What does "odklejka" have in common with "tryhardare"? A study of youth language in Polish-Italian cooperation

Last autumn, an international team of linguists from universities in Poland and Italy launched the research project "Young Polish at the Crossroads of Cultures. Promotion, knowledge, education." The project is devoted to youngomowa, or the youth variety of colloquial language. As the researchers themselves say, youngomowa is the most dynamically developing part of the language, the analysis of which provides interesting conclusions both in the field of linguistics and social change. Due to its international nature, the study also creates opportunities to promote the Polish language outside Poland.

The originator and manager of the project is Prof. Anna Wileczek of Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce, who also sits on the jury of the Youth Word of the Year plebiscite. This competition, which is well known in Poland, is a phenomenon in itself, as noted by Dr. Alessandro Ajres, who teaches Polish at the University of Bari. No less valuable, in his opinion, is the discussion of the role of language that the plebiscite provokes every year.

Dr. Urszula Marzec of the University of Turin, on the other hand, draws attention to the relevance of juvenile colloquial in the didactic context. As the researcher points out, language courses usually do not include adolescent colloquial language in their programs, which may not always be the right decision. Another space in which knowledge of youngomowa is important can be translations - especially audiovisual translations of youth films or series.

A project exploring Youngspeak in a Polish-Italian context therefore aims to expand existing research in this area. As it turns out, there are quite a few similarities between the youth varieties of the two languages - especially when it comes to vocabulary borrowed from English. Sometimes, however, the meanings of certain expressions differ, which is of particular interest to the researchers. The researchers are sending a questionnaire to all young speakers of Polish and Italian, asking them to fill it out.

Link to survey in Polish

Link to survey in Italian

The project was funded by the National Agency for Academic Exchange within the framework of the "Promotion of the Polish Language" program (2023-2024), and the project partner is the Polish Academy of Sciences Center in Rome.

~Marta Chmielevska