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What do foreigners find the hardest part of Polish?


Rich Mazur 4 | 3,185
17 Apr 2019 #31
I was born and raised in Poland. Lived there until I turned 24. Still, just reading this thread gave me a world-class headache. I also realized that I would have flunked Polish now. So, I instantly felt sorry for you.

During my last visit in 2017, after a couple of days, I just gave up, switched to English, avoided old (me speak no English) geezers like me, and everything was just fine. I was never hungry or homeless.
Looker - | 1,091
17 Apr 2019 #32
is wj at the start of the word

Yes it's on the very beginning - and it may be either a verb or a noun.
Lri 4 | 39
17 Apr 2019 #33
OK thank you for the hints. The hints tell me maybe the verb (infinitive) is perfective and not imperfective (if w- is a prefix), the infinitive ending in either -ć, or less common -c. The noun derived from the infinitive would be a verbal noun (neuter gender) ending with either -cie or -nie for singular and -cia or -nia for plural? Another question, is the noun used in both singular and plural forms? Or is it used only in the singular? (I noticed that many verbal nouns are used only as singular nouns.). I start my research right now...
mafketis 25 | 9,324
17 Apr 2019 #34
he hints tell me maybe the verb (infinitive) is perfective and not imperfective

To figure out if a given infinitive is perfective or imperfective you need to figure out if the root is perfectie or imperfective and then count the processes applied to it. It's easier than it sounds. Mostly telic roots (that imply a clear goal or end point) have perfective roots and others are imperfective.

Anytime you add a prefix that makes it perfective and you can make imperfective infinitives from perfective ones by added a -w- at the end and/or changing the vowels (and some consonants)

pros- imperfective

popros- perfective

zapros- perfective

zaprasz - imperfective (again)

prepros - perfective

przeprasz - imperfective (again)
Lri 4 | 39
17 Apr 2019 #35
Sorry this'll take a while, as I look for a Polish online dictionary where I can search Polish words solely by first letter(s)...instead of only full-word entries...
Lri 4 | 39
17 Apr 2019 #36
But you've missed one: "wj" - guess the word

Yes it's on the very beginning - and it may be either a verb or a noun

OK finally...a few wj-beginning Polish words I found here: en.bab.la/dictionary/polish-english/w/73

Wjazd(y), noun
Wjazdow(y or a or e or i etc), adjective
Wjechać, infinitive
Wjechani(e or a etc), possible verbal noun derived from infinitive
Wjeżdżać, infinitive
Wjeżdżani(e or a etc), possible verbal noun derived from infinitive

Also, I accidentally found several Polish words beginning with unexpected prefix obj-: en.bab.la/dictionary/polish-english/o/23
Looker - | 1,091
17 Apr 2019 #37
I found

Yes, bravo! This is exactly what I meant.
Lri 4 | 39
17 Apr 2019 #38
Thank you, it was a fun challenge. I enjoy learning new things :)
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
17 Apr 2019 #39
Lri,

Thanks so much for your responses as well as your questions. I'll be happy to help:-)
Don't listen to Rich! Particularly if you have and wish to maintain any sort of steady, serious contact with Poland, not to mention with Polish nationals where you live, there's really no substitute for knowing the language!

Poles here on PF and even in Poland can appear surprised that you are interested in learning their language, but never interpret this to mean that they don't no end appreciate your efforts.

Furthermore, it's always far more rewarding to communicate with Poles in their OWN language.

Almost forgot to add that dictionary entries can be notoriously incomplete! A solid lexicon of common Polish verbs, for instance "500 Polish Verbs" by Barrons, will explain what Mafketis was talking about.
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,185
17 Apr 2019 #40
Don't listen to Rich!

Rich is a genius. He told me this himself.

So, again, as the forum genius, my advice is: stop climbing that hill, Lri. You will get sweaty and muddy for nothing.
To really be fluent in any foreign language, you have to use it 24/7 - at home, at work, and in your social life.

And actually like it. There is nothing likable about Polish.

I am going to get a lot of crap for this, but I don't care since I am speaking from the experience of 24 years of dealing with it so I know. The patriots here are anything but objective.
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
17 Apr 2019 #41
You can't allow personal experiences to tarnish others' desires, Rich! I think it's wonderful the she wants to learn Polish.
More power to her! I mean, what other language are you supposed to speak in Poland? Swahili??!
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,185
17 Apr 2019 #42
I am not against her learning Polish. What I am saying is that studying Polish grammar and the rules is pure waste of time and effort.

Do people study human anatomy to make love? Did you? They just do it first time and get better with practice. Nobody ever got a medical textbook for it. In fact, many would probably be turned off if they did and found out what lives in our mouths and the private parts.
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
17 Apr 2019 #43
How else, Rich, are people expected to learn Polish, any language, with no real knowledge of it's structure etc? By magic?
lol
dolnoslask 6 | 3,085
17 Apr 2019 #44
Now that is an interesting point cos when you are a kid born to a polish family you have no concept of "structure etc" but yet you learn the language quite easily as a kid, but in later life it is far harder to learn a foreign language and structure becomes important all of a sudden.

Interesting, I don't understand Polish or English language structure, but I can speak both at a rudimentary level.
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
17 Apr 2019 #45
Like the old Sausseur model.

His two children were born in Alsace. They grew up speaking German as well as French, their "native language":-)
These were children and children are sponges.

I grew up speaking German alongside English. Polish I didn't begin learning until almost thirty!
I needed plenty of structure and immersion. For German, as well as English, naturally, not so much.

RIch's analogy with not needing anatomy to make love is therefore not entirely applicable in this context.
jon357 67 | 16,915
17 Apr 2019 #46
learn Polish, any language, with no real knowledge of it's structure etc? By magic?

Chomsky and Krashen have both written a lot on this topic.

For what it's worth, I find that people learn in very different ways, to different degrees of fluency and accuracy (far from being the same thing). I've met people whose abilitry in a language has been impaired by trying to be grammatically accurate and also people who need that framework.

And of course an immigrant's way of speaking a language that they pick up while using is a very different animal to that of someone who learnt in language classes in their home country.
dolnoslask 6 | 3,085
17 Apr 2019 #47
I think its simpler to learn the immigrant way, well it's kind of worked for me on my travels, no way would I have any interest in sitting in language class., once in country , sains plomb , my first french lesson for example.
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
17 Apr 2019 #48
Certainly much to said for Steven Pinkert's theory in particular!

He contends that all speakers of their mother tongue are "circuited differently", that is, respond to identical language aka "speech act" stimuli in radically different ways.

As far as Chomsky, that's as valid as any.
For that matter folks, let's all look at how language pedagogy has changed over the decades. We went from the deadening, impractical grammar-translation approach to the direct or "integrative" method, which is exactly how I as an adult learned Polish:-)
jon357 67 | 16,915
17 Apr 2019 #49
I think its simpler to learn the immigrant way,

That's how I did it; when you have to use it, it builds up from there.

that is, respond to identical language aka "speech act" stimuli in radically different ways.

Pinkett's interesting. I find Krashen uncomfortable though probably right, especially on the idiomatic roots of language.

grammar-translation approach to the direct or "integrative" method

In Poland, there's still the concept of prescriptive grammar which tries (though ultimately fails) to inhibit change. The Dutch draw a clear distinction between colloquial and written language; the Poles tend to regard the former as almost slang.
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
17 Apr 2019 #50
....one of numerous reasons why normally the educated Dutch speak English with such idiomatic naturalness most of the time!
'Course, often the latter leads to a degree of casualness in speech, frequently making liberal use of US-style vulgarities and short hand, in my experience in The Netherlands:-)

Polish English instruction seems to be mired in stone-age ideology.
Dougpol1 32 | 2,708
18 Apr 2019 #51
the most difficult part of learning Polish.

Nouns and proper nouns changing....
Sosnowiec becomes Sosnowcu or Sosnowca - or whatever the spelling is - most confusing :(
I once asked for a train ticket to Wisla....(the Adam Malysz place) and the repost was the ubiquitous "Co ?! " That can be a frightening word when spoken by an aggressive Silesian PKP woman employee - if it's a man I can "negotiate" or explain that I want to go to "Wisle" - and tell him not to mess me about:)

(PS no Polish fonts due to reboot...)
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
18 Apr 2019 #52
Yes, Doug ol' man, I share your "pain"!
German's complicated enough, but in Polish, the concept of declining names and place names as well really threw me for a loop
in the beginning:-)

I got used to it though and accepted it as simply a part of the language I had to master, as Poles had to master our sometimes

annoying verb tenses and off the wall spelling (non-)'rules'LOL
Dougpol1 32 | 2,708
18 Apr 2019 #53
the most difficult part of learning Polish.

Nouns and proper nouns changing....
Sosnowiec becomes Sosnowcu or Sosnowca - or whatever the spelling is - most confusing :(
I once asked for a (return) train ticket to Wisla....(the Adam Malysz place) and the repost was the ubiquitous "Co ?! " as I clearly didn't understand the correct case for "return from...." That can be a frightening word when spoken by an aggressive Silesian PKP woman employee - if it's a man I can "negotiate" or explain that I want to go return to "Wisle" - and tell him not to mess me about:)

Interesting that in Pomerania, not using the correct case is simply ignored, and I always get what I am asking for.
(PS no Polish fonts due to reboot...)
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
18 Apr 2019 #54
The ol' disappearing letter trick: Bogaslawiec > Bogaslawcu etc...
Yep, Polish is full of seemingly quixotic mutations. When I said the spelling is "predictable", I meant only before a noun is declined.
Memorizing the patterns must be done contextually, or one can go quietly bonkers!!
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,185
18 Apr 2019 #55
How else, Rich, are people expected to learn Polish, any language, with no real knowledge of it's structure etc? By magic?

The way I did.
At some point, you just throw away your old language and replace it with the local - 24/7/365, everywhere.
I didn't spend one minute studying English. I spent even less digging into the English grammar. On the other hand, I took the mandatory Russian and an elective Latin for four long years in high school and never was never able to say a single sentence. Like, "where the f*** is toilet paper in this god forsaken dump?" Do you know how to say it in Latin?

FYI, out of being bored after I retired, I wrote my hate manifesto. The book is available on Amazon. Would you like the link?
Lri 4 | 39
18 Apr 2019 #56
are people expected to learn Polish, any language, with no real knowledge of it's structure etc?

Yes Polish language is the type of language with complex structures (more complex than any other language, as many will say), and I enjoy learning about subjects with complex structures...plus also basic conversational knowledge as well...
mafketis 25 | 9,324
18 Apr 2019 #57
where the f*** is toilet paper in this god forsaken dump?

bvtt fixation!
terri 1 | 1,665
18 Apr 2019 #58
As far as I recall (having studied Latin) there would not be a word for 'toilet paper' as toilet paper (as we know it today) did not exist at the time. They washed and dried their private parts when needed, or got someone else to do it.
OP Lyzko 30 | 7,378
18 Apr 2019 #59
Rich,

I'm certain your way worked for you. However, it depends completely on which level one is interested in studying a foreign language.
For a super-brief US group tourist layover in Warsaw, clearly little more than a perfunctory "Dzien dobry!" would more than suffice adequately.
For the less trepedatious (?? Is that even a word? Guess, I meant "intrepid"LOL) among y'all, guess an interpreter at the travel agency's expense would be the safest route to follow.

:-)
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,185
18 Apr 2019 #60
For a super-brief US group tourist layover in Warsaw, clearly little more than a perfunctory "Dzien dobry!" would more than suffice adequately.

This perfunctory "Dzien dobry!" is exactly what you DO NOT want to do, as it would suggest some knowledge. In two seconds, it would be clear to the guy in front of you that it was just one phrase and total vacuum behind it.

Every single time I spoke simple English, I got the information I needed. Plus a friendly smile and the satisfaction from being able to speak English.

Another benefit: In English, those I approached spoke clearly using easy-to-understand words. When I need directions, I want directions, not a flowery essay or a history lesson.

The trick is always to avoid old people. I remember the young girl serving in a restaurant in Gdansk-Oliwa. I would swear she just came from the US. She was so good, accent included.


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