The Influence of Foreign Languages on the Polish Language

Foreign Polish Language

Polish has borrowed a large number of words from other languages. As a result many Polish words sound similar to languages such as English, Italian, French or German.

Many Polish people though, are not aware of how big, very often, the similarities are. This article will familiarize you with them and show you that even though you don’t know a foreign language, you already know, unsubconsciously, some of the words that derive from the languages I mentioned above.

Many Polish words are borrowed from French. Some of the words are:

- agrafka (agrafe, staple)
- bilet (billet, ticket)
- butelka (bouteille, bottle)
- ekran (ecran, screen)
- biuro (bureau, office)
- meble (meuble, furniture)
- kanapa (canapé, sofa)
- rekin (requin, shark)
- krawat (cravate, tie)
- konfitury (confiture, jam)
- plaza (plage, beach)
- zonkil (jonquille, daffodil)
- walizka (valise, suitcase)
- portfel (portefeuille, wallet)
- fotel (fauteuil, armchair)
- koszmar (cauchemar, nightmare)
- fabryka (fabrique, factory)
- broszka (broche, brooch)
- serwetka (serviette, towel)
- adwokat (avocat, lawyer)
- kolia (collier, necklace)
- makijaz (maquillage, makeup)

French has also impact not only on Polish language but on English language as well. Thus, there are some Polish words that sound similar to both French and English, for example:

- alergia (allergie, allergy)
- kabel (cable, cable)
- banan (banane, banana)
- garaz (garage, garage)
- rezerwacja (reservation, reservation)
- uniwersytet (universite, university)
- wakacje (vacances, vacation)
- recepcja (reception, reception)
- tulipan (tulipe, tulip)
- character (caractere, character)
- seler (celeri, celery )
- kreatywny (creatif, creative )
- dentysta (dentiste, dentist )
- lampa (lampe, lamp)

And in turn, there are English words that have been borrowed by the Polish language as well as French language and in fact have become international words, for example:

- parking (parking)
- stres (stress)
- weekend (weekend)
- tenis (tennis)
- jazz (jazz)
- rock (rock)

Typical borrowings from Italian affect all the languages I mentioned above, that is Polish, English and French altogether. It is because words such as pizza, spaghetti or cappuccino became international words as well. There are, however, some Polish words only that are Italian borrowings, for example: kalafior (cavolfiore, cauliflower) or pomidor (pomodoro, tomato).

Many Polish words have been borrowed from the German language. Here are some of them:

- handel (Handel, commerce)
- kelner (Kellner, waiter)
- malarz (Maler, painter)
- stal (Stahl, steel)
- metal (Metalle, metal)
- punkt (Punkt, point)
- kac (Katze, hangover)

All those words have been borrowed over centuries by the Polish nation. Being the supporters of Napoleon, having a huge German population in Polish cities in older times, borrowing words from Italian and English that became so-called “international”, all this contributed to the way Polish language looks today. If you are looking at the words in other languages, it is very easy for a Polish person to find the meaning of the words without having to know the language. The above mentioned words are merely a sample of some of the words that are common amongst languages. So while you unconsciously think you do not know a foreign language, you have received proof that you already know some words!