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Polish and Russian - learning by a beginner


escapee3 8 | 63  
22 Oct 2009 /  #1
What do you folks think about the chances of learning Russian and Polish (from an absolute beginner) both at the same time?

Am I likely to simply confuse myself and end up speaking some odd hybrid of the two?

Over the last month, I began with Polish. Then, for reasons I won't bore you with, it looked like I'd be visiting Ukraine instead so I switched to Russian. My problem is that now we're firmly back on track to visit Poland, but I've rather enjoyed my first, tentative stabs at Russian, and find I want to continue.

So, will I regret it if I take on both?

Many thanks for any replies...

Steve
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163  
22 Oct 2009 /  #2
learning Russian and Polish (from an absolute beginner) both at the same time?

No way unless you are extremly gifted in languages.
OP escapee3 8 | 63  
22 Oct 2009 /  #3
No, I'm not. It would be hard work, though that in itself wouldn't put me off.

Thanks... that's one for the no's... :-)

steve
gumishu 11 | 5,493  
22 Oct 2009 /  #4
some grammatical concepts and structures are almost identical in Russian and in Polish - if you are apt at creating pigeon-holes(holes?) in your head then you shouldn't have trouble having similar a place for Russian structures next to another for Polish

the vocabulary is a bit different thing - there is lot of in common (I think 30 per cent is similar or identical), discrepancies are huge however and there are plenty of 'false friends'
OP escapee3 8 | 63  
22 Oct 2009 /  #5
From what you say, gummishu, perhaps my best strategy might be to learn Polish first then go back to Russian later (in the assumption that the similarites might actually make my learning Russian easier then).

Thanks for that... you given me something to think about there...

steve
gumishu 11 | 5,493  
22 Oct 2009 /  #6
my personal view is that Russian is a bit simpler than Polish (minus the cyrilica issue) grammatically and phonetically (no ę's, ą's, ś's, ć's, dź's etc) the only major thing in Polish that is easier to grasp is the accent/stress - Polish stress is regular (on the penultimate syllable) while in Russian it's moving and can be sometimes difficult to predict
OP escapee3 8 | 63  
23 Oct 2009 /  #7
I think what's bothering me is that in the short time since I switched to Russian I feel I've made good progress. While I have little in the way of vocabulary, I've done well in learning the alphabet and applying it to pronunciation. This might seem a petty claim to you seasoned language-philes (if that's not a word, it should be :-), but given how intimidating it looked when I first started I see it as an achievement. So, it seemed a little sad to turn my back on it.

I think I should go fully into Polish, but tell myself I will return to Russian, and so all that effort isn't really wasted.

Thanks for allowing me to get my thoughts together. It seems like a nice forum and I'd like to stick around...

steve
cinek 2 | 345  
23 Oct 2009 /  #8
visiting Ukraine instead so I switched to Russian

Why not Ukrainian?

I too was once learning two similar languages, English and German, and it was a great mistake. I was often saying und instead of and, where instead of wo etc. I heard that only little children are able to learn two at the same time, but it also takes longer time.

I advise you focusing on just one (the one you'll need more or you like more) for a few years and then start the other one. You won't need to learn what is aspect or what is gender of a verb again. Instead you'll just see the similarities and the differences to what you already know.

Cinek
Leopejo 4 | 120  
23 Oct 2009 /  #9
If it didn't depend on practical reasons (visiting a country soon), I'd go for Russian first. I find it a better introduction to Slavic languages, from which to take the next step and start Polish instead. But it really doesn't matter so much - you'll have to learn the peculiarities of Slavic languages with whatever you choose as your first language, then you'll apply your new "feel for Slavic" to the others.

If you have a grasp of Russian pronunciation, pay extra attention to the pairs of hard-soft "sibilants" and "affricates" in Polish:

cz - ć (ci)
sz - ś (si)
ż (rz) - ź(zi)

In Russian you only get ч (soft), ш, ж (hard) and щ (soft, and different from Polish "szcz").

While Russian has a complete set of "hardening/softening" vowels (I mean, they affect the previous consonant), а э ы о у vs. я е и ё ю, in Polish only "i" does it, "e" does not. In Russian especially д and т are very affected by softening - in Polish they have "softened" further and gone into "dzi" and "ci" respectively: Russian тебя Polish ciebie; Russian дети Polish dzieci.
OP escapee3 8 | 63  
23 Oct 2009 /  #10
cinek

I thought about Ukrainian, but it looked like there were a great deal more resourses out there for learning Russian. That, and my research suggested most people in the Ukraine spoke Russian as well.

The cross contamination of words you mention is the worry. I'm definitely going to go with learning just the one for now.

Leopejo... thanks for that information - I'll study it carefully.

I have twelve months before my proposed Poland trip--maybe not enough to master Polish, of course, but hopefully enough time that I can 'get by'. My trip is for pleasure, and my learning the language for fun, so whatever standard I take with me will work, if you see what I mean.

My wife's father was Polish, and we know little about his past, so my trip is a surprise 50th birthday present to my wife in that we'll go over and see for ourselves where he was from. I hope to also give her some sort of family tree - but that's a set of problems in its own right!

steve

steve
Sasha 2 | 1,083  
23 Oct 2009 /  #11
escapee3

It depends on both your purposes and how fluent you're expected to be in those languages. If you stay in Ukraine then I would mostly concentrate on studying Russian. If you're switching then study both, there's no other way around.

And you're right putting off the Ukrainian for the first time. Ukrainian is tricky... you would be able to understand 60-70% of their speech having solely Russian under the belt and up to 100% having both Russian and Polish, although to speak and write it properly it may take some another five years.

Oh... and good luck! ;)
OP escapee3 8 | 63  
23 Oct 2009 /  #12
Thanks for your thoughts, Sasha
Lyzko  
23 Oct 2009 /  #13
From bitter experience, learning two related (in my case, two Slavic..) languages simultaneously is often a recipe for disaster. In the end, I got so bolluxed up between compoeting vocabulary, I never knew whether I was coming or going.LOL
Derevon 12 | 172  
23 Oct 2009 /  #14
This thread just made me think of something funny I heard on TV the other day. Some people were speaking to each other in Polish, and suddenly someone said "понимаю" (="(I) understand" in Russian) or so I thought anyway. Well, I was quite confounded there for a second, until my Polish gf enlightened me that she in fact said "Pani Maju". ;)
Sasha 2 | 1,083  
23 Oct 2009 /  #15
Pani Maju"

hej på dig! ;)
lol... :) I got what you meant. However you should have probably transliterated "понимаю" since not every one could read Cyrrilic "hieroglyphs".
Lyzko  
24 Oct 2009 /  #16
Hejsan, Sasha! Talar du ocksaa svenska? I promised I'd post in either English or Polish, sorry, my curiosity overtook my judgement for a moment, LOL
Sasha 2 | 1,083  
24 Oct 2009 /  #17
Hejsan, Sasha! Talar du ocksaa svenska?

Tjänare, Lyzko! Jag talar lite svenska. Jag studerar det på kvällskurs i Moskva. Och du? Var läste du svenska? Vad är du till yrket? Det verkar som om du talar många språken...

Those might be wrong-built sentences, yet I cherish a hope you got what I'd wanted to say.

I promised I'd post in either English or Polish, sorry, my curiosity overtook my judgement for a moment

I think we'll need to start a separate thread on practising Swedish. :)) I would learn and share knowledge with pleasure... We only need at least one Pole who is interested in studying Swedish, so that we can justify its (thread) existence. :))
Lyzko  
24 Oct 2009 /  #18
I'm fluent in a number, among them German, Polish (more or less LOL), Danish, Swedish, (reading knowledge pf Bokmaal!) Dutch and have a passing acquaintanceship with Russian, Hungarian, Spanish and Turkish (though with the latter, a nodding acquaintanceship at best).

Probably after English and German, it's the Scandinavian languages and Dutch:-)
My Polish is realistically a solid intermediate /advanced intermediate, at least in speaking and reading.
gumishu 11 | 5,493  
24 Oct 2009 /  #19
to my eyes (perhaps not so ears) Swedish is just a strange way of writing Danish ;)
Lyzko  
24 Oct 2009 /  #20
Vad ar jag till yrke?

Jag ar oversattare och larare i frammande spraak.

Jak twój zawód?

Jestem tłumaczem i nauczycielem języków obcych dla cudodziemców.

What do you do?

I'm a translator and foreign language instructor.

Literally, 'What do I do?' lol
Sasha 2 | 1,083  
24 Oct 2009 /  #21
I'm fluent in a number, among them German, Polish (more or less LOL), Danish, Swedish, (reading knowledge pf Bokmaal!) Dutch and have a passing acquaintanceship with Russian, Hungarian, Spanish and Turkish (though with the latter, a nodding acquaintanceship at best).

Sounds impressing! :)

I'm a translator and foreign language instructor.

That explains a lot :))

Jak twój zawód?

Moj zawod?.. :) Jag jobbar på en ingenjörsfirma. Vi skisserar flyplanen.
Förresten, gör jag min hemläxan nu. Right?

cudodziemców

One of those "false-friends". :) The word чужеземец in Russian is usually used with a negative implication. Some like a "foe".

to my eyes (perhaps not so ears) Swedish is just a strange way of writing Danish ;)

One Russian lady who is fluent in Danish attends Swedish course with me. She has really hard times in listening comprehension/speaking it, although pretty good in undestanding of writing Swedish.
Derevon 12 | 172  
24 Oct 2009 /  #22
As for the Scandinavian languages you could say that Swedish and Norwegian are more similar in sound, whereas Norwegian and Danish are more similar in writing. As a Swede I can easily understand most of what Norwegian people say (unless they have some weird dialect), but Danish is much harder, because it sounds much fussier, as if they're talking with somehing in their mouths. Usually when a Swede speaks to a Norwegian he/she speaks in Swedish and the Norwegian answers in Norwegian, and there's no problem. When it comes to Swedes talking to Danes, people usually start speaking their own languages just to swap to English after one or two sentences. ;)

Although, I have a feeling Norwegians understand Swedes better than Swedes understand Norwegian. People in southern Sweden understand Danish rather well due to the closeness to Denmark. As for writing, it's quite easy to read both Danish and Norwegian for a Swede, although there are of course are many differences and false friends.
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
24 Oct 2009 /  #23
If you're not somewhat of a linguistic genius (or a freak, for that matter) then hoping to tackle both at the same time is as good as hoping the trees in your back yard will bear $100 bills next Spring. OK, take that back, US$ may actually be worth as much as leaves on trees by next Spring, but I think you get the point.

Many linguists agree that learning two or more language from the same linguistic group at the same time is very likely to slow the learning process for both - too much confusion. Concentrating on one of them for now, and then picking up the other is a good move.
Lyzko  
24 Oct 2009 /  #24
Darius is A-one right! If I had learned both Polish AND Russian simultaneously with equal zeal, I'd have jumped outta the friggin' window, screaming on the way down.

Russian vs. Polish false friends are sooooo close looking, it's scary. Plus, roots in both languages aren't identical either, for instance Russian 'tchjas' became Polish 'czas', only with a different lexical meaning. But 'vremya', if you please??? What the duce became of 'vremya', or 'prepadyit' or 'dumit' or half the rest of those verbs, for bloody tears?!!!

My linguist's intuition is they morphed into sumf'n else. Question is WHAT??
Darun 1 | 55  
30 Oct 2009 /  #25
Hello guys,

I have the same question and also looking for help.
I need to learn by the middle of next year both Polish and Russian at an intermmediate level at least... help, anyone? I too am a beginner.
Gaa 2 | 155  
30 Oct 2009 /  #26
Then, for reasons I won't bore you with, it looked like I'd be visiting Ukraine instead so I switched to Russian.

which part of Ukraine are you going to visit? when i went on my trip to Ukraine i was warned not to speak Russian to people..maybe it's just the western part
gumishu 11 | 5,493  
30 Oct 2009 /  #27
Hello guys,

I have the same question and also looking for help.
I need to learn by the middle of next year both Polish and Russian at an intermmediate level at least... help, anyone? I too am a beginner.

then it must be REALLLLLY intensive time of learning I tell you - and solid a teacher/course - only the most gifted people can do that on their own (using various learning tools) - so why not set for a more realistic goal
Darun 1 | 55  
30 Oct 2009 /  #28
@ Gumishu,

Thank you for the advice.
Unfortunatelly, that's the goal that has been set for me and more unfortunatelly, I am doing this by my own. Well, Polish has to be at a high level, Russian can be at a beginner - intermediate level.

The problem is that I can't find any teachers were I am, and if by any chance I would find any, it would be way too expensive for me. I will just have to try my luck like this.
gumishu 11 | 5,493  
30 Oct 2009 /  #29
well yes - you need to try to find someone who will teach you some reasonable Polish perhaps for exchange for English conversations

if you teach the lingo yourselve then:
my advice would be to start learning the sounds of the alphabet/the sounds of Polish first - you don't have to be able to produce them all (or even recognize them all cause there are pairs of sounds that are instantly recognizable as different (though similar) for Polish people but cause much trouble to English native speakers - Polish very much like German is quite consistent in how same letters (or letter combinations) are pronounced when spoken (and where the pronounciation does not reflect the spelling directly there are quite strict rules that describe these changes - in other words Polish can be easily read out when you know the sound values and a couple of rules to the pronounciation - even if you don't know the words
Lyzko  
31 Oct 2009 /  #30
As a non-native adult Polish learner, I applaud gumishus's solid advice, especially about the alphabet ('abecedło' in Polish). I found just intensive and focused listening (not while doing something else, as one could for, say, Spanish!) over a period of time, really helped me not only to produce, as much as to recognize Polish sounds in natural conversation:-)

Radio and TV commentators? They're always another story.

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