Polish is part of the West Slavonic group of languages that includes Czech, Slovak and Wendish. The language is based on a modified form of the Latin alphabet used for English, and has 26 consonants and nine vowels-some unique to Polish. Because Polish is heavily inflected, some words change according to their grammatical function. For example, some family names in Poland are expressed differently depending on which family member one is addressing. The masculine surname Kowalski changes to Kowalska for a woman and Kowalscy for the family.

Latin and then French used to be the languages of the Polish intellectual elite. Now the most widely spoken second language is English, particularly in cities-though the number of speakers is still not large. Older Poles or rural dwellers often know German, which is spoken in some regions that were German before the war.

Most Polish people communicate the same way as other Europeans; however, in rural areas, behaviour is more traditional and formal. Poles show deference and respect to guests, older persons, authority figures and strangers. In greeting, Polish men may raise their hats and are noted to be passionate hand-shakers, though both sexes shake hands. Poles are also known for their love of political debates and jokes, and are often heated speakers.

Poles value honour and have a strong sense of themselves as a people distinct from any state governance. Poland's history is one of resistance and determination in the face of foreign rulers and often terrible odds; these actions come from the people's strong, independent spirit. After World War II, Poland was the only country in the Eastern Bloc to repeatedly resist communism through strikes and demonstrations. Even today, Poles often distinguish between "us" and the state. Particularly in the country, people have a high respect for military service.

English Polish
Hello Czesc
Goodbye Do widzenia
Good morning Dzien dobry
Sorry/excuse me Przepraszam

  Did you know?
Polish has some lovely names for months. April is kwiecien, which means "flowers." July is lipiec (linden tree), September is wrzesien (heather) and November is listopad (falling leaves).