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How hard is it to learn Polish?


Lyzko    
11 Nov 2011  #121

Ahhemm, pride goeth (oft) before the fall LOL

Admittedly, there are some gaps in knowledge. So long as she owns up to them. Slang, by the way, is really Standard damaged on delivery-:) Furthermore, language competence is frequently relative.


Teffle 22 | 1,321    
11 Nov 2011  #122

British and other regional slang drives her up the wall

Not saying this is the case with your wife but IME Poles often do not properly differentiate between phrasal verbs, colloquialisms, slang and idioms.

In the past it has led a lot of Poles I know to regard, in particular, phrasal verbs as "not proper English"

My antidote is to sit with them and listen to the BBC news and count the number for phrasals used. Cue revision of opinion.

; )
Lyzko    
11 Nov 2011  #123

Ditto, Teffle-:))

Jimmu, as she's your wife, for cryin' out loud, of course her English is going to sound bloody "excellent". To another educated English-native speaking outside, then again, it might not. The scores of Poles et al. who've been built up as being "excellent" in English, often have tin ear to stylistic register and wouldn't know a misused phrasal idiom from a hole in the ground, sorry to be so blunt!
Jimmu 2 | 157    
13 Nov 2011  #124

Jimmu, as she's your wife, for cryin' out loud, of course her English is going to sound bloody "excellent".

Well, in 10 years living in the US (which, despite what some of the yank bashers may say has quite a few native English speakers) the general consensus was that her English was excellent. And as far as "educated" goes, I worked for 30 years at a college where doctorates were pretty run of the mill. What I was asking her to do was the simplest word-for-word translation, and she insisted on giving me idiomatic interpretation. Your argument might be valid if she insisted on the opposite.

Poles often do not properly differentiate between phrasal verbs, colloquialisms, slang and idioms

"This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."
WC (more or less a quote)
Lyzko    
13 Nov 2011  #125

You may well be right, Jimmu. Trouble is today in America the average standard (excepting certain of the traditional Ivy Leagues, of course) in English had decreased sharply since the 1960's, well up through the 80's, concommitant with the rise of ever-changing technology. Most here under fourty think and therefore speak or write in almost a series of sound-byte English phrases. Compare a movie from before 1990, say around the 60's, with the latest typical special effects blockbuster of today to see what I mean.

Maybe your wife DOES sound American, so American in fact that she might even be mistaken for a spy, like that Chapman dame, for instance. These days though, that no longer says very much:-:)
Jimmu 2 | 157    
13 Nov 2011  #126

so American in fact that she might even be mistaken for a spy

Nah. While her English is good, she retains a hint of Natasha Fatale in her accent that would be a dead giveaway.
As far as declining standards, I remember hearing the same thing back in the 60s. Seems like standards are always declining, and yet 150 years ago most people couldn't write their own name.
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
13 Nov 2011  #127

pedantry

Hardly.
Lyzko    
14 Nov 2011  #128

Basically right again, Jimmu old man!

However, we probably DIDN'T hear that complaint prior thereto, i.e. in the 50's, '40's or earlier. The late '60's especially were a demarcation point in world history. Permissiveness across the board as never before linked to more money all around than ever before allowing for the advent of a drug-induced culture from which we have never quite recovered. It became "cool" to be illiterate, "hot" to be vulgar and basically, American society was on the verge of a permanent nervous breakdown, important issues such as civil rights etc.. notwithstanding.

The first of many casualties was of course language. "Easy Rider" became a sort of icon and straight American males of all dimensions saw the acid freak Dennis Hopper ('Captain America') as their hero!!!

Pity us!
Jimmu 2 | 157    
15 Nov 2011  #129

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L.
Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277
(1953).
rozumiemnic 9 | 2,939    
15 Nov 2011  #130

the average standard (excepting certain of the traditional Ivy Leagues, of course) in English had decreased sharply since the 1960's, well up through the 80's

concommitant

under fourty

a joke right?
Jimmu 2 | 157    
15 Nov 2011  #131

excepting certain of the traditional Ivy Leagues, of course

Dubyuh was Ivy League. I think that eliminates your exception. :->
Lyzko    
15 Nov 2011  #132

Indeed, Jimmu and rozumnniec, age has always criticized youth since the beginning, a no-brainer-:)

My point is however, NOT that the youth of today, in fact of any day, are all those things Socrates bemoaned so eloquently. One need only compare teenagers from before 1969 (Woodstock!) -onward to start to see me point.

TV-game show "You Bet Your Life" (1958) - teenaged boy interviewed as a contestant: Target group MIDDLE-CLASS AMERICA!!

Groucho: So, you're Leonard Fuhrman of Seattle, Washington. Is that correct?
Leonard: That's what they tell me. (audience laughter)
Groucho: Why did you decide to play "You Bet Your Life"?
Leonard: My dad, excuse me, my father thought it might be fun. Good for me too, you know, character and all.
Groucho: Hmmm, sure you're only sixteen? (audience chuckles)
Leonard: As sure as I'll ever be. I'm only joking, Groucho.

etc....

[Let's you and I fast forward over fifty years.]

TV-game show "Jeopardy" (2010) - teeanged contestant talking with Alex Trebeck

Alex: Ok, you're Noah Ellers from Union, New Jersey ,right?
Noah: Ye, uh, Yeah, uh-uh.
Alex: And next year you're attending Northwestern University, is that correct.
Noah: Yeah. I -uh, like, I'm not sure what I'm majorin' in. Maybe psych.
Alex: So why did you decide to play "Jeopardy"?
Noah: I thought it'd be cool. My dad thinks your an awesome dude. I'm like, wow, I can't believe I'm here (laughs!)

etc....

What have we here: Two random WASP teen males from the same United States, both from "middle-class" families etc.. separated merely by
a uniform school system that once stressed education and an in-bred propriety nurtured by mothers and fathers more interested in being parents than pals.

@Jimmu, sure Bush '41 attended Yale much like the rest of that ne're -do-well ilk. I never once suggested money doesn't talk, only that such talk has scarcely ever been so loud and vulgar as now.
winpalmera 1 | 2    
7 Apr 2012  #133

Merged: How hard is to learn Polish for people who have a natural gift for languages?

Is it easier for people who already learned one language, and who are naturally skilled? I mean, does it take less effort? Or maybe, considering that Polish is a pretty hard language, it takes a lot of effort anyways?

I would like to learn because I'm half Polish so it would be nice to learn the language of my ancestors, you know, and then I think it sounds good, it's a language I like a lot and I find it interesting, like you never get bored while listening to it, if you know what I mean
InWroclaw 90 | 1,921    
7 Apr 2012  #134

As an Englishman, I find Polish exceptionally difficult. The way sentences are constructed and the way words change are completely different to what I am used to and I am 99.9% sure I will not ever be even remotely fluent. However, some lucky people have a knack with language learning, and can gain any number of them easily. I think it's probably the case that if you have experience of learning other languages, particularly of the same family, you'll be fine. (The last hope for me is Polish For Dummies which I will pick up when I'm back in London soon. he said naively...)
Lyzko    
8 Apr 2012  #135

InWroc³aw, if it's any consolation to you, for Poles it's the same with English! Furthermore, they're most gratified if you can speak even a little of their language, if for no other reason than Poland and the Poles have long felt unfairly marginalized by the rest if Europe, despite their sizable contributions. It's the "I'd rather be a French peasant than a Gypsy king!" syndrome. The Italians, often swarthy and for a long time poorer than Poland, were still looked up to by the Germans and even the French because the Italians had the Renaissance. Had Poland proven similar achievement to her neighbors, she would have been the envy of the West instead of the butt of crude and stupid jokes:-)
scottie1113 7 | 901    
8 Apr 2012  #136

Is it easier for people who already learned one language, and who are naturally skilled? I mean, does it take less effort? Or maybe, considering that Polish is a pretty hard language, it takes a lot of effort anyways?

Maybe, but i don't think so. I studied Latin for two years in high school, then French for the remaining two. My university degree is in French, and I'm still pretty good in it, although a bit rusty. I also studied Italian for a year, picked up some Spanish in San Diego, and learned some Japanese when I lived there as a high school student, though not in a Japanese school.

Polish is by far the most difficult language I have ever tried to learn. I teach English, and my Polish students and friends tell me that they frequently make mistakes, sometimes while speaking, but more often when writing. When I ask them how that's possible, they tell me that Polish is difficult.

Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. Get a couple of good books, including a good dictionary, and find a Polish native speaker to help you. As one of my Polish friends says, the only hard part about learning Polish is the first 20 years. :)
InWroclaw 90 | 1,921    
8 Apr 2012  #137

Lyzko, thanks, I do try my best to speak a few words but it's unfair on the Poles I speak to as they try to fight off their laughter when I'm heard pronouncing words hilariously badly, like the Englishman pretending to be the French policeman in the BBC sitcom (situation comedy show) " 'Allo 'Allo! "

I could tell you anecdotes which would I hope reassure you that thinking/intelligent Brits have the utmost respect and gratitude to Poland and Poles, but it would probably be off topic :o)
Lyzko    
9 Apr 2012  #138

English too will have an odd accent in Polish too. It cuts both ways, mate:-)
Zman    
9 Apr 2012  #139

I personally know one yank, one brit and one dane who speak perfect polish. Somehow they managed. Most people here do not even know they are foreigners until they admit to that. So, yeah, it is possible to learn polish, for sure it takes time and commitment.
El Gordo    
10 Apr 2012  #140

my Polish students and friends tell me that they frequently make mistakes, sometimes while speaking, but more often when writing. When I ask them how that's possible, they tell me that Polish is difficult.

No,Polish is not that difficult.They make mistakes because they are under educated and because recently the standarts in public speak became really low.Few days ago I even caught couple of mistakes on Kultura channel.So what can you expect from an average Pole?As for writing,I agree that average Pole's skills in this matter are in terrible shape.That's because people don't read enough.I used to read a lot as a kid and now when I make an error using U instead of Ó or H instead of CH,I notice it immidiatelly as it litteraly doesn't look right to me.It makes a very bad impression on those who can write correctly and I caught myself thinking low on this person.Of course knowing that the author is a foraigner I would cut him some slack but I expect Poles to speak and write Polish according to the rules.It's not that hard.On a side note it always shocks me when I am asking American person what some word means (and I am not talking slang or something) and he/she says "I don't know".You would have to try very hard to find a word in Polish I don't know the meaning of.
InWroclaw 90 | 1,921    
10 Apr 2012  #141

I am asking American person what some word means (and I am not talking slang or something) and he/she says "I don't know".You would have to try very hard to find a word in Polish I don't know the meaning of.

Probably because English has the most words of any language, as far as I know. Polish has far fewer words than English - I can't remember the figures but something like 250K words in the Polish language, versus about 750K in the English language

oxforddictionaries.com/words/how-many-words-are-there-in-the-english-language

This site says there are over a million English words!

languagemonitor.com/no-of-words/
Lyzko    
12 Apr 2012  #142

Hmmm, word count's an iffy thing though. D'you count compound words, hyphenated expressions as single words, then? Languages without this type of compounding may actually contain MORE individual word units than either English or other Germanic languages:-)
Krakman 4 | 58    
13 Apr 2012  #143

How hard is to learn Polish for people who have a natural gift for languages?

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the answer to the above is: equally as hard as
any other foreign language - it depends on your personal application. If you fully immerse
yourself in the language and culture with full vigor, then success will follow. If, on the other hand, you
attempt to lazily pick up the lingo, then prepare yourself for disappointment. I am sure
this rule applies to French, German, Spanish, etc. On reflection, the same applies to all
achievements in life. When colleagues (usually youngsters) are telling me about their future
and how they envisage success. I usually warn them to have a back-up plan of working their
a**** off 'just in case' :)
Lyzko    
13 Apr 2012  #144

I agree, Krakowiak! That really says it all in a nutshell; NO language has a monopoly on "hardness", including Polish:-)))

As a native English speaker, I'd even go so far as to claim that English is "HARDER" than Polish, or many other languages, regarding (if nothing else) the sheer inconsistency and vaguery of our twisted tongue and its peculiar orthography:-)
rosemary2me 1 | 1    
11 Oct 2012  #145

Merged: please people is hard to learn polish?

im actually looking for someone who will teach me polish if it wouldn't cost anything.
Rudy5 13 | 36    
4 Jan 2013  #146

Merged: Is Polish really that hard?

I have just purchased the book Basic Polish: A Grammar and Workbook by Dana Bielec. From what I've read on here, it is a great book for beginner learners of Polish. I just started it recently, but so far it seems not that much harder learning than German. They both have cases, declensions, and exceptions to rules. I know Polish has more cases than German and completely different declensions and conjugations, but it doesn't seem that much harder, is it just because I'm in the beginning stages of learning?
pam    
4 Jan 2013  #147

Rudy5:

Have a look at the current thread on here by kcharlie, Polish language, basic concepts.
He explains everything really well, and i'm sure he could answer your questions.
If you read through what's on the thread so far, it will give you an indication of how the language works.
Good luck
titania - | 3    
4 Jan 2013  #148

Polish seems to be harder to learn for people, whose languages are less inflective then Polish (or any other highly inflected Eastern European language) eg. British people find it more difficult to learn Polish rather than Russians. It's easier to switch from a language of complex case system to one that has got them reduced rather than the other way round. English has got a couple of cases in its grammar while Polish operates on 7 case system. Add to that conjugations, exceptions to declensions and internal vowel mutations plus the well-built morphological and phonological system of the Polish language and you end up with "a monster" language that scares away the non-Poles.

I very often have British people complaining of Polish words looking too long and too scary. They struggle to pronounce most of the consonantal clusters in Polish words. They don't even wanna think of learning the grammar!

However hard work always pays off and if you try REALLY hard, you will learn Polish at some point.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,892    
6 Jan 2013  #149

I'm in the beginning stages of learning?

YES.

British people find it more difficult to learn Polish rather than Russians. It's easier to switch from a language of complex case system to one that has got them reduced rather than the other way round.

are you being serious with this statement? you think that because Polish has cases that THAT'S why it's easier for Russians to understand Polish? haha, how about the fact that both languages are in the same damn language family and half the words sound similar, sometimes the same! Not only do both languages have case systems, they both have very very similar case systems because.....drum roll.....they're in the same language family.

Here's the real truth.....an English speaker is going to struggle like hell with Polish because Polish is hard as hell and in a completely different language family, not to mention there's pretty much zero exposure to Polish for the average English speaker and unlimited exposure to English for a Pole, or a German, or a Russian, or whoever.

Let's answer the OP's original question: Polish is hard as hell to learn for non slavic speakers. There's no other way around it.
titania - | 3    
6 Jan 2013  #150

I think you're not quite getting what I wrote and there's no need for you to be arrogant and patronising. I didnt limit my statement only to the case system differences. I also mentioned the complex phonological and morphological system of Polish as compared to English (and other Germanic languages with a reduced case system).

In my text I implied that Polish is easier to learn by for eg. the Russians than by the English because they are indeed similar languages (but not entirely though)- they may be in the same language family but not on the same sub-branch) However a Russian needs to learn Polish and a Pole needs to learn Russian to be able to speak fluently and I do mean 'LEARN'.

According to what you said, I assume you know Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian as well as Czech and other Slavic languages just... because they are in the same language family and some words are the same. That's ridiculous, mate. And I bet you wouldn;t be able to make out most of the Russian speech if it comes down to the real communication Not to mention the grammatical rules and correct sentence formation.

Polish is difficult but it's learnable. Still easier to learn by the Eastern Europeans than by the Westerners due to the shared linguistic complexity in many linguistic aspects not just because it's in a the same family of IE languages as Russian and the like.



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