Polish (, , , or simply , ) is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in
Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and ha ...
and serves as the native language of the
Poles The Poles ( pl, Polacy, ; singular masculine: ''Polak'', singular feminine: ''Polka''), also referred to as the Polish people, are a West Slavic ethnic group and a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common la ...
. In addition to being the
official language An official language, also called state language, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have ...
of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish speakers around the world – it is the sixth-most-spoken language of the European Union. Polish is written with the traditional 32-letter Polish alphabet, which has nine additions to the letters of the basic
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is a set of graphic signs (Writing system#General properties, script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the ...
(''ą'', ''ć'', ''ę'', ''ł'', ''ń'', ''ó'', ''ś'', ''ź'', ''ż''). The set is composed of 23
consonants In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the ...
and 9 written vowels, including two nasal vowels defined by a reversed
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in anc ...
hook called " ogonek" (''ę'', ''ą''). The letters x, q and v are at times included in the extended 35-letter alphabet, however, these are not used in native words. Polish is a synthetic and fusional language which has seven
grammatical case Grammatical case is a linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguist ...
s, and is one of few languages in the world possessing continuous penultimate stress with only a few exceptions, and the only in its group having an abundance of palatal consonants. The contemporary variety of Polish was developed in the 1700s as a successor to the medieval Old Polish (10th–16th centuries) and Middle Polish (16th–18th centuries). Among the major languages, it is most closely related to Slovak language, Slovak and Czech language, Czech, but differs in terms of pronunciation and general grammar. In addition, Polish was profoundly influenced by Latin and other Romance languages like Italian language, Italian and French language, French as well as Germanic languages (most notably German language, German), which contributed to a large number of loanwords and similar grammatical structures. Extensive usage of nonstandard dialects has also shaped the standard language; considerable colloquialisms and expressions were directly borrowed from German or Yiddish, and subsequently adopted into the vernacular of Polish which is in everyday use. Historically, Polish was a ''lingua franca'', important both diplomatically and academically in Central Europe, Central and Eastern Europe. Today, Polish is spoken by approximately 38 million people as their first language in Poland. It is also spoken as a second language in eastern Germany, northern Czech Republic and Slovakia, western parts of Belarus and Ukraine as well as in southeast Lithuania and Latvia. Because of the emigration from Poland during different time periods, most notably after World War II, millions of Polish speakers can be found in countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.


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 of Poland, Mieszko I, ruler of the Polans tribe from the Greater Poland region, united a few culturally and linguistically related tribes from the basins of the Vistula and Oder before eventually accepting baptism in 966. With Christianity, Poland also adopted the Latin alphabet, which made it possible to write down Polish, which until then had existed only as a spoken language. 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 to 1700 in Central Europe, Central and parts of Eastern Europe, because of the political, cultural, scientific and military influence of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Book of Henryków (Polish: , la, Liber fundationis claustri Sanctae Mariae Virginis in Heinrichau), contains the earliest known sentence written in the Polish language: ''Day, ut ia pobrusa, a ti poziwai'' (in modern orthography: ''Daj, uć ja pobrusza, a ti pocziwaj''; the corresponding sentence in modern Polish: ''Daj, niech ja pomielę, a ty odpoczywaj'' or ''Pozwól, że ja będę mełł, a ty odpocznij''; and in English: ''Come, let me grind, and you take a rest''), written around 1270. The medieval recorder of this phrase, the Cistercian monk Peter of the Henryków monastery, noted that "Hoc est in polonico" ("This is in Polish"). Polish, along with Czech and Slovak, forms the West Slavic dialect continuum. The three languages constitute Ausbau languages, i.e. lects that are considered distinct not on purely linguistic grounds, but rather due to sociopolitical and cultural factors. Since the idioms have separately standard language, standardized norms and longstanding literary traditions, being the official languages of independent states, they are generally treated as autonomous languages, with the distinction between Polish and Czech-Slovak dialects being drawn along national lines.

Geographic distribution

Poland is one of the most linguistically wikt:Homogeneous, homogeneous European countries; nearly 97% of Poland's citizens declare Polish as their first language. Elsewhere,
Poles The Poles ( pl, Polacy, ; singular masculine: ''Polak'', singular feminine: ''Polka''), also referred to as the Polish people, are a West Slavic ethnic group and a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common la ...
constitute large minorities in areas which were once administered or occupied by Poland, notably in neighboring Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. Polish is the most widely used minority language in Lithuania's Vilnius County (26% of the population, according to the 2001 census results, with Vilnius having been part of Poland from 1922 until 1939) and is found elsewhere in southeastern Lithuania. In Ukraine, it is most common in western Lviv Oblast, Lviv and Volyn Oblasts, while in West Belarus it is used by the significant Polish minority, especially in the Brest, Belarus, Brest and Grodno regions and in areas along the Lithuanian border. There are significant numbers of Polish speakers among Polish diaspora, Polish emigrants and their descendants in many other countries. In the United States, Polish Americans number more than 11 million but most of them cannot speak Polish fluently. According to the 2000 United States Census, 667,414 Americans of age five years and over reported Polish as the language spoken at home, which is about 1.4% of people who speak languages other than English language, English, 0.25% of the US population, and 6% of the Polish-American population. The largest concentrations of Polish speakers reported in the census (over 50%) were found in three states: Illinois (185,749), New York (state), New York (111,740), and New Jersey (74,663). Enough people in these areas speak Polish that PNC Financial Services (which has a large number of branches in all of these areas) offer services available in Polish at all of their cash machines in addition to English language, English and Spanish language, Spanish. According to the 2011 census there are now over 500,000 people in England and Wales who consider Polish to be their "main" language. In Canada, there is a significant Polish Canadians, Polish Canadian population: There are 242,885 speakers of Polish according to the 2006 census, with a particular concentration in Toronto (91,810 speakers) and Montreal. The geographical distribution of the Polish language was greatly affected by the territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II and Polish population transfers (1944–46). Poles settled in the "Recovered Territories" in the west and north, which had previously been mostly German language, German-speaking. Some Poles remained in the previously Polish-ruled territories in the east that were annexed by the Soviet Union, USSR, resulting in the present-day Polish-speaking minorities in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, although many Poles were expelled or emigrated from those areas to areas within Poland's new borders. To the east of Poland, the most significant Polish minority lives in a long, narrow strip along either side of the Lithuania-Belarus border. Meanwhile, the flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–50), as well as the population exchange between Poland and Soviet Ukraine, expulsion of Ukrainians and Operation Vistula, the 1947 forced resettlement of Ukrainian minorities to the Recovered Territories in the west of the country, contributed to the country's linguistic homogeneity.


The inhabitants of different regions of Poland speak Polish somewhat differently, although the differences between modern-day vernacular varieties and standard Polish () appear relatively slight. Most of the middle aged and young speak vernaculars close to standard Polish, while the traditional dialects are preserved among older people in rural areas. First-language speakers of Polish have no trouble understanding each other, and non-native speakers may have difficulty recognizing the regional and sociolect, social differences. The modern standard language, standard dialect, often termed as "correct Polish", is spoken or at least understood throughout the entire country. Polish has traditionally been described as consisting of four or five main regional dialects: * Greater Poland, Greater Polish, spoken in the west * Lesser Poland, Lesser Polish, spoken in the south and southeast * Masovian dialect, Masovian, spoken throughout the central and eastern parts of the country * Silesian language, Silesian, spoken in the southwest (also considered a separate language, see comment below) Kashubian language, Kashubian, spoken in Pomerania west of Gdańsk on the Baltic Sea, is thought of either as a fifth dialects of Polish, Polish dialect or a Ausbau, distinct language, depending on the criteria used. It contains a number of features not found elsewhere in Poland, e.g. nine distinct oral vowels (vs. the five of standard Polish) and (in the northern dialects) phonemic word stress, an archaic feature preserved from Common Slavic times and not found anywhere else among the West Slavic languages. However, it "lacks most of the linguistic and social determinants of language-hood". Many linguistic sources categorize 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 Poland in 2011, over half a million people declared Silesian as their native language. Many sociolinguists (e.g. Tomasz Kamusella, Agnieszka Pianka, Alfred F. Majewicz, Tomasz Wicherkiewicz) assume that extralinguistic criteria decide whether a lect is an independent language or a dialect: speakers of the variety (linguistics), speech variety or/and political decisions, and this is dynamic (i.e. it changes over time). Also, research organizations such as SIL International and resources for the academic field of linguistics such as Ethnologue, Linguist List and others, for example the Ministry of Administration and Digitization (Poland), Ministry of Administration and Digitization recognized the Silesian language. In July 2007, the Silesian language was recognized by International Organization for Standardization, ISO, and was attributed an ISO code of szl. Some additional characteristic but less widespread regional dialects include: # The distinctive dialect of the Gorals#language, Gorals (''Góralski'') occurs in the mountainous area bordering the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Gorals ("Highlanders") take great pride in their culture and the dialect. It exhibits some cultural influences from the Vlachs, Vlach shepherds who migrated from Wallachia (southern Romania) in the 14th–17th centuries. # The :pl:Gwara poznańska, Poznanski dialect, spoken in Poznań and to some extent in the whole region of the former Prussian Partition (excluding Upper Silesia), with noticeable German influences. # In the northern and western (formerly German) regions where Poles from the territories annexed by the Soviet Union resettled after World War II, the older generation speaks a dialect of Polish characteristic of the Kresy that includes a longer pronunciation of vowels. # Poles living in Lithuania (particularly in the Vilnius region), in Belarus (particularly the northwest), and in the northeast of Poland continue to speak the Kresy, Eastern Borderlands dialect, which sounds "slushed" (in Polish described as ''zaciąganie z ruska'', "speaking with a Ruthenian drawl") and is easily distinguishable. # Some city dwellers, especially the less affluent population, had their own distinctive dialects - for example, the Warsaw dialect, still spoken by some of the population of Praga on the eastern bank of the Vistula. (Praga remained the only part of Warsaw where the population survived World War II relatively intact.) However, these city dialects are mostly extinct due to assimilation with standard Polish. # Many Poles living in emigrant communities (for example, in the USA), whose families left Poland just after World War II, retain a number of minor features of Polish vocabulary as spoken in the first half of the 20th century that now sound archaic to contemporary visitors from Poland. Polish linguistics has been characterized by a strong strive towards promoting linguistic prescription, prescriptive ideas of language intervention and usage uniformity, along with normatively-oriented notions of language "correctness" (unusual by Western standards).


File:WIKITONGUES- Marta speaking Polish.webm, A Polish speaker, recorded in Poland


Polish has six oral vowels (seven oral vowels in written form) which are all monophthongs, and two nasal vowels. The oral vowels are (spelled ''i''), (spelled ''y''), (spelled ''e''), (spelled ''a''), (spelled ''o'') and (spelled ''u'' and ''ó'' as separate letters). The nasal vowels are (spelled ''ę'') and (spelled ''ą''). Unlike Czech or Slovak, Polish does not retain phonemic vowel length — the letter ''ó'', which formerly represented lengthened /ɔ/ in older forms of the language, is now vestigial and instead corresponds to /u/.


The Polish consonant system shows more complexity: its characteristic features include the series of affricate consonant, affricate and palatal consonants that resulted from four Proto-Slavic Palatalization (sound change), palatalizations and two further palatalizations that took place in Polish. The full set of consonants, together with their most common spellings, can be presented as follows (although other phonological analyses exist): Neutralization (linguistics), Neutralization occurs between Voice (phonetics), voiced–voicelessness, voiceless consonant pairs in certain environments: at the end of words (where devoicing occurs), and in certain consonant clusters (where Assimilation (phonology), assimilation occurs). For details, see ''Polish phonology#Voicing and devoicing, Voicing and devoicing'' in the article on Polish phonology. Most Polish words are paroxytones (that is, the Stress (linguistics), stress falls on the second-to-last syllable of a polysyllabic word), although there are exceptions.

Consonant distribution

Polish permits complex consonant clusters, which historically often arose from the disappearance of yers. Polish can have word-initial and word-medial clusters of up to four consonants, whereas word-final clusters can have up to five consonants. Examples of such clusters can be found in words such as ''bezwzględny'' ('absolute' or 'heartless', 'ruthless'), ''źdźbło'' ('blade of grass'), ('shock'), and ''krnąbrność'' ('disobedience'). A popular Polish tongue-twister (from a verse by Jan Brzechwa) is ('In Szczebrzeszyn a beetle buzzes in the reed'). Unlike languages such as Czech, Polish does not have syllabic consonants – the nucleus of a syllable is always a vowel. The consonant is restricted to positions adjacent to a vowel. It also cannot precede the letter ''y''.


The predominant stress (linguistics), stress pattern in Polish is penultimate stress – in a word of more than one syllable, the next-to-last syllable is stressed. Alternating preceding syllables carry secondary stress, e.g. in a four-syllable word, where the primary stress is on the third syllable, there will be secondary stress on the first. Each vowel represents one syllable, although the letter ''i'' normally does not represent a vowel when it precedes another vowel (it represents , palatalization of the preceding consonant, or both depending on analysis). Also the letters ''u'' and ''i'' sometimes represent only semivowels when they follow another vowel, as in ''autor'' ('author'), mostly in loanwords (so not in native ''nauka'' 'science, the act of learning', for example, nor in nativized ''Mateusz'' 'Matthew'). Some loanwords, particularly from the classical languages, have the stress on the antepenultimate (third-from-last) syllable. For example, ''fizyka'' () ('physics') is stressed on the first syllable. This may lead to a rare phenomenon of minimal pairs differing only in stress placement, for example ''muzyka'' 'music' vs. ''muzyka'' - genitive singular of ''muzyk'' 'musician'. When additional syllables are added to such words through inflection or suffixation, the stress normally becomes regular. For example, ''uniwersytet'' (, 'university') has irregular stress on the third (or antepenultimate) syllable, but the genitive ''uniwersytetu'' () and derived adjective ''uniwersytecki'' () have regular stress on the penultimate syllables. Loanwords generally become nativized to have penultimate stress. Another class of exceptions is verbs with the conditional endings ''-by, -bym, -byśmy'', etc. These endings are not counted in determining the position of the stress; for example, ''zrobiłbym'' ('I would do') is stressed on the first syllable, and ''zrobilibyśmy'' ('we would do') on the second. According to linguistic prescription, prescriptive authorities, the same applies to the first and second person plural past tense endings ''-śmy, -ście'', although this rule is often ignored in colloquialism, colloquial speech (so ''zrobiliśmy'' 'we did' should be prescriptively stressed on the second syllable, although in usus, practice it is commonly stressed on the third as ''zrobiliśmy''). These irregular stress patterns are explained by the fact that these endings are detachable clitics rather than true verbal inflections: for example, instead of ''kogo zobaczyliście?'' ('whom did you see?') it is possible to say ''kogoście zobaczyli?'' – here ''kogo'' retains its usual stress (first syllable) in spite of the attachment of the clitic. Reanalysis of the endings as inflections when attached to verbs causes the different colloquial stress patterns. These stress patterns are however nowadays sanctioned as part of the colloquial norm of standard Polish. Some common word combinations are stressed as if they were a single word. This applies in particular to many combinations of preposition plus a personal pronoun, such as ''do niej'' ('to her'), ''na nas'' ('on us'), ''przeze mnie'' ('because of me'), all stressed on the bolded syllable.


The Polish alphabet derives from the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is a set of graphic signs (Writing system#General properties, script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the ...
, but includes certain additional letters formed using
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in anc ...
s. The Polish alphabet was one of three major forms of Latin-based orthography developed for Western and some South Slavic languages, the others being Czech orthography and Croatian language, Croatian orthography, the last of these being a 19th-century invention trying to make a compromise between the first two. Kashubian language, Kashubian uses a Polish-based system, Slovak language, Slovak uses a Czech-based system, and Slovene language, Slovene follows the Croatian one; the Sorbian languages blend the Polish and the Czech ones. Historically, Poland's once diverse and multi-ethnic population utilised many forms of scripture to write Polish. For instance, Lipka Tatars and Muslims inhabiting the eastern parts of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth wrote Polish in the Arabic alphabet, Arabic alphabet. The Cyrillic script is used to a certain extent by Poles in Belarus, Polish speakers in Western Belarus, especially for religious texts. The diacritics used in the Polish alphabet are the ''kreska'' (graphically similar to the acute accent) in the letters ''ć, ń, ó, ś, ź'' and through the letter in ''ł''; the ''kropka'' (superior dot) in the letter ''ż'', and the '' ogonek'' ("little tail") in the letters ''ą, ę''. The letters ''q, v, x'' are used only in foreign words and names. Polish orthography is largely phoneme, phonemic—there is a consistent correspondence between letters (or digraph (orthography), digraphs and trigraph (orthography), trigraphs) and phonemes (for exceptions see below). The letters of the alphabet and their normal phonemic values are listed in the following table. The following Digraph (orthography), digraphs and Trigraph (orthography), trigraphs are used: 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, Phonology'' section above. Occasionally also voiceless consonant letters can represent voiced sounds in clusters. The spelling rule for the palatal sounds , , , and 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'' ("sulfur") and the ''ś'' in ''święty'' ("holy") all represent the sound . 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: Digraph (orthography), Digraphs and Trigraph (orthography), trigraphs are used: Similar principles apply to , , and , 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 palatalization 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 , yet a palatalization 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 , and ''ę'' in ''tęcza'' ("rainbow") is pronounced (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 . Note that, depending on the word, the phoneme can be spelt ''h'' or ''ch'', the phoneme can be spelt ''ż'' or ''rz'', and 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 , not , in words like ''zamarzać'' ("freeze") and in the name ''Tarzan''. Doubled letters are usually pronounced as a single, Gemination#Polish, lengthened consonant, however, some speakers might pronounce the combination as two separate sounds. There are certain clusters where a written consonant would not be pronounced. For example, the ''ł'' in the word ''jabłko'' ("apple") might be omitted in ordinary speech, leading to the pronunciation ''japko''.


Polish is a highly fusional language with relatively free word order, although the dominant arrangement is subject–verb–object (SVO). There are no article (grammar), articles, and subject pronouns are often Pro-drop language, dropped. Nouns belong to one of three grammatical gender, genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. A distinction is also made between animacy, animate and inanimate masculine nouns in the singular number, singular, and between masculine personal and non-masculine-personal nouns in the plural. There are seven case (grammar), 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; the rule of thumb is that generic descriptive adjective normally precedes (e.g. ''piękny kwiat'', “beautiful flower”) while categorizing adjective often follows the noun (e.g. ''węgiel kamienny'', “black coal”). 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 (grammar), 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 voice, 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 being 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 number (linguistics), Cardinal numbers have a complex system of inflection and agreement. Zero and cardinal numbers higher than five (except for those ending with the digit 2, 3 or 4 but not ending with 12, 13 or 14) govern the genitive case rather than the nominative or accusative. Special forms of numbers (collective numerals) are used with certain classes of noun, which include ''dziecko'' ("child") and plurale tantum, exclusively plural nouns such as ''drzwi'' ("door").

Borrowed words

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 Latin (10th–18th centuries), Czech language, Czech (10th and 14th–15th centuries), Italian language, Italian (16th–17th centuries), French language, French (17th–19th centuries), German (13–15th and 18th–20th centuries), Hungarian language, Hungarian (15th–16th centuries) and Turkish language, Turkish (17th century). Currently, English words are the most common imports to Polish. The Latin language, for a very long time the only official language of the Polish state, has had a great influence on Polish. Many Polish words were direct borrowings or calques (e.g. ''wikt:rzeczpospolita, rzeczpospolita'' from ''res publica'') from Latin. Latin was known to a larger or smaller degree by most of the numerous szlachta in the 16th to 18th centuries (and it continued to be extensively taught at secondary schools until World War II). Apart from dozens of loanwords, its influence can also be seen in a number of verbatim Latin phrases in Polish literature (especially from the 19th century and earlier). During the 12th and 13th centuries, Mongolian words were brought to the Polish language during wars with the armies of Genghis Khan and his descendants, e.g. ''dzida'' (spear) and ''szereg'' (a line or row). Words from Czech language, Czech, an important influence during the 10th and 14th–15th centuries include ''sejm'', ''hańba'' and ''brama''. In 1518, the Polish king Sigismund I of Poland, 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, French language, French supplanted Latin as an important source of words. Some French borrowings also date from the Napoleonic era, when the Poles were enthusiastic supporters of Napoleon. Examples include ''ekran'' (from French "écran", screen), ''abażur'' ("abat-jour", lamp shade), ''rekin'' ("requin", shark), ''meble'' ("meuble", furniture), ''bagaż'' ("bagage", luggage), ''walizka'' ("valise", suitcase), ''fotel'' ("fauteuil", armchair), ''plaża'' ("plage", beach) and ''koszmar'' ("cauchemar", nightmare). Some place names have also been adapted from French, such as the Warsaw borough of Żoliborz ("joli bord" = beautiful riverside), as well as the town of Żyrardów (from the name Philippe de Girard, Girard, with the Polish suffix -ów attached to refer to the founder of the town). Many words were borrowed from the German language from the sizable German population in Polish cities during medieval times. German words found in the Polish language are often connected with trade, the building industry, civic rights and city life. Some words were assimilated verbatim, for example ''handel'' (trade) and ''dach'' (roof); others are pronounced similarly, but differ in writing ''Schnur''—''sznur'' (cord). As a result of being neighbors with Germany, Polish has many German expressions which have become literally translated (calques). The regional dialects of Upper Silesia and Masuria (Modern Polish East Prussia) have noticeably more German loanwords than other varieties. 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 Poland in 1025 through the early years of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country of Jews in Europe. Known as the "Heaven for the nobles, Purgatory for the townspeople, Hell for the peasants, and Paradise for the Jews, paradise for the Jews", it became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world's largest Jewish community of the time. As a result, many Polish words come from Yiddish, spoken by the large History of the Jews in Poland, Polish Jewish population that existed until the The Holocaust, Holocaust. Borrowed Yiddish words include ''bachor'' (an unruly boy or child), ''bajzel'' (slang for mess), ''belfer'' (slang for teacher), ''ciuchy'' (slang for clothing), ''cymes'' (slang for very tasty food), ''geszeft'' (slang for business), ''kitel'' (slang for apron), ''machlojka'' (slang for scam), ''mamona'' (money), ''manele'' (slang for oddments), ''myszygene'' (slang for lunatic), ''pinda'' (slang for girl, pejoratively), ''plajta'' (slang for bankruptcy), ''rejwach'' (noise), ''szmal'' (slang for money), and ''trefny'' (dodgy). The mountain dialects of the Gorals, Górale in southern Poland, have quite a number of words borrowed from Hungarian language, Hungarian (e.g. ''baca'', ''gazda'', ''juhas'', ''hejnał'') and Romanian language, Romanian as a result of historical contacts with Hungarian-dominated Slovakia and Wallachian herders who travelled north along the Carpathian Mountains, Carpathians. grypsera, Thieves' slang includes such words as ''kimać'' (to sleep) or ''majcher'' (knife) of Greek origin, considered then unknown to the outside world. In addition, Turkish and Tatar have exerted influence upon the vocabulary of war, names of oriental costumes etc. Russian borrowings began to make their way into Polish from the second half of the 19th century on. Polish has also received an intensive number of English loanwords, particularly after World War II. Recent loanwords come primarily from the English language, mainly those that have Latin or Greek language, Greek roots, for example (computer), (from 'corruption', but sense restricted to 'bribery') etc. Concatenation of parts of words (e.g. ''auto-moto''), which is not native to Polish but common in English, for example, is also sometimes used. When borrowing English words, Polish often changes their spelling. For example, Latin suffix '-tio' corresponds to ''-cja''. To make the word plural, ''-cja'' becomes ''-cje''. Examples of this include ''inauguracja'' (inauguration), ''dewastacja'' (devastation), ''recepcja'' (reception), ''konurbacja'' (conurbation) and ''konotacje'' (connotations). Also, the digraph ''qu'' becomes ''kw'' (''kwadrant'' = quadrant; ''kworum'' = quorum).

Loanwords from Polish

The Polish language has influenced others. Particular influences appear in other Slavic languages and in History of the Germans in Poland, German — due to their proximity and shared borders. Examples of loanwords include German ''Grenze'' (border), Dutch language, Dutch and Afrikaans ''grens'' from Polish ''granica''; German ''Peitzker'' from Polish ''piskorz'' (weatherfish); German ''Zobel'', French ''zibeline'', Swedish language, Swedish ''sobel'', and English ''sable'' from Polish ''soból''; and '' ogonek'' ("little tail") — the word describing a diacritic hook-sign added below some letters in various alphabets. ":pl:Szmata, Szmata," a Polish, Slovak and Rusyn language, Ruthenian word for "mop" or "rag", became part of Yiddish. The Polish language exerted significant lexical influence upon Ukrainian language, Ukrainian, particularly in the fields of abstract and technical terminology; for example, the Ukrainian word ''panstvo'' (country) is derived from Polish . The Polish influence on Ukrainian is particularly marked on western Ukrainian dialects in western Ukraine, which for centuries was under Polish cultural domination. There is a substantial number of Polish words which officially became part of Yiddish, once the main language of European Jews. These include basic items, objects or terms such as a Bun, bread bun (Polish ''bułka'', Yiddish בולקע ''bulke''), a fishing rod (''wędka'', ווענטקע ''ventke''), an oak (''dąb'', דעמב ''demb''), a meadow (''łąka'', לאָנקע ''lonke''), a moustache (''wąsy'', וואָנצעס ''vontses'') and a bladder (''pęcherz'', פּענכער ''penkher''). 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 (dairy product), Quark'' from ''twaróg'' (a kind of fresh cheese) 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, 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 Canada and United States of America, ''pierogis'', thus making it a "double plural". A similar situation happened with the Polish loanword from English ''czipsy'' ("potato chips")—from English ''chips'' being already plural in the original (''chip'' + ''-s''), yet it has obtained the Polish plural ending ''-y''. The word ''spruce'' entered the English language from the Polish name of Prussia, Prusy (a historical region, today part of
Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and ha ...
). It became ''spruce'' because in Polish, ''z Prus'', sounded like "spruce" in English (transl. "from Prussia") and was a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic League, Hanseatic merchants and because the tree was believed to have come from Polish Ducal Prussia. However, it can be argued that the word is actually derived from the Old French term ''Pruce'', meaning literally Prussia.


Image:Manuscript of Pan Tadeusz 8pl.jpg, The manuscript of ''Pan Tadeusz'' held at Ossolineum in Wrocław. Adam Mickiewicz's signature is visible. The Polish language started to be used in literature in the Late Middle Ages. Notable works include the ''Holy Cross Sermons'' (13th/14th century), ''Bogurodzica'' (15th century) and ''Master Polikarp's Dialog with Death'' (15th century). The most influential Renaissance-era literary figures in Poland were poet Jan Kochanowski (''Laments (Kochanowski), Laments''), Mikołaj Rej and Piotr Skarga (''The Lives of the Saints'') who established poetic patterns that would become integral to the Polish literary language and laid foundations for the modern Polish grammar. During the Enlightenment in Poland, Age of Enlightenment in Poland, Ignacy Krasicki, known as "the Prince of Poets", wrote the first Polish novel called ''The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom'' as well as ''Fables and Parables''. Another significant work form this period is ''The Manuscript Found in Saragossa'' written by Jan Potocki, a Polish nobleman, Egyptologist, linguist, and adventurer. In the Romanticism in Poland, Romantic Era, the most celebrated national poets, referred to as the Three Bards, were Adam Mickiewicz (''Pan Tadeusz'' and ''Dziady (poem), Dziady''), Juliusz Słowacki (''Balladyna (drama), Balladyna'') and Zygmunt Krasiński (''The Undivine Comedy''). Poet and dramatist Cyprian Norwid is regarded by some scholars as the "Fourth Bard". Important positivist writers include Bolesław Prus (''The Doll (novel), The Doll'', ''Pharaoh (Prus novel), Pharaoh''), Henryk Sienkiewicz (author of numerous historical novels the most internationally acclaimed of which is ''Quo Vadis (novel), Quo Vadis''), Maria Konopnicka (''Rota (poem), Rota''), Eliza Orzeszkowa (''Nad Niemnem''), Adam Asnyk and Gabriela Zapolska (''The Morality of Mrs. Dulska''). The period known as Young Poland produced such renowned literary figures as Stanisław Wyspiański (''The Wedding (1901 play), The Wedding''), Stefan Żeromski (''Ludzie bezdomni, Homeless People'', ''The Spring to Come''), Władysław Reymont (''The Peasants'') and Leopold Staff. The prominent interbellum period authors include Maria Dąbrowska (''Nights and Days''), Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (''Insatiability''), Julian Tuwim, Bruno Schulz, Bolesław Leśmian, Witold Gombrowicz and Zuzanna Ginczanka. Other notable writers and poets from Poland active during World War II and after are Zbigniew Herbert, Stanisław Lem, Zofia Nałkowska, Tadeusz Borowski, Sławomir Mrożek, Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, Julia Hartwig, Marek Krajewski, Joanna Bator, Andrzej Sapkowski, Adam Zagajewski, Dorota Masłowska, Jerzy Pilch, Ryszard Kapuściński and Andrzej Stasiuk. Five people writing in the Polish language have been awarded the List of Nobel laureates in Literature, Nobel Prize in Literature: Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905), Władysław Reymont (1924), Czesław Miłosz (1980), Wisława Szymborska (1996) and Olga Tokarczuk (2018).

See also

* Adam Mickiewicz Institute * ''Holy Cross Sermons'' * University of Łódź School of Polish for Foreigners * Lechitic languages * West Slavic languages * West Slavs * ''A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents'' * BABEL Speech Corpus


Further reading

* * * *

External links

The Polish Language: A Cheatsheet for Beginners
from Culture.pl
Interpreting Translation Polish-English Site

Basic Polish Phrases Audio Course

King's College London: Polish Language Resources

University of Pittsburgh: Polish Language Website
A Touch of Polish
A Grammar of the Polish Language

A Concise Polish Grammar, by Ronald F. Feldstein (110-page 600-KB pdf)

Oscar Swan's Electronic Polish-English, English-Polish dictionary

English-Polish Online Dictionary

Basic English-Polish Dictionary

Big English-Polish Dictionary
with example sentences from translation memories
Polish Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words
from Wiktionary'
Swadesh-list appendix

Learn Polish
List of Online Polish Courses

A taste of the linguistic diversity of contemporary Poland
from Culture.pl
KELLY Project word list
9000 most useful words for learners of Polish
Online dictionary with English-Polish and Polish-English translations
‘Polszczyzna’ & the Revolutionary Feminine Suffix
from Culture.pl {{DEFAULTSORT:Polish Language Polish language, Languages of Belarus Languages of Lithuania Languages of Poland Languages of Ukraine Lechitic languages Subject–verb–object languages West Slavic languages Articles citing Nationalencyklopedin