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Can you recognise the nationality of foreign Polish speakers by their accent?


stevepl 2 | 49
10 Dec 2009 #1
I was wondering. Now that there are more and more people begining to speak Polish as a foreign language. Can Polish people recognise the nationality of a non native speaker.

English people can usually easily recognise the origins of non native and even native speakers ( to within approx 50km with native speakers ).

For instance there is that really irritating guy Pascal (the TV cook) who speaks Polish in an extremely nasal fashion (strange because I know quite a few French guys without any Polish roots who don't do this).

Plus several people after meeting me have refered to me later as 'that Italian guy' but my wife has always said that she thinks I look like an Italian so I'm sure this is based purely on appearance.
Ksysia 25 | 430
11 Dec 2009 #2
no... the kazakhs speak like we, and hungarians with a stammer, that's all i know
learn polish - | 46
11 Dec 2009 #3
Sometimes you can hear that, sometimes you can't. It all depends on how well they got the language/accent mastered, but naturally it is more difficult for some (e.g. I guess it is harder for native French or US English speakers who learn Polish to drop their native accent than, say, for other Slavic language speakers).
Ziemowit 12 | 3,606
11 Dec 2009 #4
For instance there is that really irritating guy Pascal (the TV cook) who speaks Polish in an extremely nasal fashion

You mean Pascal Brodnicki...? For me, native speaker of Polish, Pascal Brodnicki doesn't sound irritating at all. He speaks with French accent, nevertheless his Polish is outstandingly good. His mild French accent is really an asset for a TV cook, knowing of the qualité of the French cuisine. Apart from his accent, he chooses a wrong case in the declination of a noun from time to time, but these mistakes are rare and sound really charming. Personally, I like the way he speaks Polish, much as I like the way other foreign speakers on Polish TV pronounce the Polish language (they are usually very good at it, but their foreign accent, be it rather mild, gives them away).

It is usually easy in any language to recognize a non-native speaker, but ... . A British friend of mine of Manchester once told me he had met someone at a conference in London whom he culdn't recognize as a speaker from any given part of the UK. When he asked the guy whereabout Britain he was from, he told him he was ... a Frenchman from Paris!
Michal - | 1,865
11 Dec 2009 #5
Of course a Pole can recognize a foreigner and an English accent stands out like a sore thumb! If I am in Poland and my Polish relatives hear me speaking, it is obvious to them straight away that I come from somewhere overseas. It might be, of course, on meeting a Pole in England and on speaking in Polish to him that he might not recognize nor detect straight away a non native speaker of Polish' accent but in Poland whilst Poles are surounded by nothing but Poles-forget it if you think that you could get one over on them!
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
11 Dec 2009 #6
it is obvious to them straight away that I come from somewhere overseas

Russia is not exactly overseas; btw Russian accent can never be mistaken as British.
Ziemowit 12 | 3,606
11 Dec 2009 #7
I was wondering. Now that there are more and more people begining to speak Polish as a foreign language. Can Polish people recognise the nationality of a non native speaker.

Now, I can see your question was more precise. And my answer to it is yes. I can recognise a British, American, Russian, French, or Italian speaker of Polish. I can sometimes recognise the origins of Polish speakers of Polish as well, but this is rare as most of them speak the standard version of the language now. For example, you can easily enough tell an older Małopolanin (Cracow) by his specific pronounciation: slightly different "n" in words like "sukienka" (similar to the English "n" in the -ing ending) or a voiced, instead of voiceless, consonant in certain interword liaisons such as "głoz_ludu" as opposed to the standard version of "glos_ludu".
szkotja2007 27 | 1,499
11 Dec 2009 #8
Russian accent can never be mistaken as British.

I was speaking Polish to two men from Warsawa and they thought my accent was Russian - I have a north of Scotland accent.
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
11 Dec 2009 #9
I was speaking Polish to two men from Warsawa and they thought my accent was Russian

LOL There you go, probably Michals' relatives.

I’m just giving Michal hard time. He’s right, detection is no big deal, no matter haw good your Polish is we can hear it. Besides the easy ones like French, Russian or German to pick up on, there are not enough foreigners who speak Polish for us to make that distinction. It will happen eventually once you hear it more often, more and more of you are learning Polish.
OP stevepl 2 | 49
11 Dec 2009 #10
in Poland whilst Poles are surounded by nothing but Poles-forget it if you think that you could get one over on them!

I agree, I doubt any foreigner would not eventually be recognised as such. I was just wondering if the nationality could be detected by a common mispronunciation of words by everyone from a particular geographical region. As an example the pronunciation of the english 'i' sounds closer to the english 'e' from most eastern europeans when they are speaking english.

Then again, my polish must be getting fairly close because my wife always tells me to explain to people that i'm English when i'm talking by telephone. Just in case they think i'm a Pole who is either:-

a) very drunk
b) mentally retarded
c) under the influence of halucinogenic drugs
Bondi 4 | 142
11 Dec 2009 #11
no... the kazakhs speak like we, and hungarians with a stammer, that's all i know

S*d off. I can even say Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz, Chrząszczyrzewoszyce powiat £ękołody with no problem at all.
:)
mafketis 21 | 7,455
28 Jan 2010 #12
I've been mistaken for Polish in short interactions (believe me, it doesn't last long). The longest that lasted was in an American consulate where the (Polish) person in charge mistook me for a Pole trying to get a visa instead of an American needing information for my visa to stay in Poland. I've usually been mistaken for German(?) or Czech(!) when they realize I'm not Polish. No one's ever realized I was American (with no Polish roots at all!) until I tell them. I don't have an American r at all in Polish and most of my mistakes are plausible and occasionally the kind that Polish people use. The biggest tipoff is my general inability to produce the Polish l in final position I usually say angiełski (in old-fashioned stage pronunciation). and I make my fair share of mistakes with sz ś (and other similar pairs so that I say I'm combin my hair when I mean I'm glad).

I've also been surprised how many (educated) Poles can tell where Polish people are from by their speech alone. The standard has almost completely replaced dialects. The most that most Polish people can discern is whether a speaker is from a city or the countryside IME.

English people can usually easily recognise the origins of non native and even native speakers ( to within approx 50km with native speakers ).

Americans can't. The dialect situation is completely different and most Americans have trouble placing people by accent. One reason is the rise of the SAE "from nowhere" accent. But IME Americans fail in locating people by accent in all but the most exaggerated, stereotypical cases.

I'm hopeless with British accents, I can tell RP-ish (or Estuary) from other kinds, can vaguely tell the difference between Scotland and everything else and sometimes between Northern and Southern English but markers that are crystal clear for Brits mean nothing to me.
amt0604ie - | 14
29 Jan 2010 #13
I speak French with a Dublin accent, wonder is it possible to do the same with Polish?
Higgledypiggled
26 Jun 2010 #14
I'm Irish, no Dublin accent, speak very standard English. Usually mistaken for Czech when I speak Polish probably because of the sloppiness of my pronunciation. Not to mention all the mistakes in grammar!!
Lyzko
26 Jun 2010 #15
Believe I once quipped long ago here on this forum, somebody once remarked that I spoke Polish well enough to convince any German that I was a Hungarian.

Am still chuckling (as well as puzzling) over that one-:))
Lyzko
26 Jun 2010 #17
Right, Miguel! Even among other Slavic speakers, it's usually a dead give-away The Spanish trilled 'r' is similar to the uniform Polish pronunciation. Almost every European language prefers the trilled to the 'velar' 'r' of Parisian French, Belgian Dutch, Danish, Southern Norwegian, Skaansk Swedish or Standard (High) German.

Say, here's a question I've always wanted to ask you Polish native speakers out there:

Can you guys tell where a Pole is from in Poland is from by how they speak, for example, English? I can usually guess right with Germans, whether they're Berliners, Bavarians, Swiss, Austrians (particularly the nasal whine of a born Viennese!) etc// by their intonation in English as well German.

Very curious:-)))) thanx
natasia 3 | 368
26 Jun 2010 #18
ok, yes, there is an odd thing here.

i am English. i can listen to any English native speaker and, like someone said, tell you within a radius of max. 70 miles what area of the country they are from.

i speak with someone whose English is great but not L1 and of course i know in nano seconds that they are not English. and i can usually hear a Pole a mile off.

now, i speak Polish. well, apparently. and Poles either think i am genuinely Polish - yes - or that I am Polish but at some point migrated to the UK and got vaguely Anglicised. They don't say I am English.

weird, no? weird in that they can't immediately tell, however good my Polish is, that i am a fake ...
Lyzko
26 Jun 2010 #19
Cool beans!!! -:)

Thanks so much, Natasia.

Dzięki za szybko odpowiedź. Tak, Polacy mają trudności czysto wymówić po językach obcych bez akzentu ze swojego języka ojczytego. Nie mają tego samego problema Szwecji, Holunderzy itd.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
26 Jun 2010 #20
My boss is a native English speaker and he doesn't change his accent when he speaks Polish... as a result I find it hard to understand him when he decides to try and show me up for my poor Polish (funny, I have little trouble understanding NS of Polish).

My colleague always laughs that me and the other 'immigrants' in work tend to go up an octave when we speak Polish.
Matowy - | 295
26 Jun 2010 #21
now, i speak Polish. well, apparently. and Poles either think i am genuinely Polish - yes - or that I am Polish but at some point migrated to the UK and got vaguely Anglicised. They don't say I am English.

That happens to me too, even though my grammar, vocabulary and accent are all horrible. I think this is because Poles do not comprehend other people learning their insane language.
natasia 3 | 368
28 Jun 2010 #22
Thanks so much, Natasia.

you are very welcome ... although not sure what for ; )

Tak, Polacy mają trudności czysto wymówić po językach obcych bez akzentu ze swojego języka ojczytego. Nie mają tego samego problema Szwecji, Holunderzy itd.

Maybe unfair on you Poles ... but it is true that some other native speakers have possibly more neutral ? an accent, or foundation, and can therefore morph more convincingly into other accents. Their native accent doesn't intrude so much. I do know v high-flying Poles with near perfect English, but they still sound Polish. I know Dutch people, though, who I would honestly think to be native English speakers who've spent a bit of time in the US or Ireland. They have a very slight drawl. But their accent is amazingly good. I don't know how good they are in Italian or French, though ... and Poles DO have good French accents.

OK: maybe it's this: different languages have different compatibilities (eg, Poles have an accent in English, but not so in French; Dutch v lucky in English, but not so in Chinese; etc. ? an idea ....)
tarantula
28 Jun 2010 #23
Can you guys tell where a Pole is from in Poland is from by how they speak, for example, English? I can usually guess right with Germans, whether they're Berliners, Bavarians, Swiss, Austrians (particularly the nasal whine of a born Viennese!) etc// by their intonation in English as well German.

Very curious:-)))) thanx

try this. click on the region ant then teksty gwarowe.

gwarypolskie.uw.edu.pl/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=6& Itemid=16
Seanus 15 | 19,706
28 Jun 2010 #24
It all comes down to the knowledge of the judge. Some people are so thick that they can't even tell their own accent ;) ;) I remember some Scottish guys thought I was Danish or Norwegian. OK, I don't have the most Scottish accent in the world and am certainly atypical of a NE accent. However, they clearly haven't heard any Danes or Norwegians speak.

Polish people tend not to be too cluey about accents generally.
southern 75 | 7,096
28 Jun 2010 #25
Polish and russian people have the same accent in english.However Poles have a slightly different intonation which the experienced ear catches.
Czech accent is somewhat similar to polish but differs.Germanics speak english very different from Slavs since they pronounce r etc more closely to native English.However they lack the intonation and syncopation of natural English.Mediteraneans have terrible accent in english due to abundance of vowels.But our r etc sounds closer to slavic pronunciation that is why Slavs learn greek much faster than Germanics.
Varsovian 92 | 634
28 Jun 2010 #26
Pascal Brodnicki

I knew his cousin - we worked together. Apparently when not on TV he speaks normal Polish without a fake French accent.

People at work find it funny when I speak Polish with a heavy Yorkshire accent just to show them what the local working class accent is like.

Little anecdote on accents:
After a very heavy night out in Leeds, I took a bus into town the following morning, feeling worse for wear. Behind me 2 girls were speaking Portuguese - I guessed at them being Brazilians. So, in my state of near stupour I turned round and said, "Czy Pani mowi po polsku?"

- "Owszem"

Turned out her grandad was Polish and I'd heard a faint echo of an accent ...
Ziemowit 12 | 3,606
28 Jun 2010 #27
now, i speak Polish. well, apparently. and Poles either think i am genuinely Polish - yes - or that I am Polish but at some point migrated to the UK and got vaguely Anglicised. They don't say I am English.

weird, no? weird in that they can't immediately tell, however good my Polish is, that i am a fake ...

There is something in it. Having followed the programme "Europa da się lubić" on Polish TV presenting European people of different nationalities for several months, I could easily tell who was French and who was German, but the English-speaking Brits tended to have some "unspecified" accent while speaking Polish. Contrary to the Brits, it is easy to tell who is American.
Lyzko
28 Jun 2010 #28
Poles speaking English (broadly exaggerated):

Hallaoo. Maj najm eess Marek ahnt Aj ahm frahmm Poalahnd. I stahdeyink een Varsaw...

Yanks attempting Polish (tit for tat, just to show I can give as good as I get):

Yakseee madg!Gin (pronounced like the drink) dawBREE....

Think I'll quit while I'm ahead:-)))
LOL
zetigrek
28 Jun 2010 #29
the English-speaking Brits tended to have some "unspecified" accent while speaking Polish

dont agree with that statment. Stevie and the fireman (sorry I forgot his name) they both have very specific problems with Polish pronouncation which are typical to English ppl.

I knew some Americans who speaks polish without any foreign accents and if only they didnt do any mistakes they would be easly considered polish (actually one was frequently mistaken for polish person and we even couldnt believe he has no polish roots)
NorthMancPolak 4 | 648
28 Jun 2010 #30
I've spoken Polish all my life, but I can't do a Polish accent (when speaking English) however much I try!


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