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Why is the Polish language so difficult?

AgnesRM 1 | 2
11 Dec 2014 #121
I'm a native speaker of this language and I don't think it's hard to learn polish. In every language are easy and difficult things, right? In my opinion the most difficult think in polish is how to perfectly express ą, ę, ć etc. I try to teach people pronunciation and everytime I see that this's the biggest problem. The rest is manageable :]
Veles - | 200
11 Dec 2014 #122
I'm a native speaker of this language and I don't think it's hard to learn polish.

Because you are a native speaker.

Grammar is much more complicated than ortography. Too many forms, too many rules.
Vincent 9 | 873
11 Dec 2014 #123
too many rules.

and too many exceptions to the rules!
17 Jan 2015 #124
It depends how hard you try! 40 million Poles manage to speak it so it can't be that difficult for somebody who wants to learn.
PD1979 - | 5
21 Jan 2015 #125
I visit Poland several times a year, and for the past couple of years I have been trying to learn some more Polish than the very basic 'tourist Polish'. I have only been using audiobooks, so basically I have learned some new words and phrases, but that's about it. The problem I find, is when I attempt to speak Polish, Polish people just speak English back to me! Funnily enough, I have been mistaken for a Pole a few times in my local Polish shop, probably due to so few English people shopping there.
9 May 2015 #126
A lot of Polish people think they speak this language properly, even though they often make mistakes...
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
9 May 2015 #127
You bet! I simply advise most of them in Polish that they needn't butcher my language any more than I should or shouldn't be permitted to mutilate theirs!

They're frequently non-plused!
Wulkan - | 3,169
10 May 2015 #128
A lot of Polish people think they speak this language properly, even though they often make mistakes...

Interesting discovery but that applies to every language and every person in the World.
10 May 2015 #129
Poles claiming Polish is easier than English barely know each. I know Poles living in UK for 5 years+ claiming English grammar being on par with Polish in complexity (nonsense again). In total English is easier to a Pole than Polish is to a Brit. Especially grammar-wise and TBH most of the world use written English more often than the spoken one (where the real difficulty of English lays). Thing is. Take it easy. Do not make yourself overwhelmed (i.e. don't try to learn all at once). Make it happen naturally. Take breaks when it just doesnt work. Being relaxed helps in learning anything. You will need basic grammar knowledge of Polish though as well as vocabulary
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
10 May 2015 #130
True, Wulkan! A crying shame therefore that not more of them admit it:-)
12 May 2015 #131
So why is English used worldwide? The best answer is: because it's simple ;)
TheOther 6 | 3,678
12 May 2015 #132
So why is English used worldwide?

Because the Brits had an Empire and the Americans won the war?
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
12 May 2015 #133
Correct, TheOther! The Golden Rule has always been "He who has the gold makes the rule!" - Randi Rhodes


"Simple"?? What makes English any simpler for a Pole, say, than Polish for a native English speaker?? It's just a matter of perception in end:-)
Crow 160 | 9,235
12 May 2015 #134
its not difficult to me. Quite natural in any sense. Very melodic and truly nice.
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
12 May 2015 #135
Maybe so, Crow. And maybe not:-) Often, at least with English, this perceived ease of acquisition creates a "tortoise - and - the - hare" symdrome, whereby the foreign English learner thinks the language ever so simple, he/she early on begins to rest on their laurels, making little concerted effort to mastering the more complicated aspects of English which raise it from a sort of cross-cultural baby talk and more on the level of intelligent, articulate (not necessarily academic) conversation!

In order to master Polish, a lot more is required than merely manipulating street slang with a near-native accent! How about the stuff which conversely makes Polish a rich and textured tongue, e.g. Mickiewicz, Tuwim etc.. Necessary for everyday conversation??! Perhaps not for bare-bone basics. Yet, how boring would any communication be were it not peppered liberally with interesting phrases, saws and instances so as (horrors!!!) to make the speakers of that language sound half-way literate, rather than like a bunch of NeanderthalsLOL
1 Jun 2015 #136
When you speak Polish, you must pay attention to some things that you never think about in English.
kpc21 1 | 753
1 Jun 2015 #138
I've been learning German for 9 years and I still have problems with the cases - although my native language is Polish, which has more of them, and they are much more complex. Each language is different and it must always take some time to "catch" it when you are learning it.
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
1 Jun 2015 #139
German is often a "challenge" for foreigners (including myself off and on, and I grew up practically bi-lingual!), not so, so much owing to its intricate morphology, i.e. inflections etc., but principally, its word order combined with often labyrinthine sentence length, especially in formal, academic language:-)

Polish has what has been termed, even by certain Poles, a "quirky" counting system, especially after the number "five". True enough. German on the other hand can confound many a non-native, learner as well as advanced user, by the mere placement of certain particle words.

Polish frequently reveals irregularities of conjugation in addition to an involved aspectual system which can be rough going at the start, e.g. the transition from a basic, ordinary verb such as "ciąć" (cut): tnę, tniesz, tnie etc..., not to mention the prefixed perfective forms too.

Another thing I've learned about Polish, compared with German for example, is that it's spelling often is based on the word stem, that is, on which letter the root ends. Knowing the"hard" as opposed to "soft" stems in a fair number of Slavic languages determines the spelling, even the gender, of a noun in certain cases. For all words though, this seems to be true.
kpc21 1 | 753
1 Jun 2015 #140
The word order in German is sometimes a challenge, when you have a long, complex sentence, written in an academic style. You read a sentence and you don't know what it's about because you haven't reached the verb yet :) But I wouldn't call it difficult - there are some basic rules which should be remembered. And - from the point of view of a Slavic language native speaker, who knows already English quite well - there are some similarities to English, which often help.

An advantage of German is the pronounciation - it's very easy to learn, unlike English, in case of which it makes the beginners big troubles for a very long time. I wouldn't also say that the grammar is difficult - although it's specific.

In fact German gives more freedom while building a sentence than English. In English you have the order - the person first, then the verb and the rest of the sentence. It's difficult to add something in front of the verb. In German you just put the person at the third place and then you can add something in front. Of course, such freedom, as in case of Polish, and probably all other Slavic languages, isn't given neither by English, nor by German :)
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
1 Jun 2015 #141
As a linguist and college-level instructor of German for many years, I can only concur regarding most of what you've said.
Polish word stock is usually unfamiliar to Americans especially, except if they've already studied Russian! The latter can help a little, of course, but only for the most basic similarities.

Polish nouns are ALL declined and this often includes even place names, something which rarely exists in German (at least in modern German). While Polish has no articles, it does have three genders (unless one categorizes masculine virile animate vs. inanimate as separate genders!) and the endings are not always an indication of the noun's gender if a learner just glances at it.

On the other hand, German has eight different plural markers, including zero-marker for a noun with no change:-)
2 Jun 2015 #142
Polish is neither difficult nor easy. It only depends upon one's native language. Polish is difficult for people speaking Germanic, Latin, Baltic, etc etc... languages but it is very easy for those speaking Slavic languages. I lnow tons of people from other Slavic countries and all after a few months in Poland they all could speak and write good Polish. Recently a Russian client, recently moved to Poland told me that most people in Poland could not realize she was not Polish just by her command of Polish language.

In the same way, Poles can easily learn other Slavic languages whereas they have a hell of a time to learn non Slavic languages (English to a little extent, German, French, even Spanish which SEEMS easy but quite exotic to Poles).
Wulkan - | 3,169
2 Jun 2015 #143
even Spanish which SEEMS easy but quite exotic to Poles)

Spanish is easy and has a lot of shared vocabulary with Polish like la fabrica - fabryka (factory)
2 Jun 2015 #144
@Wulkan: Polish has a lot of words of Latin origin, often thru French (tons of French words in Polish vocabulary, although often spelled the "Polish way"). Spanish although easier than a lot of languages as it is first of all phonetic has a complexed grammar (for instance 2 "to be" auxiliaries, subjunctive mood...). I agree that taking Spanish at a A1-A2 level is easy but when reaching a C1-C2 level is another story ;). I personally have never met anyone from Poland completely accurate in Spanish. There is a HUGE difference between taking beginner or intermediate level and speaking the language at (near) the native level ;).
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #145
words of Latin origin

I don't know if many other languages (Slavonic or otherwise) have as many geographic terms borrowed from Latin. E.g.: Tamiza (Thames), Sekwana (Seine), Akwizgran (Aachen), Mediolan (Milan), Monachium (Munich) and many more.
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
2 Jun 2015 #146
Polish counting, once again, was the hardest for me at the beginning. Not that memorizing vocab. etc.was a romp in the park, but it took me quite some time to master the cardinals correctly, particularly in writing.

In conversation, I could occasionally "slide by":-)
2 Jun 2015 #147
Polish is no match to English in this sence. About 70% of English words have Latin origin, often through the French language
Polish is more selfereliant , i suppose
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #148
And many words from Ancient Greek before that. Plenty of such words in Polish, however vocabulary similarity isn't the biggest factor about whether a language is difficult or not.

Fortunately for those who have learnt the language, Polish has very few words compared to English - if you factor out changes in word endings, gender influence, etc it has far fewer so much less to remember.
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #149
Polish has very few words compared to English

Probaly in the technical field that may be true, but Polish is a very prolific language in terms of variant forms caused both by prefixes (for verbs) and suffixes for nouns. (I am nto referring the inflected forms.)

Just take pies (dog): we have piesek, pieseczek, psina, psisko, psiak and probably a few more. English has to use descriptive adjectives to render the general flavour of what is intended. Naturally if you only consider the base form pies, then you can say English has mroe words.

Or take prefixes o, od, do, nad, prze, przy, roz, z, za,wy, u, pod, etc. and combine them with verbs like iść, robić, być, lać, sypać, czytać, pisać, pracować and many more. Case rests!
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #150
Nope, nothing to do with "the technical field" at all.

Just take pies (dog): we have piesek, pieseczek, psina, psisko, psiak and probably a few more.

You perhaps missed the bit in the post you were replying to that covered that. Those examples are just variants of the same word - if you know even one, you know the rest from the context.

English has a far larger and richer vocabulary than Polish - makes learning Polish easier and English spoken internationally a limited register of the language.

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