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Why is the Polish language so difficult?


Lyzko 42 | 9,492
2 Jun 2015 #151
"Self-reliant" language?? Hmm, interesting translation, gość!

I'd say "isolated", myself. Then again, that's only me:-)
LOL
gumishu 14 | 6,288
2 Jun 2015 #152
makes learning Polish

jon have you already mastered Polish? i think this is a rhetorical question
the learning curve of the Polish language is so steep that the less abundant vocabulary of Polish doesn't have any significant influence on the learning process for beginners
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #153
makes learning Polish

OK, Jon, let's see how well you have mastered Polish.
Use the verb lać to translate this sentence: He poured beer for his brothers. (And no Googling, that's cheating!)

Also no asking your Polish wife or, if you're still a bachelor, your neighbour, landlord, postman, shopkeeper or whoever!
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
2 Jun 2015 #154
Hate to interject there, Pol'!

"On nalał swoim braciom piwo."

(And NO, I didn't cheat!!! With me, it's honestly right or honestly wrongLOL)
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #155
jon have you already mastered Polish?

An even better question would be at what level someone has "mastered" a language. Has a Polish lady who's lived in the UK since 1946 but still has a strong Polish accent "mastered" English? Has a Ukrainian who scored near 100% in their exam to get Polish citizenship "mastered" Polish? Or not, because of the question they got wrong. I'd say that if you're fully functional in a language, for a significant chunk of your time use only that language and never need to translate anything (or have it translated), if you live with someone who doesn't speak English so you speak it day in day out then yes, you've mastered it; I fall into that category. Worth mentioning though that for all second language speakers (even for example Joseph Conrad who with the help of his English wife wrote a large corpus of literary novels) there is still scope to learn.

i think this is a rhetorical question

Perhaps, and one with a very affirmative answer. You'd be surprised how many people who were originally from other places speak Polish. It isn't Basque or !Kung or Ostyak, no one country or nationality 'owns' it and in Europe it isn't a minor language. I can think of plenty of people (like myself) who use Polish as their main language but haven't always...

the learning curve of the Polish language is so steep that the less abundant vocabulary of Polish doesn't have any significant influence on the learning process for beginners

Having come to Polish as an outsider, I'd disagree that the learning process is so steep - in fact it gets much easier as time goes on. The fiddly bits that defeat some people are early on in the learning process for speakers of non- or lightly inflected languages.

The relatively small and straightforward vocabulary of Polish is a great help for those who have to learn it from scratch.
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #156
To £yżko: I know you didn't, but I'm still waiting for jon to provide his version. Hope he doesn't chicken out! Mocny w gębie (all talk and no action) as Poles say.

he relatively small and straightforward vocabulary of Polish

Anyone saying something so ignorant has no knowldge of or feeling for the very rich and intricate Polish tongue. By comparison the positonal English language is more like a pidgin argot.
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #157
You'll be waiting for a long time then. I don't play games online (edit)

@Lyzko, I'd use

nalał

too. An obvious sentence really.
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #158
coprophilia

(edit) But it was a clever and crafty topic-switch on your in an attempt to conceal your linguisitc ineptitude. At least £yżko doesn't boast about how well he has mastered Polish and humbly says he's pkugging away and learning.

The correct form is: On braciom ponalewał piwa.
Swoim is superfluous in Polish, because unless specified otherwise it means one's own. A Pole would say Żona pracuje w sklepie (A Brit would say: MY wife works in a shop. English greed comes through in their obsession with possession. A Pole says myję zęby, but a son of Albion would have to emphasise: I'm brushing MY teeth. Who the hell's teeth would you be brushing if not your own!?

English uses the sole, primitive form "pour". Polish uses a verb form featuring the distributive prefix "po". The table with broken-off legs is: Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami.

The form piwa is the genitive which is better than the nominative piwo in this case because it performs a partitive function translatable into Limey lingo as "some beer".

But piwo (nominative) could be used if a contrast were involved:
On braciom ponalewał piwo, a siostrom mleko.
Notice Polish has two words for "and" : "i" when contrast is not involved, and "a" when it is.
OK here's another one for £yżko and Jon357. He'd ałready dealt with a favourite homo pastime (any personal experince?); so maybe this time he'll worm out it ("'m not playing with him anymore, mummy") with a few jabs at the RCC.

Anyway, here's the sentence (others are welcome to join):
Using the verb ryczeć (to low, roar) translate into Polish:
The lion was standing on the hill giving off a roar every now and then.
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #159
Interesting that you (a foreigner too!) can comment on the 'linguistic ineptitude' of someone you've never spoken Polish withandin fact only met briefly several years ago, but someone who talks about

rimming

and

homo pastime

in the same post isn't to be trusted as a judge of anything.

Moving back to the topic, there should really be a different title. It says 'why is the Polish language so difficult'. Difficult for whom? A Belarusiananda Malay would have a different perspective. We've established already that compared to English, it has a smallerandmore straightforward vocabularyandtherefore has less to remember. If you can use one word you have access to all that word's variations.
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #160
'linguistic ineptitude'

I seem to recall you had a pronounced foreign accent But so did Conrad in English. Maybe you've overcome it by now? But mastery is mainly about knowling how to express oneself and feeling the language, not necessarily pronouncing it. Here we were dealing with writing which you again wormed out via Belarus anfd Malaysia. I wonder why?
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #161
Then you recall wrong if you remember any foreign accent when speaking English though maybe a you mean that as an American, God's own earth of Yorkshire is foreign to you.

I would agree that mastery is about expression and feeling (for some anyway - it depends why, when, where and to whom you speak it) but mostly about being functional in every circumstance you come across - i.e. having a linguistic reserve greater than ones need. I disagree though about pronunciation - when that's so bad that it impairs communication it's hardly mastery is it? Perhaps you're confusing pronunciation with accent - nothing wrong with a foreign accent as long as it isn't so strong an average urban user (forget people who never meet people from outside their village, and other extreme examples) has difficulty understanding. Mine in Polish isn't particularly heavy however it's worth mentioning that almost any proficient second-language speaker can deliberately vary it to advantage and effect.

As for writing, I'm of the generation who were taught in school to write and read a language rather than to speak and listen. I'm very glad that educational philosophy has changed, not least because I find I can read and write French but seldom have to more comfortably than I speak or listen to it, which I need to do quite often. We should be thankful for modern language teaching methods and dispense with certain traditions as quickly as humanly possible.
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #162
Then you recall wrong if you remember any foreign accent

Yorkshire pudding, Belarus, je parle français aussi, Malaysia and excremental fascination (and remember it was you that raised all those topics so don't twist things around!) is really going to great lengths to cloud the issue - a simple translation request - and cover up your lack of Polish language skills. You'll probably soon drag in global warming and your mum-in-law if you've got one. The accent I was referring to was in Polish. Your Yorkshire is excellent.
jon357 74 | 22,730
2 Jun 2015 #163
Pol3, how would you know what I sound like in Polish since you've never heard me speak it? We've only spoken in English...

You really do seem determined to make people think that Polish is impenetrably hard to learn. This flies in the face of all evidence since plenty of people from other places speak the language fluently and often beautifully, inducing plenty from your country
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
2 Jun 2015 #164
My use of "swoim", I later realized, was indeed superfluous. Thank you:-)

On the other hand, were the sentence ambiguous, i.e. referring possibly to someone else's brothers, then, in order to avoid the "jego"/swój" confusion, I'd have opted for the latter!

"On nalał braciom piwo." Yep. Definitely reads/sounds better.

Here's something curious, people. The 2nd person singular imperative of the verbs "jechać" and "jeść" are both "jedź!"

Crazy, huh?
milawi - | 60
2 Jun 2015 #165
The 2nd person singular imperative of the verbs "jechać" and "jeść" are both "jedź!"

no, it's 'jedź!' and 'jedz!'
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
2 Jun 2015 #166
Done in by the diacritics, eh? Curses! Foiled (yet) again!!!!
:-)
CHOLERA!!!! czyli BLAST AND DOUBLE BLAST!!!!
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #167
plenty of people from other places speak the language fluently

If you were amongst them you wouldn't be writhing and squirming to wiggle your way out a of a simple, straightforward request. I never said Polish was difficult to learn. I only find that your facility therein is not he greatest. And that version stands until you prove otherwise.
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
2 Jun 2015 #168
The "straightforwardness" in reproducing "simple", i.e. basic, English sentences into Polish, ends rather abruptly, as soon the construction is beyond a mere "Where's the bookstore?" type deal! Where in English, the question of tense tends to dog even the more advanced foreign-born speakers, e.g. "How many languages are you speaking?" vs. (CORRECT!!!) "How many languages do you speak?", Polish too with its aspectual shifts, requires infinite care. Impenetrably difficult??? Scarcely. Nevertheless, knowing instinctively and properly when to employ "lać" vs. "nalać", "jechać" vs. "jeżdźić" etc, ad infintium, is no simple task either:-)
kpc21 1 | 753
2 Jun 2015 #169
In £ódź there are two different streets - Plocka and Płocka. In different city regions.

The name of the first street came from a person whose name was Franciszek Plocek (hence "ulica Franciszka Plocka", shortly "Plocka"), while the name of the second one came from the name of the city - Płock. If you write the address without diactrics, the letter/parcel/whatever may get to a totally wrong place :) Admittedly, there are postal codes, but if there is an ambiguity between the code and the address, it happens that the post office follows the address, not the code.

Diactricts are sometimes very important in Polish. This is is a song sung according to a spelling without diactrics: youtube.com/watch?v=T2iISWltdzc

Firstly, the melody of the language virtually disappears, secondly, some words are ambiguous.
Polonius3 983 | 12,333
2 Jun 2015 #170
"On nalał braciom piwo."

Here the PIWO would be accented. In other words it would be understood that he poured BEER, not something else.
Ponalewał is best becuase he probbaly did not pour all the brotehrs' beers from a single jug ina a single motion, but poured one glass after the other. That's why it's called distributive.

£yżko - Feel up to tackling the lion sentence? Jon has chckened out. He's afraid of being shown up.
kpc21 1 | 753
2 Jun 2015 #171
Nalał is here decent. You can say ponalewał if you want to be very precise, but you don't have to.

I would rather say "On nalał braciom piwa". Usually dopełniacz is the case that goes after nalać. After dolać, wlać etc. too. One can ask for example "Nalej mi wody do konewki". It seems that dopełniacz "likes" uncountable nouns. The same is with dosypać, nasypać etc. With biernik: "On nalał bratu piwo" I have the feeling as if the subject was supposed to pour his brother all the beer that is for example in a bottle. Biernik is OK with the basic forms: lać, sypać.
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
3 Jun 2015 #172
Very instructive, kpc21!
Here, the very intricacies, yea, vagueries, of Polish aspects for foreigners.
Many thanks:-)

The distinction then between "POnalewać" vs. "nalać" (not even: "nalewać") is in English the difference between "He poured..." (then stopped) vs. "He

was pouring.." (continuously)?
kpc21 1 | 753
3 Jun 2015 #173
On nalał - he poured (sth to a vessel).
On nalewał - he was pouring (sth to a vessel). Rather not continuously (it's difficult to imagine :) ), but as an activity he was always doing or such that was repeated through some time.

But it works only in the past tense. In the present tense there is only one form - "on nalewa". Which is translated to English either as "he pours", or "he is pouring" dependent on the context.

This is one of the things due to which English is quite difficult to Polish people. There is many grammar forms in English that are not distinguished in Polish.

What about ponalewać? I would translate it such:
On ponalewał - he poured (or maybe has poured? - Perfect tenses in English is also something that is difficult for Polish native speakers). What is the difference between this and "on nalał"? In both cases he did it once, but in case of "on ponalewał", he did it for a few people. The prefix "po-" means doing something once, but repeatedly. Or continuously - but still once. For example:

Dałem mu pojeździć moim samochodem.
compare with:
Dałem mu jeździć moim samochodem.
Dałem mu pojechać moim samochodem.
Dałem mu jechać moim samochodem.

Dałem mu pojeździć moim samochodem. - I let him drive my car. Only once, but wherever and for ever purpose he wanted, even just for him to make himself a short tour.

Dałem mu jeździć moim samochodem. - I let him drive my car. Generally, many times, the time isn't defined (although you can define it later on: ... w ubiegłym tygodniu, ale zostawiał w nim zawsze taki bałagan, że już mu nie daję).

Dałem mu pojechać moim samochodem - I let him drive my car. Only once, and with a defined purpose. E.g. ...po zakupy, ...do pracy.

Dałem mu jechać moim samochodem. - It's also very general. Here I imagine the situation that I am with this person (and a passenger I am talking to about that person) in a car. And I let this person drive. He/she is now driving. Or was driving, but I decided that for example this person is a bad driver, I am afraid of my car and I no longer let them drive - now we are still together, but I am driving.
Lyzko 42 | 9,492
3 Jun 2015 #174
Wow, what a veritable goldmine of info! Thank you, kpc21.

Never hurts to review. And indeed, what you said about Polish difficulties learning English, I can confirm first hand as an ESL-instructor:-)
Tenses seem often as obtuse to Slavs as aspects do to us.

Take for example, "mieszkać": Mieszkam we Forest Hills. = I live in Forest Hills.
POmieszkam we Forest Hills. = I've been living in Forest Hills (..for a while).
ZAmieszkam we Forest Hills. = I live in Forest Hills (.....as opposed to somewhere else!)

Is this the general idea?
NocyMrok
3 Jun 2015 #175
No idea why You all seem to struggle with Polish. I find it somewhat easy. ;)

Take for example, "mieszkać": Mieszkam w Forest Hills. = I live in Forest Hills.
POmieszkam we Forest Hills. = I will live in Forest Hills (..for a while).
ZAmieszkam we Forest Hills. = I will move to Forest Hills

Fixed.
jon357 74 | 22,730
3 Jun 2015 #176
£yżko - Feel up to tackling the lion sentence? Jon has chckened out. He's afraid of being shown up.

There you go again, Pol3. Must be a quiet day for you. I will say that a. ponalewał sounds uncomfortable - you wouldn't hear that often and b. you wouldn't hear anyone say that sentence much either.
NocyMrok
3 Jun 2015 #177
Lyzko. In all of these sentences You would say: "w Forest Hills" not "we".
gumishu 14 | 6,288
3 Jun 2015 #178
I will say that a. ponalewał sounds uncomfortable - you wouldn't hear that often and b. you wouldn't hear anyone say that sentence much either.

ponalewał is the regular form and is widely used by anyone competent in Polish - the other ways of conveying the same message are highly periphrastic

jon - there is simpler way to tell your competence in Polish just translate a simple dialogue into Polish:
-I will tell mum!
Don't tell mum!
simple - if you get it right I will proclaim you are competent in Polish
NocyMrok
3 Jun 2015 #179
I'm native. I would say "nalał swoim braciom" not "ponalewał". I night be not competent enough, though.
gumishu 14 | 6,288
3 Jun 2015 #180
it may be quite nuanced but 'nalał swoim braciom' does not convey exactly the same notion as 'ponalewał'


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