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One can trace the roots of the Polish language (Polski) back to the Eastern Indo-European group. From then, it branched into the Slavic language, again branching into the Western Slavic afterwards.
Around the 9th century AD, 'Old Polish' begun to develop during the next six centuries. It was Mieszko I who first united several tribes culturally related with his Polan tribe, and created the Polish State in the area called the Greater Polland (Wielkoposka).
Around the end of the 10th century, and with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Polish starts to be written. It became an official language in the Jagiellonian dynasty (1386-1569), alongside Latin.
Between 1500 and 1700, Polish was a lingua franca due mainly to its close relation to other Slavic languages like Czech, Lithuanian and Ukrainian, which differ slightly on pronunciation and grammar. It is said that Poles can understand Russian, but the reverse doesn't happen so well.
Between 1795 and 1918 Poland was erased from the map, when it was divided between the Russian Empire, Austria and the Kingdom of Prussia (later on called Germany).
Later on, during both world wars, Polish suffered major influence from the Germanic languages gaining an array of loanwords from them.
Modern Polish is the result of these developments and the influence of that boiling and melting pot Central Europe has always been. In the Slavic Group and after Russian, Polish is the most spoken language in that area, being spoken by 97% of Poles in Poland, making it the most homogeneous language in Europe.
There are 4 main dialects in Poland:
And a separate language which is closely related:
They added nine letters to the Latin alphabet:
Ą, Ć, Ę, Ł, Ń, Ó, Ś, Ź, Ż;
And seven diagraphs (pairs of letters representing individual sounds):
CH, CZ, DZ, DŹ, DŻ, RZ, SZ
Z is the most common letter
Ł reads as W
W reads as V
KS is used instead of X
No use of V or Q
They can have as much as 5 consonants clusters:
Bezwzgledny = Ruthless
Some consonants are voiced while some others are not, depending on their position in the word. The devoicing is what makes it not a fully phonetic language, together with the fact that some sounds lost their distinction.
Ź / RZ – CH / H – U / Ó
They don't use definitive or indefinite articles.
The normal grammar order is SVO (Subject/Verb/Object), but words can freely move around due to the fact that Polish is a highly inflated language, with nouns among other words having case endings, which tell the function of the word in the sentence.
There are seven types of case endings, all with different endings for singular and plural:
For instance, the number "two" has about 72 forms and “both” around 50.
Adjectives also agree with nouns in gender, number and case and have their own set of endings.
There are three genders:
They use double negative:
Miasto nigdy nie śpi = The city never don't sleep (The city never sleeps)
It's estimated that Polish language has around 200,000 words, which is quite a lot compared to English, which most estimations put at around 170,000.
Poles are very formal even in social meetings, but at the same time very kind-hearted. They do say hello and goodbye to strangers when appropriate, and hate to arrive late anywhere.
They introduce ladies first and they still kiss hands, although their normal greeting is a firm handshake.
They use a prefix before the person's last name: “Pan” for men and “Pani” for women.
It takes a long time to be accepted in their inner circle, so to address someone by their first name.
Czéść = Hello
Do wodzenia = Goodbye
Brzęzeszczykiewicz= Let me introduce myself
Dzien dobry = Good morning/afternoon
Dobranoc = Good night
Jak się masz? = How are you?
Siema = What's up?
Lece = Gotta go
O, rany = Gosh
O, o! = That's it!
Nie ma mowy = No way
Stary = Dude
Polack naming for Poles is considered offensive, as it was used as an anti-polinism sentiment. Poles are serious, but open up when introduced. They judge others on personal virtue.
They emphasize honesty, but in a diplomatic and polite way, depending how well they know each other. They complain a lot about everything, but younger generations are more relaxed in that matter.
Dziękuję = Thank you
Proszę = Please
Proshheh bahndzoh = You're welcome
Eye contact and gestures
Direct eye contact is important and, being extremely religious, they keep emotions much to themselves.
Personal space and touching
Because of their several invasions by other countries, they are not very open to immigrants.
Nicolaus Copernicus – A Renaissance mathematician and astronomer
Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin – Piano musician and composer
Marie Curie – Physicist and chemist. Won 2 Nobel prizes
Pope John Paul II – Previously bishop Karol Wojtyla
Wislawa Szymborska – Poet and essayist. Literature Nobel Prize in 1996
Czeslaw Milosz – Poet and writer. Literature Nobel Prize in 1980
Roman Polanski – Film Director
Steve Wozniak – Apple's co-founder
Polish has become the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian 20 years before it became official in Poland.
Poland has 14 UNESCO zones, one of them being the Auschwitz concentration Camp.
They received to date 17 Nobel prizes. Marie Curie got two, and four of them are peace ones.
They possess about 250 castles, one of which is the biggest one in the world.
Restaurants are called Milkbars, mainly those which are cheaper and are kind of a coffee shop.
Polka dots and Polka dance are not Polish. Polka dance is from Czechoslovakia.
You cannot name your baby whatever you want. If it doesn't belong to their list you got to go to court for it to be accepted. Poles are generally named after a Saint.
On their name day (celebrated more than birthdays), employees will bring cake and champagne to work to celebrate.
Polish gastronomy is much based on potatoes and cabbage. Perogies are their specialty.
Polish Culture Reference Guide
There are around 57 million Polish speakers around the world. 48 millions as first language and 9 millions as second one. There are about 39 million living in Poland and about than 20 million living outside it.
Many of those who emigrated were Jews, mainly during and in between the two world wars. More than 3 million of Polish Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
It's one of the official languages of the European Union.