You’re clearly interested in learning Polish. Good! It’s the most unique of all the Slavic languages. We offer to your attention only the most interesting facts about the Polish language. If you communicate with Polish native speakers, you can surprise even them with these Polish language facts.
While you read this lesson about Polish language facts… here’s a FREE Audio. You’ll learn how to say Thank You in Polish. Thanks to PolishPod101 (a Polish Language Learning Program – click here to get more lessons). You’ll hear the phrases in Polish with their English meanings. Press the play button on the player below.
- “Survival Phrases S1 #1 – Thank You!”
The Top 20 Polish Language Facts
1. Polish is spoken all over the world.
The population of Poland is nearly 40 million people. In the 90s, a lot of people emigrated from Poland, so Polish native speakers are living all over the world. Canada, Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland, Russia, the United States, Ukraine, Belarus, Brazil, and even Australia and Argentina.
2. Is it hard to learn Polish? YES, IT IS!
The Polish language is one of the toughest languages to learn. The pronunciation is crazy. The phonetics are odd. Plus, the gender system!
Does that mean it’s impossible? That you shouldn’t learn it?
No. Here’s why. Millions around the world are learning Japanese and Chinese; two of the most hardest languages in the world. And they’re making progress. And they’re succeeding. Why? Because they believe they can and because they’re interested.
So, if you have any interest in the Polish language, you should learn it.
Okay, let’s move onto more Polish language facts.
3. Speaking Polish is considered a superpower.
It is very difficult for foreigners to speak Polish without an accent. If you succeeded and Polish native speakers do not hear that you are a foreigner, congratulations – you have a talent!
Some young Polish people even wear T-shirts with an inscription “I speak Polish and what is your superpower?”
Again, don’t let this scare you away. Nobody will care that you speak with an accent. It’s understood that learners are trying their best so perfection is not expected. If anything, Polish will be more impressed that you’re learning and trying.
4. Nearly 50 million people around the world speak Polish!
5. Poles love to mutate words.
Poles, especially the Polish youth, love to change words. The same word can be used in 10 different versions and can be pronounced differently (diminutive forms and so on).
6. Poles translate everything into Polish.
Despite the fact that there are a lot of borrowed words from English, Poles translate almost all the words into their native language. Even international words.
For instance, football in Polish is not “football” nor does it sound anywhere close to it. It’s “piłka nożna” – these words can be translated as “foot” and “ball” and thus a lot of other words are translated.
In Polish there are a lot of digraphs (pl. dwuznaki): cz, ch, sz, rz, dz, dż i dź. It make the words really tough to pronounce and that’s why Polish is considered as a difficult to learn language. What’s a diagraph, you ask?
A diagraph is a double consonant (two consonants together) or a vowel and consonant combination pronounced as a single sound.
8. 9 exclusive Polish-only letters.
In Polish there are 32 letters, 9 of which are absolutely unique: ą, ć, ę, ł, ń ó, ś, ż, ż.
9. There are English wordsin Polish
In Polish, a bunch of words are borrowed from the English language.
- consequence – konsekwencja
- obserwować – observe
- charytatywność – charity
Interestingly, a lot of people consider these words to be native Polish.
10. Excellent tongue twisters.
Since Polish is a language that is very hard to learn (especially phonetics), there are many Tongue Twisters (Łamańce językowe), which foreigners will not be able to spell.
Learn one of them to be able to stand out; people in Poland will definitely appreciate it. Example:
- Czesał czyżyk czarny koczek, czyszcząc w koczku każdy loczek.
- Po czym przykrył koczek toczkiem, lecz część loczków wyszła boczkiem.
11. Polish is similar to…
The most similar languages are: Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Belarussian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Russian and Slovene. If you know Polish, it will be easier for you to learn one of these languages.
12. Don’t say “preservatives” in Polish
If you want to buy preservative-free food, don’t say the word “preservatives.”
In Polish, “Prezerwatywa” means condom! Instead of that say “bez konserwantów;” this actually means “without preservatives”.
This is one of my favorite Polish language facts.
13. The verb “to be” sounds like a bad word!
Want some more dirty Polish language facts?
This is it! Well, not really.
Do not be scared if a person in Poland has called you a b*tch. In Polish, “być,” which sounds like a bad word, means “to be.”
14. The first complete Polish sentence dates back to 1270 and was recorded in the Book of Henrykow.
How old is your language?
The Polish language still uses “Sir” and “Miss” words – Pan/Pani. Although they sounds obsolete, you sound very polite and cultural.
Yes, this is a word.
This is the longest Polish word. It has 54 letters. Try to find such a word in English!
What does it mean? It means “of nine-hundred and ninety-nine nationalities.”
17. 10,000 people are learning Polish.
Right now, 10,000 people around the world learn Polish today. A third of them is studying in Polish universities and language schools.
18. The Letters Q, V and X do not exist
These 3 English letters are not used in Polish. You can find these letters in some international words, but they do not exist in the Polish dictionary at all.
19. They Understand the Russian Language.
Older Polish people are not able to speak Russian but are well aware of Russian (this is due to historical events in Poland).
This means that they can listen to and understand Russian with no problem.
20. The Polish language has several dialects… but less so than most European languages.
Only Poles can distinguish, by accent, which region of Poland a person is from. Nevertheless, the difference in dialects is quite small, therefore, having learned the standard Polish you can easily communicate throughout the country. The most difficult and incomprehensible, even for the Poles, is the “Southern Mountain” dialect – “Góralski akcent”.
Now you know the top Polish language facts. Did I miss any? What are your favorites? Be sure to leave a comment. I’ll add them to the list.
– PDF Jeff
P.S. I recommend this for Polish learners. If you REALLY want to learn Polish with a complete learning program – 600+ audio/video lessons by Polish teachers – Sign up for free at PolishPod101 and start learning!