POLISH (_język polski_, _polszczyzna_) is a West Slavic language
spoken primarily in
Although the Austrian , German and Russian administrations exerted
much pressure on the Polish nation (during the 19th and early 20th
centuries) following the Partitions of
In history, Polish is known to be an important language, both
diplomatically and academically in
Central and Eastern Europe . Today,
Polish is spoken by over 38.5 million people as their first language
* 1 History * 2 Geographic distribution * 3 Dialects * 4 Phonology * 5 Orthography * 6 Grammar * 7 Borrowed words * 8 Loanwords from Polish * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links
Polish began to emerge as a distinct language around the 10th
century, the process largely triggered by the establishment and
development of the Polish state. Mieszko I , ruler of the Polans tribe
The precursor to modern Polish is the Old Polish language . Ultimately, Polish is thought to descend from the unattested Proto-Slavic language. Polish was a _lingua franca _ from 1500–1700 in Central and small portions of Eastern Europe , because of the political, cultural, scientific and military influence of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . "Day, ut ia pobrusa, a ti poziwai", highlited in red
Book of Henryków (Polish: _Księga henrykowska_,
The medieval recorder of this phrase, the Cistercian monk Peter of the Henryków monastery, noted that "Hoc est in polonico" ("This is in Polish").
According to the 2011 census there are now over 500,000 people in
The geographical distribution of the
Dialects of Polish The oldest printed text in
Polish – Statuta synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensis printed in
Wrocław by Kasper Elyan. The
The inhabitants of different regions of
Polish is normally described as consisting of four or five main dialects:
* Greater Polish , spoken in the west * Lesser Polish , spoken in the south and southeast * Masovian , spoken throughout the central and eastern parts of the country * Silesian , spoken in the southwest (also considered a separate language, see comment below)
Kashubian , spoken in
Many linguistic sources about the
Slavic languages describe Silesian
as a dialect of Polish. However, many
Silesians consider themselves
a separate ethnicity and have been advocating for the recognition of a
Silesian language. According to the last official census in
Some more characteristic but less widespread regional dialects include:
* The distinctive dialect of the
Gorals (_Góralski_) occurs in the
mountainous area bordering the
Main article: Polish phonology
Polish has six oral vowels (all monophthongs ) and two nasal vowels . The oral vowels are /i / (spelled _i_), /ɨ/ (spelled _y_), /ɛ / (spelled _e_), /a / (spelled _a_), /ɔ / (spelled _o_) and /u / (spelled _u_ or _ó _). The nasal vowels are /ɛ̃ / (spelled _ę _) and /ɔ̃ / (spelled _ą _).
The Polish consonant system shows more complexity: its characteristic features include the series of affricate and palatal consonants that resulted from four Proto-Slavic palatalizations and two further palatalizations that took place in Polish and Belarusian . The full set of consonants, together with their most common spellings, can be presented as follows (although other phonological analyses exist):
* stops /p / (_p_), /b / (_b_), /t/ (_t_), /d/ (_d_), /k / (_k_), /ɡ / (_g_), and the palatalized forms /kʲ/ (_ki_) and /ɡʲ/ (_gi_) * fricatives /f / (_f_), /v / (_w_), /s/ (_s_), /z/ (_z_), /ʂ / (_sz_), /ʐ / (_ż , rz_), the alveolo-palatals /ɕ / (_ś , si_) and /ʑ / (_ź , zi_), and /x / (_ch, h_) and /xʲ/ (_chi, hi_) * affricates /ts/ (_c_), /dz/ (_dz_), /tʂ/ (_cz_), /dʐ/ (_dż_), /tɕ/ (_ć , ci_), /dʑ/ (_dź, dzi_) (these are written here without ties for browser display compatibility, although Polish does distinguish between affricates as in _czy_, and stop–fricative clusters as in _trzy_) * nasals /m / (_m_), /n/ (_n_), /ɲ/ (_ń, ni_) * approximants /l / (_l_), /j / (_j_), /w / (_ł_) * trill /r / (_r_)
Neutralization occurs between voiced –voiceless consonant pairs in certain environments: at the end of words (where devoicing occurs), and in certain consonant clusters (where assimilation occurs). For details, see _Voicing and devoicing _ in the article on Polish phonology.
Most Polish words are paroxytones (that is, the stress falls on the second-to-last syllable of a polysyllabic word), although there are exceptions.
The diacritics used in the
Polish orthography is largely phonemic —there is a consistent correspondence between letters (or digraphs and trigraphs ) and phonemes (for exceptions see below). The letters of the alphabet and their normal phonemic values are listed in the following table. Book of Henryków . The Jakub Wujek Bible in Polish, 1599 print
Upper case Lower case Phonemic value(s) Upper case Lower case Phonemic value(s)
A A /a / M M /m /
Ą ą /ɔ̃ /, /ɔn/ , /ɔm/ N N /n/
B B /b / (/p /) Ń ń /ɲ/
C C /ts/ O O /ɔ /
D D /d/ (/t/ ) P P /p /
E E /ɛ / R R /r /
Ę ę /ɛ̃ /, /ɛn/ , /ɛm/ , /ɛ / S S /s/
F F /f / Ś ś /ɕ /
G G /ɡ / (/k /) T T /t/
H H /ɣ / (/x /) U U /u /
I I /i /, /j / W W /v / (/f /)
J J /j / Y Y /ɨ /
K K /k / Z Z /z/ (/s/ )
L L /l / Ź ź /ʑ / (/ɕ /)
The following digraphs and trigraphs are used:
DIGRAPH PHONEMIC VALUE(S) Digraph/trigraph (before a vowel) PHONEMIC VALUE(S)
CH /x / CI /tɕ/
CZ /tʂ/ DZI /dʑ/
DZ /dz/ (/ts/ ) GI /ɡʲ/
Dź /dʑ/ (/tɕ/ ) (C)HI /xʲ/
Dż /dʐ/ (/tʂ/ ) KI /kʲ/
RZ /ʐ / (/ʂ /) NI /ɲ/
SZ /ʂ / SI /ɕ /
ZI /ʑ /
Voiced consonant letters frequently come to represent voiceless sounds (as shown in the tables); this occurs at the end of words and in certain clusters, due to the neutralization mentioned in the _Phonology _ section above. Occasionally also voiceless consonant letters can represent voiced sounds in clusters.
The spelling rule for the palatal sounds /ɕ /, /ʑ /, /tɕ/ , /dʑ/ and /ɲ/ is as follows: before the vowel _i_ the plain letters _s, z, c, dz, n_ are used; before other vowels the combinations _si, zi, ci, dzi, ni_ are used; when not followed by a vowel the diacritic forms _ś, ź, ć, dź, ń_ are used. For example, the _s_ in _siwy_ ("grey-haired"), the _si_ in _siarka_ ("sulphur") and the _ś_ in _święty_ ("holy") all represent the sound /ɕ /. The exceptions to the above rule are certain loanwords from Latin, Italian, French, Russian or English—where _s_ before _i_ is pronounced as _s_, e.g. _sinus_, _sinologia_, _do re mi fa sol la si do_, _Saint-Simon i saint-simoniści_, _Sierioża_, _Siergiej_, _Singapur_, _singiel_. In other loanwords the vowel _i_ is changed to _y_, e.g. _Syria_, _Sybir_, _synchronizacja_, _Syrakuzy_.
The following table shows the correspondence between the sounds and spelling:
digraphs and trigraphs are used:
PHONEMIC VALUE Single letter/Digraph (in pausa or before a consonant) Digraph/Trigraph (before a vowel) Single letter/Digraph (before the vowel _i_)
/tɕ/ ć CI C
/dʑ/ Dź DZI DZ
/ɕ / ś SI S
/ʑ / ź ZI Z
/ɲ/ ń NI N
Similar principles apply to /kʲ/ , /ɡʲ/ , /xʲ/ and /lʲ/ , except that these can only occur before vowels, so the spellings are _k, g, (c)h, l_ before _i_, and _ki, gi, (c)hi, li_ otherwise. Most Polish speakers, however, do not consider palatalisation of _k, g, (c)h_ or _l_ as creating new sounds.
Except in the cases mentioned above, the letter _i_ if followed by another vowel in the same word usually represents /j /, yet a palatalisation of the previous consonant is always assumed.
The letters _ą_ and _ę_, when followed by plosives and affricates, represent an oral vowel followed by a nasal consonant, rather than a nasal vowel. For example, _ą_ in _dąb_ ("oak") is pronounced /ɔm/ , and _ę_ in _tęcza_ ("rainbow") is pronounced /ɛn/ (the nasal assimilates to the following consonant). When followed by _l_ or _ł_ (for example _przyjęli_, _przyjęły_), _ę_ is pronounced as just _e_. When _ę_ is at the end of the word it is often pronounced as just /ɛ/ .
Note that, depending on the word, the phoneme /x / can be spelt _h_ or _ch_, the phoneme /ʐ / can be spelt _ż_ or _rz_, and /u / can be spelt _u_ or _ó_. In several cases it determines the meaning, for example: _może_ ("maybe") and _morze_ ("sea").
In occasional words, letters that normally form a digraph are
pronounced separately. For example, _rz_ represents /rz/ , not /ʐ /,
in words like _zamarzać_ ("freeze") and in the name _
Notice that doubled letters represent separate occurrences of the sound in question; for example _Anna_ is pronounced /anːa/ in Polish (the double _n_ is often pronounced as a lengthened single _n_).
There are certain clusters where a written consonant would not be pronounced. For example, the _ł_ in the words _mógł_ ("could") and _jabłko_ ("apple") might be omitted in ordinary speech, leading to the pronunciations _muk_ and _japko_ or _jabko_.
Main article: Polish grammar
Polish is a highly inflected language , with relatively free word order , although the dominant arrangement is subject–verb–object (SVO). There are no articles , and subject pronouns are often dropped .
Nouns belong to one of three genders : masculine, feminine and neuter. A distinction is also made between animate and inanimate masculine nouns in the singular , and between masculine personal and non-masculine-personal nouns in the plural . There are seven cases : nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative.
Adjectives agree with nouns in terms of gender, case and number. Attributive adjectives most commonly precede the noun, although in certain cases, especially in fixed phrases (like _język polski_, "Polish (language)"), the noun may come first. Most short adjectives and their derived adverbs form comparatives and superlatives by inflection (the superlative is formed by prefixing _naj-_ to the comparative).
Verbs are of imperfective or perfective aspect , often occurring in pairs. Imperfective verbs have a present tense, past tense, compound future tense (except for _być_ "to be", which has a simple future _będę_ etc., this in turn being used to form the compound future of other verbs), subjunctive/conditional (formed with the detachable particle _by_), imperatives, an infinitive, present participle, present gerund and past participle. Perfective verbs have a simple future tense (formed like the present tense of imperfective verbs), past tense, subjunctive/conditional, imperatives, infinitive, present gerund and past participle. Conjugated verb forms agree with their subject in terms of person, number, and (in the case of past tense and subjunctive/conditional forms) gender.
Passive -type constructions can be made using the auxiliary _być_ or _zostać_ ("become") with the passive participle. There is also an impersonal construction where the active verb is used (in third person singular) with no subject, but with the reflexive pronoun _się_ present to indicate a general, unspecified subject (as in _pije się wódkę_ "vodka is drunk"—note that _wódka_ appears in the accusative). A similar sentence type in the past tense uses the passive participle with the ending _-o_, as in _widziano ludzi_ ("people were seen"). As in other Slavic languages, there are also subjectless sentences formed using such words as _można_ ("it is possible") together with an infinitive.
Yes-no questions (both direct and indirect) are formed by placing the word _czy_ at the start. Negation uses the word _nie_, before the verb or other item being negated; _nie_ is still added before the verb even if the sentence also contains other negatives such as _nigdy_ ("never") or _nic_ ("nothing"), effectively creating a double negative.
Cardinal numbers have a complex system of inflection and agreement.
Numbers higher than five (except for those ending with the digit 2, 3
or 4) govern the genitive case rather than the nominative or
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Polish has, over the centuries, borrowed a number of words from other languages. When borrowing, pronunciation was adapted to Polish phonemes and spelling was altered to match Polish orthography. In addition, word endings are liberally applied to almost any word to produce verbs, nouns, adjectives, as well as adding the appropriate endings for cases of nouns, adjectives, diminutives , double-diminutives, augmentatives , etc.
Depending on the historical period, borrowing has proceeded from
various languages. Notable influences have been
During the 12th and 13th centuries, Mongolian words were brought to
Words from Czech , an important influence during the 10th and 14th–15th centuries include _sejm _, _hańba_ and _brama_.
In 1518, the Polish king Sigismund I the Old married Bona Sforza , the niece of the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian, who introduced Italian cuisine to Poland, especially vegetables. Hence, words from Italian include _pomidor_ from "pomodoro" (tomato), _kalafior_ from "cavolfiore" (cauliflower), and _pomarańcza_, a portmanteau from Italian "pomo" (pome ) plus "arancio" (orange). A later word of Italian origin is _autostrada_ (from Italian "autostrada", highway).
In the 18th century, with the rising prominence of France in Europe,
Many words were borrowed from the
German language from the sizable
German population in Polish cities during medieval times. German words
found in the
The contacts with Ottoman Turkey in the 17th century brought many new words, some of them still in use, such as: _jar_ ("yar" deep valley), _szaszłyk_ ("şişlik" shish kebab), _filiżanka_ ("fincan" cup), _arbuz_ ("karpuz" watermelon), _dywan_ ("divan" carpet), etc.
From the founding of the Kingdom of
The mountain dialects of the Górale in southern Poland, have quite a
number of words borrowed from Hungarian (e.g. _baca_, _gazda_,
_juhas_, _hejnał_) and Romanian as a result of historical contacts
Thieves\' slang includes such words as _kimać_ (to sleep) or _majcher_ (knife) of Greek origin, considered then unknown to the outside world.
Direct borrowings from Russian are extremely rare, in spite of long
periods of dependence on Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, and are
limited to a few internationalisms , such as _sputnik _ and
_pierestrojka _. Russian personal names are transcribed into Polish
Recent loanwords come primarily from the
English language , mainly
those that have
LOANWORDS FROM POLISH
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Quite a few culinary loanwords exist in German and in other
languages, some of which describe distinctive features of Polish
cuisine. These include German and English _Quark_ from _twaróg_ (a
kind of fresh cheese; see: quark (dairy product) ) and German _Gurke_,
English _gherkin_ from _ogórek_ (cucumber). The word _pierogi _
(Polish dumplings) has spread internationally, as well as _pączki _
(Polish donuts) and kiełbasa (sausage) (see e.g. _kolbaso_ in
Esperanto ). As far as _pierogi_ concerned, the original Polish word
is already in plural (sing. _pieróg_, plural _pierogi_; stem
_pierog-_, plural ending _-i_; NB. _o_ becomes _ó_ in a closed
syllable, like here in singular), yet it is commonly used with the
English plural ending _-s_ in
The word _spruce _ entered the
English language from the Polish name
of Prusy (a historical region, today part of
Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Holy Cross Sermons _
University of Łódź School of Polish for Foreigners
* ^ "Världens 100 största språk 2010" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2010), in _ Nationalencyklopedin _ * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
* ^ Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
* ^ Minority related national legislation of Lithuania
* ^ "Law of
* ^ "Statistical Summaries". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
* ^ "Polish Language History and Facts Today Translations London,
UK". Todaytranslations.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-03-31.
* ^ Kamusella, Tomasz (2008). _The Politics of Language and
Nationalism in Modern Central Europe_. Basingstoke and New York, NY:
Palgrave Macmillan. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-230-55070-4 .
* ^ Digital version _Book of Henryków_ in latin
* ^ Barbara i Adam Podgórscy: Słownik gwar śląskich. Katowice:
Wydawnictwo KOS, 2008, ISBN 978-83-60528-54-9
* ^ Bogdan Walczak: Zarys dziejów języka polskiego. Wrocław:
Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 1999, ISBN 83-229-1867-4
* ^ "Table 8. Detailed List of Languages Spoken at Home for the
Population 5 Years and Over : By State" (PDF). Census.gov. Retrieved
* ^ (PDF)
Retrieved August 21, 2013. Missing or empty title= (help )
* ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 16,
2013. Retrieved September 21, 2008.
* ^ _The Slavic Languages_, CUP
* ^ Roland Sussex and Paul Cubberley (2006). _The Slavic
Languages_. Cambridge University Press. P. 530.
* ^ Robert A. Rothstein (1994). "Polish". _The Slavonic Languages_,
Bernard Comrie and Greville G. Corbett. Routledge. Pp.
* ^ "
* Bisko, Wacław (1966). _Mówimy po polsku. A beginner\'s course of Polish_ ( DTBook ). translated and adapted by Stanisław Kryński. Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna (pl). * Sadowska, Iwona (2012). _Polish: A Comprehensive Grammar_. Oxford ; New York : Routledge . ISBN 978-0-415-47541-9 . * Swan, Oscar E. (2002). _A Grammar of Contemporary Polish_. Bloomington, IN: Slavica. ISBN 0-89357-296-9 .
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