Overview of the Polish Language
The Polish language is the official language of the Republic of Poland, and it is spoken as a first language of the vast majority of its citizens. The Polish language (along with Slovak and Czech) belongs to the West Slavic group of the Slavic subfamily of Indo-European languages. Linguists believe that the Slavic languages have retained the features of the original Proto-Indo-European language to a much greater degree than have the Germanic and Romance languages. The spoken Slavic languages also show more similarity among themselves than do the Germanic or the Romance languages.
Polish is written in the Latin alphabet, with the addition of diacritical marks over some of the letters. The stress pattern in Polish usually falls on the penultimate (next to last) syllable. The earliest documents in the Polish language date back to the 14th century. Prior to that time, both official and literary documents in Poland were written in Latin.
As you learn Polish, you will notice that some Polish vocabulary words resemble English. But don't assume that a Polish vocabulary word always means what you think it does! For example, the Polish word dym, (pronounced "dim") actually means "smoke." The Polish word on means "he," and the word los, though pronounced like the English "loss," actually means "destiny" in Polish.
Formal and Informal Address in the Polish Language
When you speak Polish to someone who is not a close friend or a young child, it is polite to refer to the person you are addressing in the third person, using the words Pan (Sir) and Pani (Madam) followed by the title of that person. When your friendship becomes more intimate, you can use the person's first name, rather than their title, after the words Pan or Pani.
Polish Grammar and Polish PronunciationAs you learn Polish, you'll notice that Polish grammar can be quite complex. For example, Polish nouns (as well as adjectives and most pronouns) decline in seven cases. Because the Polish language is so highly inflected, the word order in sentences is fluid (unlike in English)-- that is to say, the declined endings of Polish nouns identify the subject and the direct and indirect objects, as well as other meanings.
Polish verbs possess a feature called "aspect." The aspect can be perfective or imperfective, showing perpetual action and action that is completed. A variety of prefixes help create perfective verbs which convey shades of meaning that frequently require several words in an English translation, or defy translation altogether.
Written Polish can awe the student with its frequent conglomerations of several consonants in a row. Realizing that in most cases these letter combinations represent a single sound will make learning Polish pronunciation a bit less daunting.To learn to speak Polish well, you'll need regular practice. That's where Polish software programs and other Polish products come in handy. Transparent Language offers language software and resources that make it easy and even fun to learn Polish. Best wishes with your language learning!