Polish is now more or less unified language, though some dialects still exist, of which the most important are Little Polish (Malopolski), Great Polish (Velikopolski), Mazovian and Silesian. Nowadays Polish also includes the Kashubian dialect, which used to be a single language but is now practically assimilated.
Contemporary Polish has 7 vowel sounds and 35 consonant sounds, depicted by a modified Latin alphabet. Sounds that are not represented by the alphabet are indicated by digraphs such as sz and cz (resembling English sh and ch) and by diacritics (resembling zh and a soft sh), derived from Czech. Unique to Polish are first nasal sounds (a and e), that were not preserved in other Slavic tongues, and second, a special [l-] sound (resembling English w). In the course of its evolution, Polish lost the distinction between long and short vowels, and word accent became fixed on the next-to-last syllable.
Of the original singular, dual, and plural, the dual has disappeared
(as in most Slavic languages). The singular has three genders, masculine,
feminine, and neuter; the plural developed a new category, personal masculine
gender (for human males), which is distinguished from a common plural gender
for all other categories. Polish is highly inflected and retains the Common
Slavic case system: six cases for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, plus
a seventh case, the vocative (for direct address) for nouns and pronouns.
Verbs are inflected according to gender as well as person and number, but
the tense forms have been simplified through elimination of three old tenses
(the aorist, imperfect, and past perfect). The so-called Slavic perfect
is the only past tense form used in common speech. Word order remains highly