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Do English-speakers sound funny when we speak Polish?


Forumsuser13 1 | 11    
27 Jul 2014  #1
As a fairly new learner of Polish, I found it difficult to learn to pronounce ć, ś and ź and distinguish them from cz, sz and rz/ż.

I read in the book "Teach Yourself Polish" that it is important to distinguish between them, otherwise Poles might laugh at us! Do English-speakers sound funny when we speak Polish?

If my accent sounds funny anyway, then I should move to Poland and become a comedian. Then I would have an advantage over Polish comedians because of my funny accent :)
InWroclaw 89 | 1,922    
27 Jul 2014  #2
I am told apparently yes, it's something of a novelty to Polish ears, amusing even, unless we get the sounds exactly right and sound almost native. It probably can be done, at least on British member of the forum here apparently manages it (I shall spare his blushes and not name him!).

I'm told Brits sound as if they are speaking while enjoying a nice big chunk of Bournville chocolate!
jon357 65 | 13,627    
27 Jul 2014  #3
That's the thing, novelty. Remember, a lot of Poles have never heard anyone from abroad speak more than a few words of their language, whereas someone from the English-speaking world usually has.and frankly only has to switch on their tv.

Polish is stress-timed like Italian, which is why it can sometimes sound impatient, formal and unfriendly, whereas Enflish is syllable-timed like Arabic, which is why it can sound emotional, laid-back and imprecise to them.
Roger5 2 | 1,476    
27 Jul 2014  #4
Enflish is syllable-timed

Stressed-timed, surely.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,922    
27 Jul 2014  #5
Polish is stress-timed like Italian, which is why it can sometimes sound impatient, formal and unfriendly

I have no idea what you mean but I'm sure you're right! I'll have to look into this, because I've never heard that stuff before and it's probably something I should know, especially at the middle class Polish dinner parties that beckon ;)

I've had to look these terms up, never 'eard 'em before in me life!

teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/stress-timed

:( quelle embarrassment
jon357 65 | 13,627    
27 Jul 2014  #6
Stressed-timed, surely.

Yes, other way round :-)

Always worth checking before pressing post...
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,102    
28 Jul 2014  #7
Do English-speakers sound funny when we speak Polish?

Of course they do, but not the pronunciation, but use of incorrect words. Ja byłem?, Ty byłes? Widziałeś mojego piesa?

I'm trying to reach another level of Jedi training and do not laugh as I'm aware that my English is still far away from perfect :)
Wulkan - | 3,280    
28 Jul 2014  #8
Ja byłem?, Ty byłes?

but those two are correct...
Ziemowit 12 | 3,101    
28 Jul 2014  #9
Widziałeś mojego piesa?

Oh yes, that one would sound "aggressively" funny. Also, widziałeś mój pies? or widziałeś mój psa? woud sound funny, although much less funny than the quoted one.

Yes, other way round :-)

What is the difference between "stress-timed" and "stressed-timed"?
jon357 65 | 13,627    
28 Jul 2014  #10
None. The term is usually stress-timed. A simple matter of Isochrony. Polish is not stress-timed, although Russian is, which is why it sounds more mellifluous..
Wulkan - | 3,280    
28 Jul 2014  #11
Which is very good, that makes Russian sound so different from Polish.
beckski 12 | 1,619    
29 Jul 2014  #12
I don't even attempt to ask for items by their Polish name any more, when I visit the Polish churches in California. I'm tired of always getting corrected on my Polish pronunciation!
pam    
29 Jul 2014  #13
Do English-speakers sound funny when we speak Polish?

I've been tempted but never asked friends this question. Not because I'm overly worried about the answer, but how are they supposed to describe what I sound like?

I'm told Brits sound as if they are speaking while enjoying a nice big chunk of Bournville chocolate!

Well I hope I don't sound like this!
On the occasions I have chatted to people in Poland, two things crop up time and again. Many people have asked if I'm German, which begs the slightly more worrying question, what do Germans sound like when speaking Polish? Better or worse than us Brits speaking Polish? Or they ask if my parents are Polish. Hmm.

I'm seeing a Polish friend later. I might just have to ask if I sound like I'm eating chocolate when I speak Polish...............
jon357 65 | 13,627    
29 Jul 2014  #14
Many people have asked if I'm German, which begs the slightly more worrying question, what do Germans sound like when speaking Polish?

Often very good. Remember, Germans are more likely than Brits to spend time in Poland and to speak Polish. Some speak it very well, albeit with a distinctive accent. Be thankful they didn't ask if you're French :-)

they ask if my parents are Polish. Hmm.

People often assume this about me.

As I mentioned, people in PL, especially outside the capital, aren't used to hearing people from further west speak the language which leads to all sorts of assumptions.
Ziemowit 12 | 3,101    
29 Jul 2014  #15
what do Germans sound like when speaking Polish? Better or worse than us Brits speaking Polish?

Both German and French people are easily recognizable when speaking Polish. Those two languages are phonetically very "strong" (I'd say that English is rather "soft" in this respect). It is quite surprising that even those who master Polish perfectly as, for example, German actor and writer Steffen Möller (I haven't heard him making any grammatical or usage mistakes as of late) still have a slight German accent that give them away.

The Polish person trying to sound "natively" English is funnily shown in one of the film comedies by Stanisław Bareja (I've forgotten which one, however). That person is announcing arrivals and departures at Fryderyk Chopin airport in Warsaw both in Polish and English and when she finishes an announcement in Polish and begins in English, she takes a noodle or two out of a plate which stands ready for that in front of her and is then making her announcement turning those noodles in her mouth as if preparing to swallow them. This action of her is supposed to secure the proper native (or near-native) pronunciation of English words at the international airport. Eventually, it may give you an idea of how the Polish people "hear" or perceive the sound of English.
milawi - | 60    
29 Jul 2014  #16
comedies by Stanisław Bareja

:)) it's 'Miś'

youtu.be/a_4blWBV7ao
Wulkan - | 3,280    
29 Jul 2014  #17
The Polish person trying to sound "natively" English is funnily shown in one of the film comedies by Stanisław Bareja

Wrong, this shows how a native English speaker (particularly British) speaking English sounds to Poles (but not only Poles, I have come accross this stereotype in other countries too). Like one had a mouth full of noodles when talking so instead of speaking clearly he mambles.
pam    
30 Jul 2014  #18
Some speak it very well, albeit with a distinctive accent.

It was the accent bit that was worrying me! German language sounds quite harsh and guttural, at least to me, so I couldn't imagine anyone German speaking Polish without a heavy accent.

I'd say that English is rather "soft" in this respect

I agree. English does sound softer compared with German and French which is why I was so surprised that many Poles mistakenly thought I was German. I don't even have a regional accent ( so I've been told ).

I think with phonetically strong languages it would be very hard to eradicate all traces of them when speaking another language. A person would need a very good ear and a lot of practice on a daily basis to speak Polish like a native, and more importantly, sound like one.

On the plus side my friends don't think I speak Polish like I'm eating a piece of chocolate :), but unfortunately I am the only Polish speaking Brit they know, so they don't have anyone else to compare me with and they haven't come across any Polish speaking Brits back in PL either. But it's as I thought. They can't describe what I sound like speaking Polish any more than I can when they speak English, which is why the subject hasn't cropped up before. All they could say that was they didn't think my accent was particularly strong.

it's 'Miś'

Lol
Roger5 2 | 1,476    
30 Jul 2014  #19
What is the difference between "stress-timed" and "stressed-timed"?

The difference is that the second one is wrong. Typed in haste. Sorry.

I sound like someone asking for loose change outside the night shop when I attempt to speak Polish.
E_West - | 9    
5 May 2018  #20
Merged:

Funny mispronounciations of Polish



Hello! I'm wondering if someone could help me

I'm not Polish, actually just curious and would like to know more about Polish people, the culture and the language. I was wondering if you'd like to share some common mistakes foreigners do when they try to learn the Polish language?

I'm writing a story as a hobby where one of the characters is Polish. I have a scene where one of his friends are trying to impress his family with saying some phrases in Polish he's been trying to learn which results in a disaster because he ends up saying something totally embarrassing because he can't pronounce the words right.

This is just a silly question, really, but if someone would like to help me with this I'd be very happy! :)

I think the Polish language is very cool but seems to be difficult so I don't know if I can hope learning it someday. :)
Lyzko 18 | 5,303    
6 May 2018  #21
We doubtless sound as "funny" to Poles as do Polish-speakers to Anglophones when they speak foreign languages.....including English:-)
E_West - | 9    
6 May 2018  #22
Of course..... but what I meant was a situation where you mispronounce a word in a way that makes it sounds like a totally different word. I'm sorry if I'm not explaining it in a good way. English is not my first language, :P
gumishu 11 | 4,850    
6 May 2018  #23
check Chcę pić versus Chcę picz. Pić is typically mispronounced by Enlgish speakers as picz. I posted about it in this thread but it was moved to another thread an merged with another post of mine which was nothing short of idiotic
E_West - | 9    
6 May 2018  #24
What do the phrases mean?
gumishu 11 | 4,850    
6 May 2018  #25
Chcę pić - I want to drink
Chcę picz - I want pussy
E_West - | 9    
6 May 2018  #26
I see x) !!!!

Do you have any other phrase that isn't that much of a .... disaster but just a little funny?

Thanks for helping me!

I'm wondering how a Polish family would react to that? What do you think? Would it be funny or would it just be very awkward? :P

If I'd be in a situation like that I'd be so embarrassed. 😑
jon357 65 | 13,627    
6 May 2018  #27
We doubtless sound as "funny" to Poles as do Polish-speakers to Anglophones when they speak foreign languages.....including English:-)

Spot on Lyzko. One difference though is that people from your home city and mine are used to people speaking English with other (including Polish) accents, whereas people in Poland (outside Warsaw anyway) have often never had a conversation with anyone speaking Polish with a foreign (including Britsh or American) accent.

This is slowly (but fortunately) changing.
gumishu 11 | 4,850    
6 May 2018  #28
I'm wondering how a Polish family would react to that? What do you think? Would it be funny or would it just be very awkward? :P

to be honest most people would attribute it to your English accent and not hold any grudges and rather find it funny (I bet they would at least snicker, some would burst out with laughter)
E_West - | 9    
6 May 2018  #29
I understand! Maybe it would work. I need something that would be an ice breaker in a pretty tensed situation.
kaprys 1 | 1,355    
6 May 2018  #30
Proszę (please) vs prosię (piglet).

I also remember an anectode from a tv show: an Italian (?) guest was left at his Polish friends' shop or workshop. They taught him 'Właścicieli nie ma' ( the owners are not in) in case someone phoned. He did say that but he made it somehow sound like 'Gwalcicieli nie ma' ( the rapists are not in)... His Polish friends were later told about a strange guy answering the phone in the shop ;)



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