Which family does Polish belong to?
Język polski, polszczyzna is a Lechitic subgroup of the West Slavic languages spoken in Poland. The first records of the Polish language (names of people and places found in the Latin texts) date back to the XII century, but real written texts (religious texts, chronicles) date only from the XIV century, to become more and more massive in the XV and XVI century, when literature is flourishing especially thanks to Mikolai Rej (1505-1569), considered the father of Polish literature and language. This is the time of the compilation of the first Polish grammar, the Polonicae grammatices institutio, published in Latin in 1568 by Petrus Statorius (Polish: Stojeński).
The period of the greatest development of Polish is the XVII century, when it enjoyed a great prestige and exerted a great influence eastward, becoming the language of culture in Lithuania.
During the period of its origins, Polish received significant influence from Latin, which was for a long time (until the XVII century) in use as the language of culture; then it absorbed elements, especially lexical, even from other languages, in particular from Italian (during the Enlightenment) and from German. Today six main dialects are distinguished, not much differentiated.
What are the main linguistic features of Polish?
From the XVI century, Poland uses the Latin alphabet supplemented by some diacritics:
1.- ą and ę express nasal sound, ś, ć, ń, ł, indicate palatal sounds, etc.
2.- Polish retains three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) and seven cases (Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative, Instrumental, Locative, Vocative).
3.- The verbal conjugation has only three tenses (past, present, future), but preserves, like other Slavic languages, the distinction between perfective and imperfective.
The main features that distinguish Polish from the other Slavic languages are:
1.- Word accent on the penultimate syllable.
2.- The conservation of nasalized vowels (ą and ę).
3.- The passage of pre-consonantal -or-, -ol- to -ro-, -lo- (instead of -ra-, -la-).
4.- The presence of strongly palatalized consonants.
Where does Polish come from?
The major lexicographical works of Polish are:
- The Dictionary of the Polish language (1806-14) by Samuel Linde, which is particularly documented in the language of the XVI-XVIII centuries, and for modern Polish; and
- the Dictionary of the Polish language, published in the 1958 by Withhold Doroszewski.
Until the XVIII century Polish literature only records ecclesiastical works, chronicles, saints' lives, written in Latin, while the presence of a written national language is indicated by few documents, including Pieśń Bogurodzica (Song of the Mother of God), dating the second half of the XIII century.
- Enciclopedia Grolier