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Polish (język polski, polszczyzna) is a Slavic language spoken primarily in Poland and the native language of the Poles. It belongs to the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages. Polish is the official language of Poland, but it is also used throughout the world by Polish minorities in other countries. It is one of the official languages of the European Union. Its written standard is the Polish alphabet, which has 9 additions to the letters of the basic Latin script (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż). Polish is closely related to Kashubian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, Czech and Slovak.
Studying Polish can be an incredible experience for foreigners. There are many international schools and great universities in Poland. The Jagiellonian University in particular is renowned as member of the Coimbra Group and is also a core member of the Europaeum. The University of Warsaw is the top-ranked public university in Poland.
Polish belongs to the west Slavic group of languages of the Indo-European language family, which in turn is part of the Nostratic macrofamily. Poles use the Latin alphabet. Literary Polish developed during the sixteenth century and is based on the speech of educated city people, upper class usage, and the Great Polish and Little Polish Dialects. Starting in the nineteenth century, technological and cultural changes introduced a new vocabulary. During the 1920s and 1930s, there was an attempt to coin and introduce a Polish-derived vocabulary for the newly diffused technology. Otherwise, the new vocabulary is taken from German, Latin, Russian, and English. The spelling of diffused words is changed to reflect the Polish alphabet.
Geographical areas have distinct speech patterns. Most Poles can identify people's places of origin by their speech. The major dialects are: Great Polish in the northwest centered on Poznań; Kuyavian, east of "Great Poland"; and Little Polish, around Cracow. Kashubian, with about 200,000 speakers along the Baltic coast, has its own orthography and literature. The Slovincian dialect of Kashubian could be considered a separate language.
A similar linguistic separation can be made regarding the Górale, or "Highlanders," of Podhale. The Mazurians and Silesians, in areas that were politically separated from Poland prior to World War II, spoke an archaic Polish with many words and expressions borrowed from German. Starting in 1918 with the regaining of Polish independence, the leveling influences of school, the military, mass media, urbanization, and mass migration of population have reduced the differences between regional dialects so that spoken and written language is nearly standardized.