This post is in response to Marian Dougan’s recent post entitled Polish: the world’s most loved – and Scotland’s first “other” – language (link opens a new tab).
In short, according to Marian’s insight into latest statistics, Polish is the world’s most loved language and the second language used in Scotland (the title says that, doh!).
Wow, that comes as a surprise to me – I knew that Polish was the second language in the UK, way above any other, but I didn’t know that it’s the world’s most loved language!
Regarding Marian’s theory that the national pride and homesickness are what drives Polish diaspora’s opinion – I kind of agree, but not quite.
I’ve been living in the UK for over 8 years (first in Wales, now in England) and at first I was desperately homesick. But I threw myself into the UK without really knowing what I was against; I’d never been in this country for longer than 3 days before, and I’d only visited a couple of times (if I remember correctly). The decision to move was motivated by only three things: 1. I had an IB diploma, so could study in the UK if I wanted to, 2. I wanted to leave home for good, 3. my brother was going to study in Wales and we went together (though I only lived with him for 2 months). So is it a surprise that I was homesick, having only just left my whole world behind? No.
Things have changed now. I’ve completed my education, started my translation career, I now have a family and teach my children Polish as their second native language (mother tongue – no pun intended!). I cannot imagine not teaching them the language that once used to be the language of my thoughts and my dreams, a language that I lived and breathed. Yes, I am proud of that language, and the Polish cultural heritage. I want them to know that Chopin, Copernicus, Sklodowska-Curie and other famous people were Polish and achieved amazing things. I want them to know about the dragon that lived in Krakow’s Wawel, about the Warsaw mermaid, the beautiful mountains in the south and the cold Baltic in the north. They are part of my story and I want to make it a part of my children’s story.
Whether my approach is unique, I doubt. Though I know for sure that my Pakistani neighbours’ four children can speak Urdu and Pashto as well as English, and my neighbours have a similar drive to pass on their story and their country’s heritage on to their children, just like I do with mine.
I guess the Polish diaspora in the world, and particularly in the UK, is quite large in numbers for various reasons, some historical, others relating to welfare. Am I proud of Poland, the Polish language, heritage and modern achievements? I am, sure! But I’m not that homesick and I’m happy where I am, and happy to be an active member of the English society that I am now part of.
I don’t know whether this helps explain the fact that Polish is the world’s most loved language. It probably doesn’t. Also, my world has become heavily Anglicised but there are thousands of Poles whose world even in the UK is almost completely Polish: they speak Polish at home and at work, they watch Polish TV and the only difference is that they get paid in pounds. I used to know at least 100 such Poles in one English town alone. Perhaps they are more representative of those who voted than I am?