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Poland; bordering regions of Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic;
along the Belarusian–Lithuanian and Belarusian–Latvian border; Germany, Romania, Isr
ael. See also Polish diaspora.
40 million (2014)
Latin (Polish alphabet)
System Językowo-Migowy (SJM)
Official language in
Polish Language Council
pol – inclusive code
szl – Silesian
(varieties: 53-AAA-cca to 53-AAA-ccu)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, yo
u may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Polish (język polski, polszczyzna) is a Slavic language spoken primarily in Poland
and the native language of the Poles. It belongs to the Lechitic subgroup of We
st Slavic languages. Polish is the official language of Poland, but it is als
o used throughout the world by Polish minorities in other countries. It is one o
f the official languages of the European Union. Its written standard is the Poli
sh alphabet, which has 9 additions to the letters of the basic Latin script (ą, ć, ę, ł,
ń, ó, ś, ź, ż). Polish is closely related to Kashubian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, Cze
ch and Slovak.
Although the Austrian, German and Russian administrations exerted much pressure
on the Polish nation (during the 19th and early 20th centuries) following the Pa
rtitions of Poland, which resulted in attempts to suppress the Polish language,
a rich literature has regardless developed over the centuries and the language c
urrently has the largest number of speakers of the West Slavic group. It is also
the second most widely spoken Slavic language, after Russian and just ahead of
Ukrainian, which comes third.
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 in Poland. It is also spoken as a secon
d language in western parts of Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine, as well as northe
rn parts of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Because of the emigration from Pola
nd during different time periods, most notably after World War II, millions of P
olish speakers can be found in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, the
United Kingdom and the United States. There are 40 million Polish language speak
ers around the world.
2 Geographic distribution
7 Borrowed words
8 Loanwords from Polish
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
The originality of Polish culture is tied to its language and to its Slavonic ro
ots. Linguistic studies indicate that 5000 to 4000 years ago early Balto-Slavic
languages were part of the Aryan or the Eastern Indo-European languages. Over 35
00 years ago, the languages of the Balto-Slavs separated from the Aryan language
s; some 3000 years ago, the Baltic and Slavic languages separated from each othe
r; and for the next 1500 years, the Slavic languages evolved parallel to the Gre
ek, Latin, Celtic, Germanic, and other languages. The evolution of the Polish la
nguage occurred during the following 1500 years.
Polish began to emerge around the 10th century, the process largely triggered by
the establishment and development of the Polish state. Mieszko I, ruler of the
Polans tribe from Greater Poland region, united a few culturally and linguistica
lly related tribes from the basins of the Vistula and Odra before eventually acc
epting baptism in 966. With Christianity, Poland also adopted the Latin alphabet
, which made it possible to write down Polish, until then existing only as a spo
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 ling
ua franca from 1500-1700 in small parts of Central and large portions of Eastern
Europe, because of the political, cultural, scientific and military influence o
f the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Poland is the most linguistically homogeneous European country; nearly 97% of Po
land's citizens declare Polish as their native language. Elsewhere, ethnic Poles
constitute large minorities in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. Polish is the m
ost widely used minority language in Lithuania's Vilnius (Wilno) County (26% of
the population, according to the 2001 census results, with Wilno (Vilnius) havin
g been part of Poland until 1939) and is found elsewhere in southeastern Lithuan
ia. In Ukraine it is most common in the western Lwów (Lviv) and Wołyń (Volyn) oblast (
provinces), while in Western Belarus it is used by the significant Polish minori
ty, especially in the Brest and Grodno regions and in areas along the Lithuanian
There are also significant numbers of Polish speakers among Polish emigrants and
their descendants in many other countries, including Argentina, Andorra, Austra
lia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic,
Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Hungary, Israel, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembour
g, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Russia
, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the
UAE, the UK, the United States, and Uruguay.
In the United States, Polish Americans number more than 11 million (See also: Po
lish language in the United States) but most of them cannot speak Polish fluentl
y. According to the United States 2000 Census, 667,414 Americans of age five yea
rs and over reported Polish as the language spoken at home, which is about 1.4%
of people who speak languages other than English, 0.25% of the US population, an
d 6% of the Polish-American population. The largest concentrations of Polish spe
akers reported in the census (over 50%) were found in three states: Illinois (18
5,749), 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 bran
ches and ATMs in all of these areas) offer ATM services available in Polish at a
ll of their ATMs in addition to English and Spanish.
According to the 2011 census there are now over 500,000 people in England and Wa
les who consider Polish to be their "main" language. In Canada, there is a signi
ficant Polish Canadian population: There are 242,885 speakers of Polish accordin
g to the 2006 census, with a particular concentration in Toronto (91,810 speaker
s) and Montreal.
The geographical distribution of the Polish language was greatly affected by the
border changes and population transfers that followed World War II. Poles settl
ed in the "Recovered Territories" in the west and north, which had previously be
en mostly German-speaking. Some Poles remained in the previously Polish-ruled te
rritories in the east that were annexed by the USSR, resulting in the present-da
y Polish-speaking minorities in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, although many P
oles were expelled or emigrated from those areas to areas within Poland's new bo
rders. Meanwhile, the flight and expulsion of Germans, as well as the expulsion
of Ukrainians and resettlement of Ukrainians within Poland, contributed to the c
ountry's linguistic homogeneity.
Geographic language distribution maps of Poland from pre-WWII to present
The "Recovered Territories" (in pink) are those parts of Germany and the Free Ci
ty of Gdańsk that became part of Poland after World War II. Gray color, territorie
s lost to the Soviet Union followed by mass Polish population transfers (1944–46)
Geographical distribution of the Polish language and other Central and Eastern E
uropean languages and dialects.
Main article: Dialects of the Polish language
The oldest printed text in Polish – Statuta synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensis
printed in 1475 in Wrocław by Kasper Elyan.
The Polish language became far more homogeneous in the second half of the 20th c
entury, in part due to the mass migration of several million Polish citizens fro
m the eastern to the western part of the country after the Soviet annexation of
the Kresy in 1939, and the acquisition of former German territory after World Wa
r II. This tendency toward a homogeneity also stems from the vertically integrat
ed nature of the authoritarian Polish People's Republic.
The inhabitants of different regions of Poland still speak "standard" Polish som
ewhat differently, although the differences between regional dialects appear sli
ght. First-language speakers of Polish have no trouble understanding each other,
and non-native speakers may have difficulty distinguishing regional variations.
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 comm
Kashubian, spoken in the Pomorze region west of Gdańsk on the Baltic Sea, is often
considered a fifth dialect. It contains a number of features not found elsewher
e in Poland, e.g. nine distinct oral vowels (vs. the five of standard Polish) an
d (in the northern dialects) phonemic word stress, an archaic feature preserved
from Common Slavic times and not found anywhere else among the West Slavic langu
ages. However, it "lacks most of the linguistic and social determinants of langu
Many linguistic sources about the Slavic languages describe Silesian as a dialec
t of Polish. However, many Silesians consider themselves a separate ethn
icity and have been advocating for the recognition of a Silesian language. Accor
ding to the last official census in Poland in 2011, over half a million people d
eclared Silesian as their native language. Many sociolinguistic sources (e.g. by
Tomasz Kamusella, Agnieszka Pianka, Alfred F. Majewicz, Tomasz Wicherki
ewicz) assume that extralinguistic criteria decide whether something is a la
nguage or a dialect of the language: users of speech or/and political decisions,
and this is dynamic (i.e. change over time). Also, language organizations like
as SIL International and resources for the academic field of linguistics lik
e as Ethnologue, Linguist List and other, for example Ministry of Admini
stration and Digitization recognized Silesian language. In July 2007, the Si
lesian language was recognized by an ISO, was attributed an ISO code of szl.
Some more characteristic but less widespread regional dialects include:
The distinctive Podhale dialect (Góralski) occurs in the mountainous area borderin
g the Czech and Slovak Republics. The Gorals (highlanders) take great pride in t
heir culture and the dialect. It exhibits some cultural influences from the Vlac
h shepherds who migrated from Wallachia (southern Romania) in the 14th–17th centur
ies. The language of the coextensive East Slavic people, the Lemkos, which demon
strates significant lexical and grammatical commonality with the Góralski dialect
and Ukrainian, bears no significant Vlach or other Romanian influences. Some urb
an Poles find this very distinct dialect difficult to understand.
The Poznanski dialect, spoken in Poznań and to some extent in the whole region of
the former Prussian annexation (excluding Upper Silesia), with characteristic hi
gh tone melody and notable influence of the German language.
In the northern and western (formerly German) regions where Poles from the terri
tories annexed by the Soviet Union resettled after World War II, the older gener
ation speaks a dialect of Polish characteristic of the Eastern Borderlands that
resembles Ukrainian or Rusyn— especially in the "longer" pronunciation of vowels.
Poles living in Lithuania (particularly in the Vilnius region), in Belarus (part
icularly the northwest), and in the northeast of Poland continue to speak the Ea
stern Borderlands dialect, which sounds "slushed" (in Polish described as zaciągan
ie z ruska, "speaking with a Russian drawl") and is easily distinguishable.
Some city dwellers, especially the less affluent population, had their own disti
nctive dialects - for example, the Warsaw dialect, still spoken by some of the p
opulation 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.) Ho
wever, these city dialects are now mostly extinct due to assimilation with stand
Many Poles living in emigrant communities (for example, in the USA), whose famil
ies left Poland just after World War II, retain a number of minor features of Po
lish vocabulary as spoken in the first half of the 20th century that now sound a
rchaic, however, to contemporary visitors from Poland.
Main article: Polish phonology
Polish has six oral vowels (all monophthongs) and two nasal vowels. The oral vow
els are /i/ (spelled i), /ɨ/ (spelled y), /ɛ/ (spelled e), /a/ (spelled a), /ɔ/ (spell
ed 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 i
nclude the series of affricates and palatal consonants that resulted from four P
roto-Slavic palatalizations and two further palatalizations that took place in P
olish and Belarusian. The full set of consonants, together with their most commo
n spellings, can be presented as follows (although other phonological analyses e
plosives /p/ (p), /b/ (b), /t/ (t), /d/ (d), /k/ (k), /ɡ/ (g), and the palatalized
forms /k / (ki) and /ɡ / (gi)
fricatives /f/ (f), /v/ (w), /s/ (s), /z/ (z), /ʂ/ (sz), /ʐ/ (ż, rz), the alveolo-pala
tals /ɕ/ (ś, si) and /ʑ/ (ź, zi), and /x/ (ch, h) and /x / (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 do
es distinguish between affricates as in czy, and stop+fricative clusters as in t
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 environm
ents: at the end of words (where devoicing occurs), and in certain consonant clu
sters (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-la
st syllable of a polysyllabic word), although there are exceptions.
Main articles: Polish orthography and Polish braille
The Polish alphabet derives from the Latin script, but includes certain addition
al letters formed using diacritics. The Polish alphabet was one of three major f
orms of Latin-based orthography developed for Slavic languages, the other being
Czech orthography and Croatian orthography, the latter being a 19th-century inve
ntion trying to make a compromise between the first two. Kashubian uses a Polish
-based system, Slovak uses a Czech-based system, and Slovene follows the Croatia
n one; the Sorbian languages blend the Polish and the Czech ones.
The diacritics used in the Polish alphabet are the kreska (graphically similar t
o the acute accent) in the letters ć, ń, ó, ś, ź and through the letter in ł; the kropka (su
perior dot) in the letter ż, and the ogonek ("little tail") in the letters ą, ę. The l
etters q, v, x are often not considered part of the Polish alphabet; they are us
ed only in foreign words and names.
Polish orthography is largely phonemic—there is a consistent correspondence betwee
n letters (or digraphs and trigraphs) and phonemes (for exceptions see below). T
he letters of the alphabet and their normal phonemic values are listed in the fo
Book of Henryków.
The New Testament in Polish, 1898
/ɔ̃/, /ɔn/, /ɔm/ N
/ɛ̃/, /ɛn/, /ɛm/, /ɛ/
The following digraphs and trigraphs are used:
(c)hi /x /
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: befor
e 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 dia
critic forms ś, ź, ć, dź, ń are used. For example, the s in siwy ("grey-haired"), the si i
n siarka ("sulphur") and the ś in święty ("holy") all represent the sound /ɕ/. The excep
tions to the above rule are certain loanwords from Latin, Italian, French, Russi
an 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, singi
el. In other loanwords the vowel i is changed to y, e.g. Syria, Sybir, synchroni
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)
(before a vowel)
(before the vowel i)
Similar principles apply to /k /, /ɡ /, /x / and /l /, except that these can only occur be
fore 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 i
n the same word usually represents /j/, yet a palatalisation of the previous con
sonant is always assumed.
The letters ą and ę, when followed by plosives and affricates, represent an oral vow
el 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 assi
milates with 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 pro
nounced as just /ɛ/.
Note that, depending on the word, the phoneme /x/ can be spelt h or ch, the phon
eme /ʐ/ can be spelt ż or rz, and /u/ can be spelt u or ó. In several cases it determi
nes the meaning, for example: może ("maybe") and morze ("sea").
In occasional words, letters that normally form a digraph are pronounced separat
ely. For example, rz represents /rz/, not /ʐ/, in words like zamarzać ("freeze") and
in the name Tarzan.
Notice that doubled letters represent separate occurrences of the sound in quest
ion; for example Anna is pronounced /anna/ in Polish (the double n is often pron
ounced as a lengthened single n).
There are certain clusters where a written consonant would not be pronounced. Fo
r example, the ł in the words mógł ("could") and jabłko ("apple") might be omitted in or
dinary 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 s
ubject pronouns are often dropped.
Nouns may belong to 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-personal nouns in the plural. There are seve
n cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vo
Adjectives agree with nouns in terms of gender, case and number. Attributive adj
ectives 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 superlativ
es by inflection (the superlative is formed by prefixing naj- to the comparative
Verbs are of imperfective or perfective aspect, often occurring in pairs. Imperf
ective 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 detac
hable particle by), imperatives, an infinitive, present participle, present geru
nd 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 for
ms 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 ref
lexive 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 wid
ziano ludzi ("people were seen"). As in other Slavic languages, there are also s
ubjectless 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 a
t the start. Negation uses the word nie, before the verb or other item being neg
ated; nie is still added before the verb even if the sentence also contains othe
r negatives such as nigdy ("never") or nic ("nothing").
Cardinal numbers have a complex system of inflection and agreement. Numbers high
er than five (except for those ending with the digit 2, 3 or 4) govern the genit
ive case rather than the nominative or accusative. Special forms of numbers (col
lective numerals) are used with certain classes of noun, which include dziecko (
"child") and exclusively plural nouns such as drzwi ("door").
Knowledge of the Polish language within Europe.
Polish has, over the centuries, borrowed a number of words from other languages.
When borrowing, pronunciation was adapted to Polish phonemes and spelling was a
ltered to match Polish orthography. In addition, word endings are liberally appl
ied to almost any word to produce verbs, nouns, adjectives, as well as adding th
e appropriate endings for cases of nouns, adjectives, diminutives, augmentatives
Depending on the historical period, borrowing has proceeded from various languag
es. Notable influences have been Latin (9th–18th centuries), Czech (10th and 14th–15
th centuries), Italian (15th–16th centuries), French (18th–19th centuries), German (
13–15th and 18th–20th centuries), Hungarian (14th–16th centuries) and Turkish (17th ce
ntury). Currently, English words are the most common imports to Polish.
The Latin language, for a very long time the only official language of the Polis
h state, has had a great influence on Polish. Many Polish words (rzeczpospolita
from res publica, zdanie for both "opinion" and "sentence", from sententia) were
direct borrowings 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 doze
ns of loanwords, its influence can also be seen in a number of verbatim Latin ph
rases in Polish literature (especially from the 19th century and earlier).
During the 12th and 13th centuries, Mongolian words were brought to the Polish l
anguage during wars with the armies of Genghis Khan and his descendants, e.g. dz
ida (spear) and szereg (a line or row).
Words from Czech, an important influence during the 10th and 14th–15th centuries i
nclude sejm, hańba and brama.
In 1518, the Polish king Sigismund the Old married Bona Sforza, the niece of the
Holy Roman emperor Maximilian, who introduced Italian cuisine to Poland, especi
ally vegetables. Hence, words from Italian include pomidor from "pomodoro" (toma
to), 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 supp
lanted Latin as an important source of words. Some French borrowings also date f
rom the Napoleonic era, when the Poles were enthusiastic supporters of Napoleon.
Examples include ekran (from French "écran", screen), abażur ("abat-jour", lamp sha
de), rekin ("requin", shark), meble ("meuble", furniture), bagaż ("bagage", luggag
e), walizka ("valise", suitcase), fotel ("fauteuil", armchair), plaża ("plage", be
ach) and koszmar ("cauchemar", nightmare). Some place names have also been adapt
ed from French, such as the Warsaw borough of Żoliborz ("joli bord" = beautiful ri
verside), as well as the town of Żyrardów (from the name Girard, with the Polish suf
fix -ów attached to refer to the founder of the town).
Many words were borrowed from the German language from the sizable German popula
tion in Polish cities during medieval times. German words found in the Polish la
nguage are often connected with trade, the building industry, civic rights and c
ity life. Some words were assimilated verbatim, for example handel (trade) and d
ach (roof); others are pronounced the same, but differ in writing schnur—sznur (co
rd). As a result of being neighbours with Germany, Polish has many German expres
sions which have become literally translated (calques). Interestingly, the regio
nal dialects of Upper Silesia and Masuria (Modern Polish East Prussia) have noti
ceably more German loanwords than other dialects.
The contacts with Ottoman Turkey in the 17th century brought many new words, som
e of them still in use, such as: jar (deep valley), szaszłyk (shish kebab), filiżank
a (cup), arbuz (watermelon), dywan (carpet), etc.
From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through the early years of th
e Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant c
ountry of Jews in Europe. Known as paradisus Iudaeorum (Latin for "paradise for
the Jews"), it became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish comm
unities and the home to the world's largest Jewish community of the time. As a r
esult, many Polish words come from Yiddish, spoken by the large Polish Jewish po
pulation that existed until the 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 f
or business), kitel (slang for apron), machlojka (slang for scam), mamona (money
), menele (slang for oddments and also for homeless people), myszygine (slang fo
r lunatic), pinda (slang for girl, pejoratively), plajta (slang for bankruptcy),
rejwach (noise), szmal (slang for money), and trefny (dodgy).
The mountain dialects of the Górale in southern Poland, have quite a number of wor
ds borrowed from Hungarian (e.g. baca, gazda, juhas, hejnał) and Romanian as a res
ult of historical contacts with Hungarian-dominated Slovakia and Wallachian herd
ers who travelled north along the Carpathians.
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 d
ependence on Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, and are limited to a few inter
nationalisms, such as sputnik and pierestrojka. Russian persona
l names are transcribed into Polish likewise; thus Tchaikovsky's name is spelled
Piotr Iljicz Czajkowski.
Recent loanwords come primarily from the English language, mainly those that hav
e Latin or Greek roots, for example komputer (computer), korupcja (from 'corrupt
ion', but sense restricted to 'bribery'), etc. Slang sometimes borrows and alter
s common English words, e.g. luknąć (to look). Concatenation of parts of words (e.g.
auto-moto), which is not native to Polish but common in English, for example, i
s 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 ko
notacje (connotations). Also, the digraph qu becomes kw (kwadrant = quadrant; kw
orum = quorum).
Loanwords from Polish
The Polish language has influenced others. Particular influences appear in other
Slavic languages and in German — due to their proximity and shared borders. Examp
les of loanwords include German Grenze (border), Dutch and Afrikaans Grens from
Polish granica; German Peitzker from Polish piskorz (weatherfish); German Zobel,
French Zibeline, Swedish Sabel, and English Sable from Polish soból; and ogonek (
"little tail") — the word describing a diacritic hook-sign added below some letter
s in various alphabets. "Szmata," a Polish-Ruthenian word for "mop" or "rag" bec
ame part of Yiddish.
Quite a few culinary loanwords exist in German and in other languages, some of w
hich describe distinctive features of Polish cuisine. These include German and E
nglish Quark from twaróg (a kind of fresh cheese; see: quark (dairy product)) and
German Gurke, English gherkin from ogórek (cucumber). The word pierogi (Polish dum
plings) has spread internationally, as well as pączki (Polish donuts) and kiełbasa (
sausage) (see e.g. kolbaso in Esperanto). As far as pierogi concerned, the origi
nal 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), ye
t it is commonly used with the English plural ending -s in Canada and United Sta
tes of America, pierogis, thus making it a "double plural". (A similar situation
happened in the opposite direction to 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 Prusy (a hi
storical region, today part of Poland). It became spruce because in Polish, z Pr
us, sounded like "spruce" in English (transl. "from Prussia") and was a generic
term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants and because the t
ree was believed to have come from Polish Ducal Prussia.
Yes = Tak
No = Nie
Hi = Cześć; Witam
Hello = Dzień dobry
Goodbye = do widzenia; do zobaczenia
Thank you = Dziękuję
Thank you very much = Serdecznie dziękuję
You're welcome = Nie ma za co
Please = Proszę
Excuse me = Przepraszam
See you = Na razie
Good morning = Dzień dobry
Good afternoon = Dzień dobry
Good evening = Dobry wieczór
Good night = Dobranoc
I do not understand = Nie rozumiem
How do you say this in [Polish]? = Jak to się mówi po [polsku]?
Do you speak ... = Czy mówi pan ... [to a man]; Czy mówi pani ... [to a woman]
English = po angielsku
French = po francusku
German = po niemiecku
Spanish = po hiszpańsku
Chinese = po chińsku
I = Ja
We = My
You (singular, familiar) = Ty
You (singular, formal) = Pan (m), Pani (f)
You (plural) = Wy
They = Oni (if one man at least) One (if not men)
What is your name? = Jak masz na imię? (familiar) Jak się, Pan(i) nazywa? (formal, i
.e. What is your last name?)
Nice to meet you. = Miło mi cię poznać.
How are you? = Jak się masz? (colloquial) Jak się pan ma? (you, sir)
Good = Dobrze
Bad = Źle
So so = Tak sobie
Wife = Żona
Husband = Mąż
Daughter = Córka
Son = Syn
Mother = Matka
Father = Ojciec
Friend = Przyjaciel (m), Przyjaciółka (f)
Where is the bathroom? Where is the toilet? = Gdzie jest toaleta?
zero = zero
one [once] = jeden [raz]
two = dwa
three = trzy
four = cztery
five = pięć
six = sześć
seven = siedem
eight = osiem
nine = dziewięć
ten = dziesięć
eleven = jedenaście
twelve = dwanaście
thirteen = trzynaście
fourteen = czternaście
fifteen = piętnaście
sixteen = szesnaście
seventeen = siedemnaście
eighteen = osiemnaście
nineteen = dziewiętnaście
twenty = dwadzieścia
twenty one = dwadzieścia jeden
thirty = trzydzieści
forty = czterdzieści
fifty = pięćdziesiąt
sixty = sześćdziesiąt
seventy = siedemdziesiąt
eighty = osiemdziesiąt
ninety = dziewięćdziesiąt
one hundred = sto
one thousand = tysiąc
one million = milion
How much does this cost? = Ile to kosztuje?
What is this? = Co to jest?
I would like to buy ... = Poprosił bym [from a man] poprosiła [from a woman]...
Do you have ... = Czy pan ma ... [to a man]; Czy pani ma ... [to a woman]
Do you accept credit cards? = Czy uznaje pan karty kredytowe? [to a man] Czy uzn
aje pani karty kredytowe? [to a woman]
Open = Otwarte
Closed = Zamknięte
Postcard = Kartka pocztowa
Stamps = Znaczki pocztowe
A little = Trochę
A lot = Dużo
All = Wszystko
Breakfast = Śniadanie
Lunch = Drugie śniadanie
Dinner = Obiad
Supper = Kolacja
Vegetarian = Wegetarianin
Kosher = Koszerny (M), koszerna (F), koszerne (N)
Cheers! = Na zdrowie!
Please bring the bill. = Poproszę o rachunek
Day = Dzień
Week = Tydzień
Month = Miesiąc
Year = Rok
Monday = Poniedziałek
Tuesday = Wtorek
Wednesday = Środa
Thursday = Czwartek
Friday = Piątek
Saturday = Sobota
Sunday = Niedziela
January = styczeń
February = luty
March = marzec
April = kwiecień
May = maj
June = czerwiec
July = lipiec
August = sierpień
September = wrzesień
October = październik
November = listopad
December = grudzień
Spring = Wiosna
Summer = Lato
Fall, Autumn = Jesień
Winter = Zima
Today = Dziś; Dzisiaj
Yesterday = Wczoraj
Tomorrow = Jutro
Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Holy Cross Sermons
The School of Polish for Foreigners
A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents
The BABEL Speech Corpus
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