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Polish (polski)

Polish is a Western Slavonic language with about 40 million speakers mainly in Poland. There are also significant Polish communities in Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, and significant numbers of Polish speakers in many other countries, including the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania, the UK and USA. Polish is closely related to Kashubian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, Czech and Slovak.

Polish at a glance

  • Native names: polski, język polski, polszczyzna
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-Europea, Balto-Slavic, Slavic, West Slavic, Lechitic
  • Number of speakers: c. 40 million
  • Spoken in: Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine and many other countries.
  • First written: 1136
  • Writing system: Latin script
  • Status: official language in Poland, recognized minority language in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine

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).

Polish alphabet (alfabet polski) & pronunciation

Polish alphabet and pronunciation


Polish pronunciation is actually a lot more complicated than shown above.

Notes on pronunciation provided by Grzegorz Jagodziński

Sample text in Polish

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.

A recording of this text by Marcin K.


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 | Polish phrases | Polish tonguetwisters | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about Polish

Online Polish lessons

Polish phrases

Online Polish dictionaries

Polish Electronic talking dictionaries

Polish spell checker

Old Polish Literature - online texts in Polish

Online Polish Radio

Online Polish news

Polishbuzz - a site for the Polish community in Chicago and the USA

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet