Saturday, June 25, 2011

Where is Pomerania anyway?

[This post is a logical extension of the preceding post, in which I happened to mention in passing that the Seven Years’ War is known in Sweden as the Third Pomeranian War. --RWP]

According to Wikipedia, Pomerania is “a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East. It is inhabited primarily by Poles, Germans and Kashubians.”

Kashubians? Never heard of ’em. Back to Wikipedia I went.

Kashubians and Slovincians (the latter regarded themselves merely as Lutheran Kashubians) speak Kashubian and Slovincian, respectively. Slovincians are grouped with the Kashubians as Pomeranians. Similarly, the Slovincian and Kashubian languages are grouped as the Pomeranian language. Pomeranian influenced the formation of such Polish dialects as Kociewski, Borowiacki, and Krajniacki, and several expressways in Chicago. Everything in this paragraph is true except the part about the expressways in Chicago. I made that up.

The Kashubians even had their own flag:

Notable Kashubians include Józef Borzyszkowski (1946- ) historian, politician, founder of the Kashubian Institute; Hieronim Derdowski (1852–1902) poet, humorist, journalist; Jan Drzeżdżon (1937–1992) novelist; and Swantopolk II (1195–1266) powerful ruler of Eastern Pomerania. Apparently no notable Kashubian was powerful enough to convince the Kashubians, Slovincians, and Pomeranians to include a few more vowels in their language.

Speaking of Pomerania, Eastern Pomerania was also called Farther Pomerania but Western Pomerania was never, ever, called Nearer Pomerania. Nearer to or farther from what, I have no idea.

The city of Szczecin is the main urban center in Western Pomerania. If you know how to pronounce Szczecin, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Click on that link to read Rudyard Kipling’s poem in its entirety, or click on this link to see the trailer for the 1939 movie Gunga Din starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Fontaine, and, in the title role, Sam Jaffe, who many years later played Dr. Zorba on the TV series Ben Casey. None of this has anything to do with Pomerania.

Here is a scene in Szczecin. After you have seen it, you will be able to say truthfully that you have seen a scene in Szczecin:

The name of the entire region is derived from Old Slavic po, meaning “by/next to/along” and more, meaning “sea”. Thus “Pomerania” is literally “seacoast”, referring to its proximity to the Baltic Sea.

Finally, here is a rare glimpse of typical daily life among the people of Pomerania (3:11).

It has taken all the gumption and personal resolve I could muster and every fiber of my being to refrain from including a picture of a dog.

This has been another educational post from Rhymeswithplague University, your online window into all things worthy of your attention.


  1. The Kashubians, aren't those the three spoiled girls and their parents who have a real life soap on TV?

    I'd totally understand it if the Kashubians/Slovincians/Pomeranians got really confused about their identity and which language to speak. No wonder they fled to Chicago to build a couple of expressways.

    I had fun trying to pronounce this post and I think I've mastered pronoucing Szczecin correctly. Yes. Thank you.


  2. Ha, ha! In a real life that is stranger than fiction, the Kardashian girls' father, Robert Kardashian, was one of the members of the defense team at the O.J. Simpson trial (a shout
    out here to Judge Ito, wherever you are) and their stepfather, Bruce Jenner, won the Olympic gold medal in decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Who else would tell you these things but me?

  3. trivia which some of us could live without but why when bob is wry

  4. Putz, thanks, I think. The dictionary definition of "wry" is (1) twisted, contorted, or askew;
    (2) of a facial expression, produced or characterized by contorting of the features, usually indicating dislike; (3) drily humorous; sardonic; (4) warped, misdirected, or perverse; (5) of words, thoughts, etc., unsuitable or wrong.

    I sincerely hope you meant (3). If not, I am sending you a virtual raspberry.

  5. Ah yes, the Kardashians. I thought Bruce Jenner should have looked much older by know ;-) I've never managed to watch a whole episode. Thank you for the information. I heard that O.J. confessed to Oprahs people that he's guilty. No. Really?