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

benszymanski 8 | 465
11 Apr 2009 #31
That'll be throw then, language language my dear fellow.

Whoops - fingers going faster than brain today. God knows where 'through' came from, doesn't even sound like 'throw' [or 'werfen' if we're in German mode... :-) ]
benszymanski 8 | 465
11 Apr 2009 #33
English has the same 4 cases as German (nom, acc, gen, dat) but in English the dative is pretty much extinct apart from with words such as "whom".
Bratwurst Boy 12 | 11,894
11 Apr 2009 #34
add me to it, it makes it 4 :-)

Now with four we need a hymn, a constitution and a uniform! :)
gumishu 13 | 6,067
11 Apr 2009 #35
so Poles should abandon Polish and learn German instead then it would be easier for the English to communicate with us (not meantionig the Germans )

wait - why shouldn't then Poles abandon Polish for English instead of German? and should Germans stick to German?

okgirl66 3 | 90
11 Apr 2009 #36
so Poles should abandon Polish and learn German instead

NO !! I love polish even though it's really difficult - people should enjoy the challenge. I don't like the sound of german - reminds me of old war movies. Keep poles speaking polish and I'll be happy :-)
11 Apr 2009 #37
what on earth is "basic fluency"

I'd say that's more or less the equivalent of CPE in English. It's one step
lower than "native fluency", which in case of Polish, I consider to be
impossible to achieve for a non-native speaker. Of course I might be wrong
but, so far, I've never met any foreigner speaking Polish with native fluency
(and at least 2 with good basic fluency :-)).
F15guy 1 | 160
11 Apr 2009 #38
It has gone to the opera."

LOL. That is a terrific line.

but in English the dative is pretty much extinct apart from with words such as "whom".

Isn't whom accusative? E.g. whom do you see?
benszymanski 8 | 465
11 Apr 2009 #39
No, other way around:

Who do you see? (acc)

To whom did you give the book? (dative).
gumishu 13 | 6,067
11 Apr 2009 #40
is it not correct to say - whom did you see on the ball/game?
benszymanski 8 | 465
11 Apr 2009 #41
I don't believe so, no.

Edit - just checked and according to wikipedia 'whom' is used as the objective form which could be either accusative or dative:
so in fact you are right.
HatefulBunch397 - | 658
11 Apr 2009 #42
First thing I think when I read something written in Polish:

That looks difficult to pronounce.

Just on first glance it's easy to see Polish would be a difficult language to master.
mafketis 35 | 10,683
11 Apr 2009 #43
is it not correct to say - whom did you see on the ball/game?

It depends on how you define 'correct'. According to many prescriptive grammarians

"Whom did you see at the ballgame?" is technically speaking correct.

But no native speaker actually says that. It sounds bizarre, maybe a little like pronouncing a heavy nasal vowel for every single -ę in Polish. Also technically correct but no one talks that way.

Probably 99.99 per cent of native speakers would say 'who' in that sentence.

'whom' is sometimes (not always) used directly after prepositions (especially when the who is a relative clause marker but if the who and preposition are separated most people will say 'who'.

Those are the people for whom I wrote the book.


Those are the people who I wrote the book for.

who in the first sentence would sound wrong and whom in the second would sound wrong.

And English does not have a dative case anymore.
benszymanski 8 | 465
11 Apr 2009 #44
mafketis - veering off the thread a little - I know both your English and your Polish are red-hot. If I remember from some of your other posts you are a linguist by profession. What other languages do you speak and which one(s) are your native tongue(s)? Hope you don't mind me asking - just wondering...
mafketis 35 | 10,683
11 Apr 2009 #45
First, as a rule linguists _hate_ the question 'how many languages do you speak?' Linguistics is about studying languages as functioning systems (and some other stuff). (but I'm not mad, it's just a hard question to answer and alien to most of my concerns).

The number of languages I'm really capable in isn't necessarily so impressive. On the other hand, the number of languages whose grammars I thoroughly understand is very high. At one time I could parse Japanese sentences with the best of them but I can't speak, understand (much less read) Japanese.

On the other hand, I think the term 'monoglot linguist' is an oxymoron and I don't respect anyone who calls themself a linguist and who only speaks one language but linguistics isn't primarily about learning languages.

Anyway, I like to rank languages by ability

NAmerican English : 1
Polish : 2
Spanish (at various times Iberian and Mexican) : 3
Esperanto : 4
German : 4
Hungarian : 6

Can read a fair amount but not speak or understand:


Roughly at an equal level with thorough knowledge of grammar without much practical ability:


There are others too but they're pretty obscure.
12 Apr 2009 #46
I still rest my case for Navajo, whilst we seem to be ranking language difficulty, the nightmare of English spelling rules (or the lack thereof), and the hurdles of Polish, German, the Baltic tongues or Sanskrit etc.... notwithstanding--:)))

mafketis 35 | 10,683
12 Apr 2009 #47
How do you know about Navajo?

Yes, from the point of view of any European language it might as well be from another universe. I'm a linguist (who has a pretty good understanding of lots of non-western languages) and I can't make sense of the best Navajo grammars written (not for lack of trying).
southern 75 | 7,096
12 Apr 2009 #48
For me the most difficult languages in Europe are german and russian.German because there is only one specific word for every thing and if you use another word it does not make senseso you have to learn all specific words by heart.

Contrary to that the word run in english has over 20 different meanings so you can use it to describe a lot of different actions.The other reason german is hard is the complicated syntax.(it is replica from the classical greek language syntax).

Russian is very difficult due to cyrillic alphabet which makes memorization of the words difficult and due to the heavy use of infinitive forms.
osiol 55 | 3,922
12 Apr 2009 #49
Somebody mentioned Esperanto, but didn't put it at the top of easiness to learn. It is far simpler than English because the spelling system is entirely straightforward. In the language, there are 16 rules to learn and no irregularities. For someone who speaks English or one of the Romance languages, it is so easy it is actually almost boring. For speakers of other Latin-influenced languages, it is also quite simple.

It was invented by a man in Białystok whose day-to-day life called for him to speak Polish, Russian and Yiddish, and as a doctor he needed an understanding of Latin, and it was also in the latter days of dominance of the French language and the rise of English. I suppose he just needed one more language to complete the set and no-one had published any Navaho, Nahuatl or Fang grammars that were readily available.

My father took an interest in Esperanto, and when I was about 10 years old, we went to the annual international Esperanto conference which was in Brighton that year. I spent most of my time at the ice rink, on the beach or strolling around the interesting streets there, but it was interesting to see people of almost every nationality, speaking to eachother in a language which was nobody's first langauge, a language with no government or army or other possible serious negative connotations.

Of course, Esperanto speakers are just a bunch of rope-sandal wearing vegetarian dreamers. Are those things negative connotiations? A more serious problem Esperanto has is the myth that it means to supplant national languages or mother tongues. It's original concept is good, but these days people seem to communicate the world over with "lol", "lmao", "fail" and "brb".
lunchbox 1 | 22
13 Apr 2009 #50
But at least Polish did away with the dual number

Which pointless grammatical gender is that? unless you're raving about the fact that polish has an odd three way masculine form thingy.. I have no idea what you are talking about.

Slovenian has however dropt the vocative case.. or rather.. it is exactly the same as the nominative.
osiol 55 | 3,922
13 Apr 2009 #51
I think the goat may have been saying there is no inherant need in language for there to be any grammatical gender. Not only is a table being masculine and a spoon being feminine nonsensical, but even with actual gender, it is not essential for there to be a difference with words and or grammar when talking about him or her.
lunchbox 1 | 22
13 Apr 2009 #52
Well there may not be any inherent need.. but then you can start putting together a new shiny artificial language that will actually stick and be efficient enough for all uses and trades. I actually quite enjoy these little things in languages that make you want to chew your arms off. It's what makes languages magical :P still, Slovenian hasn't dropt any genders as far as I know... and a table is most certainly feminine in Slovenian :P
gumishu 13 | 6,067
13 Apr 2009 #53
osiol well I can't actually imagine dropping it in Polish; gender thing is simply overgrowing the language, running through it in every direction (isn't it called enmeshed?? :)). This is quite different to German where you could simply use more general Artikel (gosh forgotten the English name for a/the) - could perhaps be der instead of any other. and that's almost it.
Krzysztof 2 | 973
13 Apr 2009 #54
my two grosze in

We say "trzy grosze" (for "two cents") in Polish, inflation :(
osiol 55 | 3,922
13 Apr 2009 #55
I'm not saying any genders should be dropped and I'm not saying we should speak an artificial language. Just look at what is essential in communication and what isn't. Look out - Polish has lost of few of its old features - you're down to only three tenses and two numbers and allegedly the vocative is slipping away. Something else will be next.

I can't imagine gender disappearing in Polish either but based on the IE derived three gender system being whittled down to two in most European languages and in some cases only one, this kind of thing is possible.
niejestemcapita 2 | 561
13 Apr 2009 #56
And English does not have a dative case anymore.
mafketis 35 | 10,683
13 Apr 2009 #57
That page doesn't contradict me:

"the dative case is no longer a part of modern English usage"
niejestemcapita 2 | 561
13 Apr 2009 #58
That page doesn't contradict me:

yeh I know I just thought it was interesting (maybe I should get out more!)....
heres another for you
gumishu 13 | 6,067
13 Apr 2009 #59
osiol - no vocative is not slipping away - maybe it is more rarely used than in the centuries gone by but it is well alive (well I actually do not follow the language of those fresh generations too closely - but I know they make quite a lot of grammatical mistakes (it spreads TV-wise) and what is more they are not familiar with a whole of Polish words which look strange and exotic to them (this is simply limited vocabulary) well actually they speak slang don't they
osiol 55 | 3,922
13 Apr 2009 #60
osiol - no vocative is not slipping away - maybe it is more rarely used than in the centuries gone by

I argumentatively said what I said about the vocative because I hear kids using it. That tells me that it has plenty of life left in it. But when people use it wrongly, it is either a case of altering irregularities into regular forms or, as is less likely, vice versa. The old English word bōc (book) had a plural bōces (pronounced like the word bookies). As fōt and fōtes (footies) developed into foot and feet, bōces developed into beek, but for some odd linguistic reason, during the early Middle English period, it was corrected to the more logical plural of books, although feet never became foots. This could be an example of hypercorrection, although maybe not so hyper.

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