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Should I learn both Polish and German


bookratt 6 | 85  
29 Aug 2007 /  #61
Which books do you recommend, Magdalena?

I live in the US now, so I probably cannot get my hands on all of them in the time I have left here, but I can try.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
29 Aug 2007 /  #62
Well, that's a lot to ask as I have no idea what your level is ;-)
But I would definitely recommend starting out with classic children's stories. Preferably translated from English, or with an English version to hand - like Pinocchio. I think it's a very good idea to read a chapter in English, so as to understand what's going on, and then turn to the Polish and fight your way through. I did that with Italian, a long long time ago... I could actually read and understand Italian back then, those were the days! ;-)

But I digress. If your Polish is still rather wobbly, it might actually be a good idea to borrow some primary school Polish study books, which contain so called "czytanki", as they are written in simple, clear, and unambiguous Polish. I know they might seem childish and boring due to the subject matter, on the other hand, they are usually accompanied by grammar exercises and reading comprehension questions, and last but not least - you might get quite a few glimpses of the Polish way of life through them.

Once you have a rather-more-than-basic grasp of the grammar, you might want to try Miron Białoszewski's prose, as he wrote in very simple, unadorned Polish, but his subject matter is rather fascinating. Try "Pamiętnik z Powstania Warszawskiego" (Memories from the Warsaw Uprising). Of the younger generation, there is Olga Tokarczuk (didn't like her too much), Jacek Dehnel is an up-and-coming name, but I've only read his poetry so far. There is also Dorota Masłowska, who experiments with language more or less successfully ("Wojna polsko-ruska pod flagą biało-czerwoną", "Paw królowej"). I generally know a lot more about contemporary poetry in Poland than prose. And I wouldn't say reading poetry is that difficult.

Either way, if I were you, I'd start with children's stories. Been there, done that, and it works :-)
osiol 55 | 3,922  
29 Aug 2007 /  #63
I have often wondered if learning a foreign language from a child's perspective might work better than many of the teach yourself books and so on that are available. Children have to wait a few years before ordering meals at restaurants or looking for lost luggage, but to learn how the language works and practice making all the right sounds, the first-language speaker beginners' level might work better.

Any good childrens books in Polish?
Have any adults learnt English from Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat?
Marek 4 | 867  
29 Aug 2007 /  #64
Hiya there, 'ol Magda, 'ol girl!

Orzeszkowa dated????!! I suppose Shakespeare, Dante (oops, he's Italian sorry about that), Milton, Dickens etc.. are "dated"? Hmmm, what qualifies "ancient" status here... very interesting.

Is it the age or the quality that counts? The Tatry mountains are probably thousands of years older than any man, but does that make them any less pleasurable??

I guess I can't quite follow the logic.

Marek

PS
Recently, some Polish friends were aguing about their country and the lack of patriotism they perceive. During the conversation, in Polish naturally, one said "Jeszcze Polska nie zginela!" Had I not known your national anthem, I couldn't have caught the gist!!

I've read Jerzy Kozinski, Ryszard Kapuczynski and several other "contemporary" Polish authors in the original. -:) Most enjoyable.
Marek

Serwus, Magda!

Znam "czytankow". Oni nazywaja sie "Lesebuecher" po niemiecku.
Marek
bookratt 6 | 85  
29 Aug 2007 /  #65
I taught English in ESL classes as a volunteer tutor.

Most adult students (mine right now are typically Asian or Indian and are professionals attempting to get licensed here, so I don't have as much experience with this) are turned off by children's books and refuse to use them; we are told in training not to use them with our adult students as it causes offense when we do so.

I have heard MUZZY makes a good program geared to young learners, but the last time I looked they didn't have Polish available--just German, French, English, Spanish, Russian and one more. Maybe Chinese?
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
30 Aug 2007 /  #66
Orzeszkowa dated????!! I suppose Shakespeare, Dante (oops, he's Italian sorry about that), Milton, Dickens etc.. are "dated"? Hmmm, what qualifies "ancient" status here... very interesting.

You don't want to understand, do you? ;-)
Orzeszkowa is dated while Krasiński (Nie-boska komedia), an earlier writer, is most definitely not. Orzeszkowa was never that brilliant a writer to start with, and her language as we say in Polish "trąci myszką" - has become old-fashioned, quaint. She is no longer any fun to read, plus, if you learn to express yourself like her, you will sound like someone out of the mid-nineteenth century. Nobody wants that, I suppose. If you want a woman writer more or less from that era, try Nałkowska. You'll see the difference. Or Gojawiczyńska. These two are first half of the 20th century and make for an enjoyable read any day.

Kosiński, Kapuściński - yeah, you could call them "contemporary" in a very broad sense of the word. But still they are old news, so to speak ;-)

My criterion was the age of 40 or less. Can you rise to the challenge? ;-)))

re turned off by children's books and refuse to use them; we are told in training not to use them with our adult students as it causes offense when we do so.

I wouldn't recommend using children's books to teach anybody but yourself! ;-)
Especially in a formal course of training specialized handbooks should be used as a matter of course.
I just wanted to say that if you have an 'adult' Polish study book, and you combine that with children's literature of any level to kick-start the reading comprehension part, you can't really go wrong :-) I re-read most of my childhood books when my children were growing up and it's actually fun to go back, so despite everyhing you might find yourself happy to revisit classics like The Children of Bullerbyn Village by Astrid Lindgren or Andersen's fairytales, this time in Polish :-)
Marek 4 | 867  
30 Aug 2007 /  #67
Magda,
Generational categories are not always barometers for taste or cultural acumen. Indeed, Orzeszkowa is "quaint" insofar as perhaps contemporary Germans might find Fontane slightly old-fashioned prose, or Americans Walt Whitman, for example.

I haven't read as much Polish as I have German, English or other continental literature to judge the accuracy of your assertions, therefore, i shall have to take your word for it!

Marek
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
30 Aug 2007 /  #68
Generational categories are not always barometers for taste or cultural acumen

You are right, of course. Generally speaking. On the other hand, there are authors in every country who "age" badly. This is because they were more or less mediocre even in their era. As time passes, whatever they wrote about loses its immediate appeal, and what begins to stand out is their shabby style, or poor descriptive skills, or whatever. This is why Walt Whitman, Dickens, Shakespeare, or the anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets shall never fade, but lots of other American and English authors disappear into oblivion within a hundred years or so. This is the point I'm trying to make. Eliza Orzeszkowa wrote correct 19th century prose. Nothing more. Her subject matter and style can be of interest to someone deeply in love with 19th century Poland and/or Europe, but I daresay she would not move the lay contemporary reader very much. Take Alfred Tennyson, for example - the Poet Laureate. How many people today would say they truly enjoy his poetry? Most find it tedious and overly ornamental. I like him though because I am quite interested in Victorian times, and I understand the whole backdrop to his writing. On the other hand, to enjoy Whitman you do not need to know anything much about America, as his truly adventurous attitude to language and poetic diction carries most of the weight! :-)
Marek 4 | 867  
30 Aug 2007 /  #69
Serwus, Magdo!

Zupelnie zgadzam sie z Toba w tej sytuacji w zwiazku z "przestarzalymi" autorami, n.pr. Orzeszkowa itd.
It's quite true that certain writers age badly. I would add though, that in order to have the kind of language command that, say, you apparently have, in English, for instance, requires a depth of vocabulary at one's finger tips, so to speak, which can only be gleaned from going "beneath the tip of the iceberg", as it were, and ingesting older as well as more contemporary literature.

In brief, slang without standard, is like the flesh of a human body without a skeleton as its foundation!
Marek

Magda,
About Whitman, I'm not sure I agree here. Language is a product of culture. Culture is a product, i.e. bi-product, of its history. Therefore, listening to Whitman without understanding in general what was behind those beautiful words, is like enjoying an aesthetic experience in a vacuum. It is namely incomplete! Can we understand, e.g. Mickiewicz without understanding Polish history, regardless of how lovely/powerful the poetic diction may be?

Marek
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
30 Aug 2007 /  #70
But hey, we're not really talking vacuums here, are we? We have all received some sort of an education, so 'America' is not a totally empty concept. Having even the sketchiest idea about the US is OK when you want to read Whitman for pleasure.

I actually think it works this way - you start reading Whitman, it's fun but there are things you are not clear about, so you start looking for explanations, and that increases your awareness etc. As opposed to educating oneself beforehand about Whitman, his era, the life and times, and then filtering his poetry through all that cumbersome knowledge.

And you can easily substitute "language learning" for "reading Whitman", and "reading literature" for "increasing your awareness".
Marek 4 | 867  
31 Aug 2007 /  #71
Magda,
True enough. Indeed, "vacuum" was just my word choice. I simply meant that appreciating the aesthetics of language/literature is limited if operating in isolation, i.e. blissful ignorance, of the context, historical or otherwise, within which the literature was conceived.

Take Mickiewicz. The opening lines of PAN TADEUSZ "Litwo, Ojczyno moja!..." may sound beautiful, but without knowing in advance that, in fact, the poet was actually a half-Lithuanian by birth, the listener as well as the reader misses the overall meaning of the lines, in the end, that which endows them with their beauty!

Marek
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
31 Aug 2007 /  #72
Was he half-Lithuanian though? I'm not that sure at all. I though he was Polish, possibly with a Jewish mother, and born and bred in the now legendary Kresy Wschodnie. Who was Lithuanian and who Polish there? Who could really tell? My grandfather couldn't, at any rate...

That aside, if someone cries passionately: "O Lithuania, my homeland!", it's pretty obvious what their ties with the invoked country are. Even if they are not Lithuanian by birth, they obviously feel as if they were. Do I have to study Mickiewicz beforehand to get that meaning?
Michal - | 1,865  
31 Aug 2007 /  #73
I have never studied German very much myself but in Moscow a fellow student had studied to 'A' level (matura) and he said that German literature was very boring indeed. I can understand Marek's remarks about Germans insisting they speak English. They always want to be 'top dog'. Something simple to start off with in choosing a book with simple words but it is not worth saturating yourself with either language as both languages are dying on the world stage. Who learns Polish? Nobody. Watch M jak Milosc and half the words are English words anyway. Another hundred years and they will have taken so many words that they can not fit them in to Polish grammar structures. At the moment, sorry, ale jestem nativespeakerem!" The Polish mentality in this regard borders the idiotic. In England, I do not know the figures but at 'A' level for school leavers the number throughout London taking 'A' level German would be about 100 candidates-certainly no more. More so for Polish due to the community here not thanks to the state schools.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
31 Aug 2007 /  #74
Who learns Polish?

Me.

No language lasts for ever.
Not everyone buys the record that's no. 1 in the charts (or even in the top 100).

Should I learn Brazilian Portuguese at the same time?
Michal - | 1,865  
31 Aug 2007 /  #75
hould I learn Brazilian Portuguese at the same time?

I think that it would be more worth while. In fact, I would love to visit Brazil and yes I think it would certainly do you more use in the long run than Polish.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
31 Aug 2007 /  #76
I think that it would be more worth while

I'll probably never go to Brazil - too hot for me.

I do, however, meet quite a few Polish people.
I also go on holiday to Poland (occasionally) - not too hot.

Learning Portuguese will help me understand how unhappy bossa nova artists are!
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,104  
31 Aug 2007 /  #77
Who learns Polish

Quoting: Michal
Who learns Polish?

Me

Me too!

I think that Polish will be of great use to me in the long run!
Michal - | 1,865  
31 Aug 2007 /  #78
hat Polish will be of great use to me in the long run!

Yes, but it is not a language of international understanding like Spanish is but I agree if something takes your fancy, why not? When I was in South Africa in 1976 I tried to learn the language a little and it is surprising how you can remember the odd word or two even over so many years (in my case thirty) and it is always a 'party piece' when you meet someone from there who at least know what you are talking about!
southern 75 | 7,096  
31 Aug 2007 /  #79
Polish,czech and russian are very useful to males for some strange reason.
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,104  
31 Aug 2007 /  #80
something takes your fancy,

More than that, I intend to be living and working there in 2 years within the palliative care setting. The only reason I am not there now is due to my lack of sufficient Polish.
southern 75 | 7,096  
31 Aug 2007 /  #81
Polish is the easiest slavic language in my opinion.
Michal - | 1,865  
31 Aug 2007 /  #82
Polish,czech and russian are very useful to males for some strange reason.

Do you mean that males try to learn these languages because they want to go to these countries and pick up a nice female? I think that it is deffinately the reason why many TESOL teachers go there.

Polish is the easiest slavic language in my opinion.

I would have thought that Chech and Slovak are both similar to Polish in difficulty. Russian is harder, of course, because of the moving stress patterns.

here now is due to my lack of sufficient Polish.

I would have thought that it would be worthwhile you just going and if you have a deep interest in learning you would soon pick up the language.
southern 75 | 7,096  
31 Aug 2007 /  #83
Do you mean that males try to learn these languages because they want to go to these countries and pick up a nice female? I think that it is deffinately the reason why many TESOL teachers go there.

I always wondered what made me learn these languages.If you speak them you have an extraordinary advantage with the local ladies.
Michal - | 1,865  
31 Aug 2007 /  #84
It could be one reason, I suppose. Otherwise, maybe you are a language whizzard or something.
southern 75 | 7,096  
31 Aug 2007 /  #85
I would have thought that Chech and Slovak are both similar to Polish in difficulty.

Czech seems more difficult to me.A bit more complicated,intonations etc.Polish is more straight.Thre is also the dark czech sense of humour.

Slavic languages are attractive.They have structure but not as rigid as german and they are melodic.Russian more primitive.
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,104  
31 Aug 2007 /  #86
I would have thought that it would be worthwhile you just going and if you have a deep interest in learning you would soon pick up the language

I have looked into it and decided that my Polish is not sufficient enough to be acceptable. Remember that I would be talking to terminally ill people and their loved ones (from day one) in most cases and me blundering on in cracked Polish while they are already distressed enough is not acceptable (to me and colleagues agree), I will see how I am after a year but it's likely two years will be the realism. I'll continue to work in my field here and pick up more knowledge to take with me.
Michal - | 1,865  
31 Aug 2007 /  #87
I only know that with Chech words the stress tends to fall on the first syllable whereas in Polish it falls on the penultimate. I get the feeling that the Czechs are a clever lot. They seem to speak good English and German. They always say that if there is a former country from the East that will make it in to the EU it will be the Chech Republic.
southern 75 | 7,096  
31 Aug 2007 /  #88
Sth that worked for me was to get to polish forums and write in polish with help of dictionary.You have t answer quickly and gradually manage most conversations.With slavic languages if there is no talking partner it is almost impossible to learn cause written speech is different from oral speech.Very much in russian.

Thanks all the different girls for the feedback they provided.

Yes,Czechs seem clever.They had also a lot of literature and lots of contacts with West,so maybe their language became more complicated.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
31 Aug 2007 /  #89
written speech is different from oral speech

For a learner, I'd imagine tha reading Polish would give a better idea of pronunciation than reading all those bizarre English spellings.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
31 Aug 2007 /  #90
They had also a lot of literature and lots of contacts with West,so maybe their language became more complicated.

I am sorry, but your theory is rather silly.
"Complication" or "simplicity" of a language (as perceived by you) would be a sign of civilizational advancement related to contacts with the West as opposed to the primitive, rough East. Am I right?

1) Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia are not eastern Europe. They are central Europe. Check your map, please.
2) The older the language, the simpler it tends to get. Look at English. Its early forms were a nightmare complete with 4 forms of irregular verbs, inflections and what have you. The relative complication of Slavonic languages stems from the fact that they are a bit younger than English, in other words, they had split from their joint Old Church Slavonic stem about 500 years later than Anglian or Anglo-Saxon had from whatever it was that Germanic tribes used to speak before they spread around Europe.

3) Russian is not a primitive language. Quite the contrary. I spent 4 years of primary school and 4 years of secondary school learning it and had a very strict teacher. The best I ever got was a B.

4) Please do realize that central and eastern Europe was not a barren desert of cultural and linguistic desolation even under the communists. We share our history and culture with you and it is extremely humiliating to be treated like a weird species of subhumans aspiring to the unattainable golden West. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

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