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What is your biggest problem with Polish language?

Ziemowit 13 | 4,115
6 Feb 2020 #91

Wart Pac pałaca, a pałac Paca.
pawian 170 | 11,591
6 Feb 2020 #92
I have a good one - very similar sounds.
czy- or
trzy - three

Rozpijem dwie czy trzy flaszki?
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
6 Feb 2020 #93
I'm not offended, pawian. Why ever would you think that?
Torq 32 | 2,999
6 Feb 2020 #94
I have a good one - very similar sounds.

ciecia - janitor (acc.)
ciecia - three o'clock

Pyta cieć ciecia:
- Która godzina?
- Ciecia.

*I'll get my coat*
pawian 170 | 11,591
6 Feb 2020 #95
I still have a better one:

czule - tenderly, warmly.
ciule - azzholes
Witam Was ciule/czule!
I welcome you warmly/azzholes!

ciecia - three o'clock

Should be trzecia. hahaha
Paulwiz 1 | 70
6 Feb 2020 #96
Along the lines of this thread ...
Many languages have genders (I think that's what they call them in German) for nouns. I suppose no one would seriously claim that a pencil is a male or that a newspaper is female, etc. But a fair amount of linguistic effort is expended to make sure the adjectives and articles match the gender of the noun.

English does not do that. "My car", "my pencil" "my newspaper", it's all the same with no consideration as to what property (gender) the noun has. It's all "my", and of course same for articles like "the" and "a". (I know Polish just skips the articles unless they are required.)

If languages evolve, one would assume that aspects of a language without much benefit would tend to disappear. It would be like when you look at the skeleton of a whale and can see vestigial legs. When prehistoric whales moved into the ocean there was no need for legs and they may have had a disadvantage so they eventually disappeared.

So my (long-winded) question is:
What advantage is there to having genders for nouns? Not having such a thing in my native tongue, I can't see what I am missing. It just seems like a needless complexity to me. But since so many languages have them maybe I am missing something.
RubasznyRumcajs 5 | 486
6 Feb 2020 #97
English does have some genders (although it's almost gone). "Ship" is referred as 'she' for example.

And it's useful if you wish to classify and distinguish objects (real or not). Animacy/unanimacy serves similar role. Most indo-european languages does have genders.
Paulwiz 1 | 70
7 Feb 2020 #98
Well it's a bit different still. I can have a "pretty boat" and a "pretty car" and a "pretty daughter" and a "pretty house" and the word "pretty" doesn't change even though the boat and the daughter are the only ones you'd call "she". Some languages change the adjective to match the noun but English doesn't. Guess maybe I'll never know. Kind of like why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway. A great mystery.
mafketis 23 | 8,455
7 Feb 2020 #99
What advantage is there to having genders for nouns?

There are a lot of nouns in any language and it's hard to keep track of them all so most languages find ways to lump them into groups...

Grammatical gender is just one way of doing that, of dividing the large group of nouns into smaller categories (and activity the human brain seems to need).

Technically it's not about gender at all but was originally about phonetic form of the word (with gender being used as a mnemonic).

English has lost the original form of gender but has sort of regained a gender-like distinction between count and non-count nouns. Like any gender system it's party semantically motivated and partly lexical (that is, arbitrary) this is especially clear with 'furniture' which might more logically be thought of as a plural but firmly in the non-count category.


paper, a paper

tv, a tv

coffee, a coffe

some words that are usually or often plural in other european languages are non-count in English (information, advice etc)

textbooks are mostly not very good at explaining the very important distinction between count and non-count nouns in English and even very advanced learners tend to revert to forms like "I gave her some advices" or "I need furnitures for my new flat"....
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
7 Feb 2020 #100
Do you mean perchance "Geschlechtsartikel" for the English "gender articles"? While the absence of such might appear to simplify matters for a foreign learner aka a monolingual Anglophone trying to pick up an inflected language in adulthood, actually, gender is merely classification which selects from various categories and catalogues the world in terms of either biological vs. grammatical gender! English too had such markers, abandoned though with the onset of Middle English, thereafter all but disappearing.

Maybe because I grew up with German, learning Polish much later while almost thirty, the gender of a noun never seemed to cause me much concern. Once again, in terms of the biggest challenge of learning Polish, was for a long while deciding whether or not a verb was imperfective or perfective.

All else just fell into place.
Paulwiz 1 | 70
7 Feb 2020 #101
Yes, that sounds like the right idea. I find myself wondering why there is a need for categories of nouns and the consequent need to adjust the supporting adjectives and articles to match the noun. I never considered that old English may have used that same principle.

But I should know better than to ask "why". I helped an illiterate adult learn to read many years ago. He knew all the rules for spelling and pronunciation quite well. He would struggle with a word and when I would tell him what it was he would just shake his head and tell me which rule was being broken. I frequently felt like I needed to apologize for the English language.

I'm sure even I can learn the correct way to use adjectives and articles for the various categories of nouns. I just see myself getting it incorrect for a long time. I just need more practice.
mafketis 23 | 8,455
7 Feb 2020 #102
find myself wondering why there is a need for categories of nouns

Possibly related to memory, having a label (even if you're not consciously aware of it) to hang on something makes it more memorable.

Structurally language is all about cross-cutting categorization and so tagging things in various ways makes it easier to keep track of them.

This is especially true in more complex utterances. I sometimes translate academic Polish into English and it's the complex types of structures that come up in those texts that the endings of Polish earn their keep. The longer a sentence goes on in English the bigger the danger it will turn into a confusing mess, sentences can go on and on and on in Polish and still be very clear...
Paulwiz 1 | 70
7 Feb 2020 #103
@mafketis - that is the best explanation I have heard. Thank you. Long sentences can create quite a challenge to make them unambiguous. If I try to just use pronouns and articles without using the noun it can be particularly difficult. And putting the noun into the long sentences multiple times can make it sound odd. But having categories of nouns and having the articles and pronouns match the category of the noun would help to reduce ambiguity.

Thank you for that explanation.
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
7 Feb 2020 #104
Case-driven languages such as German and Polish can indeed make their intentions clear through inflection.
Sometimes though, a foreigner must think a bit before deciding on what a Polish sentence could mean, if only through word order, for example "Wielkim krajem sa Niemcy" (Germany's a big country) vs. "Niemcy sa wielkim krajem".

In English as well as German, there is no equivocation of meaning despite the variety grammatically possible given the Polish word order in both sentence. A 'literal' translation would sound strange indeed, cf. "A big country is Germany". rather than the more natural "Germany is a big country". No German either would say or write "Ein grosses Land ist Deutschland" without receiving some odd glances:-)

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