Languages of Poland
RegionalSilesian (529,377); Kashubian (108,000); German (96,000); Belarusian (26,000); Hungarian (1,000); Ruthenian (6,000); Lithuanian (5,000); Slovak (1,000); Czech (1,000);
Dispersed: Romani (14,000); Armenian (2,000)
ImmigrantRussian (20,000), Ukrainian (25,000), Vietnamese (3,000), Greek (2,000), Chinese (1,000), Bulgarian (1,000), Turkish (1,000), Hindi (1,000) and others[1]
ForeignEnglish (40%)[2]
German (19%)
Russian (26%)
SignedPolish Sign Language
Signed Polish
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The languages of Poland include Polish – the language of the indigenous population – and those of immigrants and their descendants. Polish is the only official language recognized by the country's constitution and the majority of the country's population speak it as a native language or use it for home communication.[3][4] Deaf communities in Poland use Polish Sign Language, which belongs to the German family of Sign Languages.

Languages other than Polish that have existed in the region for at least 100 years can gain recognition as a regional or minority language, which have appropriate rules of use.[5] In areas where the speakers of these languages make up more than 20% of the population, the language can receive the status of auxiliary language, while Polish remains the official language.[6]

According to the Act of 6 January 2005 on national and ethnic minorities and on the regional languages,[7] 16 languages have been recognized as minority languages; 1 regional language, 10 languages belonging to 9 national minorities (minorities from another sovereign state) and 5 languages belonging to 4 ethnic minorities (minorities that do not belong to another sovereign state). Jewish and Romani minorities each have 2 recognized minority languages.

Household languages

Language used in households by population as of 2011.[8]

National minority's languages

Ethnic minority's languages

Official recognition gives the representatives of the minority under certain conditions the right to education in their language, having their language established as a secondary administrative language or help language in their municipality, financial support in the promotion of their language and culture, etc.

Regional languages

Official recognition as a regional language:

Unrecognised regional languages

Auxiliary languages

Main article: Bilingual communes in Poland

The bilingual status of gminas (municipalities) in Poland is regulated by the Act of 6 January 2005 on National and Ethnic Minorities and on the Regional Languages, which permits certain gminas with significant linguistic minorities to introduce a second, auxiliary language to be used in official contexts alongside Polish. The following is a list of languages by the number of gminas that have them as auxiliary languages.[10]

Languages of bilingual settlements

Polish and German bilingual road sign in village Izbicko, Opole Voivodeship

Main article: Bilingual communes in Poland

A settlement can use any officially recognised, regional, or minority languages in their name. Currently[when?] only 5 settlements have exercised this power. The following is a list of languages by their use in settlements dual language names.

Languages of diasporas and immigrants

These languages are not recognised as minority languages, as the Act of 2005 defines minority as "a group of Polish citizens (...) striving to preserve its language, culture or tradition, (...) whose ancestors have been living on the present territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 100 years":

Sign languages

The Polish Sign Language is the language of the deaf community in Poland. It descends from German Sign Language. Its lexicon and grammar are distinct from the Polish language, although there is a manually coded version of Polish known as System Językowo-Migowy (SJM, or Signed Polish), which is often used by interpreters on television and by teachers in schools. In 2012, under the "Sign Language Act", the language received official status and can be chosen as the language of instruction by those who require it.[11]

Dead and artificial languages

Among languages used in Poland, Ethnologue mentions[12] one constructed language – the International Auxiliary Language Esperanto (created in Poland), and one dead languagePrussian, but does not mention two other known defunct languages: Slovincian, which consists of dialects of Pomeranian, died out in the beginning of the 20th century, and is closely related to Kashubian, and Yatvingian, which died around the mid-16th (or possibly end of 19th) century. As the result of the Nazi's atrocities and the ensuing border shift at Germany's expense and ethnic cleansing, various dialects of German historically prevalent in Poland's western and northwestern regions have become endangered, such as Lower Silesian[13] and Low German.[14]

Foreign languages

Eurobarometer studies in 2012 showed that 33%, 19%, and 18% of Poles declared to be able to have a conversation in English, German, and Russian, respectively.[15] As of 2015, around 32% of Polish citizens declared knowledge of the English language according to the Centre for Public Opinion Research.[16] However, other surveys show that over 50% of Poles can speak English. Another study shows that 89% of Polish students are learning and/or can speak English.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Nowak, Lucyna, ed. (2013). Ludność. Stan i struktura demograficzno-społeczna. Narodowy Spis Powszechny Ludności i Mieszkań 2011 (PDF). Główny Urząd Statystyczny. ISBN 978-83-7027-521-1. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  2. ^ "SPECIAL EUROBAROMETER 386 Europeans and their Languages" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-06.
  3. ^ "Konstytucja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej". Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  4. ^ "Ustawa z dnia 6 stycznia 2005 r. O mniejszościach narodowych i etnicznych oraz o języku regionalnym".
  5. ^ "Ustawa z dnia 6 stycznia 2005 r. O mniejszościach narodowych i etnicznych oraz o języku regionalnym".
  6. ^ "Ustawa z dnia 6 stycznia 2005 r. O mniejszościach narodowych i etnicznych oraz o języku regionalnym".
  7. ^ a b "Act of 6 January 2005 on national and ethnic minorities and on the regional languages" (PDF) – via
  8. ^ Struktura narodowo-etniczna, językowa i wyznaniowa ludności Polski, p. 70, p. 173
  9. ^ According to Ethnologue the following Romani languages are spoken in Poland: Romani Vlax, Romani Carpathian, Romani Sinte, Baltic Romani. See: Ethnologue. Languages of the World, Ethnologue report for Poland
  10. ^ "Map on page of Polish Commission on Standardization of Geographical Names" (PDF). Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  11. ^ AGH (2012-03-23). "Ustawa o języku migowym wchodzi w życie!" (in Polish). Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  12. ^ Ethnologue. Languages of the World, Ethnologue report for Poland
  13. ^ "Low Silesian on". Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  14. ^ Christopher Moseley (2010). Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. UNESCO.
  15. ^ Europeans and their languages, Special Eurobarometer. 386, June 2012
  16. ^ "O wyjazdach zagranicznych i znajomości języków obcych" (PDF). CBOS Komunikat z Badań (in Polish) (5): 13. 2016. ISSN 2353-5822. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  17. ^ Kasztalska, Aleksandra (2 May 2014). "English in contemporary Poland". World Englishes. 33 (2): 242–262. doi:10.1111/weng.12083.