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The Polish Language and Law

2017 / 2
Digital Edition

The Polish Language and Law

Michał Bartoszewicz

Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Economy and Management of the Opole University of Technology


Article 27 of the 1997 Constitution of Poland, which establishes Polish as the official language, is a novelty in the Polish constitutionalism, but the rule of mandatory use of one language in the public sphere is well rooted in Polish history. That is the reason of the outline of the historical background and legislation in the past, which probably has an impact on the present legislation. The aim of this paper is to examine the constitutional context of the rule of the official language which is not limited to Art. 27 of the Constitution, but includes also other important articles, namely: Art. 2 (the rule of law), Art. 5 (protection of the national heritage and culture) and Art. 76 (protection of consumer rights). It can be questioned whether a country, in which one language prevails because of universal education in this language, needs a law on the language protection. The author argues, however, that there are some reasons for the legal protection of the language. The essential content of the paper is an analysis of the measures of a statutory law (in particular the Polish Language Act of 7 October 1999) applied to protect the language. The arguments discussed lead to the conclusion that the ratio legis has never been fully implemented due to the lack of sufficient instruments.

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