Poland marked International Mother Language day by launching a campaign in defence of the Polish language.
The Polish Language Council (Rada Języka Polskiego) believes that spelling – particularly of those words requiring characters unique to the Polish language – is under threat from technological advances which make it simpler to use the Roman alphabet when typing.
It is common for younger Poles to skip ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź and ż when sending emails or text messages, in favour of a, c, e, l, n, o, s, and z. but in omitting the Polish diacritics, the meaning and pronunciation of words can change.
Professor Jerzy Bralczyk, of Warsaw university, said: “Today, the Polish language is threatened by the tendency to avoid its characteristic letters. The less we use diacritical marks in text messages, the more likely they are to vanish altogether. That would mean an impoverishment of the language and of our life. I would be sorry.”
Polish media drove home the message, by playing songs and giving news broadcasts with the words changed to ignore Polish characters – thus altering the pronunciation.
So just how do you get those ‘special characters’ on a keyboard when typing Polish words? The answer is surprisingly simple – just hold down the right ALT key as well as the Roman character. To get ź, use right ALT and x.
Picture: The Polish alphabet. Note that Q, V and X are generally used only in foreign words and are not considered part of Polish.
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