Who speaks Polish?
The total number of Polish speakers around the world is over 50 million and almost 38 million of those are Polish residents who claim Polish as their first language. It’s the sixth most-spoken language among the official EU languages and is a common second language in eastern Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia. In addition, there are millions of Polish speakers in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Australia, the UK and the US, many who descend from WWII emigrants.
How old is the language and where did it originate?
Polish first emerges in historical documents around the 10th century as the Polish state was established. When the vast Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was influential in 16th-17th century Europe, Polish was a regional lingua franca.
Polish is a Slavic language, a family that includes the two languages Polish is most closely related to: Slovak and Czech. Even further back it descends from a branch of the Indo-European language family called the Lechitic group.
When would I need translations into Polish?
You might want to sell products in Poland, or maybe your business would benefit from a Polish partner or office. Poland does most of its trade with fellow European countries, but its 38 million residents make it a potential market for a wide range of products and services from other sources as well. Surrounded by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia, Poland is an active country in a busy neighborhood. It joined the EU in 2004, and its adoption of EU legislation and economic reforms have boosted its economy and made it a relatively easy country to do business with.
Additionally, with sizable Polish diasporas around the world, there may be situations when you want to understand and use the Polish culture and language for marketing or other communication with Polish speakers living abroad.
Is Polish hard to translate?
Polish is often listed as one of the top 10 most difficult languages to translate for native speakers of unrelated languages like English. It has a 32-letter alphabet with several unique sounds, uses seven grammatical cases and 14 declensions, and has a huge number of words.
Because of special consonant pairs that represent single sounds, a feature that adds to the difficulty of learning spoken Polish, a professional Polish Interpreter is a must when you need oral translation in the courtroom, at a business meeting, or for any other interaction when the details matter.
Is it okay to use English or another language for Polish customers?
Not really. It’s universally true that people want to read, learn, and shop from materials in their own language. While there are times when a Polish speaker who knows English well may get by using English texts, it usually would not be their preference.
I have translation apps and colleagues familiar with Polish – why use professional translators?
Without native level understanding and professional training as a translator, Polish is an easy language to botch in translation. In addition to the features already mentioned, Polish also has 3-5 major dialects (the 4th and 5th are considered by some to be distinct, separate languages):
• Greater Polish (western region)
• Lesser Polish (south and southeast)
• Masovian (central and eastern parts, including Warsaw)
• Silesian (southwest; considered and advocated by some to be a distinct language)
• Kashubian (considered by some to be a separate language)
It’s risky and expensive to just guess when translating – especially with a language as complex as Polish.
J. V. McShulskis