Polish

The Origins and Culture of The Polish Language

The Polish language is a West Slavic language that belongs to the Lekhitic language subgroup. Today it is spoken by 55 million people in Poland and abroad in countries of the Balkan peninsula and the neighboring countries of Poland. As one of the official languages of the European Union, Polish is also the second most widely spoken Slavic language, after Russian. In the US it is spoken by about 580,153 people. It is closely related to Kashubian, Silesian, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Czech, and Slovak.

History and Origins of The Polish Language

It is known that Polish began to emerge as a distinct language around the 10th century. This was mainly due to the establishment and development of the Polish state. It first existed as a spoken language only, however with the spread of Christianity, Poland adopted the Latin alphabet. It is worth mentioning that Polish is the oldest, non-ecclesiastical, written Slavic language with a continuous tradition of literacy and official use, which has lasted unbroken from the 16th century to this day.

The Old Polish language is the ancestor of the today’s Modern Polish which descends from the unattested Proto-Slavic language. Polish was a lingua franca from 1500 AD – 1700 AD in Central and small portions of Eastern Europe, because of the political, cultural, scientific and military influence of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Polish Alphabet & Spoken Language

The alphabet, as aforementioned, is the Latin alphabet, however, it contains 32 letters since 9 were added to it to match the distinct sounds of spoken Polish. Those are ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż. The language consists of native Polish words with the addition of words borrowed from Latin, Czech, German, Belarusian, and Ukrainian and also some words from Italian, French, and English.

The major dialects of the language are:

  • Great Polish
  • Pomeranian
  • Silesian
  • Little Polish
  • Mazovian
  • Kashubian (Cassubian), often classified as a Polish dialect, is, historically, a separate language.

Good to Know

  • As it belongs to the group of Slavic languages, Polish has many common words with Russian, Ukrainian, Czech or Serbian. So while there are similarities, there are often many words called “false friends” which are words that sound very alike but have completely different meanings. For example, Polish “frajer” (naive, easily deceivable man) has little to do with the Czech “frajer” (handsome guy/lover/boyfriend). However, these false friends can be also found in non-Slavic languages, e.g. English “ordinary” sounds similar to “ordynarny”, which means “vulgar” in Polish.
  • Polish people like using diminutive forms from almost all words in the language.
  • The added letters ą, ć, ę, ł, ń ó, ś, ż, ż that we mentioned earlier, although seem complicated to foreigners, in the Polish language are very often to come across. The ranking from 2010 for the most beautiful Polish word may serve as a proof of this. It was won by “źdźbło” (blade of grass). Other words which were also taken into account were: “szept” (whisper), “brzdęk” (plunk) and “szeleścić” (to rustle).
  • There are many words borrowed from English in recent post-communist years. These loanwords often receive a Polish linguistic treatment but are far from unrecognizable.
  • If you know Polish you have the advantage in learning Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Russian, Slovene, Serbian and Ukrainian.
  • Polish people are very polite when talking and they use Pan (Sir), and Pani (Lady), very often.
    Even in arguments, you can hear these polite words: Pan jest idiotą (Sir, you’re an idiot).

ULS Services in Polish

At United Language Services we work with a wide array of certified professional translators and interpreters that have mastered the Polish language in all its forms. So if you need translation, interpretation, localization, or transcription of the language, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Origins and Culture of The Polish Language

The Polish language is a West Slavic language that belongs to the Lekhitic language subgroup. Today it is spoken by 55 million people in Poland and abroad in countries of the Balkan peninsula and the neighboring countries of Poland. As one of the official languages of the European Union, Polish is also the second most widely spoken Slavic language, after Russian. In the US it is spoken by about 580,153 people. It is closely related to Kashubian, Silesian, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Czech, and Slovak.

History and Origins of The Polish Language

It is known that Polish began to emerge as a distinct language around the 10th century. This was mainly due to the establishment and development of the Polish state. It first existed as a spoken language only, however with the spread of Christianity, Poland adopted the Latin alphabet. It is worth mentioning that Polish is the oldest, non-ecclesiastical, written Slavic language with a continuous tradition of literacy and official use, which has lasted unbroken from the 16th century to this day.

The Old Polish language is the ancestor of the today’s Modern Polish which descends from the unattested Proto-Slavic language. Polish was a lingua franca from 1500 AD – 1700 AD in Central and small portions of Eastern Europe, because of the political, cultural, scientific and military influence of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Polish Alphabet & Spoken Language

The alphabet, as aforementioned, is the Latin alphabet, however, it contains 32 letters since 9 were added to it to match the distinct sounds of spoken Polish. Those are ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż. The language consists of native Polish words with the addition of words borrowed from Latin, Czech, German, Belarusian, and Ukrainian and also some words from Italian, French, and English.

The major dialects of the language are:

  • Great Polish
  • Pomeranian
  • Silesian
  • Little Polish
  • Mazovian
  • Kashubian (Cassubian), often classified as a Polish dialect, is, historically, a separate language.

Good to Know

  • As it belongs to the group of Slavic languages, Polish has many common words with Russian, Ukrainian, Czech or Serbian. So while there are similarities, there are often many words called “false friends” which are words that sound very alike but have completely different meanings. For example, Polish “frajer” (naive, easily deceivable man) has little to do with the Czech “frajer” (handsome guy/lover/boyfriend). However, these false friends can be also found in non-Slavic languages, e.g. English “ordinary” sounds similar to “ordynarny”, which means “vulgar” in Polish.
  • Polish people like using diminutive forms from almost all words in the language.
  • The added letters ą, ć, ę, ł, ń ó, ś, ż, ż that we mentioned earlier, although seem complicated to foreigners, in the Polish language are very often to come across. The ranking from 2010 for the most beautiful Polish word may serve as a proof of this. It was won by “źdźbło” (blade of grass). Other words which were also taken into account were: “szept” (whisper), “brzdęk” (plunk) and “szeleścić” (to rustle).
  • There are many words borrowed from English in recent post-communist years. These loanwords often receive a Polish linguistic treatment but are far from unrecognizable.
  • If you know Polish you have the advantage in learning Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Russian, Slovene, Serbian and Ukrainian.
  • Polish people are very polite when talking and they use Pan (Sir), and Pani (Lady), very often.
    Even in arguments, you can hear these polite words: Pan jest idiotą (Sir, you’re an idiot).

ULS Services in Polish

At United Language Services we work with a wide array of certified professional translators and interpreters that have mastered the Polish language in all its forms. So if you need translation, interpretation, localization, or transcription of the language, please do not hesitate to contact us.