Friday, June 24, 2016

Language facts: Polish

Polish is a West Slavic language and the official language of Poland. It is most closely related to Czech and Slovak, sharing the region of Central Europe. 

Warsaw - Old Town.
Source: AdobeStock.com
It is spoken by around 55 million people around the world, primarily in Poland (around 38 million), and by immigrant communities in many countries in Europe, the UAE and USA (there are 11 million Polish Americans and a vast diaspora lives also in the UK). It is also one of the official EU languages. 

Language of a complicated territory

Polish language appeared around the 10th century as a result of an emerging Polish state. Until accepting Christianity and the Latin script, there was no alphabet to write Polish down so it existed only in spoken form. Despite a very complicated history of Poland and Polish people, and many attempts to suppress the language, its literature still developed. Nowadays, Polish is the second most widely spoken Slavic language in the world (after Russian), even surpassing Ukrainian. 
The language has some quite interesting grammar rules. Polish is highly inflected with seven cases for nouns, pronouns and adjectives. It also has a complex gender system, but uses only three tenses. There are no definite or indefinite articles in Polish. Interestingly, when formally addressing someone (even in direct personal communication), Polish switch from second to third person and use the pronouns pan (Mr.), pani (Mrs.) or panstwo (plural - equivalent to "ladies and gentlemen").

Polish Alphabet

In addition to the standard Latin alphabet, Polish uses 9 special characters (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż; Ą, Ć, Ę, Ł, Ń, Ó, Ś, Ź, Ż) and special character pairs (ch, cz, dz, dż, dź, sz, rz) which represent sounds not available in the Latin alphabet. 



A Ą B C Ć D E Ę F G H I J K L Ł M N Ń O Ó P R S Ś T U W Y Z Ź Ż
a ą b c ć d e ę f g h i j k l ł m n ń o ó p r s ś t u w y z ź ż

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