The article was written on the basis of the statements made by Ukrainian students of Polish origin recorded between 2001 and 2002. The speakers supported an opinion that was incomprehensible to most of the native speakers of Polish: one neither needs to know the mother tongue of a given nation nor speak it on a regular basis to feel a rightful member of the nation (the knowledge of Polish is not necessary to feel a Pole and, correspondingly, one does not need to speak Ukrainian to feel a Ukrainian). Therefore, contrary to what is generally believed, the language is not an indispensable component of national identity. Such a conclusion can be drawn on the basis of statements concerning the attitude towards Ukrainian in case of students declaring Ukrainian nationality and the attitude towards Polish in case of students declaring Polish nationality. The speakers' opinions on this subject vary depending on where they live in Ukraine. Regardless of that, the language may constitute a welding element for a multinational community. Such is the case with Russian among the Poles from the East studying in Poland though some of the students reject Russian as the national/official language in the country of their origin.
A. Kijewska, Instytut Slawistyki PAN, ul. Bartoszewicza 1b m. 17, 00-337 Warszawa, Poland
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