Polish (Język Polski, Polszczyzna)
Polish is the official language of Poland, one of the official languages of the European Union, and the national language of Polish groups the world over. After the 1945 Yalta Conference deliberating the rezoning of war-ravaged Europe, many Polish nationals found themselves within the borders of different countries; resulting in numerous people claiming Polish as second language in the European countries of Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Romania, and Slovakia. Sizeable Polish communities can also be found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This brings the final tally of Polish speakers to over 40 million globally.
A member of the Lechitic subgroup of the West Slavic group of the Indo-European language family, Polish has the most speakers within the West Slavic Group, and is the second most extensively spoken Slavic language after Russian. Poland is considered the most linguistically standardised European country; with almost 97% of Polish residents confirming Polish as their primary language.
Citizens in the various districts all speak variations of “Standard” Polish. While these versions are considered Polish dialects, the differences seem to be minor; first-language speakers can easily understand each other across these dialects, and second language speakers might not even be able to tell the vernaculars apart. Polish is said to have four or five main dialects, depending on who you consult and whether they consider Silesian a Polish dialect or a distinct language. Further smaller regional vernaculars are differentiated due to county borders, wealth, lifestyle, and residential location.
During the past century Poland has been heavily influenced by other countries at various times, as evidenced by the large number of loanwords that exist in the Polish language. Although Polish has borrowed freely from Latin, Czech, Italian, German, Hungarian, Turkish, Yiddish, Mongolian, and English, these copied words have always been altered to reflect Polish pronunciation and spelling.
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