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Polish or any Slavic language key to any other Slavic languages?


foukarr
2 Feb 2007  #31
Actually, Polish has a lot of words of Latin origin, which might explain why you are seeing similarities between Romance languages and Polish. (On that note, I know Spanish speakers which mistook Polish for French because of the fricatives and nasal vowels; the 'r' of course is more like the Spanish 'r'). Also, Polish and Russian are not mutually intelligible. It is a West Slavonic language (not East Slavonic as someone suggested). Its closest neighbors linguistically are Czech, Slovak and Sorbian, which are mutually intelligible. Ukrainian, however, despite Polish influence, is an East Slavonic language, closely related to Russian and Belarusian. A lot of West Ukrainians do however speak/understand Polish. I have heard people say that they can "understand" a language of the other group (i.e. West S. understand East S., and vice versa), but this is not really true. The only thing that's happening is that they're either false cognates or the occasional true cognate. For example, there are words in Russian that sound similar to Polish words, but indeed mean completely different things, and then there are words which sound similar and mean similar things by virtue of similar origin. And vice versa.

Re: Czech. To a Polish speaker, it sounds like a little child trying to speak Polish (I've also heard the opposite). Like in vocabulary, Czech equivalents of some Polish words sound more "provincial", like the word for soldier vs. the word for war (Polish: zolnierz/wojna; Czech: voyak/voina). Similarly with the word for ice cream (Polish: lody; Czech: zmrzlina - this is close to the word for permafrost in Polish which is zmarzlina). Also amusing, in the opposite direction, is the word for capital (city) in Polish is stolica, which is similar to the Czech word for stool, stolice.

I think that one with pigeon just did it for me! You would think there is a limit to how much of a word/phrase could be interpreted as funny in another language (like, 'la curva' or 'byc'). The Czech->Polish has to take the cake, probably because of their closeness. That thing with the pigeon just seems as likely as having "Turd Eater" mean "politician" in Dutch or something.
Kowalski 7 | 621
2 Feb 2007  #32
A true story.
Two Poles were riding a taxi cab in Prague and one was loudly complaining about how expensive Prague supposedly was, how horrible was the local bear and so on. At one point one Pole said: "and their language! it sounds just childlish!"

Hearing this was enough for the local cab driver who stoped the car suddenly and turned toward two Polaks saying: "A wasz je lepsi?" (And yours [language] is better?)

"A WASZ JE LEPSI" sounds to Poles really funny as if proving that czech language IS in fact childlish (in sense of a child trying to speak properly but making funny pronanciation mistakes)

And of course there is well known "Szukac, szukalem, szukalam, szukacie" which is polish for "looking for" and czech for that popular f. word.
miranda
2 Feb 2007  #33
Kowalski,

how about PESIA ZONA.
I was driving through the country(must have bee Slovakia) with my cousin and we couldn figure out the meaning, so we started to be creative: Zona psa - which was the closest to Polish.

As we later found out - it was Przejscie dla pieszych:)
Kowalski 7 | 621
2 Feb 2007  #34
Good one, Miranda! u made me laugh.
Marek 4 | 867
23 Feb 2007  #35
Spell of Bliss,

a famous emphatic quote by the late Pope Jan Pawel when asked a similar question regarding Polish and Russian: "All Poles understand Russian, but nobody speaks it!"

Undoubtedly, such remarks reflect the troublesome history between Poland and its neighbors:)

Speaking for me personally, I can understand the numbers in all Slavic languages, having already studied Polish, much as in the Romance tongues having learned French or in, say, Dutch, after having learned German etc.

Marek
Michal - | 1,865
1 Mar 2007  #36
Russian is much harder than Polish because the stress moves in the words unlike Polish, which is fixed. Czech is more like serbo croation. If you know Russian you could learn these languages easily. I think that slovak is nearer to Polish as someone above has already written. I thought Russian to be the hardest not really very phonetic and the stress moves in genetive and plural forms. I do not know Ukranian but I have been told that about 80% of the words are similar to Russian. Polish grammar is difficult at the beginning but once you get used to it it is like a set of mathematical tables you never really forget.
Marek 4 | 867
1 Mar 2007  #37
Michal!

The issue of accent, i.e. pronunciation, is different from that of morphology or inflectional structure. Granted, Russian's lack of fixed syllabic stress makes it resemble more English than, say, Polish or Czech.

However, the Polish numeric system after "five", coupled with the addition of the (often optional) vocative case to pan-slavic six cases, the repetition of endings between accusative vs. genitive, are often quite confusing for a foreigner. In addition, Polish has " byl", "byla" "bylo" depending upon the gender of the speaker or the object described. Russian has "Anna byl", "Wiktor byl", with no difference in past tense gender!

Marek
Michal - | 1,865
1 Mar 2007  #38
The russian past tenses change like polish. On byl, ona byla, ono bylo, oni byli. True, polish has an addittional one one byly for feminine plural in the past but ja rabotal odako ona rabotala torze so why is there no difference in the past tense? Ja goworil, ona goworila, ja skazal, ona skazala i to samo po polsku ja powiedzialem, ja mowilem i tak dalej.

The Russian numeric system after five is also the same as in Polish.
Marek 4 | 867
2 Mar 2007  #39
OOOPS again!!:)
Thanks Michal. I posted too soon, I later realized. That says more about my somewhat limited Russian than it does about my Polish (which I honestly consider fluent, albeit not always accurate.)

I'd neglected to mention the "byly" form for feminine plurals. Right again.
Why "Ja robotal odako."? Perhaps because in Russian, the speaker's gender is clear by the very lack of a verbal ending. The latter though, is pure guesswork on my part. In Polish: "Pracowalem...", without the compulsory pronoun compared to Russian!

Marek
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
15 Aug 2007  #40
For example, let's take the word "pigeon". In Polish it's "gołąb", while in Czech it's "dachowy obersraniec", what in polish means more or less something like "something that is taking a **** on the roof".

I really don't want to rain on your parade, but very unfortunately I must inform you that "pigeon" is simply HOLUB in Czech. And so it goes on with these supposedly Czech words that most Poles like to ridicule. The truth is that Poles *think* they understand Czech when in reality they haven't got a clue. Actually I'm quite mad, I wouldn't have thought that those idiotic pseudo-jokey ideas about Czech vocabulary that I heard so often in primary school would actually perpetuate themselves onto a forum such as this :-(
gost
16 Sep 2007  #41
Czech is more like serbo croation.

I would like to inform you, Michal, that the so called 'serbo-croatian' never really existed. It was an attempt by the government in ex-Yugoslavia to merge the two languages into one because of politics in the country.

I've heard some linguists mentioning the serbo-croatian diasystem, but that doesn't mean that it is one language, although they are very closely related. Serbian and Croatian are, and have been since the early middle ages, two separate languages. It is inappropriate and to use that term nowadays.
osiol 55 | 3,922
16 Sep 2007  #42
I've heard some linguists mentioning the serbo-croatian diasystem, but that doesn't mean that it is one language

What about English English and Scots English? They have at times been considered seperate languages. Until the two countries became one about 300 years ago, it was considered two seperate languages.

I get the impression there is far more diversity within English than in many of the Slavic languages, and that the differences between some of them is really quite small. The biggest difference between Croatian and Serbian seems to be the different alphabets they use.

"something that is taking a **** on the roof".

What else would you call a pigeon?
Bondi 4 | 142
16 Sep 2007  #43
Interesting topic, hehe. :) As an outsider, a Hungarian who is Slovak on the mother's grandparents' side, I do think that learning one Slavic language is "enough" (I put it in double quotes). I can't speak Slovakian (well, the archaic Slovakian, actually, that elderly people still speak in my region), though with this heritage, plus my primitive Russian (as everyone had to learn it up until before '90.....), I still has an advantage in understanding Polish.

The words that are so similar in languages that come from different language groups usually have the same roots in Latin and/or Greek.

Apart from this, interestingly, we discovered with my Polish friends that we have lots of words in common -- first of all, k*rwa/k*rva, of course. :) Hungarian do seem to have preserved some Slavic loanwords. The above mentioned gołąb - galamb is one of them. (Which is "holub" in Slovakian, we even have people with this surname in my region! It's interesting that the starting "g" is usually "h" in Slovak/Czech and Russian. "Gamburger" always made us laugh at Russian lessons. :)
gost
16 Sep 2007  #44
I get the impression there is far more diversity within English than in many of the Slavic languages

I apologize for asking this, but are you a linguist? Do you speak any of the Slavic languages? Do you speak Croatian and/or Serbian?

There is diversity in every language, of course. I don't know enough about Scots English to have an opinion on that.

The biggest difference between Croatian and Serbian seems to be the different alphabets they use.

No, I'm afraid that is not the only difference. But it's pointless to try to explain the differences to you now.

we have lots of words in common -- first of all, k*rwa/k*rva, of course.

We have k*rva, too! ROTFL!
Emperor
7 May 2009  #45
Caute !

Hm, I can clearly tell that if you master Slovak language than it is easy to learn other Slavic languages, because Slovak language is the best for better understanding for all other Slavic languages. Altough it has got quite small number of speakers compare to Russia, but it can serve as lingua franca for all Slavic languages. Btw I know and understand all Slavic languages. But for my formal languages I count only 3 (Slovak, Czech and Polish) because I know them fluently, so altogether those 3 encounted I know 11 languages. If I count languages which I can speak or understand but not fluently such as Russian, Croatian, Serbian etc. Than it would be nearly at least 15 languages. I do speak languages such as Chinese, Japanese for example and many others. Why I know so many???? Becasue I know Slovak, that`s why. Slovak is the most difficult language on the planet. And Slovak language is very good to learn, because once you know it, you would know every Slavic language almost instantly, that`s why. I know people are looking mostly at number of speakers, but in this case Slovak language is special. However around the world the most spread Slavic languages are RUSSIAN and POLISH. Remember one more thing Slovak people can speak Polish, Czech, Russian and other Slavic languages but IT IS NOT VICE VERSA !!! I have seen this fenomen many times. For example you can find Slovak speaking Polish but you CAN NOT FIND a Polish person speaking with Slovak language. Maybe some few people do exist, but that is almost non existent. My knowledge is solid because I am interpret and translator for government (International) and I have been around the World.

Solidarity for all Slavs
Marek 4 | 867
7 May 2009  #46
Just curious as to how you, or for that matter one, measures "difficulty"? Is it the number of irregular morphological/inflectional permutations (in which case, Polish would certainly be one of the most "difficult" LOL)? Or perhaps incongruence between orthography vs. pronounciation (whereby English is practically everyone's worst nightmare:-) )? Maybe variety of nuance in vocabulary, semantic fields based on, among other things, heterogenous word roots etc...? etc..

As a translator and interpreter myself (German to English and vice versa), though no longer at a government level, I look forward to your reply post.
Mr Grunwald 19 | 1,542
7 May 2009  #47
The truth is that Poles *think* they understand Czech when in reality they haven't got a clue.

I really can't see the sense of this, Poles generally like Czechs better then any other nation except for Hungarians& Slovaks and some others but still Czechs are funny! Fun amuses everyone! Don't you find it amusing listening to Polish language?

Look at this one! Somewhere in it he says something about a Czech at 3.21
Lyzko
7 May 2009  #48
Some people have told me they think Norwegian, resp. Bokmaal, is a difficult language to learn. I explain to them, as an American, it's relatively simple. Were I Japanese, Chinese, even Polish or an Albanian speaker, it would seem almost impossible.

Speaker from different language groups learn languages most related to them--:))
PennBoy 76 | 2,437
7 May 2009  #49
Does anyone here speak Russian?

Я говорю немного русский
plk123 8 | 4,150
7 May 2009  #50
if i've studied polish, will languages like ukrainian or russian or czech be easier to learn? i wouldn't expect them to function identically to polish but will learning any 1 of them be much easier than sum1 who doesn't speak or know any other slavic language? or not really?

maybe, maybe not.. it depends what is your first language, imho.
Lyzko
7 May 2009  #51
As an English speaker, the Scandinavian languages (except of course, Icelandic! LOL) were a snap. Polish, on the other hand, was pure torture, that is, until I finally broke the case barrier, hunkered down and started remembering my Latin.

Marek
gumishu 11 | 5,012
7 May 2009  #52
I met a Russian guy couple of years ago in London - we had a talk - I used to learn Russian at school and thought I was not bad at it - then while talking to the guy the words that were coming to my mind were Czech not Russian ;) I haven't been using Russian for years though and I watch Czech TV quite often

to complete the picture
I once met Czech people in southern Italy - they were for work there as I was - I tried to talk to one of them in Czech and hmm thought I was doing well and then he said - why don't you speak Polish - we will understand. :P) (passive knowlegde of any given language is very different from active usage of it)

prijatno? oczień prijatno :) ;)

as for scandinavian languages - well in many cases they follow the pattern of English (wasn't English once heavily influenced by Nordic people? so maybe it's English following Nordic patterns) jeg vil gaa i maandag - I will go on Monday.

hehe I'm not sure what I've written in hmm Danish is correct :P

btw there's a whole bunch of slavic words that have been borrowed from Nordic languages (Gothic for that matter)
PennBoy 76 | 2,437
8 May 2009  #53
I understand some Russian, i've got Russian friends so i hear it often, plus i think like 10% of the words in Polish and Russian are the same, just the accent is very different, and if you listen carefully you should be able to understand some of the conversation, just sort of transition your thinking to that accent. Ukrainian if very similar to Polish i'd say about half or almost half the words are the same, my Ukrainian friend was talking with her mother i understood half of what she said, she didn't believe me, so repeated her conversation in English she was shocked as i was at first how similar in fact the languages are.
Lyzko
9 May 2009  #54
I found Polish much easier to pronounce than Russian. First of all, the 'moveable stress' in Russian made it difficult for me to pronounce words I'd never seen correctly, since I never knew where the accent fell. In addition, Russian has nunerous half-sounding or mutated vowel sounds, almost like the English schwa, making it closer to American English than Polish. In Polish, the stress is 90% of the time on the tonic or penultimate syllable, making pronounciation more transparent, at least for me as a foreigner. Lastly, ALL Polish vowels are short monothongs, the sole exception being the " ł " in words like "osioł", "anioł", "czołg" etc.

Oh yes, Polish spelling is more consistant than Russian, so far as I've observed up till now:-)
Seanus 15 | 19,706
10 May 2009  #55
I have come to the conclusion that mimicking and detecting speech patterns really help. This doesn't apply solely to Slavic languages but I'm gonna stay on tack. I had the chance to listen to Serbo-Croatian over the last couple of weeks. I heard the Slavic element clearly but the punch and intonation were so different. You can detect more of an Italian twang there. The key is listening and recognising. However, there were similarities that were instantly recognisable.
osiol 55 | 3,922
10 May 2009  #56
ALL Polish vowels are short monothongs, the sole exception being the " ł " in words like "osioł"

I'd have said the ł in words like jabłko make more of an exception. There are dipthongs formed with a vowel + ł or a vowel + j. Nasal vowels, when articulated as such seem to be slightly longer.

Old Church Slavonic could be the key to Slavic languages generally, partly because it was from a time before the languages had diverged very far, and I believe it was an invented language that pulled together different elements that speakers of different Slavic languages could all understand... kilkaset rok temu... or something like that.
Ilativ - | 10
10 May 2009  #57
Ukrainian if very similar to Polish i'd say about half or almost half the words are the same, my Ukrainian friend was talking with her mother i understood half of what she said, she didn't believe me, so repeated her conversation in English she was shocked as i was at first how similar in fact the languages are.

Hehe
when I visit Przemysl ! I speak Ukrainian, most Poles
understand me without any problems! moving west! well no so much!
I also can 40-30% can understand Polish
temporary
24 Aug 2009  #58
beach in Polish and Spanish.
gość
25 Aug 2009  #59
if i've studied polish, will languages like ukrainian or russian or czech be easier to learn?

If you did your homework then you would know that the slavic languages have even more similarities in common then for instance the germanic languages. Therefore: yes, it's easier to learn other slavic languages if you know Polish already.
Sasha 2 | 1,083
25 Aug 2009  #60
if i've studied polish, will languages like ukrainian or russian or czech be easier to learn?

The fact that you're non-native speaker of Polish makes it easier for you to learn other Slavic languages than for native Polish speakers. Similarity plays a bad role in this case turning into a false friend since you tend to pronounce similar words the way they're pronounced in your native tongue. For instance the word "grad" depending on stress means different things in Serbian ("town" or "hail") whereas Russian doesn't have so-called "musical stress" and can't differ those two words (we guess it on context).


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