What language is spoken in Poland? Polish, of course. But there are 20 other living languages spoken in Poland. Read on for more.
Polish is by far the most common language in Poland. In fact, it is spoken by 97% of the country’s 40 million residents.
Other languages used in Poland include German, Ukrainian, Russian, Lithuanian, Armenian, and Romani languages.
The vast majority of Poland’s population (97%) speaks Polish.
More recent immigrant languages such as Vietnamese and Arabic are also increasing in use. (The word “recent” here means within the last 100 years.)
An Overview of Languages Spoken in Poland
The official language of Poland, Polish is a Slavic language. Along with Czech and Slovak, it is a member of the West Slavic language group.
Behind Russian, Polish is the second most commonly spoken of the Slavic languages.
Polish uses the Roman alphabet. But unlike in English, some characters take accent marks. For example, the letters ń, ż, and ł all appear in the Polish alphabet.
40: Number of people living in Poland, in millions
21: Number of languages spoken in Poland (not including recent immigrant languages)
2: Rank of Polish among Slavic languages based on number of native speakers
German, Ukrainian, and Russian
Geography plays a large role in the linguistic makeup of any country. Poland is no exception.
Over 60,000 native German speakers live in Poland. (Germany borders the country to the west.)
To the southeast of Poland is Ukraine. About 26,000 native Ukrainian speakers live in Poland today.
Historical events have also played a role in the languages spoken in Poland today.
At one time, the Soviet Union was a global superpower. After World War II, it helped rebuild Eastern Europe and was the most powerful signatory to the Warsaw Pact.
This treaty effectively turned Poland into a satellite state of the USSR. Today, there are nearly 22,000 native Russian speakers in the country. Nearly 7 million Poles speak Russian as a second language.
English as an L2
English is not a native language (called an L1) for Poles. But it is the second most common language learned and spoken in Poland. In fact, almost 30% of Polish people speak English.
Since Poland joined the European Union, a large number of Poles have moved to the UK to live and work. Speaking English, then, is a crucial skill.
Of course, Polish translation services let foreign companies reach consumers and partners in Poland.
Another example of history’s role in language is found in the use of Yiddish. However, it’s one of the less common languages spoken in Poland. It has fewer than 6,000 native speakers.
Prior to World War II, however, nearly 3 million Jewish immigrants were living in Poland. Ashkenazi Jews had brought their language with them as they fled persecution. These immigrants then passed the language on to their descendants.
Yiddish is still spoken in scattered groups in the region. But its use is dwindling. In fact, today the Endangered Languages Project lists it as “at risk.”
Of all the languages spoken in Poland, Esperanto is the only constructed language. It does not belong to any ethnic group or region.
Developed as a means of international communication, Esperanto is spoken in Poland only as an L2. A native Pole named L. L. Zamenhof invented the language.
Esperanto is currently the most widely spoken constructed language in the world. It’s found particularly in Central and Eastern Europe and East Asia.