/  History


The Institute of Polish Language of the Polish Academy of Sciences was founded on 1st October 1973. From the beginning, its main headquarters was Kraków (and until 1999 the building at Straszewskiego 27). The Institute has employed scholars of Polish studies specializing in dialectology, onomastics, history and descriptive grammar of Polish language, new Polish vocabulary, and other language phenomena related to the development of contemporary Polish language. The staff of the newly founded Institute originated in large part from the existing linguistic units of the Academy: the Institute of Polish Language in Kraków, the Department of Linguistics in Warsaw and the Laboratory of Applied Linguistics in Poznań. The following departments and laboratories were operating in the first years since the foundation of the Institute:

  • Department of Contemporary Polish Language:
    • Contemporary Polish Grammar Unit,
    • Comparative Grammar Unit (in Poznań),
    • Dictionary of Polish Verbs Unit (in Sosnowiec);
  • Department of Polish Language History:
    • Old Polish Language Unit,
    • Historical Syntax Unit;
  • Department of Polish Dialectology;
  • Department of Polish Onomastics:
    • Anthroponymy Unit,
    • Toponymy Unit;
  • Department of Linguistics (in Warsaw):
    • Slavic Linguistic Atlas (SLA) Unit,
    • History of the 17th and 18th Century Polish Language Unit,
    • Mazovian Dialectology Unit,
    • “Language Observatory” Unit,
    • Research on Speech Mechanisms Unit.

The organizational structure of the Institute has been changing over time to best describe the nature of the research conducted at a given time. At present, the Institute is divided into nine departments. Most of them are based in Kraków, currently in the building at Mickiewicza 31, which became the property of IJP PAN in 1999. Two departments, of the History of the 17th and 18th Century Polish Language, and of the Borderland Polish Language, are located in Warsaw, in the building at Ratuszowa 11.

The first director of the Institute was prof. Stanisław Urbańczyk (in the years 1973-1979). He was followed by prof. Władysław Lubaś (1979-1991), prof. Kazimierz Rymut (1992-2002), prof. Ireneusz Bobrowski (2002-2008) and prof. Piotr Żmigrodzki (2008-2016). From September 2016, the director is dr hab. Maciej Eder.

What distinguishes IJP PAN among other research institutions in the Polish humanities are extensive lexicographic works conducted here, developed on the original linguistic material and of major significance for national culture. Their editing usually requires creating numerous research teams with quite unique competencies. It is worth emphasizing that building such teams and carrying out similar projects within university structures is generally not possible.

A large group of dictionaries created in the Institue is scholarly historical ones: Old Polish Dictionary, Electronic Dictionary of the 17th−18th c. Polish, Dictionary of Polish Regional Dialects. One should also mention here the Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Poland, created under the honorary patronage of L’Union Académique Internationale as one of a dozen similar European lexicographic enterprises, aimed at documenting regional varieties of medieval Latin.

The largest study dedicated to contemporary Polish is the Great Dictionary of the Polish, edited exclusively in the electronic version. Its creators aim to provide a wide range of recipients with a possible best comprehensive description of Polish lexis, prepared in the theoretical framework developed by Polish linguists at the turn of the 20th and 21st century. The Institute is also a place creating multiple onomastic dictionaries, describing both geographical and personal names that are recorded in contemporary and Old Polish. Some of them are: Słownik staropolskich nazw osobowych (Dictionary of Old Polish Personal Names), Słownik etymologiczno-motywacyjny staropolskich nazw osobowych (Etymological and Motivational Dictionary of Old Polish Personal Names), Słownik nazw miejscowych Polski (Dictionary of geographical names of Poland), Elektroniczny słownik hydronimów polskich (Electronic Dictionary of Polish Hydronyms). In addition, the researchers from the Department of Etymology and Geolinguistics prepare entries within the international projects of the Slavic Linguistic Atlas (SLA) and the Atlas of the European Languages (ALE).

However, the activities of the Institute are not limited to lexicographical works but are also in line with the most important trends in Polish and, more recently, also international linguistics, not only in the organizational sense but mainly as part of scholarly activities of individual researchers. At the beginning of the 80s, the employees of the Institute made a significant contribution to the development of the Grammar of the Polish language (Gramatyka Języka Polskiego, Warszawa PWN 1984), popularly known as “the Yellow Grammar Book”, which was then a methodological innovation. Today, the scholars from the Institute strongly mark their presence in the field of digital humanities, corpus linguistics and electronic lexicography. The Department of Methodology conducts stylometric studies and is involved in the creation and analysis of Polish language corpora. The Department of the Etymology and Geolinguistics prepared a corpus of texts and recordings of the regional dialect of Spisz region inhabitants. On the other hand, the Department of the History of the 17th and 18th Century Polish Language developed the The Electronic Corpus of the 17th and 18th c. Polish Texts (up to 1772) (KorBa), and the Department of Medieval Latin built Fontes Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis Polonorum – Corpus of Polish Medieval Latin. In addition, the Department of Old Polish Language published on a DVD Biblioteka zabytków polskiego piśmiennictwa średniowiecznego (A collection of the monuments of Polish medieval literature) containing the most important texts written in Polish before 1500.

In recent years, electronic lexicography has been of increasing research interest to the Institute, both in the practical (digitization of resources and creating dictionaries exclusively in the digital version) and theoretical dimension. In-depth methodological reflection is particularly present in the works on the Great Dictionary of Polish. Other electronic projects are the above-mentioned dictionaries of the 17th and 18th Century Polish and Polish hydronyms, Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Poland (letters A-Q) made available by the Department of Medieval Latin, and A Conceptual Dictionary of the Old Polish by the Department of Old Polish.

The international activities of IJP PAN employees are reflected in their participation in large international projects, of which especially worth attention are those financed with EU funds, such as COST actions: IS1005 Medioevo Europeo “Medieval Europe – Medieval Cultures and Technological Resources” in 2011-2015 (Department of Medieval Latin), IS1305 European Network of e-Lexicography in 2013-2017, CA16105 “European Network for Combining Language Learning with Crowdsourcing Techniques” in 2017-2021 (Department of the Great Dictionary of Polish), CA16204 ” Distant Reading for European Literary History” in 2017-2021 (Department of Methodology).

Many current and former employees of the IJP PAN belong to prestigious Polish and foreign scholarly associations, such as: Polish Linguistic Society, Polish Academy of Learning, Societas Linguistica Europea, International Committee of Onomastic Sciences, International Society for Dialectology & Geolinguistics, Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, European Association for Digital Humanities, International Quantitative Linguistics Association.

The IJP PAN staff are the authors of numerous individual publications, scholarly articles, and monographs. They are also managers of research projects financed with the resources of the National Center for Science and the National Program for the Development of Humanities. Financed projects concern both lexicographical and corpus issues, as well as fundamental research, focused on synchronous and diachronic linguistics. There are also pioneering projects aimed at breaking the boundaries between the fields of science, an example of which is the project “Development of computational chemical linguistics and its applications to the efficient planning of multi-step chemical syntheses”, carried out in cooperation with the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Warsaw.

The Institute also offers doctoral studies in linguistics, and in cooperation with the Society of Polish Language Enthusiasts organizes regular meetings: Digital Humanities Lunch, Hortus Deliciarum. On medieval texts, Old Polish Dialogues, Lectures on the Regional Dialects, which serve to integrate the humanist research community from various fields and to promote research to outside audience. The latter is also supported by the broadcast of the meetings in the Internet.

More about the history of IJP PAN:

Czopek-Kopciuch, Barbara (2010), Instytut Języka Polskiego PAN i jego dyrektorzy [in:] Barbara Czopek-Kopciuch, Piotr Żmigrodzki (red.), Język polski wczoraj – dziś – jutro…, Wydawnictwo LEXIS, Kraków, pp. 61–66.
Lubaś, Władysław (1994), Instytut Języka Polskiego PAN w Krakowie w latach 1973–1991, Polonica XVI, pp. 252–267.
Rymut Kazimierz (1975), Kronika Instytutu Języka Polskiego PAN (period: 1 X 1973 – 31 V 1974 r.), Polonica I, pp. 329–335.
Rymut Kazimierz (1976), Kronika Instytutu Języka Polskiego PAN (period: 1 VI 1974 – 31 V 1975 r.), Polonica II, pp. 295–298.

Instytut Języka Polskiego Polskiej Akademii Nauk

al. Mickiewicza 31
31-120 Kraków

+48 (12) 632-56-92

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