[[caption-width-right:328: Europe's ButtMonkey]]

-->''Poland is not yet lost\\
So long as we still live.\\
What the alien power has stolen from us,\\
We shall reclaim with the sabre.''
-->--The "'''Mazurek Dąbrowskiego'''", the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nmFHUbVQtA national anthem of Poland]]

Poland ('''Polish:''' ''Polska''), officially known as the Republic of Poland ('''Polish:''' ''Rzeczpospolita Polska''). The picked-on kid with glasses of the European school playground, but it hasn't always been.


'''Early history'''

Poland arose when the West Slavic tribes of the region were united by the Piast dynasty of the Polans around about 1000, cleverly alternating between placating [[HolyRomanEmpire the German emperors]] and going behind their backs. Perhaps the most globally notable event of first two or three centuries of Poland's existence happened during a period of political fragmentation, when one of Polish regional princes [[WhatAnIdiot invited]] TheTeutonicKnights to help him against the pagan Prussians. It later became quite a nuisance, so to say. Reunified Poland, in dire need for allies, became associated with Lithuania (this historical Lithuania actually consisted of modern-day ''Belarus'' and Lithuania). As the last pagan country in Europe, it also had a problem with the Knights, until Grand Duke Jogaila accepted the Polish crown, baptized himself and his realm (thus nullifying the reason of the Order's very presence) and became king Władysław of Poland. Together both countries broke the power of the Order. Over time Lithuania eventually merged with Poland, forming the [[TheFederation Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth]]. Together, Poland and Lithuania ruled over an enormous, immensely powerful and rich empire.

'''The Golden Age'''

[[TheCavalierYears The XVIth and XVIIth Centuries]] are known as, respectively, the Golden Age and the Silver Age of Polish history. Above all, this period is remembered for "Golden Liberty", when [[ElectiveMonarchy kings were elected]] and the franchise included 10% of the population, by far the most inclusive franchise in Europe until the end of the eighteenth century. The King had to share power with the Sejm, or the assembly (not to be confused with Senate, which was a separate upper House), which was itself controlled by the great noble houses (called magnates). The Commonwealth was also known for its religious tolerance (letting, for instance, Jews live more or less in peace when most countries reveled in senseless persecution), at a time when religious wars were consuming the rest of Europe. At its height, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest country by land area in Europe. The Commonwealth in this period is also known for fielding the completely [[{{Badass}} awesome]] [[http://whiskeywolf.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/husaria4zpar7.jpg winged]] [[http://www.badassoftheweek.com/hussars.html hussars]].

Just for the record -- the Commonwealth is one of those complicated cases of historical countries that stubbornly refuse to fit into modern views of state and nationality. Until the Constitution of 3rd May, it was legally a union of two countries, Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The nobility of the Grand Duchy became for the most part Polonized, but the lower classes were too busy surviving to bother with that fashion, and later nation-builders had to start from the common folk to create anything not Polish; the nobles themselves preferred to identify as "the Noble nation". Thus, Poles see Poland as the successor to all of the Commonwealth, in spite of differences between the two parts, not to mention Ukraine. Lithuanians picture Lithuania as the successor to Grand Duchy, even though ethnic Lithuanians were actually a minority in a country mostly made of modern-day Belarus, and (due to assimilation) their upper classes were culturally Polish anyway. Ukrainians consider themselves descendants of the Ruthenian population of the region, particularly those who formed the Cossack Host, even though the Cossacks themselves were at least as much [[{{Pirates}} an occupation]] as an ethnic group. Belarussians had all of their upper classes assimilated, or killed off by Hitler and Stalin, so nobody was left to argue it's not just a swampy small part of Russia. All of the latter three, somewhat expectedly, also tend to see Poland as a sort of BigBrotherBully, although today Lithuanians and (Western) Ukrainians tend to look to Poland for help against the bigger bully to the east--Russia.

(For more see [[UsefulNotes/PolishLithuanianCommonwealth here]].)

'''The loss of independence'''

But let's now come back to politics. Golden Liberty was a great inspiration for the American Revolution, but it had a flaw, to which we owe the existence of a strong US Presidency: on the principle that all the nobles were equal, any decisions required unanimity. Therefore any one noble could block any government decision (the ''Liberum Veto'' with which ''EuropaUniversalis'' players may be familiar). This means only one guy needed to be bribed by UsefulNotes/{{Russia}}, UsefulNotes/{{Prussia}}, or UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} and that was it: the country was in their hands. For almost a century the government might as well not have existed, as the Commonwealth descended into a state of anarchy. The Poles got tired of this at about the time of Washington and passed a new constitution, very progressive for the day (the second modern-type written constitution of a sovereign state in history,[[note]]The modern-type constitutions of some US states--including the influential Constitution of Massachusetts--came even before the federal one, but American states have never been accepted subjects of international law (even under the Articles of Confederation, foreign affairs duties were assigned to the otherwise-laughable central government). Some also point out that Corsica had a Constitution during its attempt at independence, even before the US.[[/note]] inspired by the American constitution). Unfortunately by then the country had already been fatally weakened and it was too late. Russia, Prussia, and Austria, the "three black eagles", decided that enough was enough and partitioned the country between them in three stages (1772, 1793, 1795).

Then came the NapoleonicWars, which in 1807 temporarily reestablished Poland as an autonomous but not fully independent state, though within a much smaller territory than the former Commonwealth. The Duchy of Poland didn't last long, but the Congress of Vienna, rather than abolishing it outright, broke it up into three nominally independent pieces, which from largest to smallest were the Kingdom of Poland (under Russian control), the Grand Duchy of Poznań‎‎ (under Prussian control), and the Free City of Kraków (under Austrian control).

Poles in Austria generally enjoyed the right to speak their language and quite a bit of self-rule, and were fairly supportive of the Habsburgs (even today, Emperor Franz Josef is remembered fondly in southern Poland, while praising other rulers of the "three black eagles" would make Poles twitch); this was also partly due to the fact that the Catholic Habsburgs much preferred the Catholic Poles to the Orthodox Ukrainians who also lived in Austria's chunk of Poland (which was known as Galicia).

Poles in Prussia were, at first, well-treated (UsefulNotes/FrederickTheGreat required the heir to the throne to be fluent in Polish, although this was never really implemented). After, borders were shuffled and the smaller number of Poles left in Prussia were often in ethnically-mixed areas such as Upper Silesia and found their circumstances changed drastically for the worse, especially after the abolition of their autonomy in 1848. Political hardship (like Bismarck's efforts at Germanification, mainly by settler colonialism), rather than breaking the Prussian Poles, substantially strengthened their national identity and spirit, but economic hardship compelled many of them to move to the thriving Rhineland (where they were a much smaller minority) or to the Americas.

The Russian Tsars really didn't like Poles, partly due to the fact that Russia had been virtually prostrate before Polish economic and military power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and so, after they were finally victorious, the Russians went out of their way to punish the Poles under their rule. Not surprising, then, that the Poles tried, several times, to regain their independence (not counting the rioting during the Revolution of 1905). The first big time, the November Uprising of 1830–31, they actually had something of a chance, as the Congress Kingdom of Poland was technically autonomous and in personal union with Russia, and as such had a halfway decent military. Unfortunately, the Uprising was botched from the beginning. Not surprisingly, the Russians took further steps to eliminate the Polish threat, which meant that the second big uprising, the January Uprising of 1863, was restricted to guerilla warfare and ended in tragedy, and [[NiceJobBreakingItHero the abolition of Polish autonomy]], with many Poles being [[ReassignedToAntarctica sent to Siberia]]. [[note]]Interestingly enough, many of these Poles became great explorers of Siberia -- as commemorated by Chersky Range, though it actually wasn't discovered by Jan Czerski himself.[[/note]]

'''Twentieth Century'''

So during WW1, many Poles, including future leaders such as [[BadassMoustache Pilsudski]] and Sikorski, joined Austro-Hungarian forces[[note]]that's not to say there was no Russian-loyal faction. This role was played by chief political competitors of Piłsudski's faction, the Nationalists. The Nationalists adhered to a doctrine of a sort of political darwinism formulated by their leader, the skilled diplomat and ideologue Roman Dmowski, believing that stronger cultures inevitably take over the weaker ones. In this case they expected that Polish culture and Poles, given time, will ultimately take over Russia, while risking the same from well-organised Germans[[/note]]) and helped the Central Powers to establish a puppet Polish Kingdom in former Russian territory, as the lesser of two evils. If sent to the western front, they usually deserted to join the [[LegionOfLostSouls French Foreign Legion]]. After the war, foreign rule was cast off and Piłsudski and others founded a new, independent Poland which managed to defeat the Soviets in the UsefulNotes/PolishSovietWar against terrible, terrible odds through sheer strategic brilliance. This defeat convinced the Soviets that they weren't in any shape to spread their revolution, which kept them bottled up for about thirty years.

Immediately after the collapse of the Russian Empire resulted in the renewed independence of most of the former Commonwealth, Poland laid claim to the Lithuanian city of Vilnius,[[note]]''both'' home to many Poles (among them Piłsudski's himself) '''and''' the long-standing Lithuanian capital[[/note]] leading to a war between the former allies. The Ukrainians who had invited the Poles in to rescue them from the Reds found that Warsaw, ultimately, had none of their best interests at heart (Piłsudski personally was very ashamed by this). The new Poland's German minority also suffered. Poland ended up suffering from a sluggish economy caused by a century of exploitation and field trips from World War I military powers, being surrounded by many powerful enemies, and deep internal tensions between Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Germans, and Jews, and political factions everyone belonged to. The tensions became more severe in certain areas and relaxed in others after a military coup and the establishment of the "Government of Moral Sanitation".

Then, [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII in September 1939]], everything fell apart with Germans and Soviets paying a visit over the borders.

'''The War'''

DuringTheWar, Poland suffered one of the most brutal occupation in the world (tied with Japan's occupation of Manchuria). The Holocaust was carried out in Polish territory, and it was the official intention of the Nazis to plunder Poland and starve it to death. Contrary to popular wisdom, the Poles [[DavidVersusGoliath fought brilliantly against overwhelming odds]], [[YouShallNotPass never surrendered]], and even when [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder stabbed in the back]] by the Commies, [[IShallReturn escaped to fight another day]]. The cavalry charging tanks was a myth, by the way; the incident that inspired this story involved a Polish cavalry division (actually mounted infantry, like most cavalry of the time, though with traditions and training) which routed a German infantry division but was counter-attacked by armoured cars. Additionally, while some Polish cavalry units ''did'' deliberately engage German armor, they did so dismounted while wielding [[BigFreakingGun anti-tank rifles]].

The Poles didn't take occupation lying down. As well as [[LaResistance organising a resistance movement]], tens of thousands of Polish men escaped from the country and [[GovernmentInExile made their way to Britain and France to continue the fight]], forming entire squadrons of airmen and divisions of ground troops. By the end of the war, there were ~250 thousand Poles fighting alongside the Western Allies, with another ~200 thousand aiding the Soviets. Suffice it to say that Poland had more than its fair share of AwesomeMoments during the period.

Poland lost a fifth of its population in the war- ''seven million'' people in all, mostly civilians. Out of a pre-war Jewish population of 3.3 million, only 300,000 survived (Poland's Jewish population were Polish citizens; Israel did not exist until after the war). Most of whom were then [[HappyEndingOverride expelled by the Communists]].

'''Post-War era'''

After the war, the country was taken over by the RedsWithRockets, who shoved Poland's eastern border west a few hundred miles, expelling millions of Poles from their ancestral homes, and shoved Poland's western border a few hundred miles further west, depositing them in former Eastern Germany, where they in turn kicked millions of Germans out of ''their'' ancestral homes, thus accounting for the country's suspiciously straight borders (the western border follows the line of the Oder and Neisse rivers) and the fact that Warsaw, originally chosen as the capital for its central location, is no longer especially central. [[JosephStalin Stalin]] was not a nice guy. Poland suffered long and hard under [[CommieLand deeply incompetent Communist rule]], and eventually Polish people were instrumental in [[TheGreatPoliticsMessUp its downfall]]. [[note]]The Communist rule was contested several times, until finally, almost every opposition group coalesced under the banner of Solidarity - an independent, spontaneously formed ''labour union''. This is especially notable, as it means Communism became [[DeaderThanDisco utterly discredited]] -- the system that claimed to further the interests of the working class was, essentially, defeated by what has been described as "the last workers' revolution in Europe".[[/note]]

Post-1989, Poland joined {{NATO}} and UsefulNotes/TheEuropeanUnion. The latter led to a large movement of Poles to the UK and caused a Polish plumber scare in France. Poland, along with Ukraine, hosted Euro football championships in 2012. The games' overwhelmingly positive reception came off as a shock to many Poles, who by then were used to thinking of their country as one big international humiliation.

Home of the trade unionist with the impressive moustache (who became President) and formerly had identical twins as its President and Prime Minister. Also home of a very famous and popular former [[UsefulNotes/ThePope pontiff]].

!!Polish language
[[folder:Polish language]]

Polish is a West Slavic language, a group which also includes Czech and Slovak and a number of minority languages. [[note]] Sorbian, Silesian (disputed) and Kashubian, not counting the extinct.[[/note]] It is the most spoken member of the group and the second-most spoken Slavic language, with 40 million native speakers (38 million in Poland itself) and over a million second language speakers (no exact figure exists).

Brace yourself now, 'cause you're in for a hell of a ride.

Polish language is hard, meaning it is both hard to learn and pronounce. It has many "hard" consonants like:
* s ('''s'''now; '''s'''izzle)
* sz ('''sh'''ampoo)
* ś (similar to 'sz', but softer; '''sh'''ow)
* z ('''z'''oo)
* ż (mira'''ge''', like 'dż', but without 'd', somehow may seem longer for English speakers; in transcription from Cyrillic this sound is rendered as "zh")
* ź (like 'z', but soft; lei'''s'''ure)
* c (schni'''tz'''el, wha'''t's''')
* cz (tou'''ch''')
* ć ('''chi'''cken, often transliterated as 'ti')
* t ('''t'''one)
* dz ('d' and 'z', but one sound)
* dż ('''j'''ournal)
* dź ('''ji'''ngle)
* k ('''k'''ite)
* g ('''g'''un)

[[TrrrillingRrrs R is always pronounced]]. The vowels are read like in Spanish. 'w' sounds like English 'v' and next to voiceless consonants even like 'f'.

Sample words:
* ''strzelać'' (pronounced: [s t sz e l a ć]) - to shoot
* ''bezwzględny'' (notice 5 consonants in a row) - ruthless (if describing a person) or absolute (if a scientific term)
* ''gżegżółka'' ([g ż e g ż ó ł k a]) - a folk name for a cuckoo, and a sadist's favourite spelling bee challenge
* ''Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz'' ([g ż e g o ż, b ż en cz y sz cz y ki e v i cz]) - a Polish name (the first name meaning: Gregory, last name means something similar to 'buzzing')
** To clarify, this isn't actually a popular name; it was used as a gag in a Polish comedy movie and became somewhat of a meme since then.
*** In this gag the protagonist uses the name to confuse a Nazi officer who tries to write down his personal data (along with birth place: Chrząszczyżewoszczyce, powiat Łękołody). [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmgbmysiJH0 Hitlerity ensues]].
*** Also, the entire scene is based on a gag from a book that served as the basis for another Polish comedy, ''Film/CKDezerterzy''. In "CK Dezerterzy", the protagonist Kania identifies himself as "Szczepan Brzęczyszczewski" to an Austrian officer, and gives his birthplace as "Mszczonowieścice, gmina Grzmiszczosławice, powiat Trzcinogrzechotnikowo".

Polish language uses several additional letters:
* ć, ś, ż, ź (described above)
* ą ("ow" ''not as in cow''; w'''on''''t)
* ę ("ew" ''not as in screw''; you r'''an'''g?)
* ł ("w"; bo'''w'''l, '''w'''hy)
* ó (like "oo", only short; h'''oo'''t)
* ń (sort of soft "[[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail Ni]]"; se'''ni'''or)

This means that when you see a Polish word in a generally English text, you can't be sure if it is really written like that, or just the Polish signs were left out. We try to make this article consistent, except for the links. The ą's and ę's tend to mess with namespaces, so they have to be omitted there.

By the way, ż and rz are pronounced the same way, except when "rz" is just "arr"-"zedd". And ó the same as u, and h same as ch. They, however, make a difference in how the word is inflected.

Many Polish words [[TheUnpronounceable are impossible to pronounce]] by non-native speakers. Very few non-natives can speak Polish so fluently that their foreign accent will not be noticed. Polish is considered to be the most difficult of the Slavic languages for English speakers to learn, which is saying something.

Polish children are taught the poem: ''Chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie w Szczebrzeszynie i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.'' (The beetle sings in reeds in the city Szczebrzeszyn, which is famous for it.) Making foreigners pronounce the poem is a favourite sadistic pastime of Polish people.
The other is making them pronounce the word ''pchła'' (''flea'') or ''żelatyna'' (''gelatin''). [[note]] The rest of Polish sadism towards foreigners consists of bureaucratic activities and as such does not belong here.[[/note]]

Polish grammar is even harder than the pronunciation. There are thousands of rules, each with thousands of exceptions. Some (irregular) words do not obey any rule at all. Most meaningful words undergo inflection.

* ''wycierać'' - to wipe
* ''wycieram'' - I wipe
* ''wycierasz'' - you wipe
* ''wyciera'' - he/she/it wipes
* ''wycieramy'' - we wipe
* ''wycieracie'' - You wipe (plural)
* ''wycierają'' - they wipe
* ''wycierałem'' - I (a man) was wiping
* ''wycierałam'' - I (a woman) was wiping
* ''wycierałeś'' - you (a man) were wiping
* ''wycierałaś'' - you (a woman) were wiping
* ''wycierał'' - he was wiping
* ''wycierała'' - she was wiping
* ''wycierało'' - it was wiping
* ''wycieraliśmy'' - we (men) were wiping
* ''wycierałyśmy'' - we (women) were wiping
* ''wycieraliście'' - You (men) were wiping (plural)
* ''wycierałyście'' - You (women) were wiping (plural)
* ''wycierali'' - they (men) were wiping
* ''wycierały'' - they (women) were wiping
* ''wycieraj'' - wipe!
* ''wycierajmy'' - let's wipe!
* ''wycierajcie'' - wipe! (plural)
* ''wycierałbym'' - I (a man) would wipe
* ''wycierałabym'' - I (a woman) would wipe
* ''wycierałbyś'' - you (a man) would wipe
* ''wycierałabyś'' - you (a woman) would wipe
* ''wycierałby'' - he would wipe
* ''wycierałaby'' - she would wipe
* ''wycierałoby'' - it would wipe
* ''wycieralibyśmy'' - we (men) would wipe
* ''wycierałybyśmy'' - we (women) would wipe
* ''wycieralibyście'' - you (men) would wipe
* ''wycierałybyście'' - you (women) would wipe
* ''wycieraliby'' - they (men) would wipe
* ''wycierałyby'' - they (women) would wipe
* ''wycierający'' - a wiping man
* ''wycierająca'' - a wiping woman
* ''wycierające'' - wiping something
* ''wycierająco'' - wipingly [[note]]As opposed to other examples, it's here to show how grammar works. Don't expect anyone to describe anything as "wipingly".[[/note]]
* ''wycierając'' - while wiping
* ''wycierany'' - a man being wiped
* ''wycierana'' - a woman being wiped
* ''wycierane'' - something being wiped
* ''wycierano'' - something was being wiped

The word ''wycierać'' belongs to classes: imperfect, transitive. Other classes may have different forms. For example, when one wants to say 'I have wiped', he must use the word ''wytrzeć'' (perfect counterpart of ''wycierać'') - the past form: ''wytarłem''. Note that we didn't include the archaic forms of Polish, which are even worse than the modern language.

In short, Polish language runs on ForTheEvulz.

...On the other hand however, Polish spelling is quite simple (almost phonetic) as compared to English (or traditional Chinese).


[[folder:Polish naming conventions (please read if writing a character who's Polish - thanks in advance!)]]
!!!Given names

For you English-speakers, diminuitive means sticking a [[YourLittleDismissiveDiminutive little word "little"]] in front of a noun. Polish has grammatical morphemes for that - there's ''kot'' (a cat) and ''kotek'' (a little cat - not necessarily kitten, there's another word for that). ''Stół'' (table) and ''stolik'' (a small table, like a nightstand). Some words have several diminuitive forms (there's ''kotek'' and ''kicia''), there also exist [[UpToEleven diminuitive forms of diminuitive forms]] - in this case, ''koteczek'' and ''kiciuś''.

A diminuitive sometimes just denotes that something is tiny (''Dałeś mi tę kanapeczkę?'' - You've given me this tiny sandwich?), is always (always) used in BabyTalk (''Zobacz, skarbie, kotek!'' - Look, darling, a kitty!), sometimes [[{{Irony}} ironically]] and sometimes by older people who don't realise how annoying they are. Moving on.

Given names have diminuitive forms too. These are not as much standarised (diminuitive of Helena may be ''Hela'', or ''Ela'', or ''Helenka'', or ''Helusia'', if you're her elderly granmother) as grammatically dictated by word creation rules and euphony (''Helutka'' sounds a bit odd, but is correct - if she likes it, use it.) This is why some names are impossible to treat in that manner - see the scene in ''[[Creator/MalgorzataMusierowicz Opium w rosole]]'' where Aurelia's mother is asked how she calls her, since the poor girl's name just doesn't lend itself to diminuition - this triggers mom's HeelRealisation of just how [[ParentalNeglect cold and neurotic]] she is. (Aurelia's grandmother calls her "Orelka", which is as good as it gets).

In general: "ń" makes the already diminuitive name [[RuleOfCute more diminuitive]]. Same goes for ś at the end. For rebellious teens: shortening (and sometimes a "śk" cluster) makes the diminuitive name less diminuitive, but still informal.

In formal settings, only the base forms are used - you can call your friend "Janek", but his checks are always signed "Jan". [[note]] Some people try to use their informal names in formal settings, after the American convention of "Bill" or "Jack" but this sounds ridiculous, unless you're a rock star. That's all we'll say of the matter.[[/note]] There's a sketch in which part of the humour is derived from a grown ([[TheCasanova to maturity]]) guy [[InsistentTerminology insistently calling himself]] a "baby" name in a very inappropiate setting (courtroom). BetterThanItSounds.

Some popular names, their commonly used diminuitives and English equivalents:
* girls (there are no traditional {{Gender Blender Name}}s):
** Aleksandra (''Alexandra''): Ola, Oleńka (see Oleńka Billewiczówna in Literature/SienkiewiczTrilogy)
** Barbara (''Barbara''): [[Literature/SienkiewiczTrilogy Basia]], Basieńka
** Małgorzata (''Margaret''): Gosia, Małgosia, Gośka (this is a less diminuitive form!)
** Magdalena (''Magdalene/Madeline''): Magda, Madzia, Magdusia
** Katarzyna (''Katherine''): Kasia, Kaśka (less diminuitive)
** Joanna (''Joan''): Joasia, Asia, Aśka (less diminuitive), Asiczek
** Zuzanna (''Susan''): Zuzia, Zuza, Zuzka (less diminuitive)
* boys:
** Aleksander (''Alexander''): Alek, Olek, Oleś (sickeningly cute)
** Piotr (''Peter''): Piotrek, Piotruś
** Jan (''John''): Janek, Jaś
** Stanisław (no equivalent - it's a Slavic name): Staszek, Stasiek, Staś (see Literature/InDesertAndWilderness), Stasiu
** Krzysztof (''Christopher''): Krzysiek, Krzyś, Krzysiu
** Jakub (''James/Jacob''): Kuba, Kubuś (very cute)
** Zbigniew (Slavic again): Zbyszek, Zbysiu, Zbychu (less diminuitive, a "guy" name)

One - surnames '''inflect'''. The -ski, -cki ended ones inflect like adjectives, because that's what they really are - they were originally derived from the name of someone's estate, for example: the owner of a place named "Brzezina" would be called Jan z Brzeziny (John of Brzezina) in [[UsefulNotes/TheHighMiddleAges XII century]], but Jan Brzeziński in [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissance XV century]]. Some were UsefulNotes/{{Patronymic}}, ("Piotrowski" - Peter's son) but the usual patronymic ending is -icz ("Piotrowicz") - these inflect like nouns (see below). Other adjectival names like "Chudy" are derived from nicknames (sometimes [[EmbarrassingNickname embarrasing]]).

Since -ski needs an estate to be named after, it's usually a nobleman's name (sometimes peasants were given these for valour in battle or somesuch, but that's rather rare). Peasants names were nickname-derived: if there were twenty Johns in the village, you'd need some way of distinguishing between them in conversation, so one would be Jan Grusza (pear tree, because he has one), another Jan Koza (goat - maybe he kept goats?), another Jan Sum (catfish, cause he keeps talking about this catfish he caught back when...). These are nouns and inflect as such (Google it).

Immigrants (and there were immigrants to UsefulNotes/PolishLithuanianCommonwealth, from Germany, Scotland and further) brought their own names, which were later polonised in spelling, if needed: [[Franchise/SherlockHolmes Irena Adler]] is a perfectly plausible name for a singer from Warsaw. Lithuanian names have a very distinctive sound, like Daszuta or Żyłajtys [[note]] Modern Lithuanians tend to use their own versions of some names, like Mickevičius for Mickiewicz - he was their poet, too. Don't be confused. [[/note]]. Some of these names are not inflected (e.g. Adler), some are - if in doubt, ask. PolishJews were forced into adopting surnames by the [[UsefulNotes/{{Russia}} partitioning]] [[UsefulNotes/{{Prussia}} powers]] [[UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} in XIX century]] - these were mostly the fruit of some clerk's "creativity".

And now the moment you were waiting for: what's with the endings? To reiterate - names are inflected by gender ([[Literature/{{Discworld}} Words have sex]] in Polish, remember?), but there's also (an increasingly outdated) secondary system for female names. We'll need an example now, so enter an average Polish family: Jan Kowalik, his wife Anna and their daughter Krystyna.

Jan Kowalik is pretty straightforward - that's his name, just inflect it when you're talking about him ("Widziałem Jana Kowalika." - I've seen Jan Kowalik).

Anna, though - if you're feeling modern, call her Anna Kowalik. No problem. If she were the wife of Piotr Kowalski, she'd be called Anna Kowalsk'''a''' - adjective-like names inflect by gender (like adjectives). For more old fashioned speakers, though, Anna Kowalik is Anna Kowalik'''owa''' (compare the [[AncientRome Roman convention]] of ''Terentia Ciceronis'' - same thing). Some female writers from XIX and early XX century were known under their husbands' surnames, like Eliza Orzeszkowa (mr. Orzeszko must have existed, but we don't tend to remember him otherwise). Others used their fathers' surnames (see below), or witty {{Nom De Plume}}s.

As for Krystyna - if you're her school colleague (modern speaker) you'll probably call her Krystyna (or Krysia) Kowalik. Old people, though (very old people) would know her as Krystyna Kowalikówna. Panna (miss) Krystyna Kowalikówna. Now you're ready to understand the joke in which the doctor says to a young woman: "Mrs. Kowalikowa, I have good news." and she replies "I'm Kowalikówna." "In that case, [[ButICantBePregnant I have bad news.]]" (Nobody said it was a good joke).

!!! How to adress someone
It depends on who they are to you, really. From the least to most formal:
* Family:
** you call your siblings and cousins by their given names/nicknames - diminuitives are fine and expected
** same goes for children (everyone younger than you are)
** parents will usually be called mom (mama) and dad (tata, or more archaic, tato), in second person - modern Polish speakers don't really address their elders the old, formal way, but it went like this: "niech mama usiądzie" ("let mom sit down" - notice the third person)
** aunts and uncles are called "aunt/uncle (name, often in diminuitive)"
** grandparents are addressed like parents (except with grandmother/grandfather, of course)
* School:
** other kids - by name/nickname
** teachers and staff - formally (see below)
* Semi-formal (neighbours, casual aquaintances):
** fairly close (when in doubt, go for more formal) - mr/mrs (given name, sometimes in diminuitive)
** more casual - mr/mrs (surname)
* Formal (teachers, bosses, strangers):
** mr/mrs (surname)

Along with mr/mrs, use third person forms: "niech pan usiądzie", or, for more politeness, "proszę usiąść" ("please, be seated").


Where the Brits would make jokes about the stupid Irish, Americans used to make jokes about stupid Poles (Polacks, if you're being ''really'' offensive; [[JerkAss idiot]] journalist Giles Coren recently brought richly-deserved criticism upon himself for using it in an article in which he suggested that Polish expats had no business in Britain because of what their ancestors ''actually didn't'' do to his.), but this seems to have died off sometime in TheSeventies, or transferred over to the Brits, since many migrants go to the UK nowadays.

The origin of the stereotype is probably history: the large wave of Polish immigration to the US came after the large wave of German immigration; Germans generally stereotyped the Poles as being a bit slow. Poles also tended to settle where Germans had shown up the generation prior: for instance, the 1850s-80s saw big German immigration to the Great Lakes region, while the 1870s-1920s (ish) saw big Polish immigration to the same area (sidenote: UsefulNotes/{{Chicago}} consequently has the world's highest concentration of ethnic Poles outside of Poland). The jokes probably spread from the more-settled Germans to the wider population. In the meantime, some ethnically German Americans continued to use the word "Polack" for "any stupid person"; a few even [[OrphanedEtymology forgot that it was originally a slur]] and have to be embarrassingly corrected by their Polish friends. ''Polack'' comes from Polish name for Pole, ''Polak'', and, according to Wiktionary, was considered neutrally through the late nineteenth century.

Polish gamers infested ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' (and several other online games) for a long time, filling it with servers apparently devoted to nationalism (PL PL PL POLSKA, similar to BR) and being really bad at the game. Two things which don't mix very well, by the way - [[MisplacedNationalism if you're so proud of your nationality, it's best not to spam that nationality out]] while you're getting your rear handed to you.

Notes on Poland: On the subject of "things you must know about X country before writing about it":
* It exists.
** There's [[SmallReferencePools more than one major city]].
** Tropes associated with {{Ruritania}} or {{Uberwald}} are unlikely to be accurate.
* Poles' stereotype of their history tends to be one part GloryDays, one part DoomedMoralVictor. And history is {{SERIOUS BUSINESS}}. This is at least partial reason why they're pissy about forgetting that...
** It's not part of Russia. Poles and their language are similar enough, though, for at least two Polish actors are members of the {{Lzherusskie}} Club.
*** By the way, it's not part of Germany either.
**** It really is its own thing.
** There hasn't been a [[CommieLand Communist]] government since 1989.
*** Although post-communist leftist parties had held power for ten years, they were democratically elected. They are no different that your average social democratic Western party, though. Law in force prohibits and penalizes the promotion of totalitarian ideologies, including communism and fascism. The former is a curious case, as the extent is limited to promoting practical implementations of the ideology along the lines of what happened in the 20th century. An actual Communist Party of Poland exists and is about as influential and popular as you expect.
** TheTeutonicKnights are bad. RonaldReagan is good. Poland had a historically close relationship with the UnitedStates after the fall of communism and one of her most loyal allies. Poles are, on the whole, less turned off by hawkish American politicians than the rest of Europe.
** Poland is one of the few countries outside France where NapoleonBonaparte is adored, due to his [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchy_of_Warsaw restoration of the Polish state]]. Partial restoration, that is.
** Poles are quite insistent that Poland is [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial not in Eastern Europe, but Central.]] It's a geopolitical matter.
** Having said all that -- the history of Poland in the eyes of the Western world tends to be stereotyped in these two ways: either "ButtMonkey of Europe" or "[[IronWoobie plucky little country]]". In case the abridged story above doesn't make it clear: It's a modern stereotype. While history dealt Poland a particularly bad hand in the late 18th century, it was a master poker player before. Even then, it survived being disappeared by three superpowers for 123 years.
* As it's not Russia, people usually don't speak Russian as a first language or have Russian names (excluding those with a common root, like Michał or Piotr).
** English is now the most widespread foreign language, and the one which young Poles learn in school - perhaps one reason why so many young Poles choose UK or Ireland to work abroad.
** Languages are a complex thing. German isn't seen as foreign conquerors' language anymore and many Poles will be able to understand it or even reply in kind. A minority might be offended, kind of like the minority of Frenchmen who will refuse to speak to a foreigner who doesn't use French.
** It should be noted that the closer to border with Germany, the more Polish schools choose to teach German as the second foreign language, whenever curriculum allows.
** Speaking German is considered a practical skill to have, especially in the parts of Poland frequented by German tourists.
** Russian was a compulsory school subject before the fall of communism (1989), so many people old enough speak it. It's much less popular today, although by now it's mostly got past the political associations.
** To be more precise, most Poles can more or less understand the meaning of simple sentences from other Slavic languages (many words stem from common roots), but don't expect comprehension of complex ideas and two-way communication in Czech or Russian from people who never learned these languages. However, someone who speaks Czech in particular should have minimal problems learning ''spoken'' Polish in, say, the space of a year, and vice-versa. The writing system might take longer.
* It's not cold there, except in the winter.
** However, a winter without snow is extremely rare (although it rarely snows all winter long, either). Poland has a climate in between the temperate maritime climate of Britain and France and the temperate continental climate of European Russia, meaning that compared to the UK the summers are hotter (temperatures in the 30s are common and in the low 40s not unheard of) and the winters are colder (sometimes down to -20, the interior temperature of a domestic freezer).
** Conversely, Polish autumn is either absolutely ugly (if it's wet), or one of the most gorgeous sights on this Lord's good red-golden earth.
* [[VodkaDrunkenski Alcoholic drinks other than vodka are available]]. The most popular drink is beer, which includes several brands of lager on par with most European brands.
** In fact, Poland is currently undergoing a minor shift in drinking customs, with a growing number of beer fans getting bored with regular lager and trying new styles. New small breweries dedicated to craft brewing are opening every year, targeting mostly the generation of 30-40 year olds.
** Poles' consumption of alcohol is rather unremarkable, when compared in quantity to other European nations. Be wary, though, if you've made Polish friends. They may want to test your strength, [[DrinkingContest If You Know What I Mean]].
** The reason for that reputation might be that unlike Britons and their [[BritishPubs casual pub culture]], Poles prefer to drink in binges. Sadly, while there's a growing tendency to drink casually, quantity still seems more important than quality, with most drinkers judging the beverage's value by the alcohol percentage.
** Curiously enough, the Polish law on outdoor drinking is one of the strictest among the non-Muslim countries; even holding an open can of beer out in the open is likely to get you fined (let all the foreigners who have heard a lot about Polish drinking habits not lower their guard should they visit Poland).
* Poles are pretty touchy when it comes to pointing out their country's flaws; that is, as long as [[SelfDeprecation you're not Polish yourself]]. A foreigner speaking ill of Poland in the presence of a Pole gambles getting tangled into a long and boring tirade about why what they're saying is absolute bullshit. However, it's generally safe to notice out loud that Poles drink and swear much; the locals don't seem to mind that at all.
* In the first US Presidential debate of 2004, Sen. John Kerry [[NeverLiveItDown did, indeed, forget Poland]]. Poland had about 200 troops in Iraq when the invasion started.
** There was a quite sizable Polish force in Iraq. Another one is serving in Afghan province of Ghazni.
* Statistically speaking, Poland is the most religious country in Europe, even more so than (fellow Catholic countries) Ireland and Italy.
** However, statistics aren't always an accurate representation of reality. Polls have shown that more and more people are simply getting by without thinking about religion at all. While most ''state'' they're Catholic, they may do it out of force of habit, upbringing, or peer pressure. Mass attendance has been falling down steadily since 1987, to a record low of 40% in 2011. There is a growing anti-clerical movement which got 10% of the vote during the 2011 parliamentary elections, echoing that trend.
*** [[UsefulNotes/ThePope Pope]] Karol "John Paul II" Wojtyła is a major factor that keeps Polish Catholicism alive, as he had one of the highest approval ratings of modern popes and was loved far and wide.
** Anyway, Poland's reputation for being staunchly Catholic seems to have emerged in the latter parts of the 20th century, possibly in order to replace Spain and Ireland as the stereotypical Catholic (and thus backward) countries of Europe. Whether the Poles like it or not, their perceived Catholicism is one thing that makes it easier for West Europeans and Americans to tell them from the Russians.
* Polish politics tend to fall on the right side of the spectrum, compared to most all countries in the EU. Its two largest political parties are the Civic Platform (PO), which is more or less neoliberal, pro-European, and certainly not leftist; and Law and Justice ([=PiS=]), which is national-conservative, deeply rooted in Catholicism, and somewhat Eurosceptic. Its leftist parties haven't been contenders since their implosion in the early 2000s, although the aforementioned anticlericalist movement has a strong social-democratic twist to it. Interestingly, when you look at a map of Poland according to the strength of the two political parties (here's the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wybory_prezydenckie_2010_I_tura_BK.png map for the 2010 Presidential election]]; PO in orange, [=PiS=] in blue) you find that PO's support almost perfectly matches the [[UsefulNotes/{{Prussia}} once-Prussian]] part, while the rest (formerly [[UsefulNotes/{{Russia}} Russian]] and [[UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} Austrian]]) are strongholds of [=PiS=]; the main exception is Warsaw, which, while formerly in the Russian part, is the capital and largest city and consequently has a more cosmopolitan, forward-looking culture.
** It should also be noted that, despite the Poles being generally pretty conservative and not at all supportive of gay rights when compared to Western Europe, Poland is still much more gay-friendly than most of post-Soviet and post-Yugoslav states. It may partly stem from the fact that even the most traditional of Polish people would rather be associated with the liberal, developed Europe than with the backward, reactionary Russia.
* Poland also has a long, close relationship with Hungary dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, both nations celebrate a Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day. A popular saying emphasized this relationship in war and drinking. Yeah, it's [[BashBrothers that kind of brotherhood]].
* Finally, with the country's admission into the European Space Agency in late 2012 and the creation of the Polish Space Agency in 2014, it can be assumed [[Webcomic/{{Polandball}} Poland can]] [[MemeticMutation into space]]. Though technically, it already could in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miros%C5%82aw_Hermaszewski 1978]].

Here are some minor tropes memetically related to Poland:
* BadassMustache -- Website/{{Cracked}}.com went as far as to claim Poland's fortune is dependent on the quality of her leader's facial hair.
* BlingOfWar -- the Winged Hussars tend to prop up in period fiction, if not for any other reason, then because you just can't turn down guys looking so crazy.
* ButtMonkey -- yeah, we spoke of it above.

!!See also:
* UsefulNotes/PolishEducationalSystem
* Main/PolesWithPoleaxes (the Polish military)
* Main/PolishJews - a little entry intended to cast some light on Polish-Jewish reactions.
* UsefulNotes/PolishLithuanianCommonwealth
* UsefulNotes/PolishSovietWar
* UsefulNotes/SiegeOfVienna
* TheTeutonicKnights
* PolishMedia

!!Famous RealLife Poles:
* Lech Wałęsa, the former President and leader of the Solidarity movement that toppled the Communist rule.
* [[UsefulNotes/ThePope Pope John Paul II]]
* Creator/RomanPolanski
* Marie Curie, nee Maria Skłodowska.
* Nicolaus Copernicus - known mostly for introducing the heliocentric model of astronomy, less renowned as [[RenaissanceMan a medic and a lawyer]]. His ethnicity is a matter of hot dispute between Poles and Germans. His internationally known surname is a latinization of the family name "Kopernik" (from "Koperniki", the name of a Silesian village from which the family originated). By most scientific accounts, he was of mixed, Polish-German heritage, but remained a loyal subject of the Polish Crown throughout his life, and even served as a military overseer during an invasion of Warmia by the Teutonic Knights.
* Jan Sobieski, the elective King of Poland, who turned the tide of the Ottoman invasion on Europe by reinforcing the besieged Vienna in 1683.
* Music/FryderykChopin. His father was a Frenchman, but he was very much a Pole.
* Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's advisor.
* Creator/StanislawLem, ScienceFiction author.
* Paweł Edmund Strzelecki, an explorer of large swaths of Australia, who named that continent's tallest mountain after...
* Tadeusz Kościuszko, a revolutionary and {{Badass}} enough to be a national hero in four countries - Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and USA (he founded West Point).
* Kazimierz Pułaski, the creator of USA's cavalry, a general and an American national hero; commemorated since 1929 with his own Memorial Day (11th Oct.), usually treated as a day of Polish-American pride (and consequently a rather Big Deal in areas with large Polish-American populations like UsefulNotes/{{Chicago}}, Greater UsefulNotes/{{Detroit}}, and Wisconsin). Also, owner of a bombastic name by American standards: ''Kazimierz Michał Władysław Wiktor Pułaski herbu Ślepowron''[[note]]''herb'' refers to the family coat of arms[[/note]].
* Creator/JosephConrad, whose given name was Jozef Korzeniowski. Wrote in English.
* Zdzisław Beksiński, surrealist painter.
* Ernest Malinowski: An engineer. Constructed at that time the world's highest railway Ferrocarril Central Andino in the Peruvian Andes in 1871-1876.
* Miroslav Klose, ethnic German footballer born in Opole and currently the highest-scoring individual player of UsefulNotes/TheWorldCup, playing for his ethnic homeland in four straight tournaments.


And note that almost none of this includes the large number of ethnic Poles who settled outside of Poland and contributed massively there--particularly in the US.


[[folder: The Polish Flag ]]

->The flag's colors, common throughout the world, originate from a merging of the heraldic symbols of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: the White Eagle of Poland and the "Pahonia", coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, featuring a white knight on horseback on a red field; the state ensign adds on the white half the Polish coat of arms -- a crowned white eagle on a red field.