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The Polish language - it's bloody hard!


Magdalena 3 | 1,837
4 Jan 2010 #181
Then again, the latter holds true for most Eastern Europeans, particularly the Czechs and Hungarians, along with other former 'Hapsburgians'.

Or rather other unwilling inhabitants of the Nazi empire. Those who could remember the Habsburgs are all long dead now.
Lyzko
4 Jan 2010 #182
Yet, it was said, curiously enough, that the famous 'Prager Deutsch' was better than the mother tongue spoken outside of Austro-Hungary, i.e Germany proper, since it contained an older, more select vocabulary not much used any longer by native Germans.

Nazi Empire?? Surely not all! Don't forget either Rydź Smygły or his cohorts:-)
thenameisWarsza
20 Feb 2010 #183
I think you should first try the basic phrase to start with then get into the normal everyday whatever day conversation stuff.
Lyzko
20 Feb 2010 #184
I agree. However, how "basic" is basic? It's a fact that more 'grammar' is required to form a reasonably intelligent-sounding Polish sentence, even if short, than to form a corresponding English one:-)
temporary
29 Apr 2012 #185
The Best way to learn Polish with learning with a native teacher.
Online lessons.

w w w . learnpolish-online . c o m
catsoldier 62 | 596
29 Apr 2012 #186
The Best way to learn Polish with learning with a native teacher.Online lessons.

learnpolish-online.com/Pages/default.aspx

You are allowed to post your link as far as I know.
Zorro
29 Apr 2012 #187
"Czy pani lepiej mówi po angielsku albo po niemiecku?"

She then promptly claimed in a halting, pea-soup thick Polish accent, that she couldn't understand my Polish and requested that I repeat my sentence in (simple) English!

"Sprechen Sie besser (aber nicht unbedingt "lieber"!) Englisch oder Deutsch?" = Do you speak better (though not necessarily preferrably!) English or German?

The use of the conjunction "albo" is wrong in the above sentence. Whether this might have led to the confusion of this "youngish" woman or not, I don't know. It might have, but typically this mistake of using "albo" rather than "czy" here shouldn't. If it had, this means that the young lady wasn't sure if you wanted to ask her whether she spoke either English or German rather than you wanted to know which one of the two languages she spoke better than the other. This example show how a rather unimportant mistake may eventually lead to confusion in some people.

Czy Pani mówi po angielsku albo/lub po niemiecku?
Czy Pani mówi lepiej po angielsku czy po niemiecku?

Here is how those two sentences should look like in Polish. The adding of "lepiej" (or "gorzej", for example) will enforce the change of the conjuction "albo/lub" into the conjunction "czy".

With the adverb "preferrably", I would formulate the sentence like this: Czy woli Pani rozmawiać po angielsku czy po niemiecku? The use of "albo" here is quite probable among native speakers , but still, it will sound rather awkward.

For the rest of your remarks, Lyzko, I fully agree with you. English is an enormous challenge in learning it as a foreign language!

To make you ponder a little over when to use "albo/lub" in contrast to using "czy", let me re-write that last sentence as follows:

Czy woli Pani rozmawiać po angielsku lub/albo po niemiecku czy po polsku?
Lyzko
29 Apr 2012 #188
Dzięki za poprawienia oraz tłumaczenie, Zorro!

You're probably correct about the woman's reaction to my addressing her in Polish. She most likely didn't expect to hear it, figuring I was a German tourist, therefore, was expecting to be addressed rather in broken English, than broken PolishLOL

^^
boletus 30 | 1,366
30 Apr 2012 #189
Czy woli Pani rozmawiać po angielsku lub/albo po niemiecku czy po polsku?

I am not trying to be smart or picky so consider this a joke: in formal Polish, spoken by lawyers mostly, there is a difference between LUB and ALBO. Assuming this, try to disentangle your example now. :-)

In formal logic (here 1=true, 0=false)
LUB=OR: Logical disjunction, a.k.a. inclusive disjunction or alternation: A ⋁ B
The truth table of A ⋁ B: 0⋁0=0; 0⋁1=1; 1⋁0=1; 1⋁1=1
True when at least one component is true.

ALBO=XOR: Logical exclusive disjunction, aka exclusive OR, aka XOR; A ⊕ B
The truth table of A ⊕ B: 0⊕0=0; 0⊕1=1; 1⊕0=1; 1⊕1=0
True only when the components are mutually opposite (albo .. albo)
Lyzko
30 Apr 2012 #190
In English though, both ususally translate simply as "or", according to most dictionaries.
boletus 30 | 1,366
1 May 2012 #191
The following is a short excerpt from the Guide for Translators, European Committee, about usage of LUB and ALBO. Looks exactly the same as in formal logic.

1.3.7 Logika spójników
1.3.7.1 and/or a różnica między lub i albo
W języku polskim przyimek lub oznacza alternatywę łączną, zaś przyimek albo - alternatywę rozłączną. Zatem zdanie:
"Rolnicy mogą uprawiać len lub konopie."
oznacza, że rolnicy mogą uprawiać len, konopie, albo obie te rośliny jednocześnie, natomiast zdanie:
"Rolnicy mogą uprawiać len albo konopie."
znaczy, że uprawiając len, nie można uprawiać konopi, i odwrotnie.

W związku z tym właściwym odpowiednikiem wyrażenia and/or w polszczyźnie jest samo lub. Nie ma potrzeby stosowania i/lub.

Vademacum Tłumacza, wskazówki redakcyjne dla tłumaczy, wersja 3 (grudzień 2007 r.), Departament Języka Polskiego, Dyrekcja Generalna ds. Tłumaczń Pisemnych, Komisja Europejska, Luksemburg 2007,
Zorro
2 May 2012 #192
1.3.7 Logika spójników1.3.7.1 and/or a różnica między lub i alboW języku polskim przyimek lub oznacza alternatywę łączną, zaś przyimek albo - alternatywę rozłączną.

Thanks, Boletus. That's very ineresting. As an educated Polish speaker living in Poland all the time and one always eager to learn something new about the language, I've actually never come across this explanation, neither have I ever sought actively for it! This can only mean that for the vast majority of Poles, the distinction is rather unimportant and I'm sure that almost 100% of people questioned over the problem in the street, would not point to a true explanation.

When I first read the explanation you gave, I thought: Oh, dear, how intelligent it is!!! Then I realised that I had forgotten it the very minute I finished reading. So I read it again, and the same happened to me again. So I thought: Those translators at the European Commission must keep a note on it beside them to look at it evey time they want to use either "albo" or "lub", but for the consecutive translation it must be extremely clumsy. Then I thought: I must write it down on a piece of paper and put it in my wallet together with my credit card to look at it every time I want to use either "albo" or "lub", otherwise I'm not able to use them accordingly.

Next I thought: Did the great Polish writers or poets use those spójniki correctly in their works? The names of Jan Kochanowski and Adam Mickiewicz came to my mind, but as for now, I have no time to check yet.

Finally, I have thought to myself: Doesn't the language itself give any clues to remind its users quickly and efficiently which of the two conjunctions is for an alternatywa łączna and which one is for the alternatywa rozłączna? And in fact, the language does!!!, but I'm leaving it for everyone to discover this themselves as it is a great pleasure to do such things on one's own.
boletus 30 | 1,366
2 May 2012 #193
Next I thought: Did the great Polish writers or poets use those spójniki correctly in their works? The names of Jan Kochanowski and Adam Mickiewicz came to my mind, but as for now, I have no time to check yet.

Yes, interesting and funny at the same time.

I think Poles have become aware of such things only after the Polish School of Logic was established in the interbellum period. £ukaszewicz, Tarski and others must have influenced a lot of Polish writers at the time.

I still remember a comment of one of our university assistants, congratulating one of our friends regarding the proper usage of "albo" in his mathematics or physics test. "You must have graduated from Marcinek because you know exactly how to use LUB and ALBO", referring to "Liceum Karola Marcinkiewicza w Poznaniu" - an elite senior high school in Poznań. At that time I did not actually know, nor cared, what he was talking about. :-)
Zorro
2 May 2012 #194
W języku polskim przyimek lub oznacza alternatywę łączną, zaś przyimek albo - alternatywę rozłączną. Zatem zdanie:"Rolnicy mogą uprawiać len lub konopie."oznacza, że rolnicy mogą uprawiać len, konopie, albo obie te rośliny jednocześnie

According to another source, "Akademia językla polskiego; Słownik języka polskiego PWN", there is no such thing as alternatywa łączna. Alternatywa is always rozłączna by definition: alernatywa - konieczność wyboru jednej z dwóch wykluczających się możliwości (SJP PWN).

Of the same source:
albo - spójnik wyrażający możliwą wymienność albo wzajemne wyłączanie się zdań lub częsci zdań: poproszę kawy albo herbaty, dziś albo nigdy.

lub - spójnik wyrażający możliwą wymienność albo wzajemne wyłączanie się części zdania bądź zdań równorzędnych: pojedziemy nad morze lub w góry.

Now I'm really confused.
boletus 30 | 1,366
2 May 2012 #195
Well, what can I say. Apparently the authorities are not always right. If you are confused then go back to the formal logic - as I shortly demonstrated in post #203 - which actually use such terms as exclusive disjunction (XOR) vs. inclusive disjunction (OR).

In Polish, see for example: Alternatywa wykluczająca (razłączna)

Sorry SJP, but you are wrong. :-(

Odróżnienie dysjunkcji (zwanej też czasem dysjunkcją Scheffera) od alternatywy rozłącznej sprawia trudności autorom chyba wszystkich polskich słowników i encyklopedii. Autorzy ci niesłusznie utożsamiają oba pojęcia. Co gorsza, w źródłach anglojęzycznych (i niekompetentnie tłumaczonych z angielskiego) termin "dysjunkcja" odnosi się nawet do alternatywy zwykłej.

eioba.pl/a/1vlq/zwiazki-logiczne

^^
Sorry, good source but wrong example, It should be this:

Alternatywa rozłączna albo p, albo q
Oznaczenie: p ⊻ q (Boletus: I previously provided ⊕ symbol, p ⊕ q, as used in English)

Przykład: Albo Kowalski jest lekarzem, albo Malinowski jest lekarzem.

Objaśnienie: Prawda, gdy dokładnie jeden z nich jest lekarzem. Fałsz, gdy obaj są lekarzami. Fałsz, gdy żaden nie jest lekarzem.

eioba.pl/a/1vlq/zwiazki-logiczne
Zorro
2 May 2012 #196
In your recent posts, I can see the terms: "alternatywa rozłączna" and also "dysjunkcja". Nowhere there can I see the term "alternatywa łączna" which was used by Dyrekcja Generalna ds. Tłumaczeń Pisemnych in 2007. For me such a term is highly absurd; it is as if someone called an enemy "friendly enemy". Yes, you can say this to distinguish perhaps between them and an enemy which is much more hostile to you, but such a term would sooner or later make us all smile at the nonsense that exists within it. I don't dispute the term "dysjunkcja" as I'm no specialist in logic. What I'm disputing is shifting the rules of logic to the natural language theory and pratice. Mathematical logic and human language are quite different things and there is no need to mix up the two to create confusion among people which is exactly what Dyrekcja Generalna did in their remarks.

To pursue the task, the Dyrekcja Generalna should stop using the term "alternatywa łączna" in their definitions first, once they have decided to promote a difference in meaning between "lub" and "albo" for everyone using Polish, begining from translators through scholars and academics and finally reaching everyday users. Such a logic of Dyrekcja Generalna may only be called "sick logic" .
Zorro
2 May 2012 #197
And just one more thing: alternatywa rozłączna is like "masło maślane", as this old term of Latin (alterus, -a, -um) origin had always meant something to contrast it with something else. When the judge in a court of ancient Rome said "audiatur et altera pars" he meant what he said: to listen to the other party to contrast and compare the evidence with the evidence of the former party.
boletus 30 | 1,366
2 May 2012 #198
what I'm disputing is shifting the rules of logic to the natural language theory and pratice. Mathematical logic and human language are quite different things and there is no need to mix up the two to create confusion among people which is exactly what Dyrekcja Generalna did in their remarks.

There is no need to be so embittered. Take it easy, let me quote my first post on the subject, post #203:

I am not trying to be smart or picky so consider this a joke: in formal Polish, spoken by lawyers mostly, there is a difference between LUB and ALBO.

But why is it important to lawyers? Some examples:
case LUB:
"W przypadku wady ukrytej towaru klient może obciążyć dostawcę karami umownymi lub dochodzić praw na drodze sądowej."
This means that the client can (1) charge contractual penalties (2) take a legal action (eg ask a court for compensation). But he can also do both. So he has more rights.

case ALBO:
"W przypadku wady ukrytej towaru klient może obciążyć dostawcę karami umownymi albo dochodzić praw na drodze sądowej."
This means that if the customer charges contractual penalties, he is not entitled to take legal action, or vice versa. So he can do only one of two things:

(1) charge contractual penalties (and not go to court), and (2) go to court (and do not charge contractual penalties). So he has fewer rights.

Nowhere there can I see the term "alternatywa łączna"

Strictly speaking, you are right. The traditionalists go even further demanding that alternativeshould be used only in situations where the number of choices involved is exactly two, because of the word's historical relation to Latin alter, "the other of two."

However, about 50% of world use it in the sense "one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen".

However, if alternative is used as a synonym of the word choice than perhaps "alternatywa łączna, suma logiczna" and "alternatywa wykluczająca, alternatywa rozłączna, różnica symetryczna" do not look funny anymore.

See also: Poradnia językowa:

The answer is difficult, on the one hand, the terminological confusion prevailing in encyclopedias, dictionaries and textbooks of logic, which introduce three alternative functors different and differently functioning names (alternative (without atrybutywnego determination), the total alternative, alternative Removable, disjunction, exclusion is), on the other hand ambiguity and at the same time the quasi-synonymy Polish conjunctions or alternatives, either. The situation becomes even more confusing when we realize the multitude of other provisions relating to the alternative expressions and syntactic structures.

The easiest way to deal with the chaos of terminology: the term "alternative" is both inclusive label three different types of alternative called propositional connectives and - a child of the above - the name of one of them. This difficulty should be ignored, and - having chosen arbitrarily dates in our opinion the most adequate, comfortable, or even the most widely used - to draw attention to understand the differences between the three types of sentences relating to alternative functors. I call them here: alternative, disjunction and exclusion is. They are uniquely characterized by the arrangement of truths and falsehoods; acceptance and rejection.

Lyzko
2 May 2012 #199
I learned in class, that "lub" and "albo" could be used interchangably, but that "czy" was ONLY used to mean "or" in a poetic or abstract venue, such as in the last line of Iwaszkiewicz's poem "...czy ptak, czy las, czy my"
Krakman 4 | 58
4 May 2012 #200
I completely subscribe to the viewpoint that any foreign language is difficult to learn. Having observed several people return from England, America, Ireland, etc, who thought they had mastered the language. The result is what Lyzko usually points out, a very low standard of speech with minimal grammatical sense. Only the 'geekiest' students who have immersed themselves 24/7 in studies and culture emerge with any credibility.

The only bone I have to pick with Polish people, is their apparent 'tunnel' hearing when it comes to Polish. If you don't pronounce the word absolutely perfectly (which is almost impossible for a native English speaker), then you're in for a frustrating time.

Walk around England and listen to the disgraceful standard of speech, yet everyone is fully understood. No wonder immigrants think they're fluent speakers, until they enter a classroom and realise they haven't the foggiest about the most simple grammatical structures. This usually happens when they return to Poland to 'maintain' their English. The saddest sight is rather nice looking girls, who have been contaminated with gutter talk, effing and blinding away like there's no tomorrow.
Kevvin - | 4
4 May 2012 #201
Hi there,
Mayby you are interested on language exchange or something similar to that.
I'm native polish with fair english skills, talking in English is no problem for me but i stil have some problems with writing.
PM me if you are interested
temporary
4 May 2012 #202
Hello

I suggest to learn with a native teacher.

w w w . learnpolish-online . c o m
Lyzko
4 May 2012 #203
Same here in the States, krankman! And unfortunately, all too many of those "immigrants" end up TEACHING the bloody stuff to often unsuspecting students of English, themselves not long off the boat!! It's disgraceful, but then I've been blogging and posting on this on PF and elsewhere for a number of years now.
Rumfuddle 1 | 20
25 May 2012 #204
I have only been studying Polish for a very short while, with a native Polish-speaking teacher in Dublin. I've only been to Poland once; I have the impression that much of this "'tunnel' hearing" is a result of Polish people not expecting foreigners to speak their language. Most native English speakers will have spoken English with non-native speakers and are used to a whole range of accents and forms of non-standard and non-native English. I imagine a lot of Poles have never spoken Polish with anyone other than a native speaker and find it difficult at first when they meet a non-native speaker.

I lived in Spain for many years and my level of Spanish got to be pretty good, but very often as soon as people realised I was foreign it was like they assumed I was going to be difficult to understand. So there may be a strange sort of psychological barrier there (?)
boletus 30 | 1,366
25 May 2012 #205
I have the impression that much of this "'tunnel' hearing" is a result of Polish people not expecting foreigners to speak their language.

That's very possible. But for those Poles that have never studied English, the pronunciation of Polish by English visitors may sound shocking for several reasons:

1. English is essentially a language that uses vowels no other language would accept. :-)

This is a joke of course, but with a lot of truth in it. Polish has only several vowels, all of the same length, all open. English is much reacher in this department, but yet English speakers have trouble with apparently simple Polish open vowels. Take for example a simple given name "Jan". While it is comparatively easy to explain to English speakers that several countries in Continental Europe pronounce "J" like "Y" (as in Yann), not like "G" (as in Gina) it is harder to explain the pronunciation of the open vowel "A". Most what you can get from a typical English speaker is English Ian or Yawn. Chinese are even worse here: most of them pronounce it like a long "Yea".

2. English speakers have their own understanding of pronunciation of Romance languages, including Latin. English instructions on proper pronunciation of Italian, for example, are particularly baffling. Why do they have to make such simple stuff so complicated? :-)

In contrary, Poles have no problem with Italian or Spanish vowels at all.

This could be nicely demonstrated by comparing pronunciation of "Julius Caesar" using four Latin pronunciation methods. With English this gives particularly comical results because English pronunciation had undergone drastic changes at the end of the Middle Ages:

YOO-lee-us KYE-sahr (reconstructed ancient Roman)
YOO-lee-us (T)SAY-sahr (northern Continental Europe)
YOO-lee-us CHAY-sahr (“Church Latin” in Italy)
JOO-lee-us SEE-zer (“English method”)

So when a native Pole hears something that sounds to him as "Dżulius Size", he gets no connection with "Juliusz Cezar".

3. And there is of course the Polish labyrinth of digraphs and trigraphs. For an English speaker, who never studied Polish, the consonants are particularly puzzling. Here is how Uncle Google and Ivona.com pronounce some Polish words, and this probably what a Polish local hears when spoken by an English tourist:

Pszczyna ==> P'skizyna, Szczyna
Tyskie ==> Tajski (Thai ski), Tyski
Żywiec ==> Ziłik or Zyłjak
Jak się masz? ==> Dżak si mas?
Jak masz na imię? ==> Dżak mas zna imi?
catsoldier 62 | 596
25 May 2012 #206
The only bone I have to pick with Polish people, is their apparent 'tunnel' hearing when it comes to Polish. If you don't pronounce the word absolutely perfectly (which is almost impossible for a native English speaker), then you're in for a frustrating time.

My own personal experience is that you will get more smiles if your pronunciation isn't perfect but you are trying.

I may have experienced this tunnel hearing but I was trying to buying bus tickets in a shop instead of the kiosk across the road which was a little bit hidden. She wasn't expecting me to ask for bus tickets, the accent and bad pronunciaton didn't help, there was also a queue behind me but anytime that I was in the right place asking for what people usually ask for I have no problem because they expect me to ask for something they are selling.

On a positve side I was trying to buy an apple from a small shop in the bus station in Zakopane and I made an absolute mess of asking for an apple. Jabłko isn't that easy to pronounce so I gave up and suggested zielony to her and she understood.

Nie ma :-)
Jimmu 2 | 157
5 Jun 2012 #207
English is essentially a language that uses vowels no other language would accept

If the other language is Polish, you are correct.
I have a theory.
Long ago a king of Poland decided to raise money by taxing vowels.
The populace responded "Screw you! We just won't use any!"
Kind of a Polish version of the Boston Tea Party.
jon357 63 | 15,573
5 Jun 2012 #208
and this probably what a Polish local hears when spoken by an English tourist:

It works both ways. I remember a few years ago scratching my head at a Pole who said he had been to 'Tsrever', until I figured he meant Crewe. And since 2004 there's a huge Polish contingent in a part of London they insist on calling 'to ten cham'. When I first heard one saying it, I thought he was being disparaging about a friend there..
plg 17 | 263
6 Jun 2012 #209
Język polski jest bardzo trudne - to jest poprawnie. :))
Lyzko
6 Jun 2012 #210
I think that the issue of Poles not expecting foreigners, especially non-Slavs, to speak their language certainly is part of the problem. Often times, even though my Polish pronunciation is fairly 'authentic', I'm told, many Poles frequently would pretend NOT to understand me! The good news is, they had enough common sense across the board, to continue speaking to me in Polish until they got it right, rather than trying switching to English, which would probably have been more tragi-comic than anything else:-)

As a result, I improved my Polish for nothing, whilst the Poles allowed me to make myself clear to them in their own language, thus avoiding an even worse misunderstanding!


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