Polish belongs to West-Slavic group of the Indo-European family of languages. Due to its structure, it is classified as a inflected and synthetic system. As an individual language, Polish evolved in the 10th century and played an important role in the establishment and development of the Polish state. The oldest written records of individual words in Polish date back to the 12th century. The oldest full sentence written in Polish "Daj, ać ja pobruszę, a ty poczywaj" (“Give it to me, I will grind and you can rest now”) was found in a text in Latin dating back to 1270. Until the 14th century, Polish existed only in the form of several regional spoken variations.
As a literary, superregional language, Polish was distinguished in the 15th and 16th century, which is proved by an extensive collection of Renaissance literary works written in the language. During early stages of its development, Polish was highly influenced by the languages of its neighbours: German, Czech and Latin. Over the centuries, Polish was strongly influenced by French. Nowadays, as is the case with other European languages, many English borrowings are present in Polish.
The number of people using Polish as their mother tongue exceeds 45 million, where 38 million live in Poland. Large groups of Poles and ethnic Poles live outside Poland for many generations, mainly in the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, UK, France, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Ukraine. Today, Polish is used across Poland in an official, standard, literary version based on the dialects spoken in the Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) and Małopolska (Lesser Poland) regions as well as under some influences of the Mazovian dialect. The most widely spoken regional dialects include: Kashubian, Silesian, Greater and Lesser Polish as well as Mazovian. The most extensive dictionaries of Polish contain up to 130,000 entries, whereas some 20,000 words are used in every day speech.
Polish is gaining popularity as a foreign language taught at language schools and in academic centers across Poland and globally. Polish learners are not discouraged by the fact that some nouns in Polish may have as many as fourteen different inflectional forms and enjoy Polish tongue–twisters, such as: "W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie". They are amazed, however, to discover their native words in Polish.
Germans will easily recognize the following lexis: dach, blacha, jarmark, gmach, ratusz; Italians will have no difficulty in grasping the meaning of: fontanna, gracja, pomidor, parapet; the French will have no problems with pronouncing words like: bagaż, bilet, bukiet, romans, wizyta; whereas the British and Americans will find, to their surprise, such familiar expressions as: trener, komputer, biznesmen, folder, mikser, drybling, relaks, keczup, dżinsy. User of any language can easily recognize the meaning of Polish headlines, which sound like these: "Racjonalna polityka ekonomiczna", "Katastrofalna inflacja - bank centralny interweniuje", "Konferencja prasowa ministra finansów", ”Korupcja koalicji”, "Parlament Europejski". And this is all pure Polish!