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Polish: Once a lingua franca

Polish is one of the most significant Slavic languages in Europe and is known for its tongue twisters with the ‘sh’ or ‘sht’ sounds. A great example is the names of cities like Szczecin, Bydgoszcz, or Częstochowa. The Polish language survived hundreds of years of suppression during a time Poland didn’t exist on the map. Today Polish is also understood by Lithuanians and Ukrainians, and the language has reached many corners of the world, including the American city Chicago.

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3 interesting facts about the Polish language


Polish is an Indo-European language, but its alphabet doesn’t use the letter “v”. It is replaced by “w,” so the capital Warsaw (Warszawa) is actually pronounced as ‘varshava.’


A distinguishing feature of Polish is that, unlike other Slavic languages, it uses nasal vowels.


Polish was formerly a lingua franca because it had a political advantage in Central and Eastern Europe.

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Origin of the language

Polish is an Indo-European language and is very similar to Czech, Slovakian, and Ukrainian. Polish uses the Latin alphabet, like Slovakian and Czech, but its alphabet has 32 letters. The Polish language is considered a very difficult language to learn.

History of the language

The Polish language originated in the 10th century. Over the centuries, the language has been highly influenced by many other languages, like German, English, and even Italian. When the country was occupied by Russia and Prussia in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Polish language was suppressed.
Recently, Poland has become home to many new residents. Poland has many Ukrainian immigrants and refugees, especially since the Russian invasion. They are learning the language rather fast. Perhaps this is because the spoken languages of Polish and Ukrainian are similar. However, their writing systems are different as Ukrainian uses a Cyrillic alphabet and Polish uses Latin letters.

Learning the language

An English speaker could require 1100 hours to learn Polish.

How to say 10 popular words and phrases in the Polish language

You can start learning the language with a brief introduction. It may be useful to learn how to say “hello,” “beautiful,” and “Merry Christmas” in the Polish language.

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Polish language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Polish:

Sorry/ Excuse me: Przepraszam

No: Nie

Thank you: Dziękuję (formal) / Dzięki (informal)

Goodbye: Do widzenia (formal) / Pa (informal)

Yes: Tak

I love you: Kocham cię

Grandpa: Dziadek

Aunt: Cioca

Hello: Cześć

Beautiful: Piękny

lang orbit original

Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.

Marie Curie

Physicist and researcher

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Rabbi, Jewish theologian and philosopher

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in the right to do what we ought.

Pope John Paul II

Head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State

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Fun facts about the Polish language

Mongolian terms

During conflicts with Genghis Khan during the 12th and 13th centuries, Mongolian terms were introduced into the Polish language.

The longest word

The longest Polish word has 45 letters. ”Dziewięćsetdziewięćdziesięcio

dziewięcionarodowościowego” means “999 nationalities.”

No “Happy birthday” song

Poles do not sing “Happy Birthday” (Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin) but sing “Sto Lat” which means “100 years”. The song is also popular at weddings or other occasions for celebrations.


For speakers of a Slavic language, Polish is not hard to learn. However, if you are a speaker of a non-Slavic language, Polish is considered one of the world’s hardest languages to learn. The pronunciation is difficult and the grammar is very complicated, mainly due to the seven cases and the endings of words which change depending on the context, situation, and gender.

Czech, Slovakian, and spoken Ukrainian are considered to be the languages most similar to Polish. In theory, speakers of each language are able to understand some spoken Polish.

Lithuania and Poland were once one country known as the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. The well-known Polish writer Adam Mickiewicz lived in what is now Lithuania. The connection between Poland and Lithuania has been quite a sensitive topic for years but has improved considerably recently. There are still many Lithuanians of Polish descent; 80% of whom still speak Polish.

Unfortunately, Polish has gained a bit of a vulgar image abroad and on social media. In actuality, Polish is not a vulgar language. The best advocates for a positive image of Polish are the many Polish recipients of the Noble Prize for literature.

Polish has surprisingly fewer accents or dialects compared to, for example, English or German, despite the size of the country and the fact that it is home to almost 37 million Polish speakers. In the southeast, the Silesian accent is highly influenced by German words. The accent in the mountains also differs from the rest of the country. In the Pomorskie region, along the northern coast, a separate language is spoken. This is called Kashubian or kaszëbsczi jãzëk.

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