Polish language
Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia; Extract taken 16 May 2023
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Introduction

  1. Polish (Polish: język polski, polszczyzna or simply polski) is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group written in the Latin script. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being the official language of Poland, it is also used by the Polish diaspora. There are over 50 million Polish speakers around the world. It ranks as the sixth most-spoken among languages of the European Union. Polish is subdivided into regional dialects and maintains strict T–V distinction pronouns, honorifics, and various forms of formalities when addressing individuals.
  2. The traditional 32-letter Polish alphabet has nine additions (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż) to the letters of the basic 26-letter Latin alphabet, while removing three (x, q, v). Those three letters are at times included in an extended 35-letter alphabet, although they are not used in native words. The traditional set comprises 23 consonants and 9 written vowels, including two nasal vowels (ę, ą) defined by a reversed diacritic hook called an ogonek. Polish is a synthetic and fusional language which has seven grammatical cases. It is one of very 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. Contemporary Polish developed in the 1700s as the successor to the medieval Old Polish (10th–16th centuries) and Middle Polish (16th–18th centuries).
  3. Among the major languages, it is most closely related to Slovak and Czech but differs in terms of pronunciation and general grammar. In addition, Polish was profoundly influenced by Latin and other Romance languages like Italian and French as well as Germanic languages (most notably 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.
  4. Historically, Polish was a lingua franca, important both diplomatically and academically in Central and part of 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 also be found in countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

History
  1. 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 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 closest relatives of Polish are the Elbe and Baltic Sea Lechitic dialects (Polabian and Pomeranian varieties). All of them, except Kashubian, are extinct. The precursor to modern Polish is the Old Polish language. Ultimately, Polish descends from the unattested Proto-Slavic language.
  2. The Book of Henryków (Polish: Księga henrykowska, Latin: 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 1280.
  3. The medieval recorder of this phrase, the Cistercian monk Peter of the Henryków monastery, noted that "Hoc est in polonico" ("This is in Polish").
  4. The earliest treatise on Polish orthography was written by Jakub Parkosz around 1470. The first printed book in Polish appeared in either 1508 or 1513, while the oldest Polish newspaper was established in 1661. Starting in the 1520s, large numbers of books in the Polish language were published, contributing to increased homogeneity of grammar and orthography. The writing system achieved its overall form in the 16th century, which is also regarded as the "Golden Age of Polish literature". The orthography was modified in the 19th century and in 1936.
  5. Tomasz Kamusella notes that "Polish is the oldest, non-ecclesiastical, written Slavic language with a continuous tradition of literacy and official use, which has lasted unbroken from the 16th century to this day." Polish evolved into the main sociolect of the nobles in Poland–Lithuania in the 15th century. The history of Polish as a language of state governance begins in the 16th century in the Kingdom of Poland. Over the later centuries, Polish served as the official language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Congress Poland, the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, and as the administrative language in the Russian Empire's Western Krai. The growth of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth's influence gave Polish the status of lingua franca in Central and Eastern Europe.

Comment:

See Wikipedia: Polish Language.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2024
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