Language use and self-identification: The case of Lithuanian Poles


  • Kinga Geben Vilnius University
  • Meilutė Ramonienė Vilnius University



Lithuanian Poles, ethnic identity, multilingualism, language use


Based on newly collected quantitative and qualitative data from two research projects on language use and attitudes carried out in Lithuanian cities and towns, this paper aims to report and contrast current identity tendencies and their links with the linguistic behaviour of Lithuanian Poles permanently residing in the capital Vilnius and in smaller towns. The study reported here involves a description of the Polish community and review of its background, analysis of the sociolinguistic peculiarities of Polish and identification of areas in which it is used, an evaluation of the role of Polish in the identity of its users as well as changes in the process of identity formation. The data covered in the article consist of 281 responses from Lithuanian Poles in the two research projects. The quantitative data were supplemented with the findings from qualitative research, so this article analyses 14 interviews, or nearly six hours of recorded data. The study shows that different urban contexts are characterised by varying linguistic behaviour. The interview material reveals the importance of the interrelationship between ethnicity and citizenship as well as between identity and the place of residence.

Author Biographies

Kinga Geben, Vilnius University

Kinga Geben is a Lecturer at Vilnius University in Lithuania. Her main research interests are sociolinguistics theories, bilingualism and lexical tendencies that occur as a result of linguistic interference. She has also published on topics related to the linguistic competence and identity of ethnic Poles in Lithuania.

Meilutė Ramonienė, Vilnius University

Meilutė Ramonienė is a Professor at Vilnius University. Her research interests include applied linguistics, sociolinguistics and onomastics. She is an author of several textbooks and reference books for teaching Lithuanian as a second language. Her published output also includes papers on language use and language attitudes, language and identity, bilingualism and multilingualism in Lithuania.



How to Cite

Geben, K., & Ramonienė, M. (2015). Language use and self-identification: The case of Lithuanian Poles. Sociolinguistic Studies, 9(2-3), 243–268.