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POLAND
Language

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Language

Polish belongs to the West Slavic branch of the Baltoslavian language family. This family belongs to the family of the Indo-Germanic languages. This family also includes Czech, Russian and Bulgarian. Polish developed between the 6th and 9th centuries from the dialect of the tribes that lived between the Odra, the Vistula and the Warta. The official written language was Latin until the sixteenth century, which is why many Latin words ended up in the spoken Polish language.

Until the Christianization of the Poles in 966, only spoken language existed. Since the Middle Ages, many German words have been incorporated into the language due to the large numbers of German speakers in the cities. In the 16th century, Czech and since the 18th century words from the French language were added. Polish has become a unitary language that has supplanted almost all dialects.

Only in the Carpathians, through the Górals, and in Kashubia, in the lake district southwest of Gdansk, are dialects still spoken that deviate from Polish to such an extent that they are difficult to understand even for the Poles. In Silesia, Polish is spoken that seems strongly influenced by German.

Approx. About 200,000 Kashubs live 100 km southwest of Gdansk. Their dialect, Kashubian, is all that remains of Pomeranian, a West Slavic language, as are Polish and Czech. A related dialect is Slowinsky, which is still spoken by a few scattered communities. The related Polabian became extinct in the 18th century.

The alphabet consists of 32 letters in Latin script with a number of diacritics. In contrast to English, Polish is strongly inflected and there are no fewer than seven cases. Furthermore, Polish has a number of difficult conjugations which make the grammar very similar to Latin.

The Polish language does not know articles and in Polish the stress in a word almost always falls on the penultimate syllable. Reproduction of typical Polish sounds also includes the accumulation of some consonants such as in the name of the city of Szczecin.

Some words and phrases:

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Sources

Dydynski, K. / Poland
Lonely Planet

Hus, M. / Polen
ANWB media,

Wijnands, S. / Polen
Gottmer,

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated September 2021
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