Have you ever heard the popular joke where the ophthalmologist asks his Polish patient if he can read the last line of the graph during an eyesight test?
“Reading it?” says the patient. “Orzsk? I know that guy!”
For all of us used to the “standard” consonant-vowel combinations that produce syllable sounds in the English language, combinations like ch, cz, rz, sz, szcz are unsettling.
Now if you thought these were undoubtedly unknown but not THAT difficult after all, how about this 54 letter tongue twister?
It is the singular form of an adjective that means, approximately, “of nine hundred and ninety-nine nationalities”! Of course, a 54 letter word is difficult in any language. After all, when Mary Poppins said “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, who thought it was easy?
So what about the easier “Konstantynopolitanczykowianeczka”? The word means a girl from Constantinople. It is not so easy if the Polish is all Greek and Latin for the speaker (or the listener)!
Is Polish an impossible language to flow smoothly? You are hardly a proficient speaker of the language.
Improve your facts
Polish is a West Slavic language spoken primarily by Poland’s 38.5 million natives as their first language. Additionally, Polish is the second language in parts of Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Historically, Polish is an important language in academia and diplomacy in Central and Eastern Europe.
Emigration, particularly that which followed World War II, has resulted in the spread of the language to other parts of the world; Polish speakers can be found in parts of the world as diverse as Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Russia, and Ireland. In total, there are an estimated 55 million Polish speakers worldwide.
Polish has 32 letters in its alphabet: 6 oral vowels, 2 nasal vowels, and 24 consonants.
Do we need to shine in Polish?
Ask mountaineers why they love to climb something as challenging as Mount Everest, and the answer will be: Because it’s there!
There are many who love languages and learning Polish is something that challenges this love.
The most practical, and perhaps mundane, reasons would be:
Poland ranks 20th in GDP globally and is considered a high-income economy by none other than the World Bank.
Poland is a founding member of the World Trade Organization.
Poland has decidedly liberalized its economic policy since the 1990s, which has contributed to sustained economic growth.
Polish law encourages foreign investors and the Polish government offers investment and tax incentives. Take, for example, the 14 economic zones where the income tax and the real estate tax exemption have been designed to boost foreign investment, as well as competitive land prices.
Poland is also a member of the EU and investment in Poland offers the added benefits of EU structural funds, abandoned and new industrial locations.
Last but not least, learning Polish opens the door to other Slavic languages such as Slovenian, Bosnian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Russian, Macedonian, Belarusian, Serbian, and Bulgarian. This is the stuff a polyglot’s dreams are made of!
Polish to English and vice versa
There are an estimated 15 million Poles living in non-native countries. Poland also offers an attractive investment climate. Translation from Polish to English, the language that is now considered the lingua franca of the 21st century, is undoubtedly a growing need.
With the Polish expat community, translation needs for personal documents such as birth and marriage certificates, medical procedures or treatments, wills, green card applications, etc. may arise.
Translation for business needs can cover a wide range of activities: applications for licenses and loans, filing taxes, financial and accounting procedures, correspondence, etc.
Consequently, business, travel and tourism drive the hotel industry: English translation of websites and brochures to attract tourists and travelers is in high demand.
The largest component of the Polish economy is the service sector. Production or service websites need translation to increase their reach as Poland moves further onto the globalization scene.
Translation that becomes eloquent
Polish to English translators must be proficient in both languages to be effective. This is the bare minimum, not all that an expert translation entails.
Special skills are needed, especially in the areas of law and government, to translate and ensure proper localization from Polish to English. Be aware that a seemingly minor mistake in translation can cause, not only loss of face, but also adverse financial and legal consequences.
There are very specific formats for various documents that require more than a knowledge of the English and Polish languages. Medical transcripts, for example, require experience and knowledge of terms in both languages. Expert translation is what experts do!
Many documents and translations require the strictest confidentiality. Discretion is an integral part of the translation.
Timely delivery of services is an important consideration – missing a deadline can often have devastating consequences.