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Polish was chosen the HARDEST LANGUAGE in the world to learn... :D


mafketis 24 | 8,939
3 Feb 2010 #301
I think it's more likely that lyzko simply was momentarily confused by a bad dictionary, the German definition probably includes an idiom that he took literally and transferred into English.

Even langauge professionals can get caught up in the trap between literal and figurative meanings (or between which idioms are transferable and which aren't). I've made my share of mistakes in that area (which there is no need to examine here).

Has little to do with the relative complexity of Polish and English.
MuieMulta
3 Feb 2010 #302
But in Polish this is extremely regular.

you have no idea what you are saying.

z is read in three diferent ways in polski language, whil rz can sometimes be dj, sometimes it is sh, and so on.

I can give all day and night examples of letters that you read each time differently in polish.

so dont be pathetic please SP
Lyzko
3 Feb 2010 #303
Mafketis is correct in that I must have inadvertently translated from German into Polish. In German (and the publisher was NOT Langenscheidt, by the way, which I also never use for teaching purposes since its German is full of errors!!!), the expression 'sich die Finger wund schreiben' means 'to write so much/voluminously that one's fingers actually start to hurt'. It's a common locution in German for other actions too, e.g. 'sich die Finger wund waehlen' = to dial (an old-fashioned LOL) until one's finger aches etc..

Guess I slipped up there, then again, no more than most intermediate Polish learners mess up on occasion in English, eh' what?

Estonian shares with Finnish, its closest relative, a fairly conservatve case system, as well as productive endings with its (linguisitically UNRELATED!) Baltic neighbors Latvian and Lithuanian:-)
gumishu 11 | 5,495
3 Feb 2010 #304
And Polish letters and letter combinations are always pronounced the same. This is not the case in English. To put it simply, the way letter and letter combination are pronounced in English is very irregular. But in Polish this is extremely regular.

there is a number of exceptions from the rules but the number is quite low
z_darius 14 | 3,968
3 Feb 2010 #305
Mafketis is correct in that I must have inadvertently translated from German into Polish.

Try to use Polish dictionaries instead of Polish-SomeOtherLanguage. That way you'll know the true meaning of words the way Poles perceive them. A caveat is that this method may diminish translation skills.
Lyzko
3 Feb 2010 #306
So true, Darek! I have in fact a Polish-Polish dictionary 'Poprawna Polszczyzna dla Cudzodziemców' and it's definitely a challenge:-))

Good advice in the reverse too. lol

Idioms can rarely ever be translated, therefore, one sometimes must infer meaning into the source language text (Polish) in order to come up, so to speak, with an appropriate rendering. That both "rozpisywać" and "rozpisywać się" have nothing literally to do with 'fingers', is clear, yet, for idiomatic flavor, sometimes one is entitled to translators' license. I'm sure you know the expression, "I've been working my little fingers to the bone." Well, surely in Polish, the corresponding expression may have nothing to do word for word with either 'little' or 'fingers' or 'bones' per se. However for a natural and unstilted translation into English etc.., occasionally liberties may be taken, so long as the original sense has been preserved.

I believe my rendering of "rozpisywać" into English/German, was essentially, if hardly verbatim, accurate:-) Sorry to hound this point to death!
z_darius 14 | 3,968
3 Feb 2010 #307
Translation to a given language is bound to round things up or down and it is perfectly OK to use equivalent idioms/expressions even if they do not carry the same literal meaning. Sometimes this is easy as in:

Tu jest pies pogrzebany - Dort ist (liegt) der Hund begraben

but in Englsih we'd say

Hit the nail on the head.

In most cases any of the 3 examples below would be interchangeable but they would not be literally equivalent. Moreover, in some cases, such as the study of semantics, language jokes, puns etc the difference between English and Polish/German could pretty much spoil all the fun.
Misketic
4 Feb 2010 #308
you have no idea what you are saying.

z is read in three diferent ways in polski language, whil rz can sometimes be dj, sometimes it is sh, and so on.

I can give all day and night examples of letters that you read each time differently in polish.

Actually even in one single word, the same co;llection of letters is read COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

easiest examples:

proszę and dziękuje - same letter ę, totally different pronunciation

Przepraszam and morze = same collection rz , again totally different pronunciation
Lyzko
4 Feb 2010 #309
Wrong!

'Da liegt der Hund begraben!' in English is 'Aye, there's the rub!
sorry:-)

'Du hast den Nagel auf den Kopf getroffen' = You hit the nail on the head.

Here, I'm in my element. lol
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
4 Feb 2010 #310
z is read in three diferent ways in polski language, whil rz can sometimes be dj, sometimes it is sh, and so on.

No. You can ask anyof the native Polish speakers on this forum. Or listen to the video I referred to.
There are very few exceptions to the regular pronunciation.

Rz and ż are pronounced exactly the same. The words może and morze is pronounced exactly the same.

But rz can never be pronounced like an English "dj"-sound. You say that it's pronounced like an English "sh"-sound, and that is actually true.

proszę and dziękuje - same letter ę, totally different pronunciation

Przepraszam and morze = same collection rz , again totally different pronunciation

In morze and przeprasam you pronounce the rz-sound exactly the same. Ask any native speaker on this forum.

But remember that the rz and r sounds are completely different sounds, it's like comparing b and k sounds.

ę and ą are one of the very few exceptions I wrote about above.
They differ in pronunciation depending on whether they are the last letter in the word or not.

This is defined in all Polish grammar books.
Misketic
4 Feb 2010 #311
you must be joking swpolsce

in przeprasam the rz is pronounced like s in Kasia or like sz in Chcesz

in POLIZ MNIE, the Z pronounced like s in Kasia or like sz in Chcesz

so dont send into error the fine men that are here, you cannot fool everyone ;)
Marcin_K
4 Feb 2010 #312
I'm not a member of this forum, but I've been reading here as a guest for the last week.

I'm a native speaker, and I've been living in Poland since I was born. One of my biggest interests is languages.

SzwedwPolsce is 99% correct. Only one small thing he missed.

Polish letters, and our 2-letter-combinations, are (almost) always pronounced the same.
There are veryfew exceptions to this rule.

One of these very few exceptions is ę/ą.

If they are the lastletter of a word, they're pronounced something like English 'euw' and 'auw'. Some people are lazy and pronounce them as normal e and a. If they are notthe last letter they're pronounced 'e(n)' and 'a(n)'.

Somebody wrote that the rz-sounds in pRZepraszam and moRZe are pronounced differently. They are pronounced exactly the same.

Ż and rzare pronounced exactlythe same (also in this case there are extremely few exceptions).

By the way, the 2-letter-combinations are sz, rz, cz, dz, dź/dzi, dż, ch, ci, and si (hope I didn't forget anyone).

If anyone needs help with how a letter or 2-letter-combination is pronounced, I will be glad to help you.
mafketis 24 | 8,939
5 Feb 2010 #313
n przeprasam the rz is pronounced like s in Kasia or like sz in Chcesz

It's pronounced like sz in chcesz, yes, that's a completely predictable rule, rz after p is always pronounced as sz (just as w is pronounced like v or f depending on it's position in the word and/or what sounds are around it. It's called voicing assimilation, a basic principle of spoken Polish. There is a not very large group of rules to learn and then you can tell the pronunciation of any Polish word by its written form. That is, if you have basic level of human intelligence. If you're a moron, you'll just notice that some sounds are pronounced differently sometimes and no amount of repeating the simple rules will suffice.

And the si in Kasia is a completely different sound to Poles as any Pole will tell you that Kasia and kasza sound different to them.
marqoz - | 195
5 Feb 2010 #314
OK. So let's look how difficult and complicated is Polish comparing to English.

English CH is pronounced like:
1. cz in Polish, tsch in German, c (before e) in Italian
2. not exact equivalent in Polish, ch in Spanish, c (before i) in Italian
3. ć in Polish
4. sz in Polish, sch in German, and... sh in English
5. k in Polish and all other languages
6. ch in Polish, kh in other languages
Enough?

So try now with an English vowel - may favourite one is I - here you are:
1. aj in Polish, ai in Italian, ei in German
2. i in Polish, i in Italian, i in German
3. something between Polish i and y, sometimes i in German or u umlaut
4. y in Polish

So guys, if you managed to learn all these funny inconsequences in English language (inherited from deep past and different languages: Latin, Anglosaxon, French, Greek, Gaelic), don't worry Polish is boringly predictable.

You just attacking it from the wrong side.

Polish vowels are plain vanilla.
With one exception of o-accented which sounds exactly like u.
Besides of this what you hear is what you write.
And of course always - even in this exception - what you read is what you say.

The case of Ę in word endings (ultima) is slightly exagerated.
It used to be full nasal vowel like IN in French or EN in Portuguese.
However now there is tendency to pronounce it like E proper - you know on the end of the word young guys have no more power to blow through nose.

So you have here:
Word PROSZĘ (I ask/here you are) you can pronounce:
PROSZĘ (full nasality, sounding artifically and rarely listened),
PROSZE' (with reduced nasality, often heard) or
PROSZE (with no nasality at all - very popular).
CHCĘ (I want): CHCĘ, CHCE' (most popular), CHCE, CHCEM (used by louts and of course by some politicians)
CIĘ (you = thee): CIĘ, CIE', CIE - with even more popular reduction of nasality.

But believe me all forms are equally understood - it's a matter of style not of intelligibility.
And you never learn this small differences of still changing language but only through listening native speakers and repeating.

The same with consonants with very few exceptions and some general rules.
Voiced consonants sometimes are becoming voiceless to make the pronunciation easier.
Next66
5 Feb 2010 #315
rz after p is always pronounced as sz

you just contradicted the all others "polish native speakers" guys, who claim that rz is always pronounced like

s in casualty or rz in morze...

NO WONDER THAT 98% POLISH PEOPLE HAVE MEDICAL CERTIFICATE FOR "DIZORTOGRAFIA " UNIQUE IN THE WORLD "DISEASE" ILNESS :)))

mafketis 24 | 8,939
5 Feb 2010 #316
Oh pleae, you're an idiot and your English isn't .... very good. It's hard for me to imagine that a native speaker (who isn't drunk) would make the mistakes that you do. Please pay attention to my corrected form and maybe you'll learn something - or maybe not.

"You just contradicted all the other "Polish native speakers' who claim that rz is always pronounced like s in casualty or rz in morze.

No wonder that 98 % of Polish people have a medical certificate for 'disortografia', an illness unique in the world."

Once you learn English beyond the pidgin level, maybe I'll take your rantings seriously.... maybe.

Oh, and many native speakers of Polish aren't especially aware of the voicing assimilation that goes on in the language. The principle is very simple to learn however (unless you're dumb as a box of sand). Then again, native or very fluent speakers of English (a category you obviously don't belong to) are mostly unaware of voicing assimilation or stress placement rules in English either.

Overall, I suppose it's easier and more fun to make silly and inaccurate claims about Polish than admit the grim truth that you just don't have brains enough to learn it. Just not very bright, I suppose.
Lyzko
5 Feb 2010 #317
Appearing, then disappearing, and then re-appearing consonants 'dz'/dź' etc.. are occasionally troublesome for me still. They drove me nuts when I first started learning maaaaanny moons ago, but, bilinguist that I am, I just retrenched and soldiered on.

An example of what I mean is the conjugation of 'jeżdzić':

jeżdźę
jeżdzisz
and so forth......
Such differences, natural for the Polish native speaker, confront me with subtleties of pronunciation and spelling.
gumishu 11 | 5,495
5 Feb 2010 #318
jeżdźę
jeżdzisz

it is of course jeździć - not jeżdzić (the softness comes from the vicinity of soft dzi)

and so is jeździsz - (softness as above)
but jeżdżę - (no softness here - both ż and dż are hard (soft - hard consonant are Polish terms for the phenomena - don't know English counterparts)

you have pairs of consonants

c - ć
dz(dż) - dź
n - ń
s -ś
z(ż)- ź

the right column are hard the latter soft

there used to be other soft consonants which now is only attested by some dialects (Kurpie dialect which has several unique sounds to it - some are a bit similar to th (theta) sound )
strzyga 2 | 993
6 Feb 2010 #319
Whilst Ii trust a native Polish fellow translator like Strzyga, how can both of us arrive at two separate (professional) conclusions about the same bloody word?

I'm sure that as a language professional you are well aware that relying on bilingual dictionaries is always risky and misleading, unless you're looking for the meaning of simple, basic words like "Tuesday". From the intermediate level on, the way to go are monolingual dictionaries with examples of word usage. For Polish, I recommend the PWN online dictionaries: usjp.pwn.pl - no example sentences here, but the definitions are correct. Also googling whole phrases can be quite helpful.

A caveat is that this method may diminish translation skills.

Actually, in my opinion, it's quite the opposite:) a good translator must be able to "switch gears", or to switch between thinking in two languages. It's more time-consuming, but at the same time more accurate on a deeper level than a simple word-for-word dictionary translation.
Makintosh
6 Feb 2010 #320
c - ć
dz(dż) - dź
n - ń
s -ś
z(ż)- ź

Easy as a piece of pie.

I can speak fluently polish in a matter of minutes...

It is easier than english. So nice and easy :)))))

(I'm being very sarcastical of course)
Lyzko
6 Feb 2010 #321
Strzyga, I agree with you on this latter point, and also concur (in deference to mu colleague!) that a seasoned translator, such as ourselves in our respective languages, should and IS able through thorough training, to "switch gears" and not only translate into as well as from the source language, but into and from a variety of disciplines too, for example business and law. Both are related, as opposed to gastronomy and metaphysics or some such nonsense:-)

I never, that is, ultra-rarely, use a dictionary when translating from or into German! Swedish, Dutch, certainly Polish, I often rely on a dictionary, yet, as an advanced intermediate, I try relying on monolingual Polish-Polish and encourage my advanced ESL-students to do the same.

typo. "....should be and is able to......"
Semsem 16 | 26
7 Feb 2010 #322
Not sure if this has been resolved...but with regards to the morze and może...they are exactly the same.

A great thing SzwedwPolsce posted in a thread of mine was a link to ivona.com, and said the voice "Ewa". Very clear pronunciation, and from what I've heard elsewhere by recordings in Polish it's very, very accurate in pronunciation (I've yet to find anything wrong with it)
z_darius 14 | 3,968
7 Feb 2010 #323
a good translator must be able to "switch gears", or to switch between thinking in two languages.

No question about it. But I wasn't writing what should be but rather what often happens. I was not trained as an interpreter, so perhaps I am unaware of the catches the professionals may have.

Strangely though, I find it easier to translate from my native Polish to English, which is my second language, but I feel that, without prior preparation, some texts would simply be not interpreted properly from one language to another.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
7 Feb 2010 #324
Not sure if this has been resolved...but with regards to the morze and może...they are exactly the same.

Yes of course. It was only a troll that was trying to make people confused.
Lorenc 4 | 28
7 Feb 2010 #325
Every now and then this old tread comes back to life...
Saying that Polish is "the hardest language in the world" is nonsense for a whole variety of reasons. Just to name a few:

n.0 The thing that annoys me the most is the spirit underlying so many of the "Polish is the hardest language" comments. These comments seem to all come from people having little (or no) knowledge not of Polish but also of world languages in general, often including their own native language!

The line of reasoning I imagine is a follows. Someone has a quick look at Polish grammar and finds it difficult. Ergo, Polish must be the most difficult language in the world. An extreme case of hasty generalisation!

n.1 Hardest for whom? For speakers of slavic languages Polish is certainly not that hard. From a practical point of view "hardeness" is relative to the language(s) one already speaks. This objection is discussed at length for example by Wikipedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_difficult_language

n.2 It is true that from a theoretical (as opposed to practical) point of view it is possible to argue that some languages are structurally more complex than some others. For example, I do believe that in several objective ways Esperanto, say, is more straightforward than Polish. In this respect it is also reasonable to argue that written, non-literary English is "easier" than Polish. That said, this observation may be of relevance in a "easiest/ most consistent language in the world" but is irrelavant to the "hardest language" one.

Even confining ourselves to a specific language group for learners (say, English speakers, or speakers of other non-slavic European languages) in the world there are many, many, HARD languages to learn. As someone already mentioned, languages spoken by native Americans are considered very difficult. Languages spoken by few people and/or for which good teaching material is scarce are also more "difficult" from a practical point of view (e.g., the Somalian language). And even if we take into consideration only major languages there are many which are in all probability harder to learn for European speakers than Polish; just to name a few: Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Korean, Vietnamese... I know little about them but certainly they aren't easy.

n.3 Slavic languages all have a similar structure. There's really no reason to single out Polish as definitely more difficult than, say, Czech or Ukrainian. On the other hand I can see several reasons why Polish could be (marginally) easier than some other slavic languages: uses the latin alphabet, there's a good deal of teaching material, there are little variations in accent, the position of the tonic accent is predictable... e.g., Slovene seems harder in this respect.

Finally, some people displaying a good deal of arrogance and ignorance had a pop at Polish orthography.
The Polish orthografic system, although not "perfect", is pretty consistent and predictable.
For example, some time ago, for fun, I wrote a computer program which translates Polish words into their phonetic transcription using the IPA. The program is entirely rule-based, without any built-in dictionary for transcriptions.

After some tweaking with the voicing/devoicing rules the program works pretty well in almost all cases. The only cases where it can get confused is when the -dzi- cluster occurs in words such as podziemny where it should be d+ź and not dź. A similar situation occurs also for the cluster -dż- which can be either the affricate sound dż or d+ż. However I believe dż is found only in verbal forms and in semi-assimilated foreign nouns so that the ambiguity can be resolved with a little thought.
marqoz - | 195
7 Feb 2010 #326
However I believe dż is found only in verbal forms and in semi-assimilated foreign nouns so that the ambiguity can be resolved with a little thought.

What about DŻDŻYSTA DŻDŻOWNICA (drizzly earthworm).
z_darius 14 | 3,968
7 Feb 2010 #327
n.0 The thing that annoys me the most is the spirit underlying so many of the "Polish is the hardest language" comments. These comments seem to all come from people having little (or no) knowledge not of Polish

Username: Lorenc
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hmm... interesting.
strzyga 2 | 993
7 Feb 2010 #328
No question about it. But I wasn't writing what should be but rather what often happens. I was not trained as an interpreter, so perhaps I am unaware of the catches the professionals may have.

Well, there are many catches of course, but the basic rule, be it translating or interpreting, is always the same: translate the meaning and not the words, and it stands even on the level of "good morning" and "how are you". Different languages use different words to convey the same semantic content, and using bilingual dictionaries to check up single words you are likely to end up with phrases like the famous "thank you from the mountain". It's true that it happens often and not only at the beginner level, and this is exactly the reason why I think that bilingual dictionaries can be more of an obstacle than a helping tool. It's much easier to render anything properly using monolingual dictionaries which show you how a word "works" in the language.

Bilingual dictionaries have their uses but they should not be over-used and certainly shouldn't be the only translation tool.

Strangely though, I find it easier to translate from my native Polish to English, which is my second language, but I feel that, without prior preparation, some texts would simply be not interpreted properly from one language to another.

You've been living in an English-speaking country for many years so it might be that Polish has been pushed a little to the back of your mind and you find English phrases more readily available. This would probably reverse if you spent a couple of months in Poland.

As for the preparation, I'm not sure what you mean, but certainly you must know what you're talking about - I mean, understanding of the subject matter is absolutely necessary, you can't translate/interpret anything that you have no idea about, even if you are brilliant in both languages.

a seasoned translator, such as ourselves in our respective languages, should and IS able through thorough training, to "switch gears" and not only translate into as well as from the source language, but into and from a variety of disciplines too, for example business and law. Both are related, as opposed to gastronomy and metaphysics or some such nonsense:-)

I'm not sure about the translating "into as well as from the source language". Many good and seasoned translators work one way only, even if their command of the second language is close to native or even if they come from bilingual families but were raised in only one of the respective countries. I'm not talking about interpreting simple conversations or translating family letters, but of the work one is doing as a professional.

It also depends on the specialisation field, it's possible to work both ways with finances, medicine, law or engineering, but very very few people would be able to translate both ways things like literary essays, not to mention literature as such.

Neither is a variety of disciplines any proof of the translator's seasoning and worth. The worthy and seasoned ones know their limits and don't try to tackle areas they don't know the first thing about. Business and law often go hand in hand, it's even possible that a law translator is a passionate cook and therefore able to handle gastronomic translation, but expecting him to know metaphysical concepts and vocabulary could be too much. The best ones often limit themselves to one field and do just law, or just medical.
Kociak
7 Feb 2010 #329
n.1 Hardest for whom? For speakers of slavic languages Polish is certainly not that hard.

It is funny how you say it is "not that hard".

Yes, just that all other slavic languages are 10000 times easier than polish to learn.

Take Czech for example, which is a modern , very much SIMPLIFIED form of Polish language.

The way that polish language should have been, if it was not stayed in ancient prehistorical times...
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
7 Feb 2010 #330
Yes, just that all other slavic languages are 10000 times easier than polish to learn.

How did you come up with that? I studied Russian for 8 years and I know how difficult a language it is.

Take Czech for example, which is a modern , very much SIMPLIFIED form of Polish language.

I would be really very grateful if you could elaborate on this, with examples if possible. Please!


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