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In the United States, Polish Americans number more than 11 million but most of them cannot speak Polish fluently.
According to the 2000 United States Census, 667,414 Americans of age five years and over reported Polish as the language spoken at home, which is about 1.4% of people who speak languages other than English, 0.25% of the US population, and 6% of the Polish-American population.
Its written standard is the Polish alphabet, which has 9 additions to the letters of the basic Latin script (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż).
Polish is closely related to Kashubian, Silesian, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Czech and Slovak.
Although the Austrian, German and Russian administrations exerted much pressure on the Polish nation (during the 19th and early 20th centuries) following the Partitions of Poland, which resulted in attempts to suppress the Polish language, a rich literature has regardless developed over the centuries and the language currently has the largest number of speakers of the West Slavic group.
It is also the second most widely spoken Slavic language, after Russian and just ahead of Ukrainian.
"It is worth mentioning," writes Tomasz Kamusella, "that Polish is the oldest, non-ecclesiastical, written Slavic language with a continuous tradition of literacy and official use, which has lasted unbroken from the 16th century to this day." The precursor to modern Polish is the Old Polish language.
The geographical distribution of the Polish language was greatly affected by the territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II and Polish population transfers (1944–46).
Poles settled in the "Recovered Territories" in the west and north, which had previously been mostly German-speaking.
Polish began to emerge as a distinct language around the 10th century, the process largely triggered by the establishment and development of the Polish state.
Mieszko I, ruler of the Polans tribe from the Greater Poland region, united a few culturally and linguistically related tribes from the basins of the Vistula and Oder before eventually accepting baptism in 966.