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Which language is easier for Poles?


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
7 Aug 2011 #1
I fully realise not all the following are regarded by everyone as proper languages (only dialects), but without nitpicking, in what order would you rank the following tongues in terms of their intelligibility to the average Pole:

Czech, Ukrainian, Slovak, Kashubian, Belarusian, Silesian, Wendish and Ukrainian. My guesstimate (from least to most difficult):
1. Silesian
2. Wendish
3. Slovak
4. Kasubian
5. Ukrainian
6. Belarusian
8. Czech
7. Russian
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
7 Aug 2011 #2
4. Kasubian

Are you serious? How did you arrive at this conclusion? Have you ever found yourself in a Kashubian-speaking environment? And why would you place Ukrainian and Belarusian so low on the intelligibility scale?
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
7 Aug 2011 #3
1. Silesian

Definately. There seem to be many dialects of it but the most popular one is just Polish with accent and some random Germanized words put into it. No idea about Wendish... Slovak definately should be close to the top just like "western" Ukrainian, Kashubian should be behind both of them, It is far more difficult than I expected. Russian... It's much easier once you figure out the accent but anyway I would also put it at the end.
emha - | 92
7 Aug 2011 #4
1. Kashubian
2 .Silesian
3. Slovak
4. Ukrainian
5. Belarusian
6. Russian
7. Czech
8. Wendish ????
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
7 Aug 2011 #5
I suppose the answers also depend on personal exposure. Someone with limtied conatcts with Czech or Belarussian migth have a different take on this.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
7 Aug 2011 #6
Silesian is not that hard as Greg has already said. It varies from Polish in the same way as my dialect does from English. The vowel sounds are simply different. Head becomes heid, masz becomes mosz etc etc. There are many more examples of this pattern.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
7 Aug 2011 #7
To sum it up...
1. Silesian
2. Slovak
3. Ukrainian
4. Belarusian
5. Kashubian
6. Czech
7. Russian

(?) Wendish

I'm not sure about Kashubian but what I heard several times was a totally different language from Polish...
Seanus 15 | 19,706
7 Aug 2011 #8
Why is Russian that much more difficult than Ukrainian? They both use Cyrillic and are sufficiently different.

Kashubian is very different. My friend's GF is from there and he asked me to guess what they were saying. I tried but, predictably enough, gave the answer he expected through thinking in Polish. The Kashubs meant sth entirely different.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,734
7 Aug 2011 #9
Why is Russian that much more difficult than Ukrainian?

Ukrainian is very similar to Polish in many respects - a lot of nouns are really, really similar.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
7 Aug 2011 #10
So is Russian. I did some online tutorials and the similarity was remarkable. However, the question for me is, does Ukrainian have many false friends? I know Russian has a fair few.
gumishu 11 | 5,017
7 Aug 2011 #11
Silesian is arguably a different language - it can well be defined as a dialect of Polish - Kashubian very different thing - sometimes hardly understandable for an avarage Pole - I would argue less so than some Slovak dialects - and for those unfamiliar with Kashubian and familiar with Russian Russian would be more comprehensible - I have heard some Slovaks speak in Zakopane (they must have been just from across the border - in accentuation and manner and phonetics (the sounds of the language) it was very similar to Polish but you tend to hear strange words - so you actually first think it is some strange dialect of Polish you have never heard (then after a while you realize it is not Polish after all)
Halloween - | 30
7 Aug 2011 #12
Any one who puts Ukrainian or Belarusian higher then Czech has no clue about the subject...
gumishu 11 | 5,017
7 Aug 2011 #13
Czech is not that readily understandable for Poles I don't know about Ukrainian
Sidliste_Chodov 1 | 441
7 Aug 2011 #14
I went to school with a few Ukrainians, and trust me, I coulnd't understand what the hell they were talking about lol. Whereas my mum can speak Russian, but she can understand them pretty well. I often hear people speaking what I think could be Russian or Ukrainian around town; when I'm a few metres away, it sounds like a language I may be able to understand. But when I get close enough to pick out certain words, I realise that they may as well be speaking Spanish or German :)
gumishu 11 | 5,017
7 Aug 2011 #15
I went to school with a few Ukrainians, and trust me, I coulnd't understand what the hell they were talking about lol.

I learned some Russian in school (i'm this old :) - I can understand a lot of Russian and I'm more than familiar with their ways of speaking - so I guess it gives you a pretty good position to understand Ukrainian - Poles who never learned Russian may not be in such an advantageous position
Seanus 15 | 19,706
7 Aug 2011 #16
So much depends on factors such as resistance, exposure and desire. A lot of Silesian words are completely different asides from the vowel changes I outlined above. Many times I've stumped my wife by using Gwara but I'm sure she'd understand some Ukrainian verbs which can be similar. Trust me, some Silesian is very different from standard Polish.
gumishu 11 | 5,017
7 Aug 2011 #17
I know but I had some exposure - I don't say I can understand all but I can most - the vowel changes are pretty easily deciphered by an avarage Pole - those different words are not
Seanus 15 | 19,706
7 Aug 2011 #18
Don't be so sure, gumi. Many have told me the same but my book put them to shame ;)
southern 75 | 7,096
7 Aug 2011 #19
Slavic languages are mutually intelligible if both sides put an effort.You see it all the time when there is interest(for example Russian customers speaking with czech clerks,czech men trying to pick up russian girls,then misconceptions actually vanish).
grubas 12 | 1,391
7 Aug 2011 #20
Slavic languages are mutually intelligible if both sides put an effort.

Not true.It is easy to make Polish SOUND like Russian but it doesn't mean that Russian speaker will have ANY clue what you are trying to say.I was learning Russian in school for 8 or so years but when few years ago an Ukrainian girl (a stripper working in Japan btw) approached me on Heathrow airport we both had a very hard time to understand each other.

Any one who puts Ukrainian or Belarusian higher then Czech has no clue about the subject...

True.I guess only Slovakian comes closer to Polish than Czech does.Czech is kinda like very very old Polish though sometimes words means something completelly different.For instance sklep in Chech means piwnica or my favorite szyja in Czech means kark and karkmeans szyja.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
8 Aug 2011 #21
Grubas, both refer to the neck so it's not that different. Here in Silesia, kark refers to a guy with a big neck and not the meat.
grubas 12 | 1,391
8 Aug 2011 #22
Grubas, both refer to the neck so it's not that different.

Now you are thinking in English it does make a difference Sean.For instance women in Poland don't wear necklesses na karku but na szyji hence naszyjnik not nakarknik.Right?

Here in Silesia, kark refers to a guy with a big neck and not the meat

It's common in whole Poland to refer to mafia/organized crime groups "soldiers" as karki.As for meat it's karkówka my friend.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
8 Aug 2011 #23
Yes but the stem is the same. Karkówka or karczek, yes. I'm aware of that but, again, I'm referring to the stem. They were necklaces na szyji, yes, but the essence of the words is the same. They both refer to the neck.
grubas 12 | 1,391
8 Aug 2011 #24
They both refer to the neck.

To an English speaker?Maybe but not to a Polish one.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
8 Aug 2011 #25
Well, the reference is still the same so it's just ignorance not to be able to work it out IMHO. It's all about linguistic stems and awareness, grubas.
grubas 12 | 1,391
8 Aug 2011 #26
Yes but When in Rome...you know.Hey,go tomorrow to Jubiler and ask for a nakarknik for your wife.Then when they won't know what you are talking about tell them they are ignorant.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
8 Aug 2011 #27
Yes but they should still be able to work it out and that's my point. They would see that I am foreign and wonder why I was referring to kark instead of szyja. If they had half a brain then it'd click what I meant. It's all about stems as I keep telling you.
grubas 12 | 1,391
8 Aug 2011 #28
Yes but they should still be able to work it out and that's my point.

Oh I am sure they would but my point is do you want to speak Polish or some gibberish?I bet you already speak gibberish since you live na Ślunsku.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
8 Aug 2011 #29
Cross-language efforts need a broader awareness and not this limited thinking where you narrowly-mindedly think only in your language. Poles often come up short in that respect. The connection is as easy as day for me :)

I don't use Silesian, no. It's not really used much in Gliwice. More in Chorzów or Świętochłowice. Again, awareness.
Sidliste_Chodov 1 | 441
8 Aug 2011 #30
or my favorite szyja in Czech means kark and kark means szyja.

I take it you mean šíje; there are virtually no words beginning with sz in Czech (but I imagine that English-speaking Poles who still think that Czech sounds "hilarious" will get a giggle out of sžít se :p ), oh and btw... it's krk not kark ;)


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