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Do Poles get confused over the different word endings?

Koach 16 | 128  
14 Mar 2007 /  #1
Do the different cases pose as a challenge to native speakers of Polish? I'm just curious.
Aga76 - | 35  
14 Mar 2007 /  #2
Nope, we don't
Marek 4 | 867  
14 Mar 2007 /  #3
I would suppose it's the same whether English native speakers confuse the tenses simple vs. progressive ( "I speak..."vs. "I am speaking...") or if Germans mix up their cases etc.

Natives may make any number of linguistic errors, basic mistakes though, such as the very foundations of their language, are probably not among them.

Michal - | 1,865  
18 Mar 2007 /  #4
Spelling can be a problem. I have seen examples such as zecz not rzecz and I had a letter once from an adult who wrote sluf for slow! lech Walesa said rekami for rekoma so yes, Polish people do often make mistakes.
Marek 4 | 867  
18 Mar 2007 /  #5
Walesa's errors, e.g. "rekami" for "rekoma" might be equivalent to our Bushisms, "nucular" not "nuclear" etc. :)

President Eisenhower was legendary for sentences like "Things are more the way they are now, than they ever were."
18 Mar 2007 /  #6
I noticed the younger generation like myself don't care too much about grammar or spelling - as long as the word sounds good (for example, "zoltko" and "rzultko" sound correct) they are happy :). I think Poles need to do something about that and make unified norms.
Michal - | 1,865  
19 Mar 2007 /  #7
President Eienhower's legendary sentences is another matter. We were talking about grammar and spelling. No politician ever says anything that makes sense.
19 Mar 2007 /  #8
Koach Do the different cases pose as a challenge to native speakers of Polish? I'm just curious.

No. At least not those that grew up with them. Like at school or at home. Then it's like second nature, like American and English with certain letters that are not in the Polish alphabet. Like Q. It's second nature for Americans to use it.

Ok I don't think that was a good example. :)


Polka w USA
Stevie 1 | 25  
19 Mar 2007 /  #9
What gets me so does knowing the case of the word tell you what ending to use?
Like, say I know the sentence will use the genitive...what are the rules then for "conjugating" a certain noun. I've seen lots of examples, but nothing consistant enough that I can gather what the rules are. Please tell me there are rules!! Polish friends tell me the sentence will still be understood, even if I use the wrong ending. However, I'm thinking I should attempt to figure it out anyway :)
Marek 4 | 867  
20 Mar 2007 /  #10
The case of the noun is normally determined by the verb or preposition as In German,
Polish seems almost quixotic in its use of such cases for which there are few rules as much as there are examples of usage.


To continue briefly, nouns are "declined", verbs are "conjugated". Any Polish grammmar will give lists of verbs which are governed by certain cases, e.g. "pisac" = to write, always takes the accusative case (and the corresponding endings). "Pisze dlugi list." = I'm writing a long letter." vs. "wladzac" = to have a command of, i.e. fluency in a language, "On wladza kilkoma jezykami = He has a command of several languages. "Wladzac" takes the instrumental case, along with the prerequisite endings, e.g. the adjectival " kilka (several) " adds "-oma" and "jezyk" (language) adds the nominal "-ami".

What can make Polish seem like a hard language is the seemingly slippery rules applied to noun endings for "animate" vs. inanimate" nouns having different genders.

For this, an immensely longer post would be necessary. I'd therefore consult a detailed grammar book or an outline of Polish grammar.



I was once told by a Polish native speaker, an English TOEFL-student of mine in fact, that when she was of grade school age, the most common mistake during Polish class was to write "ogrut" for "ogrod" (with the accent-aigu like mark above the letter "o") on dictations. :)

Stevie 1 | 25  
20 Mar 2007 /  #11
Thanks Marek
I have a detailed book on Polish grammer...and I STILL agonize over which endings to use :)
::sigh:: Its so much easier to read than to write...

Thanks for your help. Clearly, you know what you are talking about, so I might just come here for answers too. :)
Marek 4 | 867  
21 Mar 2007 /  #12
thanx, Stevie!
I know what I'm talking about so much I added an extra "z" to "wladac"!! :) :)
Appreciate the vote of confidence though. I never pretend however to be totally accurate in written Polish, merely fluent.

Widze, ze mieszkasz tu w Nowym Jorku. Ja tez. W Queensie. A ty? Czy uczysz sie teraz jezyka polskiego, albo studiowalas na uniwersytecie? Czy juz bylas w Polsce?
Michal - | 1,865  
21 Mar 2007 /  #13
It should read byles as Stevie, I imagine, is a man!
Marek 4 | 867  
21 Mar 2007 /  #14
Check "her "profile. As in "Stevie Smith", the famous British lesbian poet. :)
Michal - | 1,865  
21 Mar 2007 /  #15
Who is Stevie Smith?

What famous lesbian poet? I have NEVER heard of her!!
Stevie 1 | 25  
21 Mar 2007 /  #16
Haha...never heard of Stevie Smith either. I've already expressed confidence in Marek's ability to know what he's talking about....I guess I gotta believe him. Plus it can totally be a girl's name :)

Hmmm...not gonna try to respond in Polish on a message board where my words will sound so pathetically wrong to so many people :)

I'm actually in Queens too :) Small world. I'm still just trying to learn Polish on my own. Got my pocket translator, some grammar books, ever-so-helpful internet websites.....and in November I splurged on the Rosetta Stone program (which, hilariously, has not yet taught me how to say "czesc" But it's still great for what it does teach.

I was in Poland this January, for the first time in my life - visiting friends that I met in the US over the summer. Hence, my initial interest in the language. I loved it over there though, and I plan to go back again.

I'm assuming you've been to Poland at least once yourself? Are you originally from there?
Marek 4 | 867  
22 Mar 2007 /  #17
A well-known English authoress of the gay persuasion who became a 60's icon in the London underground (no pun on your "tube" :) :) )scene.


Czesc, Stevie.

"....where my words will sound so pathetically wrong...."

CWICZENIE TWORZY MISTRZA, i.e. You gotta start somewhere. :)
Michal - | 1,865  
26 Mar 2007 /  #18
We seem to have got off the point here. If you are having problems with Polish endings you can buy an autobiographical dictionary (if I have spelled it right that is) look out for a slownik ortograficzny-it would be very usefull to you. They may be quite expensive as most dictionaries are but if you are in Poland or visit it sometimes you should be able to pick one up-failing that, -try e-bay or amazon-you never know...
Marek 4 | 867  
26 Mar 2007 /  #19

Think you mean "orthographical" dictionary (just as in Polish :) ), NOT autobiographical!
Michal - | 1,865  
26 Mar 2007 /  #20
You are probably right, I was not sure and said so. However, it is a useful tool and is the only way somebody is ever going to get through the minefield of endings unless you have a fantastic memory. What lawyer remembers all legal cases or can any Englishma know all the words in a standard English dictionary? That is why we have books and an alphabet!

In fact it would be a total wast of time learning all Polish word endings-you could spend the time doing something else like learning another third language from scratch. Just sitting learning thoudands of stupid word endings is unlikely to enhance your career prospects very much.

Natives may make any number of linguistic errors, basic mistakes though, such as the very foundations of their language, are probably not among them.

I work with English native speakers who make mistakes all the time. As an example 'we was' and 'I aint got none' and in pronunciation too-another becomes 'anover' and brother becomes 'brover' there are lots more but I can not think of them now. Oh yes, I have a friend who was a student of German in Portsmouth when I was also at the polytechnic in the early 1980's and he once said about something which I can not recall now but he said 'it was more worser'. So the english do make dreadful mistakes in grammar and so on.
Marek 4 | 867  
26 Mar 2007 /  #21
Regarding your last post, English-language native speakers tend to be at a growing disadvantage, especially here in the States (apparently in the UK as well) in terms of the rate of illiteracy. "Brover"/"Brother" is merely a striking example, yet the total number is doubtless vast.

In smaller, more homogeneous language groups, where speakers of those languages are forced by sheer speaker percentage to learn majority languages, i.e. English, their literacy level tends to be strikingly high compared with the US or Great Britain. Iceland, for instance, has a population of a mere quarter million, enough to fit into several major New York highrises. Their language isn't spoken (even studied much) outside of that country. Therefore, they've got to learn English.

daffy 23 | 1,508  
26 Mar 2007 /  #22
well i won't speak for the US or GB but the majority of people I know would have a much higher standard of spoken English than is given credit for here.

I am from Cork, Ireland. Lived in GB and must say that its down to social class moreso than native speakers in general. There are just a proportion of loud ignorant people that give this impression with a larger, softer spoken society.

my two cents.
Marek 4 | 867  
26 Mar 2007 /  #23

I agree. And yet, sadly, perception is reality and regrettably these exceptions do not confirm the rule.
The "Celtic Tiger" is indeed something to be proud of. Generations of social hardship and fierce political infighting though, continue to back up on the tremendous progress made thus far.

Just MY two cents worth. :)
Stevie 1 | 25  
26 Mar 2007 /  #24
Dziękuję bardzo dla pomoc. Mam niejedno słownik, i książka “Beginning Polish – by Alexander Schenker" <-- Ono jest bardzo stary.

Jesli mówię, wszystko mi jedno….ale, jesli piszę ….well, I try to keep my sentences relatively correct in terms of spelling and grammar, no matter what the language. Writing = documentation = eternal proof of one’s errors :P
Marek 4 | 867  
26 Mar 2007 /  #25
Czesc, Stevie!

Boze mój, jestem zdumiony!! Twój polski jest niezle.

" (nie: dla) pomóc. Ona (nie: Ono) jest bardzo stara (nie: stary)
Para poprawien. :)
Inaczy jest dobrze.
Michal - | 1,865  
26 Mar 2007 /  #26
The book by Alexander Schenker is a very good book with lots of good grammatical examples but yes, it is rather dated now. I think he wrote it around 1966-I have a copy at home with the tapes. He wrote it in the USA after giving lessons to students and he based the course around his lessons. You should be able to pick up a dictionary somewhere though, try a second hand book shop. When you write 'mam niejedno slownik', does that mean that you have one or not? Do not worry about your errors, I make them all the time-even in English and at the end of the day-so what? If you can write in Polish and someone can understand then that is all that can be expected of you. Writing in Polish is not going to increase your life expectancy by fifteen or twenty years so what the heck.
Stevie 1 | 25  
26 Mar 2007 /  #27
Thanks Marek
Haha...I didn't even think about the ona vs. ono. All I wanted to do was specify that the BOOK was old, and not necessarily Mr. Alexander :P Although, logically speaking, one would assume a correlation....

So you're saying I don't need to put "dla" in the first sentence. So noted :)
::writes it down::

With mam niejedno slownik, I was trying to say more than one. I got that phrase from my online dictionary --> which I rely on quite often. I'm always looking for other sources though. Never thought of a second hand book shop. I'll remember that. Thanks :)
Marek 4 | 867  
27 Mar 2007 /  #28

"Dla" in Polish doesn't mean "for" in the English collocation "Thanks FOR the gift....", but rather in the sense of "Ta ksiazka jest DLA ciebie." (This book is FOR you.) In Polish, whenever you want to say "Thanks FOR something..", use "ZA" only! "Slicznie dziekuje ZA mile zaproszenie dzis wieczór!" (Thank you so much FOR your lovely invitation this evening!)

Trust this clears things up a bit. (As far as Pan Schenker's concerned, even old grammars can be useful in terms of the basics, though clearly not in terms of style, idiom or contemporary usage.) Again, I'd go with Dana Bielec "Polish Reference Grammar" Routledge, plus ancillary exercise books. By the by, I miswrote "para" (steamship), in terms of "a pair" or "a few of", it's "pare" or some form of "kilka"!

Michal - | 1,865  
27 Mar 2007 /  #29
I think that it should read dzis wieczorem. I have not seen dzis wieczor written like that but then again, I am not always right as has been shown on several occas.sions! Normally the time of day is in the instrumental case and not like the example above though.

Also it would be right to say ty mowisz nie zle po polsku-I am not sure if the above example is good Polish or not. Twoja znajomosc jezyka polskiego jest dobra would be better I hope. Is there a word in Polish inaczy? Inaczej wszysko jest w porzadku, or wszysko jest dobre. You will need to go through a grammar book and check it all out. I am no expert but some of your examples do look a little 'sus' to me.

Ja mam kilka slownikow ja mam wiecej niz jeden slownik seems more logical to me but then again get a true Pole to look through our work first.
Marek 4 | 867  
27 Mar 2007 /  #30

Thanks! :) You may well be right about "Dzis wieczorem". As far as "znajomosci", foolish me, I should have remembered that in most languages it's not "the language", but, the"skill/knowledge" of the language, just as in German (the language I tend to revert back to, as it were): " Deine Polnischkenntnisse sind nicht schlecht." = Your Polish (read lit., ".....knowledges of Polish are...." for "knowledge is", but directly translated!) is not bad.


Kilka or "kilku" slownikow...?

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