/ How do Poles feel about foreigners learning their language?
Ok, I just have one question for Polish natives and Americans/British people living in Poland. My question is simple: How do Poles feel about foreigners learning their language? Are they like the French, who feel affronted when a foreigner confronts them in French, even though the foreigner's French pronunciation is wonderful and magnificent? Or do you, and I'm speaking to Poles in this sense, think the person is generally strange.
I ask this question because my professor wants to take us to Poland for study abroad credits. My Polish neighbors are already giving me the "Polish experience" here. They invited me over for obiad, which I mistakenly thought was lunch because that's the time I usually have lunch. I said a few words to my Polish hosts--"Dzień Dobry," "Dziękuję"--and they smiled at me, actually smiled, and the older gentleman took off his hat for five seconds, put it back on again, and asked me a few words in Polish, some of which I knew, some of which I didn't know. The granddaughter, who is my age and writes beautiful English poetry for a living, said that I had complimented them. When I asked her what I had said that gave her grandparents such joy, she said that I had spoken some Polish to them, and that was the greatest compliment that I could give.
Others think differently, of course. "If you don't have the pronunciation down pat, you won't be understood," I sometimes hear, although the folks that say these things have never been to Poland. I also hear this:"Polish people don't think it's polite when foreigners use their language," "Don't try to learn Polish, most Poles don't like it when you speak their language," "Polish people look down on others who try to speak their language; it's sort of like trying to be someone you are not and failing miserably," and, "I don't know why people are always trying to learn Polish. It's not like the Poles are dying to communicate with us in their native tongue. Ha, Ha, Ha!" (ok, I took this quote completely verbatim, so the laughter has to stay in.)
I have mixed feelings about going to Poland after listening to the above comments. After all, if I don't go, I feel that I will be missing a huge opportunity. Besides, when I am ever going to get the opportunity to study nuclear physics in Warsaw again? Or when will I ever get the chance to visit Wawel castle in Krakow? I don't know now....