Return PolishForums LIVE
  PolishForums Archive :
Archives - 2005-2009 / Language  % width 17

Polish v Russian - similarity

Dopplershift 1 | 2  
12 Aug 2008 /  #1
Hello all,

A quick question about the two languages.

Obviously, they use different alphabets, but how similar is Polish to Russian?

On an initial, superficial inspection, they seem, to me, to have some crossover of vocabulary. Or have I just read too much into the few words of Polish I have heard pronounced?

Do they have similar grammatical constructions? 3 genders, instrumental cases, animate nouns...that sort of thing? Does Polish have that funny future tense thing that Russian has?


Gab - | 133  
12 Aug 2008 /  #2

What funny tense thing?
southern 75 | 7,096  
13 Aug 2008 /  #3
Do they have similar grammatical constructions? 3 genders, instrumental cases, animate nouns...that sort of thing? Does Polish have that funny future tense thing that Russian has?

Yes,they have all of them like all slavic languages.
Sasha 2 | 1,083  
13 Aug 2008 /  #4
Hi, John. Even though I've never happened to study Polish I understand pretty much or at least I get the sense of a sentence. I believe Polish uses three genders as well... as for the overall quantity of cases I'm not sure. Cause in comparison to Serbian and Ukranian we don't have one. We now use only six cases, we used to have seven (zvatelnij padezh) now we're using nominative case instead of it.
OP Dopplershift 1 | 2  
13 Aug 2008 /  #5
What funny tense thing?

Perfective and imperfective future tenses. I really struggle with it in Russian, still get it wrong!
Marek 4 | 867  
13 Aug 2008 /  #6
In this sense, Polish is virtually a 'typical' Slavic language for most of the reasons Sascha and the rest have mentioned. Polish differs phonologically from Russian, especially the South and East Slavic languages, showing a greater affinity in this way with Czech, but curiously NOT with Ukrainian! The latter has word stock all but identical with Polish, its pronounciation however is much closer to Russian. Polish stands separate from the rest of its family in the survival of those nasals 'ą' and 'ę', all but abandoned by the other extant members of the Slavic group! In addition, its palatalized and dental consonants are nowhere nearly as clear as in, say, Russian.

Moreover, in much base vocabulary, Polish is understandably more Westernized, drawing heavily from French, German, Italian, i.e. Latin, even Yiddish-:)

Another thing. Polish aspect is more productive than Russian, owing in large part to those foreign root verbs which take prefixes, notably 'za', f.ex. 'ZAinteresować', etc.
Sasha 2 | 1,083  
13 Aug 2008 /  #7
The same in Russian. "ZAinteresovan" (rus) "POinteresovatsia" etc.
Marek 4 | 867  
13 Aug 2008 /  #8
Sascha! (Forgive my Germanized Western spelling 'Sasha' LOL),

This whole use of 'za' vs. 'po' e.g. 'ZAmieszkać' (to live, dwell somewhere)/'POmieszkać' (to inhabit a place, but only for a while) in Polish, drives students of the language, such as myself, to desparation!

I console myself though, having also studied Russian, that at least I never had to learn German as a foreign language! I've been told by my students that it's the most challenging language they've ever studied, even advanced learners, who've attempted more case-heavy tongues, such as Icelandic or Hungarian-:)-:)!!
mafketis 24 | 8,704  
13 Aug 2008 /  #9
Moreover, in much base vocabulary, Polish is understandably more Westernized, drawing heavily from French, German, Italian, i.e. Latin, even Yiddish-:)

I'd be skeptical of that claim unless it's backed by research (comparing both dictionaries and corpuses of usage).

Generally when it comes to 'educated' vocabulary (dealing with politics, humanities and sciences) the Slavic languages use a mish mash of westernized and indigenous vocabulary, often simultaneously (Polish 'auto' and 'samochód' or Czech 'muzyka' and 'hudba') and I don't know which has the largest "western" stock.
Marek 4 | 867  
13 Aug 2008 /  #10
What I meant was simply that, as Poland became Christianized before most of the rest of Slavdom, Latin especially became an important influence on the development of the language, part and parcel with the growth of the Catholic Church in Poland. 'Restauracja', 'literatura', 'inauguracja', 'historia' etc. are ample proof of this indelible strain of the Italianate in Polish, compared with Russian. The latter surely has lots of Latin-based words, yet often side by side with one of "pure Slavic" origin, such as their word for 'literature', derived from 'slow-', which currently escapes me-:) LOL
mafketis 24 | 8,704  
13 Aug 2008 /  #11
1. When Poland became Christianized is irrelevant (unless it was less than 200 or so years ago).

2. IINM the four words you mentioned are all used in Russian too.

3. All Slavic languages have Latinate/Slavic pairs (like Polish lingwistyka/językoznawstwo. I've yet to see research based evidence that one language has significantly more than another (one might but without research we can't say for sure). Anecdotes are irrelevant, what month is it now in Polish? In Russian?

4. Claims about western vocabulary are usually related to claims about culture. Colloquial Czech syntax is heavily influenced by German, which some Czechs claim means they're more westernized than other Slavs, they simultaneously claim they have the purest Slavic vocabulary. Linguists would be skeptical of both claims.
Marek 4 | 867  
13 Aug 2008 /  #12
Granted all that you say! There is no denying here the role of culture in language development as well as usage. One might in fact add, the two are intertwined, linked at birth, so to speak.

Roman Jakobson has written extensively on this and other related topics. I've yet though to see a truly 'Polish' word in common parlance for 'literatura', even 'historia'! I'm sure they exist, but in what register or social context, are they employed? In German, 'Historie' sounds odd, snobbish, too Frenchified or Anglicized. The Germans use their own 'Geschichte' and have now for many centuries! However, 'Literatur' is the ONLY known word in either everyday or educated German speech. 'Schrifttum', a really Teutonic sounding bugger, comes across like some distateful relic of Faschist times, Hitler, language purification and so on.
OP Dopplershift 1 | 2  
13 Aug 2008 /  #13
Strange you say that about German. Even taking the Cyrillic alphabet into account, I took to German a lot easier than I did to Russian.

I am more proficient in German than I am in Russian, although, if truth be told, I am sadly lacking in both languages.

I just wondered if it would be an easy "crossover" into Polish if I had some Russian under my belt.
Gab - | 133  
13 Aug 2008 /  #14
Hi :)

I'd say if you want to learn some Polish, just do Polish. Otherwise you might get even more confused. Maybe in the future you can try Russian, but not as a "crossover" into Polish.

I am a native speaker of Polish and do speak some Russian, too. I actually understand more Russian than I can produce on my own. I get easily confused when using Russian, which is kind of funny actually considering many similarities between these two languages. On the other hand, there are many differences, too.

So good luck to you :)
Let me know how it goes
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
13 Aug 2008 /  #15
I hear similarities but it really depends how deep u want to go. Some words are completely different but the Slavic commonality is there to be heard.
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
14 Aug 2008 /  #16
I struggle to understand anything in Russian although members of my family say that it really is similar to Polish. Than again, they were forced to learn that language back in the day and I'm from the generation that weren't.... I like the sound of it though.

I do understand a lot from Ukrainian.
Marek 4 | 867  
14 Aug 2008 /  #17
While I agree with most of what's been said thus far, my own reasons for learning Polish before studying the little Russian I did, was that the former was my 'bridge' language into the other Slavic languages! I was so eager to acquire the language of my newest clients back when the East was opening its borders, that I wanted to get one language down before beginning another.

I found too that my fluency in Polish helped learning Russian, i.e. my teacher didn't need to start from scratch, explaining aspects, perfective vs. imperfective, palatalized consonants, basic vocabulary etc. I could already read Russian (the alphabet was/is the very least of my problems!) and figure out a few basic roots.

German I mentioned because even for my intermediate students, the transition from English prepositions to separable and inseparable prefixes is often a little much for most to handle-:)

Archives - 2005-2009 / Language / Polish v Russian - similarityArchived