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


Ziemowit 13 | 4,210
28 Jan 2016 #1,381
Czech is just as difficult as Polish (if not more so for English speakers - ř is a dreadful letter and far more difficult than rz for English speakers)

Czech is also difficult for Polish speakers exactly because it bears so many similarities to it. When I have recently started to get some linguistic insight into Czech (mluvitecesky.net - multilingual website to study Czech), I have soon discovered that I'm forgetting the proper Czech pronounciation of words as soon as I leave the website. This is because my learned Polish pronounciation of a very similar, almost identical, Czech word immediately takes over the Czech one.

ř is a dreadful letter and far more difficult than rz

This may be so for an English speaker. When I listen to ř as an isolated sound, I can hear a light "r" followed by ž which ž is perhaps pronounced a bit lighter than the Polish "ż". But when they start to pronounce ř in words and phrases talking at a normal speed, this light "r" tends to disappear and what I can hear is pure ž.

Notice that in Polish the sound of "rz" was also different to the sound of "ż" several centuries ago. That's why we have the two different spellings of what is now the identical sound "ż".

Notice also that the Polish spellings cz, rz, sz were originally Czech invention which the Polish imported, but which Jan Hus, reformer of the Czech ortography got rid of in Czech, replacing them with č, ř, š. Those mediaeval Czech spellings, however, have survived in Polish.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,359
28 Jan 2016 #1,382
Thank you Ziemowit, it's nice to read an insight like this. What you're saying about the similarities causing problems is what my Czech-speaking friend says - that if she doesn't visit the CR for a while, she just starts speaking Czech with Polish pronunciation.

Notice that in Polish the sound of "rz" was also different to the sound of "ż" several centuries ago. That's why we have the two different spellings of what is now the identical sound "ż".

Yes, I was reading about this only today - it was one of those mysteries that suddenly made a lot more sense when reading about the history of it. From an orthography point of view - could rz be dropped these days and completely replaced with ż?

Polish spellings cz, rz, sz were originally Czech invention which the Polish imported

Now this, I didn't know! It has to be said that I really don't like the use of the Latin alphabet in Slavic languages - it just doesn't seem to fit very well. Czech orthography is messy and Polish isn't any better. I always found it curious that Gaj based the Croatian alphabet on Czech as well.

This might interest you - steen.free.fr/cyrpol - I wouldn't want it, but it does seem to make more sense than the messy Latin.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
28 Jan 2016 #1,383
"r" followed by ž

The r in Polish morze evovled from morie to morże and finally morze with only the ż sound. Czech stopped evolving at the rż stage, according to linguist Prof. Miodek.
gumishu 11 | 5,322
28 Jan 2016 #1,384
Czech stopped evolving at the rż stage, according to linguist Prof. Miodek.

Czech one evolved just fine just as the Polish - the sort of rż pronounciation is an archaic feature and hardly anybody speaks that way normally in the Czech Republic
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
28 Jan 2016 #1,385
Polish isn't any better

I have heard of proposals to simplfiy Polish spelling (don't ask ne where) and the haczyk found in Czerch, Slovak, Lithuanian, Slovenian abd Croatian instead of cz,rz, sz and ż. That was back when only print media existed and such a reform would have meant huge savings of ink and paper.

But such a reform would not go over well with traditon-minded Poles.
****
If ani languaj's speling needs to be reformd it's Inglish orthografy, the most ilojikal and inkonsistent in the world (a sample of my suggested phnetic reform).
Ziemowit 13 | 4,210
28 Jan 2016 #1,386
If ani languaj's speling needs to be reformd it's Inglish orthografy, the most ilojikal and inkonsistent in the world

People are simply used to their orthography and not only Polish people. This is not a big issue, anyway. Everyone can learn it at school, it is not rocket sience or quantum physics. Besides, with such a reform that you suggest for English, the bond between the present and past generations will have gradually been lost as all that was published in the older version of English will be increasingly seen as "foreign" by the newer generations who will be taught the "modern" version of English at schools.
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
28 Jan 2016 #1,387
@Wulkan,

Your English mistakes are so legion, I'd need too much time to even BEGIN a short list:-)

Back to Polish, at least when I speak or write Polish, I aim high rather than low! As far as it's supposed difficulty, I defy anyone (including you) to name a language which is, so to speak, easy!!!
Chemikiem 6 | 2,224
28 Jan 2016 #1,388
But such a reform would not go over well with traditon-minded Poles.

Isn't this exactly what has happened over time though?
Traditional Polish was widely used until the 17th Century i think? Much harder than modern day Polish, an insane number of letters in the alphabet, and much harder grammar.
gumishu 11 | 5,322
28 Jan 2016 #1,389
Much harder than modern day Polish, an insane number of letters in the alphabet, and much harder grammar.

Polish ortography didn't change much since the time it was more or less firmly established (somewhere in the middle of 16th century) and before that time there was not so much material written or printed in Polish
Chemikiem 6 | 2,224
28 Jan 2016 #1,390
It has changed considerably if you compare it with modern day Polish though.
I was originally addressing Polonius' post where he said that he had heard about proposals to simply Polish spelling and that this idea wouldn't go down too well with traditionally minded Poles.

I was pointing out that this has already happened over the centuries. Spelling and grammar were far more complicated in those times.
Just look at the Traditional Polish alphabet!

A Ą À Á Ã Ä Å B C Ć Ç Č D E Ę È É Ē F G H Ĥ I Ì Í Î J K L Ł M N Ń O Ó Ò Ō Ø P R Ř S Ś Š ß T U V W X Y Ŷ Z Ż Ź Ƶ Ž Ȥ Z̄ Z͆ Z̪ Z͌ Z͛ Z̊ Z͒ Z͚ Z̾ Z͙ Ẑ Z̀ Z̼ Z̰ Z̧ Z͖

Spelling had to have been harder back then!
gumishu 11 | 5,322
28 Jan 2016 #1,391
A Ą À Á Ã Ä Å

this was not a traditional alphabet - this is a list of fonts or letters which were ever used to represent the sounds of the Polish language - appart from the loss of long e(accented e) and the final equalization of long o (accented o = ó) with u and merging of the sounds h and ch with the inventory of sounds of Polish language haven't changed - just take a look at how many z forms are there in the list - these were all used to represent just the three sounds z, ż and ź at some point in time (before the crystalising of the standard)
Chemikiem 6 | 2,224
28 Jan 2016 #1,392
simply

I meant simplify.

this was not a traditional alphabet - this is a list of fonts or letters which were ever used to represent the sounds of the Polish language

Aha! Thanks for that. The article I took it from didn't mention that. Just said it was the Traditional alphabet.
From what I've read before though, the language was harder than modern day Polish yes? Hardly anyone would speak Traditional Polish these days?
gumishu 11 | 5,322
28 Jan 2016 #1,393
well there were two more extinct past tenses in the Middle Ages in Polish (aorist and imperfectum) -but I am not sure when they were used as opposed to the complex past tense (the current past tense ja byłem is a complex past tense from historical point of view)they survived a bit longer in some dialects and are testified in some old surnames but not much else (some cases endings were different in the past as well)
mafketis 23 | 8,612
29 Jan 2016 #1,394
well there were two more extinct past tenses in the Middle Ages in Polish (aorist and imperfectum)

It's my understanding that in general the old Slavic aorist and imperfectum were used more or less the same way that past perfective and imperfective are used now. That is, they were replaced by the complex past tense. Had the complex past had new meanings you'd expect the older tenses to survive.

In other Slavic languages the Serbo-Croat gang still has an aorist though it's mostly only used in formal writing. Bulgarian still uses the aorist and imperfectum as the main past tenses and the complex past tenses have taken on other meanings (including evidentiality, a grammatical concept probably borrowed from Turkish).

In Polish the main remnant of the aorist/imperfectum is the use of -ch as a first person singular ending in the past which is still found here and there (sometimes chaning into -k or -f(!)) The Czech conditional bych (Polish bym) is another example of that.
Wulkan - | 3,251
29 Jan 2016 #1,395
Your English mistakes are so legion, I'd need too much time to even BEGIN a short list:-)

Which means I hardly make mistakes in English, unlike you, your Polish is just one big mistake!
mafketis 23 | 8,612
29 Jan 2016 #1,396
From an orthography point of view - could rz be dropped these days and completely replaced with ż?

Not sure if that's a great idea beyond a few scattered words, basically rz is always related morphologically or etymologically to r (so morze - morski) while ż is frelated g (mogę and może or on a very different time scale żona is a cognate of Greek gynaika IINM) or borrowed words like żaluzje.

I have heard of proposals to simplfiy Polish spelling

I heard, form someone who would know, that reforming the alphabet along the lines of Czech was seriously considered as late as the 1950s maybe 1960s even but finally the decision was made to not go ahead. *see below for a sample

Also, IINM there was a fairly significant reform some time around the interwar period, which is when the instrumental plural -(a)mi replaced the old -y ending in writing (it had long supplanted it in speech. A couple of fossilized examples of that are 'innymi słowy' or 'przed laty'. I think that was also when -yja was replaced with -ja as in Maryja -> Marja

I'm wondering when tą will become acceptable instead of tę in writing and if it will become acceptable to write spoken variants of numbers like dwajścia instead of dwadzieścia or szejset instead of sześćset...

Here's a random paragraph with haceks and v instead w (no other changes) (mods - this is just a visual sample and doesn't need to be translated AFAIC)

Eteryčny zapach kviatóv unosił się vraz z ciepłym viatrem. Řeźby aniołóv ješče nosiły ślady palcóv dzieci, nievidočne, a jednak Ilona zdavała się uśmiechać bardziej znad opravionej v ramkę fotografii. Kobieta zapalająca znič chłonęła specyfičną nostalgię miejsca i tovařyšące jej ukojenie. "Abyś była ščęśliva i žeby nic nie zakłócało spokoju tvojej dušy" - vyšeptała.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
29 Jan 2016 #1,397
use of -ch as a first person singular

Isn't byłech common to the Silesian dailect and byłek for Góral speech?
mafketis 23 | 8,612
29 Jan 2016 #1,398
I've seen -ch for Silesian (though I don't think it's everywhere ) but don't know about the distribution of -k and -f.

The exact forms of the complex past were in flux for a time but I have no idea how/when the current set was formalized. I do know there were forms like sąśmy and jestechmy (-chmy also from the aorist) for a time in comeptition with jesteśmy (I rather like sąśmy and wish it had won) though I don't know when are where. In western Poland there was an old -m plural as in robilim (instead of robiliśmy).

And more analytic forms rather like russian can be heard in the countryside like my byli
gumishu 11 | 5,322
29 Jan 2016 #1,399
In western Poland there was an old -m plural as in robilim (instead of robiliśmy).

not only western Poland - my grandparents on the side of my mom were from Łomża region and they spoke a dialect similiar to the dialect of Kurpie and they used the pattern of robilim.
mafketis 23 | 8,612
29 Jan 2016 #1,400
similiar to the dialect of Kurpie and they used the pattern of robilim.

Yeah, I checked after posting... I had first heard of it in connection with Wielkopolska and hadn't realized it was more widespread. Was there anything similar in the second person plural?

The first person plural forms seem esp unstable since the complex ending -śmy is partly homophonous with the pronoun 'my' (unlike their other first and second person endings).

I'll add the name of an old album by Kukiz'es group for another example of first person plural weirdness - My już są Amerikany (maybe: We's Americans now)
gumishu 11 | 5,322
29 Jan 2016 #1,401
Was there anything similar in the second person plural?

I don't recall anything peculiar for the second person plural ending - I think it was -ście all the way.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,210
29 Jan 2016 #1,402
they spoke a dialect similiar to the dialect of Kurpie and they used the pattern of robilim.

Just as in this joke from Podlachia:

- Czy jest mięso mielone?
- Mielim.
- To poproszę pół kilo.
- Wczoraj mielim [ty głupia pało, co to nic a nic nie rozumisz]!
gumishu 11 | 5,322
29 Jan 2016 #1,403
I don't recall anything peculiar for the second person plural ending - I think it was -ście all the way.

actually this may have been -śta but I am not sure now
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
29 Jan 2016 #1,404
Vowel shifts in the plural can indeed be daunting for those learning the first time out:-) Orthography too can cause some confusion without repeated practice, e.g. chrząść (which is WRONG, I later discovered!!!) vs. "chrząszcz" etc...

@My dear Wulkan, as far as English, if you omit one more definite article and the the like, I think I'll scream:-)
gumishu 11 | 5,322
29 Jan 2016 #1,405
chrząść

chrząść indeed is not a word in Polish but 'chrzęść' is - it is singular second person imperative of 'chrzęścić' (to scrunch more or less)
Ziemowit 13 | 4,210
29 Jan 2016 #1,406
@My dear Wulkan, as far as English, if you omit one more definite article and the the like, I think I'll scream:-)

That's exactly what I thought of it as well. For a Slavic learner it is just a minor mistake, but for the native speaker of English such an omission must stand out in a rather "unpleasant" way. I myself didn't realize that until I began to engage myself in a continous article-spotting exercise. From then on, the lack of an article makes me scream, too.

At the time t attended school, Polish teachers did not make their students pay much attention to it. Such practice continues, I'm afraid ..
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
29 Jan 2016 #1,407
- Mielim.

I wonder if Podalsie would also say such things as:
Co je żołnierz?
Żołnierz je obroncą pokoju!
gumishu 11 | 5,322
29 Jan 2016 #1,408
no the 'je' in Podlasie is pronounced whit double j (jje) - presumably to avoid confusion
Chemikiem 6 | 2,224
29 Jan 2016 #1,409
For a Slavic learner it is just a minor mistake, but for the native speaker of English such an omission must stand out in a rather "unpleasant" way.

I wouldn't say it stands out in an " unpleasant " way, and I'm a native English speaker!
It really is just a minor but noticeable mistake that many Poles make. In the general scheme of things it's far less important than other aspects of grammar.

I would say it's far easier for learners of Polish to make major mistakes because of the complicated case system.
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
29 Jan 2016 #1,410
Whilst I'd have to agree in the latter point, it's nonetheless no end annoying to be carped upon and caviled for my admittedly common Polish errors, when the poster in question is loathe to correct their own equally common English mistakes!!!

The effect of such intransigence is that somehow Polish is "superior" to English, ergo, mistakes in English are of lesser import:-)

Sort of reminds me of the well-known riposte of Voltaire's when asked by another contemporary whether he planned on learning any English upon visiting Lord Chesterton, to which the great man is said to have replied, "But my dear, what is English anyway, but French spoken badly?" LOL

That sums up much of the continental prejudice regarding English in a nutshell.


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