Polish is spoken by
almost all of the 35 million inhabitants of Poland, by about
700,000 people in the United States, and by smaller groups in the
Lithuania, Ukraine, Canada, Brazil, and other countries. It is one
of the Slavic languages and thus part of the Indo-European family.
Polish is written
in the Roman alphabet, with q, v, and x missing, and with j
pronounced y, w pronounced v, and c pronounced ts. However, there
are a bewildering number of diacritical marks, including acute
accents, dots, hooks, and, in the case of the 1, a bar (l).
naturally resembles that of the other Slavic languages. Such
Polish words as bez (without), most (bridge), cena (price), and
zima (winter) are identical in Russian, Czech, Bulgarian, and
Serbo-Croatian. But "peace," which is mir in Russian and
mír in Czech, in Polish is pokój, while "island"
(ostrov in Russian and Czech) in Polish is wyspa. The Polish words
for "north," "south," "east," and
"west" are respectively pólnoc (which also means
"midnight"), poludnie (noon), wschód (rising), and zachód
(setting). Some Polish words seem unpronounceable to one who has
never studied the language (e.g., przemysl— industry,
szescziesiat—sixty, wszeehs'wiat—universe, szczs'liw)—happy;
lucky). Equally formidable are the names of the Polish cities
Szczecin, Bydgoszcz, and Swietochiowice.
the Polish novelist and short-story writer, was the winner of the
Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924.