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Articles - usage in Polish

kaktus44  
9 Nov 2016  #1

How do you translate this sentence. 'I spoke to a man today about my order.' It was in reply to an email from a company but in the email the person did not put their name. The article 'a' here is necessary both grammatically and to portray the sense that I spoke to a man, I'm not sure who this man was that I'd spoken to before receiving the email, it may well have been the person who wrote to me. If I reply - 'Rozmawialem z Panem dzisiaj o moim zamówieniem.' This sentence sounds like I'm saying it indeed was the person who sent me the email. If I use the word 'jakims Panem'', it sounds rude in English. 'I spoke to some person.' Is there a short way of translating the meaning in my original English sentence?

gumishu Activity: 10 / 4,156
Joined: 6 Apr 2009 ♂
 
9 Nov 2016  #2

Is there a short way of translating the meaning in my original English sentence?

i don't know if you would consider it short but i would translate it as "rozmawiałem z kim¶ od Państwa o moim zamówieniu"
Atch Activity: 8 / 1,204
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
9 Nov 2016  #3

The article 'a' here is necessary

Not in Polish it isn't. The Polish language has other ways of making one's meaning clear as in Gumishu's example. For that reason amongst others, Polish often tends to be a bit long winded compared to English. Personally I find the lack of any articles in Polish vaguely irritating but at the same time I would never say that the article is 'necessary'. I just accept that it's a different language that doesn't have articles and make the best of it!
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,492
Joined: 12 Jul 2013 ♂
 
9 Nov 2016  #4

Exactly, Atch!

Very often, the grammatical "baggage" of English is reduced in other languages through context which can usually facilitate understanding:-)

Polish has no articles, but it DOES have the verb "to be". Russian on the other hand, has neither articles NOR the verb "to be", nor any linking or auxiliary verbs whatsoever which are in even close to English "I DO understand.", "DO you speak German?", or "How DO you DO?" etc..., structures with most foreign learners of English often find hopelessly confusing because to them they seem unnecessary!

A student of mine once remarked, "All verbs in English are weak!! Yes, they always need help! In my language, no helping verbs, our words are strong enough by themselves."

A rather perceptive comment, I think.
OP kaktus44  
9 Nov 2016  #5

I do agree Polish seems long winded sometimes. And it's difficult to adopt this mindset where everything needs to be explained and repeated. I find when Poles speak English they translate this 'long windedness' and it can be quite hard to listen to. It can make them seem very formal and sometimes it seems they're displeased with something. On the other hard, it must be hard to listen to non-Polish speakers trying to speak Polish in a short English way etc. 'z kims' is OK but it doesn't say it was a man. "rozmawiałem z kim¶, (ktorym?) jest mezczyzn±, od Państwa o moim zamówieniu" Then it gets quite long and sounds strange...
gumishu Activity: 10 / 4,156
Joined: 6 Apr 2009 ♂
 
9 Nov 2016  #6

'z kims' is OK but it doesn't say it was a man. "rozmawiałem z kim¶, (ktorym?) jest mezczyzn±, od Państwa o moim zamówieniu" Then it gets quite long and sounds strange...

if you want to be really precise you can use such construction "rozmawiałem z jednym Panem od Państwa o moim zamówieniu" but z kim¶ od Państwa should be precise enough in most cases.
mafketis Activity: 17 / 3,625
Joined: 31 Mar 2008 ♂
 
9 Nov 2016  #7

'z kims' is OK but it doesn't say it was a man.

Why is that important? I would probably say "Rozmawiałem z kim¶ z firmy o swoim zamówieniu". Not what native speakers would say but it gets the job done. If they want more info they can ask for it.
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,492
Joined: 12 Jul 2013 ♂
 
9 Nov 2016  #8

It's all about what sounds natural (if not necessarily "native"). Poles are surely much more attune to infractions against their language, as are the French or the Germans, compared with the Americans, particularly as of now, for whom minimalist communication remains the order of the day!

Long-winded? US-, though not UK) English has become so reduced to sound bytes and SMS abbreviations, it's a wonder we have a language left any more(:-
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,492
Joined: 12 Jul 2013 ♂
 
9 Nov 2016  #9

Poles often have difficulties distinguishing between, for example, "He is in THE office." (On jest w biurze.) vs. "He is in office." NO article, meaning "He HOLDS [elected] office." (On jest urzędnikiem/posłem...)
gumishu Activity: 10 / 4,156
Joined: 6 Apr 2009 ♂
 
10 Nov 2016  #10

"He is in THE office." (On jest w biurze.) vs. "He is in office." NO article, meaning "He HOLDS [elected] office." (On jest urzędnikiem/posłem...)

the knowledge of the distinction is taught so late in the curriculum a lot of people never reach that level (I was taught that in high school but I had intensive English course in high school - 6hours per week)

- despite the fact that I have learned English for seven years and that I use it quite a lot I still make mistakes when it comes to articles
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,492
Joined: 12 Jul 2013 ♂
 
10 Nov 2016  #11

There you go!

Foreigners learning Polish aka the first Slavic language (although most US-college-age learners have already had Russian) constantly are confused by the lack of same, searching in vain for "that little word ___" to put in the sentence "I'm looking for THE book."

"Szukam ksi±żki.", both "the" or "a" book in English, appears almost naked to first-time learners because it seems that something's "missing":-)

Conversely, Poles and Russians wonder out loud 'Why "the" or "a" book??'



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Articles - usage in Polish
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