Polish is a West Slavonic language spoken mainly in Poland. In 2012 there were about 36.5 million speakers of Polish in Poland. There are about 4 million Polish speakers in other countries, including Germany (867,000), the UK (660,000), Lithuania (615,138), the USA (575,816), France (275,288), Canada (181,710), Ireland (135,895), Israel (125,000), the Russian Federation (67,400), Czechia (52,710) and Austria (30,598).
Polish is closely related to Kashubian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, Czech and Slovak.
Polish first appeared in writing in 1136 in the "Gniezno papal bull" (Bulla gnieźnieńska), which included 410 Polish names. The first written Polish sentence was day ut ia pobrusa a ti poziwai (I'll grind [the corn] in the quern and you'll rest), which appeared in Ksiega henrykowska in 1270. In Modern Polish spelling that sentence is daj ać ja pobruszę, a ty poczywaj.
Great Polish poets include Jan Kochanowski (1530-84) and Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), the 'national bard' and author of an epic entitled "Pan Tadeusz". The most famous writer of Polish orgin is Joseph Conrad or Konrad Korzeniowski (1857-1924), who wrote in English and started out as a sailor.
Literary Polish is based on the dialects of Gniezno, Cracow and Warsaw, though there is some dispute about this.
The native name for Polish is polski (Polish), język polski (the Polish language), or more formally, polszczyzna (Polish).
Hear the Polish alphabet, with example words and phrases:
Notes on pronunciation provided by Grzegorz Jagodziński
Wszyscy ludzie rodzą się wolni i równi w swojej godności i prawach. Są obdarzeni rozumem i sumieniem i powinni postępować wobec siebie w duchu braterstwa.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about Polish
Online Polish lessons
Polish spell checker
Old Polish Literature - online texts in Polish
Ririo - folk tales and children's stories in Polish with recordings
Online Polish news
Polishbuzz - a site for the Polish community in Chicago and the USA
Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Goral, Kashubian, Knaanic, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian
Page last modified: 24.02.23
Why not share this page:
Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.
If you're looking for home or car insurance in the UK, why not try Policy Expert?