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Polish: At one time a lingua franca

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10 facts about Polish

01

Polish is one of the Slavic languages of the Indo-European languages, similar to Czech, Slovak, and Sorbian.

02

Polish is the native language of people of Polish descent. It is spoken by 36.6 million people in Poland and 39 million people worldwide.

03

Polish has borrowed a large number of words from other European languages such as German and English.

04

A distinguishable characteristic of Polish is that it uses nasal vowels which other Slavic languages do not.

05

Polish makes use of the Latin alphabet with the simple addition of a few unique characters.

06

Polish was influenced by German and Russian as a result of historical events and by Latin through its link with Christianity.

07

Polish uses a 32-letter alphabet that includes nine additional letters not found in the standard 26-letter Latin alphabet for English.

08

Polish was formerly a lingua franca, owning to its political advantage in Central and Eastern Europe.

09

Polish is spoken by some as a second language in many countries such as Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Ukraine.

10

 Due to post-World War II immigration, Polish speakers can be found all over the world in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as many other countries.

Poland

Origin of the language

Polish emerged in Poland.

Poland

History of the language

It is believed that Polish originated in the 10th century.

Poland

Learning the language

An English speaker could require 1100 hours to learn Polish.

Polish language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Polish:

Hello: Cześć
Goodbye: Do widzenia
Yes: tak
No: nie
Thank you: Dziękuję Ci
Sorry: przepraszam
Love: miłość
Market: rynek
Car: samochód

Quotes

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

Fun facts about the Polish language

Terms for Polish cuisine adopted

Some terms referring to food of Polish origin have been adopted by the English language, such as kielbasa (smoked sausage) and pierogi (stuffed dumplings).

The longest word

The longest Polish word has 45 letters, Dziewięćsetdziewięćdziesięciodziewięcionarodowościowego, and means “999 nationalities.”

Modern Polish emerged in the 1700s

As a successor to the medieval Old Polish and Middle Polish (10th–16th centuries), the modern variation of Polish emerged in the 1700s.

Related languages

Polish is most closely linked to Slovak and Czech, among other languages, but it varies in terms of pronunciation and basic grammar.

“Correct Polish”

The modern standard dialect of Polish is dubbed "correct Polish" by many and is intelligible across the country.

Stress pattern in Polish

The most common stress pattern in Polish is the penultimate stress, which occurs when a word has more than one syllable and is stressed on the next-to-last syllable.

More stress positions

Verbs with the conditional endings like -by, -bym, -bymy, are another group of exceptions. These endings are not taken into account while establishing the stress position.

Nouns and genders

There are three genders for nouns: masculine, feminine, and neuter. The masculine gender is further split into sub-genders.

Borrowed from Mongolian words

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

Polish Nobel prize winners in literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to five authors who have written in the Polish language.

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