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POLISH OR RUSSIAN -- MORE MODERN?


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
21 Jan 2009 /  #1
Although to many Poels I have talked with and who don't know much Russian, that language may sound a bit crude, primitive and rough round the edges.

I mean like:
My byli, wy byli, oni byli lacks the apparent finesse of byliśmy, byliście, byli, further differentiated in gender terms to include byłyśmy, byłyście and były (for females).

However, in linguistics I believe the more modern a language, the simpler it is, so English is regarded as more modern than German with its der, die, das nonsense.

What do you think about Polish and Russian in terms of modernity? Any professional linguists on board to resolve the issue?
McCoy 27 | 1,275  
21 Jan 2009 /  #2
Polonius3 - Threads: 292. good job man
osiol 55 | 3,922  
21 Jan 2009 /  #3
I think duży metalowy ptak is just as amusing a thing to call an aeroplane as the English equivalent. I imagine there are very few languages that would actually use such a term. If there are any at all, those languages are not modern. Samolot, anyone?

Samolot for Mr. P3!
Marek 4 | 867  
22 Jan 2009 /  #4
German has 'Flugzeug' = "the flying thing" for 'airplane. English 'zipper' is in German 'Reissverschluss' = "the rip closer" etc... Now which sounds more 'primitive', d'you think?? LOL
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
22 Jan 2009 /  #5
In linguistics, the concept of a more or less modern language usually refers to its grammatical structures, not so much to the lexical field (word formation). Languages with many cases such as Finnish are regarded as more archaic. The more streamlined and simple -- the more modern.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
22 Jan 2009 /  #6
The more streamlined and simple -- the more modern.

What is really more simple about word order in English compared to grammatical cases of other languages? Questions like this depend on the language of whoever is describing it. Perhaps, though, irregular word formation (iść and so on in Polish; foot and feet in English) are signs of more archaisms in a language. However, these things did not all form a long time ago. A common plural of "texts" in modern usage, is "textes" - a recently formed, although unofficial irregular plural.

Esperanto, anyone?
Marek 4 | 867  
23 Jan 2009 /  #7
"Archaic" or "conservative", Polonius? No doubt many linguists do refer to highly infected (OOoopsidaisy, infLected..lol) languages such as Finnish or Hungarian, not to mention the Slavic or extant Baltic languages, as archaic. Who though is to judge whether the more "streamlined" among the world's tongues are the more "modern"? Is English a more "modern", not to mention advanced, language than for example. Chinese, Hindi or Basque, merely because it's analytic morphology has radically simplified from Old English and therefore lacks the so-called baggage of case endings and gender-driven articles/enclitics as in German, resp. Icelandic?

This theory is extremely controversial in my opinion and is surely fueled by one's own ethnocentric or geopolitical agenda-:)
Mafketis 23 | 8,526  
23 Jan 2009 /  #8
In linguistics, the concept of a more or less modern language usually refers to its grammatical structures, not so much to the lexical field (word formation). Languages with many cases such as Finnish are regarded as more archaic. The more streamlined and simple -- the more modern.

I'm a linguist and this just isn't true.

Modern and archaic are not concepts used at all in any modern linguistics I know of for a very good reason - there's no correspondence between degree of morphological complexity and anything else.

The specific differences between Polish and Russian could well have something to do with political history.

Basically, Polish has been a mono-ethnic language for a long period of time while Russian is polyethnic.
This means that Poland has largely been restricted for conducting the internal business of a single ethnic group and has been free to create and/or maintain quirky features that outsiders find .... strange.

Russian, on the other hand, has a long history as a lingua franca between different ethnic groups (a process that did not stop with the collapse of the USSR - Latvians, Georgians and Kazakhs are still more likely to communicate with each other in Russian than any other language). This often means that quirky local features are lost in the interest of easier mutual comprehension.

A couple of differences between Polish and Russian might be related to this.

- Russian has less free word order (compared with Polish that is)

- Russian requires the use of subject personal pronouns even when the form of the verb makes the subject clear ( ja govoriu po russkij not *govoriu po russkij )

These two features seem only to have strengthened in recent history and are the kinds of changes that are typical in languages that are used across ethnic boundaries.

Some of the other differences (lack of the copula in the present tense, a number of 'verbless' setence types)_might_ be due to this is as well, but I don't know the historical record well enough.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
23 Jan 2009 /  #9
Many dzięks for the input. To Polish and perhaps others speakers who are not professional linguists Russian can sound subjectively crude as in: Я студент… он хорош...
Almost reminds one of some kind of pidgin -- "me student, he good, me go" or "Kali jeść, Kali pić".
It's interesting you brought up the multi-ethnic lingua franca aspect. That would certainly apply to English which is even more far-flung and cosmopolitan, and may well account for its more simplified structures compared to German.

After you explained things, now it makes more sense to me why they always use the personal pronouns. In Polish it suffices to say pojechaliśmy but in Russian ноехали alone without a pronoun would be ambiguous.

You therefore disagree that a language's modernity does not corelate to its simplicity.
Marek 4 | 867  
23 Jan 2009 /  #10
I agree with Mafketis one-hundred percent, as a fellow professional linguist.

Structural complication and modernity vs. primitiveness are merely tools of a white-collar elite, attempting to denegrate those from Third-World societies such as much of Latin America, where Spanish is the predominant language. Well, isn't it convenient that a mostly Caucasian country such as Finland, Hungary or Iceland is considered more advanced in their language than Spanish whose Hispanic population, unlike the former, lives often below the poverty line.
mafketis 23 | 8,526  
23 Jan 2009 /  #11
To Polish and perhaps others speakers who are not professional linguists Russian can sound subjectively crude

Of course it can. It can also sound subjectively beautiful (many Polish speakers have told me they like the sound of Russian).

Also, as a general rule any Slavic language sounds a little crude and/or silly to speakers of other Slavic languages (just one of the many reasons crow's insane dream of a pan-Slavic state will never happen).
Marek 4 | 867  
23 Jan 2009 /  #12
You've hit the proverbial nail on the head; sound subjectively! Words like 'primitive', 'modern', 'pretty', 'civilized' etc... are scarcely objective observations based on provable method, but rather subjective impressions of the world based upon our own prejudices.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
23 Jan 2009 /  #13
I suppose modern language really means any language that is used today as a language of day-to-day communication and discourse. I used to see a crossword clue in the paper I occasionally read: "Extinct language (5)". The answer was Latin, but can we really say that a language that is still used in modern word-formation, law and even science, is extinct? I don't think so, although I wouldn't call Latin a modern language. Pollish and Russian are both modern, and I have decided, having read various things on this thread that it is a simple distinction - either a language is modern or it is not.
HAL9009 2 | 304  
23 Jan 2009 /  #14
Polish is more mordern than Russian for two reasons:
1. Polish uses an easier alphabet
2. I am biased towards Polish
Eurola 4 | 1,906  
23 Jan 2009 /  #15
1. Polish uses an easier alphabet
2. I am biased towards Polish

1. ok, I agree
2. What? Why?
Marek 4 | 867  
24 Jan 2009 /  #16
"Polish uses an easier alphabet."

For someone raised on Western script, you're right. However, Russians and other Cyrillic users find our script just as hard as we find theirs, the only difference is, many Russians like to put down their language when among Westerners, if only in order to sound 'cool' LOL

I suppose I'd side with HAL9009, if only for this person's honesty in admitting that the above distinctions between Polish and Russian are really all a question of personal bias-:)
HAL9009 2 | 304  
24 Jan 2009 /  #17
I suppose I'd side with HAL9009, if only for this person's honesty in admitting that the above distinctions between Polish and Russian are really all a question of personal bias-:)

LOL

2. What? Why?

'coz of the women! - oh and er, because I'm learning Polish I suppose.
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
24 Jan 2009 /  #18
If by "modern" one understands the same as when talking about the first plane and jumbo jet then I really can't think of grounds to call one language more modern than another. You can say that some elements, or terms are less modern, or archaic within the same language. Otherwise each language is as modern as it needs to be.

Chinese is a language that is much older than English. Is it also more modern because it doesn't have plural forms?

Is Polish more modern than English because in Polish it takes only one letter "i" to express what takes 3 letters in English "and"? Is English more archaic than Polish because it wastes so many letter to express so few sounds?

The whole concept of simplicity (whatever that means in language) allegedly deciding about whether a language is modern or not is simply a silly one.
David_18 68 | 982  
24 Jan 2009 /  #19
The one who introduced the russian language was probably drunk.
The russians got this wierd drunk accent when they are talking, that i just wanna laugh my ass of.

PEACE
Marek 4 | 867  
25 Jan 2009 /  #20
Dariusz, you've expressed exactly how I feel.

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