Polish is a language of Central Europe belonging to the West Slavic language group along with Czech and Slovak. It is the official language of Poland and a recognized minority language in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. With over forty million speakers worldwide including 39 million in Poland alone, it is the second largest Slavic language overall by native speakers.
In common with the other West Slavic languages, Polish is partly influenced by Latin and therefore written with the Latin alphabet instead of Cyrillic. Unlike other West Slavic languages however, Polish features nasal vowel sounds, a stressing of the second-to-last syllable of words, and an extensive set of ‘alveolo-palatal’ consonants—articulated with the tongue against the roof of the mouth—which gives the Polish language its characteristic rustling/hissing/humming sounds. These sounds are represented in writing by nine extra letters marked with diacritics: ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź and ż.
Polish spelling is slightly less phonetic than Czech; whereas individual sounds in Czech almost always correspond to a unique letter, in Polish certain sounds can be written two different ways, sometimes with digraphs: ch, cz, dz, dź, dż, rz, and sz. The Polish convention of substituting ‘w’ for ‘v’ in foreign words has to do with the fact that v, q and x aren’t considered part of the Polish alphabet.
Like all Slavic languages, Polish has a highly inflected grammar involving a system of cases; nouns, pronouns and adjectives require the addition of one of seven case endings to indicate aspects such as possession, location, agency, instrumentality, addressal or gender (masculine, feminine or neuter), while an additional, rare aspect called ‘subgender’ also exists to distinguish animacy and personhood. Other less common features of Polish include the existence of two forms of every verb to designate the perfective (for completed actions) and imperfective (for continuing or habitual actions), and strict rules for the declension of numbers and numerals.
Overall, Polish stands out from other Slavic languages for a number of reasons: it’s nasal vowels, complex consonants, system of sub gender and paroxytonal (penultimate) word stress, many of which once characterized the Old Slavic language but have since been lost in other languages. Call LingPerfect for Polish translation services!