Did you know?

15th Feb 2013

The latest statistics show that Polish had become the second most commonly used language in UK. The creation of the European Union meant that a lot of Eastern European countries including Poland became part of the new political system and enabled people to move freely around Europe in search for jobs. Since 2004, there has been a very largeinflux of Poles into the UK. Whether you find yourself on the streets of London, Oxford, Newcastle or York, you can hear Polish speaking people around. 

But how much do you know about this very complicated, full of consonants, sounding language?

Polish belongs to West-Slavonic language of the Indo-European languages and uses the Latin alphabet (unlike other Slavonic languages, which use Cyrillic). Roman Catholicism was responsible for the Latin alphabet used in Poland. A lot of church texts were among the first written manuscripts.

Polish language was an important language of the middle ages. It was used in diplomatic missions, became a language of law, and was learned by Russian rulers.

Linguistic studies indicate that 5000 to 4000 years ago early Balto-Slavic languages were part of the Arian or the Eastern Indo-European languages. Over 3500 years ago, the languages of the Balto-Slavs separated from the Arian languages. 3000 years ago, the Baltic and Slavic languages separated from each other and for the next 1500 years, the Slavic languages evolved parallel to the Greek, Latin, Celtic, Germanic, and other languages. The evolution of the Polish language occurred during the following 1500 years.

It was in the 10th century that Poland became a state, under which tribes who shared linguistic and cultural traits were bound together under one ruler. While Polish language originated with the joining of Slavonic-language-speaking peoples, Polish has since acquired a variety of borrowed or loan words from Latin, German, Russian, and French.

During the evolution of a constitutional monarchy between 1370 and 1493, the legal process was established in Poland. Polish became a language of elegance and civility in east central Europe, as Poland acquired a civilizing role between the Baltic and the Black Seas and Polish was used as the language of diplomacy. Approximately 15,000 different Polish words were used in the preserved medieval texts.

While the Polish language was referred to by Poles as “Polska,” it is important to note that Poles considered themselves Slavs – this word is controversial in its origins, but the Polish word for “word” is slawa, which might indicate that the Poles thought of themselves as the originators of understandable language.

Early Polish vocabulary contained much earlier cultural information than do written records. The adoption of foreign words grew with the passage of time. During the present information age, new European and American terms related to fashions, sports, arts, politics, and technology are being adopted by the modern Polish language. Unabridged Polish dictionaries presently contain some 200,000 entries; one-third of these are foreign adaptations, while about one-fourth are still close to Old Slavonic words.

A total of about twenty people born in Poland have won the Noble Prize for their contribution to science, literature, and peace. Polish language and culture are of considerable importance today and are flourishing in the geographical centre of the European continent and beyond.In the UK today, that is certainly the case.  

As well as having a strong in-house team of Polish linguists, we are able to count on our Polish translators to fulfil the growing number of interpreting and translation requests we receive from our clients for this important language.

Agnieszka Graham, Polish Interpreter (full time)


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