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FACTS ABOUT THE POLISH LANGUAGE
Polish is a language that is spoken mostly in Eastern Europe. It belongs to the Balto-Slavic language group of the Indo-European language family. Polish is the official language in Poland, but it is also spoken by sizeable minorities in Belarus, the Czech Republic, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Ukraine and other countries.
In total, about 50 million people in the world speak Polish: 38 million in Poland and about 12 million in the United Kingdom, the United States, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and elsewhere.
There are about 45 million native speakers, putting Polish in the top ten languages with the largest number of native speakers in Europe and placing it at twenty-fifth in the world.
Polish is similar to the Czech and Slovak languages, all of which are members of the West Slavic languages which were originally spoken by Polan tribes in the Greater Poland region and by Vistulans in Lesser Poland in around the 10th century AD.
It cannot be precisely determined which dialect played the decisive role in the development of the contemporary Polish language, because the development of the language continued along with the genesis of Polish statehood, so as the centre of the country changed, so did the Polish language’s development centre (switching from Gniezno to Poznan to Krakow).
The Polish language has four dialects: Greater Polish, Lesser Polish, Mazovian, and Silesian, although some linguists consider Silesian to be a language, not a dialect. The other, lesser dialects are mostly spoken in rural areas, except for the Podhale dialect, which is spoken by people living in the Tatra Mountains, and Kashubian which is spoken in Pomerania, which has been recognised as an official regional language in Poland.
Polish literary language was created in around the 16th century AD; poets and writers Biernat z Lublina, Jan Kochanowski, Mikołaj Rej, and Piotr Skarga contributed greatly to the development of the Polish literary language.
Polish has many loanwords from the Czech, French, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, Latin, German and other languages.
The system of cardinal numbers in the Polish language is particularly rich and intriguing. Cardinal numbers in Polish have a gender, and they have to be inflected. Just as with Latvian, there are cardinal, fractional and composite numbers in Polish, but on top of that, there are also collective numerals and other special forms of numerals. The Polish alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, and has 32 letters.
In Polish, there are rather few vowels and comparatively many consonants, particularly affricates. Vowels are not divided into short and long versions. The language is notable for a large number of polysyllabic words with an emphasis on the third syllable. Word order in a sentence is relatively free.
The earliest surviving text in Polish, a list of persons and place names, is dated to 1136.
The first book in Polish was published in 1561. It was a translation of the Bible from Latin into Polish.
Polish language code: ISO 639-1: pl.
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