent.); SW — ‘trap’; SJPDor states an obsolete word meaning ‘trap’, ‘a lid’; a great number of examples in SGP; cf. Belar. pastka id.

polica ‘a shelf’: L notes it starting with the 16th cent.; Arct, SW; SJPDor consider it obsolete and dialectal; it is also well-known in the autochthonous dialects (SGP); cf. Belar. palica id.

pośnik, postnik ‘a fast dinner, dinner at Christmas Eve’: L defines pośnik as ‘advent or fast food’, starting with the 16th cent.; the contemporary dictionaries classify it as obsolete; the meaning ‘Christmas Eve dinner’ is known only in some regions, as well as in the autochthonous dialects [SGP].

tłucz, tłucza ‘fodder (for horses, dogs) made from grinded grain’: acc. L it is mentioned starting with the 16th–17th cent.; Arct, SW; SJPDor consider it obsolete; no information in SGP.

1.1.2. Another subgroup of nouns includes the designation of a person (e.g., old words to denote the degree of relationship, some body parts, etc.). Compare:

bachur ‘a lad’< Heb. bakhúr ‘a young man’: widespread in Lithuania; in Polish, it appears as a pejorative form bachor; L gives the old form of the word in a neutral sense ‘a child (Jewish)’; SW demonstrates the two words with alternation bachur and bachor; SJPDor describes it as old; Karaś [2002, 322] notes a female form bachuryca in Kaunas region.

dziewierz ‘brother-in-law//husband’s brother’: an archaism has been documented abundantly in Old Polish since the 14th cent.; Kurzowa [1993, 354] states after Szymczak that in general Polish it disappeared in the middle of the 17th cent.; acc. SGP, it is only known in “Kresy” (‘borderlands’) region.

familia ‘family’ < Lat. familia: the contemporary dictionaries consider it obsolete; under the influence of the Russian language, it is also widespread in Lithuania in the meaning of ‘surname’; acc. Karaś [2002, 325], in Kaunas region the old derivative form familiat ‘blood relationship’ is also preserved; L, SWil, SW note the form familijant ‘a member of a noble family’.

gościa ‘a female guest’: it was mentioned in SStp (the 15th–19th cent.); not mentioned in L; SWil and SJPDor classify it as obsolete; SGP records it only in Lithuania; cf. Belar. hoscja, Russ. gostja.

kątnik ‘a person who has no place where to live and, thus, lives at someone’s place’: L and SWil mention it with no additional information; SW considers it dialectal; acc. SJPDor it is obsolete; SGP notes it in Augustovo region.

świekier, świekr, świokr ‘father-in-law, husband’s father: SStp, L, Arct, SW; SJPDor considers it obsolete; it is also found in Russ. sv’okr, Belar. sv’okar; cf. świekra.

świekra, świekrowa, świekrówka, świekrucha ‘mother-in-law, husband’s mother’: a lot of well-defined examples in Old Polish; after Szymczak, Kurzowa [1993, 438] notes the early mixing of the meanings of świekra < świekry, świekrew ‘husband’s mother’ and teścia ‘wife’s mother’; cf. Russ. sv’ekrov’, Belar. sv’akra, sv’akroŭ, sv’akrova.

zatyłek ‘back of the head’: this meaning is noted in L; besides zatyłek, Arct provides also the form zatył ‘back side of something’; SWil, SW and SJPDor consider it obsolete; in Polish dialects it is known as ‘back stiffened part of the shoe’; cf. Russ. zatyłok.

zełwicha ‘sister-in-law, husband’s sister’: an expressive suffix derivative in Old Polish zełwa < Proto-Slav. *zъly, Gen. zъlъve id.; see zołwica.

zołwica ‘sister-in-law, husband’s sister’: an old diminutive form coming from Old Polish zołwa/ zełwa id. (see zełwicha); was used in Polish till the middle of the 17th cent. (Szymczak 1966, 170–171); cf. Belar. zalvica, zaluvica.

żeniec ‘reaper’: L mentions it starting from the 18th cent.; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; SGP notes a number of its use in various autochthonous areas; cf. Belar. žn’ec.

1.2. The next group of lexical archaisms is represented by the VERBAL lexis. Compare:

cieplić ‘to warm, to heat’: is noted in L; SWil, SW and SGP SW consider it a provincialism; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; cf. Belar. cjaplec’ ‘to warm up, to heat’ and Lith. šildyti id. < šiltas ‘warm’.

czuchać się ‘to scratch, to fummble’, oczuchać się, rozczuchać się, wyczuchać się ‘come to oneself (after sleep)’: SWil, SW note the words are colloquial and obsolete; SGP provides the following word czuchać in the meanings ‘to rub, to scratch’, Kashubian čuchać, čuchovać id.; cf. Belar. čuchacca, Russ. čiuchat’sia ‘to scratch’.

dawić ‘to choke’: is mentioned in SStp and L; acc. Brückner it was used in the 15th–18th cent.; SW and SJPDor consider it archaic; SGP says it could be found in Polish dialects; cf. Belar. davic’, zadavic’ ‘to press, to crush, to knock down’.

dośpiać, dośpiewać ‘ripen, become fully ripe’; L provides a number of examples with dośpiewać from the 16th–18th cent.; SJPDor notes it is obsolete: SGP states it was used in the north-east of the country; cf. Belar. daspec’, daspjavac’.

gomonić / homonić ‘to shout, to vociferate’: Sławski (SE) and Bańkowski (SE) have noted its use in Old Polish since the 15th cent.; Arct also provides gomonliwy, gomonny ‘noisy, boisterous’; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; SGP indicates gomon ‘cry, noise, din’ in various dialects; Bańkowski (SE) treats the regional variants starting with h- as a Ruthenian form, cf. Belar. hamanic’.

krążać ‘to crumble, to drop crumbs’: L has already mentioned it is an archaism with the provided examples coming from the 16th–17th cent.; SGP illustrates various examples of its use in different regions, especially in Lesser Poland (Malopolska) and Silesia.

odkazać ‘to refuse’: an archaism described in L, Arct, SW, also in the meanings ‘to answer’, ‘to command’; known to many Polish dialects, but in the meaning ‘to refuse’ it dominates in the Eastern Borderlands and in the dialects of Eastern Poland (SGP; Karaś 2002, 327).

pośpieć ‘to have time to do something, to manage to do something’: an archaism known to many Polish dialects (SGP); noted in SStp, L; SJPDor considers it obsolete; cf. Belar. pasp’ec’, Russ. posp’et’ id.

ruchać (się) ‘to move’: used abundantly in Old Polish (L); SW classifies it as dialectal, while SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; SGP mentions its use in various fields; cf. Belar. ruchac’, ruchacca.

sporzyć ‘to help, to support’: in L it is documented in the 16th cent.; Arct, SW; SJPDor considers it obsolete; a few examples mentioned by SGP in Poznań and Kaszuby regional dialects.

tuzać (się)/ tuzgać (się), wytuzać (się) ‘to pull, to tug’: L mentions tuzować, wytuzować ‘to punch, to fist’; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; cf. Belar. tuzac’, tuzacca id.

zabyć, zabywać ‘to forget’: L mentions its wide use and examples coming from the 16th–18th cent.; SJPDor describes it as obsolete; acc. SGP it is well-known to other dialects; cf. Russ. zabyt’, zabywat’, Belar. zabyc’, zabywac’.

1.3. The ADJECTIVES constituted a small number of proper lexical archaisms:

czutki ‘keen, keenly’: as well as ‘sensitive, light (about sleep), which is mentioned in Arct and L; SW treats it as an archaism; the examples are missing in SJPDor; SGP states it is found only in the north-east; cf. Belar. čutki, čutka.

dośpiały ‘ripe’; L provides a great number of examples from the 16th–17th cent.; SW classifies it as rare; while SJPDor considers it obsolete; SGP mentions just a few examples from the north-east; cf. Belar. daspely ‘ripe’.

lipki ‘sticky’: it is found in Polish starting with the 15th–18th cent. when it appeared occasionally in the form lepki (SEBańk); L provides examples from the 16th cent.; SJPDor considers it obsolete; SGP notes only in Lithuania; cf. Belar. lipki, Russ. lipkij.

obrzyzgły ‘about a disgusting, unpleasant sour taste and smell of drinks: another old Polish form is obrzazgły ‘starting to turn sour, thus, undergoing fermentation’ (L, Arct); SJPDor classifies it as obsolete by mentioning the forms obrzazg/ obrzask ‘disgust, sour in the mouth’; SGP notes the verb obrzyskać ‘to scent, to fry’ coming from Kaszuby region; cf. Belar. abryzhnuc’ ‘to turn sour’.

2. Semantic archaisms. The next quantitative group (according to its number that is about 70 units) is presented by the semantic archaisms, i.e. the words that have preserved their obsolete meanings. The group includes various parts of speech:

2.1. The NOUNS. Compare:

baba ‘(an old) woman’: an old general Slavic expression that is also found in contemporary Polish, however, its meaning is marked as strongly negative.

błazen, błazenek ‘a snot nose, greenhorn, pup, child’: cf. general Polish meaning ‘a person saying nonsense, something ridiculing’, ‘a clown’; L defines this word ‘about a young person who is a prankster, also about small children’; SW ‘a kid, a snot (colloquial)’; SGP express. ‘about a child’ (from Lithuania and Białystok region); the meaning ‘a young boy’ is also preserved in Belar. błazan, błazen.

cacka ‘a toy’: L provides its variants cacko, czaczko, cacka from the 16th cent.; SW considers it a provincialism; SJPDor notes the meaning ‘a children’s toy’ used till the end of the 19th cent.; this meaning is also noted by SGP; cf. modern Polish cacko ‘a small object of an artistic value’, ‘something beautiful, elegant’.

chrust, chrusty ‘brushwood, scrubs’: in this meaning it is noted in SPXVI, L, Arct, SW; in SJPDor it is mentioned without any qualifier; the dictionaries of contemporary Polish consider it obsolete in relation to the general Polish meaning ‘dry branches of trees and shrubs’ (Sing. tantum).

cmentarz ‘a courtyard by the church, a tomb’: both SJPDor and L note its general Polish meaning ‘the place where the dead are buried’ < Lat. cimiterium ‘cemetery’ < Gr. koimētrion ‘a resting place’.

czeladź ‘family, relatives, blood relationship (children)’: a semantic archaism (< Proto-Slav. *čel’adь ‘family, kin’) towards the general Polish word czeladź, a word that used to mean ‘a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in an aristocratic house on domestic duties’.

denko ‘a lid’: cf. Pol. denko ‘the bottom of a small container’; L states it has been used since the 16th cent.; SW considers it an archaism; acc. SGP it is known to various Polish dialects.

duch ‘a short breath, breath’: cf. its general Polish meaning ‘an immaterial being’, ‘a soul’, ‘a character, essence of something’; acc. Sławski in old meaning it used to function in the 14th–19th cent.; it is noted by SStp and L; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; SGP defines it as ‘breath’ on the borderland and its adjacent areas.

gawęda ‘a conversation, a talk’: Karaś [2002, 332] notes it is found in Kaunas dialects as an archaism with the general Polish meaning ‘a casual social conversation’, ‘a story’; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete and defines it with a relatively close meaning ‘a talk, gossip’.

jamа ‘the bottom, the lower part’: obsolete (cf. L, SJPDor) as compared to its general Polish meaning ‘a pit, a large hole in the ground’, ‘an animal’s burrow’.

kosa ‘a plait’: SJPDor notes its book style; its belonging to the semantic archaisms group (cf. L, SWil, SW) is supported by Russ. kosa, Belar. kasa id.

majtki ‘trousers’: it is a 17th cent. borrowing < Holl. maat, maatje ‘sailor’, then ‘sailor’s pants’; the contemporary meaning ‘an outer garment, pants’ appeared in the 19th cent. (cf. L, SJPDor, SEBor).

pasza ‘pasture’: as Karaś [2002, 335] rightly notes, “the significance of the general Polish language in the middle of the 20th cent.”, in SJPDor it is still without any additional information.

przyroda ‘the essence of something, nature, characters’: SJPDor classifies this meaning as obsolete (cf. L, SWil, SW).

przyrodzenie ‘character, innate traits’: a semantic archaism as compared to its contemporary meaning ‘external genitalia’ (cf. L, Arct, SJPDor).

siła ‘a good deal’: as an adverb it is an archaism (cf. L, SWil, SW); SJPDor considers it obsolete, in the contemporary language it is dialectal; acc. SGP it is also preserved in autochthonous dialects.

sklep ‘basement’, sklepik ‘cellar’: it is a semantic archaism in Kresy (cf. L, Arct, SW where it is dialectal, while SJPDor considers it obsolete), which is supported by its Belar. version skl’ep id.

urod(a) ‘height’: L provides numerous examples from Old Polish; SJPDor assesses the meaning ‘height’ as obsolete; a semantic archaism, cf. urodziwy.

wiek ‘(all) life’: acc. Karaś [2002, 338], it is a semantic archaism (cf. L, Arct, SW) that appeared under the Russian influence rather than as a loan translation from Russ. v’ek id.

żywioł, żywiołek, and forms żywioła, żywiołka ‘cattle’: despite the fact that in some works this word is considered as a borrowing from Kresy region under the influence of a Lith. word gyvulis id. (cf. [Karaś 2002, 283]), its old meaning ‘a living creature, an animal’ is also stated in dictionaries (the 15th–17th cent.; L, Arct), thus, it is possible to consider it a semantic archaism as compared to the contemporary word żywioł ‘a strong or dangerous natural phenomenon; Boryś [SEBor 760] considers it the next form of the dialectal *živelъ ‘a living being, creature’ < *živъ ‘living’ with the rare suffix *-elъ (cf. dzięcioł, kwiczoł).

2.2. The VERBS:

baczyć ‘to see’: in this meaning SWil considers it an archaism; acc. SGP an old meaning is also preserved in some dialects in Poland; cf. modern baczyć ‘to look at something’ that is described as a book style in the contemporary dictionaries; to oppose Kurzowa’s opinion [1993, 478], it should rather be classified as a semantic archaism, in Kresy region it probably remains under the influence of Belar. bačyc’ ‘to see’.

dokazać ‘to prove, to convince’: cf. the contemporary meaning ‘to achieve the intended goal, to attain something’; L agrees on the meaning ‘to prove’ by providing the examples from the 16th–18th cent.; acc. SW and SJPDor, it is obsolete; SGP provides the examples from the autochthonous Polish territories; cf. Belar. dakazac’, Russ. dokazat’.

dybać ‘to go stealthily’: cf. the contemporary meaning ‘to hold breath and hide’; L provides an example with the meaning ‘to creep on tiptoe’; SW and SJPDor consider it an archaism; SGP notes the meaning ‘to go slowly’ (in Białystok region); cf. Belar. dybaс‘to walk on tiptoe or slowly (with difficulty)’, Russ. dialectal dybat’ id.

dyszeć ‘to breathe’: SJPDor notes this meaning is obsolete as compared to ‘breathe heavily, raggedly’ (cf. L, SWil, SW); under the influence of Russ. dyšat’ id.

liczyć ‘to consider’: in this meaning (close to general Polish ‘to count’) it is noted in L and Arct; SW and SJPDor classify it as obsolete; cf. Belar. ličyc’ id.

mieszać ‘to disturb’, mieszać się ‘to hinder: an obsolete meaning (cf. L, SWil, SJPDor) as compared to the contemporary one ‘to mix (up)’; it is supported by the Russ. m’ešat’ ‘to disturb’, ‘to hinder’, m’ešat’s’a pod nogami ‘to get in the way’.

obserwować ‘to warn’ < Lat. observare ‘to observe’: in this obsolete meaning (cf. L, Arct, SJPDor) it is noted by Karaś [2002, 334] in Kaunas region.

traktować ‘to treat’: from Vilnius region, it is mentioned by Dwilewicz [1997, 123], from Kaunas region, noted by Karaś [2002, 337]; in this meaning it is presented in L, SWil, SW; in SJPDor it is classified as obsolete; cf. Germ. traktieren ‘to treat’.

wiedzieć ‘to know’: an archaic meaning (L, Arct, SWil, SW) as compared to the contemporary meaning ‘to be aware of something’, it is also known to the native dialects (SGP).

zastanowić się ‘to stop’: an obsolete meaning (L, SWil, SW) if compared to the contemporary meaning ‘to think about something’; SJPDor considers it obsolete; it is also known to the native dialects (SGP); cf. Russ. ostanovit’s’a id.

znać ‘to know’: in this meaning it is noted in L (the 16th–18th cent.), Arct, SW; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; to know about Kresy’s characterictic blending of meanings of the words znać and wiedzieć see: [Kurzowa 1993, 456].

żyć ‘to live’: this old meaning was known to general Polish until the 19th cent. (L, Arct, SW); common in Kresy region; cf. Russ. žit’, Belar. žyc’.


cudzy ‘strange, foreign’: SPXVI, L; SW and SJPDor mark this word as regional; under the influence of Russ. č’užoj ‘strange, foreign’, Belarus. čužy id., cf. Lith. svetimas id.

czuły ‘watchful’: a semantic archaism as compared to its contemporary Polish meaning where czuły is ‘affectionate, loving, sensitive’; in the meaning ‘watchful’ it is mentioned in L as an example from the 16th cent.; SW and SJPDor consider it obsolete; cf. Belar. čuły ‘sensitive’.

drugi ‘other’: cf. the contemporary ‘second’; acc. Sławski, it has functioned in this meaning since the 14th cent.; it is also noted in SStp and SPXVI; L defines it as ‘certain’; acc. SGP its old meaning is well-known to many Polish dialects; cf. Belar. druhy, Russ. drugoj ‘other’.

duży ‘strong, robust’: cf. the contemporary meaning ‘big’; L notes it in the 16th–18th cent.; SW classifies it in this meaning as obsolete; SGP provides the examples from Lublin and Podlasie regions; cf. Belar. dužy, Russ. d’užyj ‘strong, robust’.

niesprawiedliwy ‘bad, incorrect, irrelevant’: see sprawiedliwy.

przeciwny ‘disgusting, repugnant’: cf. the contemporary meaning ‘opposite, situated on the other side’, ‘different’ (cf. L, Arct, SW); SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; cf. Russ. protivnyj ‘disgusting, repugnant’, Belar. praciŭny id.

sprawiedliwy ‘right’: in this meaning it is noted in L.

światły ‘bright’: L, SWil, SW consider it rural, while SJPDor states it is obsolete; cf. Russ. sv’etlo, sv’etlyj, Belar. svetla, svetly.

urodziwy ‘tall’: L provides numerous examples from Old Polish; Arct mentions urodziwy as ‘beautiful height and shape’; SJPDor assesses the meaning ‘height’ as obsolete; cf. urod(a).

2.4. The ADVERBS:

niesprawiedliwie ‘badly, incorrectly, irrelevantly’: SJPDor considers this meaning obsolete (cf. L, SW consider it dialectal); cf. Russ. n’espraw’edliwo ‘unjust, wrong’; see niesprawiedliwy, sprawiedliwie.

osobliwie ‘especially’: it is obsolete if compared to its contemporary meaning ‘extraordinarily, oddly’ (cf. L, Arct, SWil, SW, SJPDor).

przeciwnie ‘unpleasantly’: see przeciwny.

rano, raniej ‘early, earlier’: a semantic archaism commonly used in Kresy, as well as in north-eastern Poland (SGP); L and SW provide the examples from the 18th cent.; SJPDor classifies it as obsolete; this meaning finds its equivalents in Belar. rana, Russ. rano.

sprawiedliwie ‘rightly, correctly, fairly’: the predicate sprawiedliwa in the same meaning is classified by SJPDor as obsolete (cf. L); cf. Russ. spraw’edliwo ‘rightly, fairly’.

światło ‘brightly’: see światły.

wcale ‘completely, totally’ in affirmative constructions: in general Polish it usually appears with a particle strengthening the negation (not); in the old meaning it is noted in L, SWil; SW and SJPDor classify it as obsolete; it is also known to the autochthonous dialects (SGP).

3. Lexical word-building archaisms

The last group consists of not numerous word-building archaisms (the so-called word-building doublets), which differ from the contemporary equivalents by any word-forming affix, occasionally by the form of the root morpheme (see: [Buttler 1984, 278; Sierociuk 2008, 229–236]).

Compare: jeżli (cf. modern jeżeli) ‘if, in case’, kradkiem (cf. ukradkiem) ‘by stealth’, krzydła (cf. skrzydła) ‘wings’, lenować się (cf. lenić się) ‘to be lazy’, nadgrobek (cf. nagrobek) ‘tombstone’, nadpis (cf. napis) ‘inscription’, obuczać (cf. nauczać) ‘to teach’, obuczony (cf. nauczony) ‘schooled, trained’, okoliczność (cf. okolica) ‘neighborhood’, parasolik (cf. parasolka) ‘umbrella’, przyznać, przyznawać (cf. uznać, uznawać) ‘to recognize’, rodzeństwo (cf. rodzina) ‘family’, spokojność (cf. spokój) ‘peace’, spotnieć (cf. spocić się) ‘to sweat’, swatostwo (cf. swatanie) ‘matchmaking’, świątkować (cf. świętować) ‘to celebrate’, teścia (cf. teściowa) ‘mother-in-law’, wraz (cf. zaraz) ‘right now’, zachwycić (cf. schwycić, pochwycić) ‘to capture’, źrzały (cf. dojrzały) ‘mature’, etc.

It is a very interesting lexical group which requires a separate study.

V. Thus, the conclusions are as follows:

1) During the work on the project “Polish Dialects in Lithuania”, various types of archaisms were found.

2) In total, it was identified about 200 lexical units classified as obsolete or archaic. The analysis has shown that proper lexical archaisms constitute approximately 50% of the material, semantic archaisms constitute about 35%, and about 15% of the material are lexical word-building archaisms. About half of the identified lexical archaisms are also known to a number of dialects in Poland.

3) By comparing the studied material with the data of the historical sources, it was possible to realize that a number of lexemes qualified in some scientific papers as regionalisms borrowed from the Eastern Slavic languages may be recognized as archaisms, once known to the common Polish language.

4) Тhe studied material allows us to confirm the undoubtedly significant role of the Belarusian and Russian languages in supporting the functioning of lexical archaisms in Polish dialects in Lithuania. The influence of the Lithuanian language in this case does not seem to be significant.


acc. — according (to)

cent. — century

e.g. — exempli gratia, ‘for example’

Germ. — German

Heb. — Hebrew

id. — idem, ‘the same (meaning)’

Lith. — Lithuanian

Proto-Slav. — Proto-Slavic

Belar. — Belarussian

cf. — confer, ‘compare’

etc. — et cetera, ‘and so on’

Gr. — Greek

Holl. — Holland

Lat. — Latin

Pol. — Polish

Russ. — Russian


Arct — M. Arcta Słownik Staropolski: 26,000 wyrazów i wyrażeń używanych w dawnej mowie polskiej. Opracowali Antoni Krasnowolski i Władysław Niedźwiedzki. Warszawa 1920.

L — S. B. Linde. Słownik języka polskiego, t. I–VI. Warszawa 1807–1814.

SEBańk — A. Bańkowski. Etymologiczny słownik języka polskiego, t. I–II. Warszawa 2000.

SEBor — W. Boryś. Słownik etymologiczny języka polskiego. Kraków 2005.

SEBr — A. Brückner. Słownik etymologiczny języka polskiego. Warszawa 1989.

SESł — F. Sławski. Słownik etymologiczny języka polskiego, t. I–V, Kraków 1958–1965.

SGP — Słownik gwar polskich, t. I i nast., pod red. M. Karasia, J. Rejchana. Kraków 1982 i n.; Indeks alfabetyczny wyrazów z kartoteki “Słownika gwar polskich”, pod red. M. Karasia, J. Rejchana. Kraków 1999.

SGPK — J. Karłowicz. Słownik gwar polskich, t. I–VI. Warszawa—Kraków 1900–1911.

SJPDor — Słownik języka polskiego pod red. W. Doroszewskiego, t. I–XI. Warszawa, 1958–1969.

SMPP — I. Grek-Pabisowa, M. Jankowiak, M. Ostrówka. Słownik Mówionej Polszczyzny Północnokresowej. Warszawa 2017.

SPXVI — Słownik polszczyzny XVI wieku, pod red. M. R. Mayenowej, Wrocław 1966 i in.

SStp — Słownik staropolski, pod red. S. Urbańczyka, t. I–XI. Kraków 1953–2002.

SW — J. Karłowicz, A. A. Kryński, W. Niedźwiedzki, Słownik języka polskiego, t. I–VIII. Warszawa 1900–1927.

SWil — A. Zdanowicz i in., Słownik języka polskiego, wyd. staraniem M. Orgelbranda, t. I–II. Wilno 1861.

USJP — Uniwersalny słownik języka polskiego, pod red. S. Dubisza, t. I–IV. Warszawa 2003.


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Viktorija Ušinskienė, PhD (Humanities), Assoc. prof. of the Polish Studies Center of Vilnius University

Viktorija Ušinskienė, humanitarinių mokslų daktarė, Vilniaus universiteto Polonistikos centro docentė

Виктория Ушинскене, доктор гуманитарныx наук, доцент Центра полонистики Вильнюсского университета

1 The project, called “Polish Dialects in Lithuania” (“Gwary polskie na Litwie”, 2016–2018, supervisor Prof. Kristina Rutkovska) was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.

2 In the article the concept of ‘archaism’ is interpreted widely: both archaic and obsolete words are considered. About the different interpretations of the term “archaism”, see: [Borejszo 1984, 370–383; Boryś 2007, 532–538; Handke 1997, 72–77; Kurkowska 1959, 67]).

3 A few works are devoted mainly to the archaisms in the so-called “cultural dialect”, e.g. in the monograph on the Polish language in Vilnius region, Z. Kurzowa [1983, 478–479] notes approximately 120 lexical archaisms, most of which functioned in the literary language, while remaining unknown to the dialects. Also cf.: [Mędelska 1993; 2000; Rieger 1996; 1999]. Among the works devoted to Polish dialects in Lithuania, firstly, it is worth mentioning H.Karaś’s monograph Gwary polskie na Kowieńszczyźnie (2002) that in addition to regionalisms also considers archaisms. See also: [Dwilewicz 1997; Rieger 2006].