1 University of Cambridge, UK
DiscussionThe last twenty years of the century have shown us how quickly things can change. Seemingly well-established demographic and cultural phenomena suddenly disappear; they become a thing of the past and are replaced by new phenomena and trends. The Polish diaspora in the UK is a clear example of this.
The Polish language was present in the UK as early as at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, but only from the middle of the 20th century can we talk about mass migrations of Poles to the UK. The first wave of Polish soldiers and their families arrived in the UK during and shortly after WW2, followed by political migration during the eighties when martial law was in force in Poland. The last wave arrived after 2004, after Poland had joined the EU.
In 2016 there were over a million Poles in the UK and Polish became the second most widely spoken language in England and Wales. Since 2011, twenty thousand children of Polish origin are born each year.
The dramatical increase in the number of Poles coming to the UK after 2004, after Poland's accession to the European Union, and their sharp decline due to the exodus for the last few years, outlines the new position of the Polish diaspora and presents us with a question about the future of the Polish language in the UK.