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How hard is it to learn Polish?



Chrzaszcz 12 | 103    
7 Nov 2011  #91

In response to the original question:

how hard is it to learn Polish?

In my opinion - you get out from a language what you put in! I think the reason Polish is deemed difficult is due to the 7 cases and the corresponding declensions (those who have already replied to my previous posts have heard me bleating on about these - sorry).

Example, I will learn a noun, say for example 'mleko'. If I wish to construct a basic sentence 'I drink tea with milk' it becomes 'Piję herbatę z mlekiem'. Notice the Polish noun changes from 'mleko' to 'mlekiem'.

This has provided me with a personal challenge: to crack the case system, and speak Polish in a professional manner. I remember when first learning it I used to introduce myself by saying 'Jestem Anglielski', and 'Ja wiem Polski'. I cringe now thinking back on these howlers.

Can anyone give me any translation on these two erroneous statements?!!

Numbers provide another difficulty. Again, I used to say 'Mam cztery brat' and 'Mam dwa siostra'. I believe it should be 'Mam CZTERECH braci' and 'mam dwie siostry'. It's just a case of learning ... learning ... learning ....


pam    
8 Nov 2011  #92

i know exactly what you mean!!! my polish has improved slightly since making exactly ssame mistakes,but have learned it myself from very bad english speaking poles ( my friends ). havent really got a clue about grammar, just listen and remember as much as possible...one day maybe
strzyga 2 | 994    
8 Nov 2011  #93

'Jestem Anglielski', and 'Ja wiem Polski'. I cringe now thinking back on these howlers.Can anyone give me any translation on these two erroneous statements?!!

the thing is, when backtranslated into English, they become perfectly correct ;) there's no way to make them sound like they sound in Polish.

have learned it myself from very bad english speaking poles

see Pam, you could learn Polish precisely from the very bad English some Poles speak :) they use Polish word order and expressions translated word-for-word, so there are lots of clues there.

cheers :)
pam    
8 Nov 2011  #94

ee Pam, you could learn Polish precisely from the very bad English some Poles speak :) they use Polish word order and expressions translated word-for-word, so there are

best bit of advice i have had so far.have learned language myself from mixing with polish people. i know nothing about grammar, except word endings constantly change.i just learn and remember them. have stopped asking questions as to why. my neighbours girlfriend dominika is always saying things such as i dont cant go to shop or i dont cant do this. if i try and translate this into polish i could be right? nie moge isc do sklepu? for example? help!!!!
strzyga 2 | 994    
8 Nov 2011  #95

i dont cant go to shop or i dont cant do this. if i try and translate this into polish i could be right? nie moge isc do sklepu? for example? help!!!!

you are right. nie mogę iść do sklepu, nie mogę tego zrobić - see, it works :)
and simple memorising is a great way to learn a language. after all, we all learnt this way as kids. so it works too. plus, you're reducing the threat of developing Alzheimer.
Ziemowit 8 | 2,642    
8 Nov 2011  #96

I remember when first learning it I used to introduce myself by saying 'Jestem Angielski', and 'Ja wiem Polski'. Can anyone give me any translation on these two erroneous statements?!!

1. The reason is that in Polish we need a noun to describe ourselves in terms of nationality. Thus it is: "Jestem Polakiem/Anglikiem/Amerykaninem" which should have been translated into English by: "I'm a Pole/a German/an American". However, Polish people, even those who speak bad English, immediately adopt the right formula in English uttering properly: "I'm Polish/English/American", but I 'stawiam dolary przeciwko orzechom' [unfortunately, I can never remember how this saying goes in English] that they do it without even realising that the English syntax require the adjective rather than a noun here (the reason for it is that Polish people frequently forget of attributing a countable singular noun with the indefinite (or definite) article in English, so "English" would mean "English" as well as "an English/man/woman" for them. On the other hand, English people learning Polish will asume that for introducing one's nationality an adjective is required in Polish as well, hence they would apply such a rule to their Polish sentence, saying: "Jestem Angielski", plus they would start the adjective with a big letter which only corroborates that they attempt to place an adjective describing nationality here, not "seeing" the neccessity for a noun in the phrase!

2. If you compare the usage of "connaitre" and "savoir" in French to the usage of "znać" and "wiedzieć" in Polish, you will know the cause of your mistake. I believe they make the same distinction between the two such verbs in German as well ("koennen" and "wissen"). Apparently, the English language does not.
Lyzko    
8 Nov 2011  #97

"Kennen", actually, but you're quite accurate about the link between 'znać' vs. 'wiedzieć'. "Koennen" simply means 'umieć' or 'potrafić', depending solely on the context: 'Umiem po polsku.' = Ich kann Polnisch. = I'm able to speak Polish/I know Polish. vs. "Nie potrafię spotkać się dziś wieczór." = Ich kann mich heute abend nicht treffen. = I'm (physically, logistically..) unable to meet up this evening.
Ziemowit 8 | 2,642    
8 Nov 2011  #98

Indeed. Thanks for the correction, Lyzko. "Kennen" is what I certainly had in mind; my German got a bit rusty though (schade!), but I'm thinking of getting at it once again on the occasion of my contemplated visit to Berlin next year to which city I haven't been since 1976 or 1977! :-)
Lyzko    
8 Nov 2011  #99

No problem-:)

Anyway, this being a Polish forum, much of your commentary has been right on point. Keep it up!
NKEmerald    
8 Nov 2011  #100

Oh, and for the record NKEmerald, i've heard "Polish is easy" 1,000 times before, you're not ruffling any feathers there. Only, it always seems to end with that person coming forth with the most convoluted, grammatically disastrous pile of rubbish barely resembling the Polish language. Not being arrogant, just sayin'.

Seems as if I have ruffled some feathers in one way of another... an awfully defensive reply from you there. As for the rest of this tedious post, you keep telling yourself that, man... maybe that's why you find Polish so difficult? Just a wonder, you don't have to reply.

Not SAYING something does not mean you don't imply it. Not MEANING it does not mean that it isn't the way you come across. As for ridiculous, the only reason I began this stupid argument is because I found your post ridiculous.

I firmly believe languages are as difficult as you make them, perhaps why I've never had much trouble learning them. Including Polish. I said nothing to ruffle feathers per se, it seemed like it needed to be said is all. Not least for those who come to such forums expecting some encouragement in learning the language and are instead met with irritating things like "Yeah right... good luck 'cha mate, it's impossible.". I come across native English speakers (or natives of any language I understand) with grammatically disastrous piles of rubbish barely resembling the language. Just sayin'.

Tell me about it, Em-:) I tried once pronouncing 'Slante!", "Siobbhan", "Padraig", "Erin go bragh!" along with a few other assorted odds and ends, only to gales of genial laughter from some Irish-speaking friends. Similarly, my attempts in Welsh at saying "Llewelyn" and "Angharad" didn't fare much better in terms of not drawing audible (if well-intentioned) snickers from some Welsh visitors a number of years back-:)

Haha! :D The strangeness of the Irish spelling system is partly to blame for these things! How in God's name could "Siobhán" be pronounced "Shuh-vawn", or "Padraig" be pronounced "Pour-ick". I'm sure I'd receive equal amounts of laughter if I were to even attempt those Welsh words though! XD I don't know even a single word that my Celtic cousins across the water use!
Lyzko    
8 Nov 2011  #101

..which is why I believe that the Celtic group, taken as a whole, is even more unpredictably chaotic to spell and pronounce properly than modern English-:)!!!
Lyzko    
8 Nov 2011  #102

Em, for this reason, once again, I contend the difficulty of the Celtic languages to be indeed compounded by their very lack of mutual intelligibilty. Presumably, an educated Pole could muddle through a newspaper written in standard Czech. Apparently, an educated Dubliner, for instance, canNOT understand a Welsh or certainly Breton, newspaper, conversely so, a Welshman attempting to read Scots Gaelic, for example. Even Manx and Cornish speakers would have needed an interpreter in order to converse, I once read-:)
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,892    
8 Nov 2011  #103

NKEmerald wrote:

Haha! :D The strangeness of the Irish spelling system is partly to blame for these things! How in God's name could "Siobhán" be pronounced "Shuh-vawn", or "Padraig" be pronounced "Pour-ick".

you're not suggesting that Irish spelling is more difficult than spelling in other languages, are you? that would be impossible.

do me a favor class.....keep discussing the Irish language with NKEmerald here......by tomorrow, he will have proved my point.
Chrzaszcz 12 | 103    
8 Nov 2011  #104

For the Southern Irish there is no problem in how to pronounce the monikers Siobhan or Padraig (my mother speaks it fluently!). The Gaelic language is natural to them - just the same as the Polish language is natural to Poles. The words 'dżdżownica' or indeed 'chrząszcz' are (in my opinion) difficult to pronounce, but slip off the tongue for native Poles.
NKEmerald    
8 Nov 2011  #105

I never said difficult anywhere in that sentence. I said strange. Now who's grasping at straws, smartass...? I would often actually go on to say that it is in fact a PHONETIC (read: easy) spelling system and easy to get the hang of.

'dżdżownica' or indeed 'chrząszcz'

Aye, bit of a tongue twister, but beautiful sounding words none the less! :D

Em, for this reason, once again, I contend the difficulty of the Celtic languages to be indeed compounded by their very lack of mutual intelligibilty. Presumably, an educated Pole could muddle through a newspaper written in standard Czech. Apparently, an educated Dubliner, for instance, canNOT understand a Welsh or certainly Breton, newspaper, conversely so, a Welshman attempting to read Scots Gaelic, for example. Even Manx and Cornish speakers would have needed an interpreter in order to converse, I once read-:)

Might be true, I guess. Scots Gaelic I can read pretty much all of, Manx is a little less obvious and Welsh and Breton to be completely different! But I often compare the Celtic languages to the Romance languages; Irish and Scots is about as similar as Spanish and Italian or Portuguese (if not moreso!), while Welsh is a bit more like Portuguese and Romanian... same family, not very similar though! :)

Also, sorry for the multi-posting... I'm not so used to the system for quoting on this site! :S
Wroclaw 45 | 5,409    
8 Nov 2011  #106

I'm not so used to the system for quoting on this site!

I'm more concerned about the thread going off topic.
Chrzaszcz 12 | 103    
8 Nov 2011  #107

Now who's grasping at straws, smartass...?

Don't call me 'smartass'. I was merely saying that speakers of their own mother-tongue don't find their language difficult. I was not quoting you.
natasia 3 | 368    
8 Nov 2011  #108

How hard is it to learn Polish?

Depends how good you are at learning any language.

Polish is a hell of a lot easier to pronounce than French, for the English tongue.
If you've ever learnt Latin, or German, or Greek, then the grammar isn't a problem, although the array of variables and just sheer volume of forms to learn can be a bit daunting.

It is a language that I think you'll never get tired of.

So, if you're bad at listening, not so musical, and not very mathematical, then it will be very hard to learn.
If you're kind of middling at all the above, it will be a challenge, but you'll struggle on and get somewhere.
And if you have the lucky gift of being able to soak up new languages like a sponge, then you'll love Polish. And it won't be any harder or easier than any other language.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,892    
9 Nov 2011  #109

NKEmerald wrote:

I never said difficult anywhere in that sentence. I said strange.

but you also said "How in God's name....." which would suggest a level of difficulty.

you know NKEmerald, I just extrapolated in the same way you came up with "better".

Polish is more difficult than Italian.

nana nana boo boo.
NKEmerald    
9 Nov 2011  #110

Don't call me 'smartass'. I was merely saying that speakers of their own mother-tongue don't find their language difficult. I was not quoting you.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean you. :(

I'm more concerned about the thread going off topic.

Noted, apologies.
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
9 Nov 2011  #111

The Gaelic language is natural to them

This is not at all common. The vast majority cannot speak Irish fluently. Many only know some Irish and of these, plenty are more likely to speak a continental language with more proficiency - I am one such example by the way.

Re the thread title I would contend that Polish IS more difficult than average - whatever "average" may be I don't know, but certainly more difficult than any of the romantic languages or German for example. From my limited knowledge of Norwegian/Swedish/Danish (sorry guys but the are similar) my guess is that Polish might present more difficulty in comparison - hard to know though. However, I would imagine Finnish is no walk in the park in European terms either.
Chrzaszcz 12 | 103    
9 Nov 2011  #112

Sorry NKEmerald! I'll read a bit closer next time!!!!!! :-)
pam    
9 Nov 2011  #113

see Pam, you could learn Polish precisely from the very bad English some Poles speak :) they use Polish word order and expressions translated word-for-word, so there are lots of clues there.

stupidly enough i hadnt actually considered this before. i should have because i am doing exactly the same. now i will pay very close attention to my friends mistakes. thanks loads for help!
Jimmu 2 | 157    
9 Nov 2011  #114

I ask my wife to give me literal word for word translations of Polish phrases into English so that I can get a sense of how Poles put words together. She refuses. Maybe she's too proud to speak English poorly.
Lyzko    
9 Nov 2011  #115

...or more likely she can't-:)
Koala 1 | 332    
10 Nov 2011  #116

Czuję do Ciebie pociąg - I feel a train to you. (I find you attractive)
Zapłata z góry - Payment from the mountain. (Payment in advance)

I agree with your wife, literal translations would not be too useful most likely. Start learning from the basics (like any other language).
Jimmu 2 | 157    
10 Nov 2011  #117

...or more likely she can't-:)

Huh?
Lyzko    
10 Nov 2011  #118

Or maybe she's shy because her English isn't really that good, Jimmu.

Then again, I don't know the woman so I'm only guessing here-:)
Lyzko    
10 Nov 2011  #119

On the other hand, I've noticed that many foreigners prefer to speak even their broken English with English-native speakers, assuming the latter won't understand much of the foreign language in question. This is however often simply NOT so, and the foreigner, i.e. European language speaker, merely winds up with egg on their face-:)
Jimmu 2 | 157    
11 Nov 2011  #120

This is not the case with my wife. There are some gaps in her knowledge (British and other regional slang drives her up the wall!) but overall her English is excellent with just enough accent to give her speech a hint of the exotic. It isn't that she can't, it's that she won't. She thinks it's a method with no value. End of story.




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