Polish becomes official language of small Brazilian town
A small town in Brazil has made Polish its official language in recognition of its large Polish community.
Founded in 1906 by Polish immigrants, the commune of Áurea in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul has a population of around 3,600 people, of which 90 percent have Polish heritage.
Consequently, Polish symbols and traditions remain widespread in the community with Polish schools, associations, folklore groups and churches in abundance.
Announcing the decision last week, Dariusz Bonisławski, president of the Polish Community Association – an NGO under the patronage of Poland’s Senate – said: “Establishing the Polish language in the commune of Aurea… is recognition of the contribution of our countrymen to the social and cultural development of Brazil.
“It is also a symbolic example that can serve as a model for other regions and countries where the descendants of Polish immigrants live.
“Though many of them no longer speak Polish, this does not prevent them from maintaining Polish identity, culture and religion.”
There are currently around five million people of Polish descent estimated to be living in Brazil.
With most arriving in the second half of the 19th century to escape “deepening foreign domination”
Fabricio Jose Nazzari Vicroski who came up with the initiative to have Polish made the official language said that “…many Polish immigrants came to Brazil, including participants in two great 19th-century uprisings (the November Uprising and the January Uprising).
“For many families, emigration was seen as the only way to give their children hope for a better life.
“Brazil was seen as the "Promised Land". A place of abundance and opportunities.”
He added: Currently, traces and manifestations of Polish colonization are visible in various aspects of everyday life, in gastronomy, architecture, folklore, religion, craftsmanship, among other customs and traditions, and, obviously, in the preservation and transmission of the language brought by immigrants, as well as in the specific the accent that this linguistic heritage imposes on the Portuguese language, which is currently used by the descendants of Polish immigrants.”
The town has also officially adopted Portugese.
Local authorities are now looking to support the use of Polish through language courses, cultural, artistic and educational events, and in public and private signage.
Diaspora groups hope other places with large Polish populations will follow suit and there are moves to have the Polish language recognised as part of Brazil’s “intangible cultural heritage.”
To read more about Polish migration to Brazil and other parts of South America click here.