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How Polish sounds to other Slavs

Bobko 9 | 163
10 May 2017 #1
I stumbled upon this little joke on-line.

Russian joke

The translation from Russian of the tweet is pretty much:
- Hello? Who is this?
- pshhhhhh pshzzshhh
- I can't hear you. Who's calling, hello?
- [continues speaking Polish]

IDK why, but I just couldn't stop laughing.

Does anybody know how other Slavs hear Polish?

Dirk diggler 9 | 4,763
10 May 2017 #2
People have told me polish sounds like a lot of sh and ch sounds. People have confused it for other Slavic languages n some people are way off n think it's French
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
10 May 2017 #3
I like to listen people speaking portugese. a lot of sh and ż sounds too :)
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,763
11 May 2017 #4
Do you speak Russian? Your translation of the joke is pretty good. Except kak vac zovut means what's your name (literal interpretation) altho I guess in a phone convo it could be interpreted as who's calling
OP Bobko 9 | 163
13 May 2017 #5
I understand Russian fairly well, although I think that in order to translate this piece all one needs to know is how to read the Cyrillic alphabet - the language here is so simple.

Regardless, in the days since the original post I've found some other things on topic. It would seem that Russians have a peculiar brand of Polonophobia, which revolves to a great extent around the language itself.

It's purported that Catherine the Great (a German), whilst upset about something the Poles had done shortly after the first partition (second?), remarked that God had cursed the poles with a serpent tongue for their devious ways.

Vladimir Mayakovsky, in the 20th century said something very similar: "Змеиному народу - змеиный язык."

I found a few other Russian takes on Polish, but not from such august persons. Overall I'm afraid that Russians pretty much unanimously seem to think that Polish is a rather silly-sounding language. And as much as I looked for other genres of Russian jokes about Poles, they seemed to be few (when compared with jokes about Ukrainians, Georgians, etc).

I think this is because as a large country Russians can be self-absorbed and with a somewhat short attention span (like Americans), and thus just don't know enough about the Poles to personalize the humor more.

Does anybody know any good Russian jokes about Poles? Also vice versa?
OP Bobko 9 | 163
16 Jul 2019 #6
Запомни раз и навсегда, сынок. Поляки - естественные враги русских. У них ненависть к России заложена на генетическом уровне неисчислимых поколений и подкреплена воспитанием с младенчества.
Поляк - идеальный сферический русофоб в вакууме.Поляки

Not so much a joke, but Russian needling of Poles here. Rough translation is that a Pole is a perfect Russophobe, as would exist in a vacuum, or be stored in France along with other standard weights and measurements. Poles hate Russians so much, that Russophobia could be measured in units of PSh (Russian slang term for a Pole is "Pshek"). Polish hatred of Russians is of such magnitude, that any other expression of Russophobia from representatives of other nationalities would necessarily have a measurement of <1 PSh. Then the funniest part in the end - that a Western ukrainian from Galicija who masturbates at a photo of Bandera, and trains himself daily in hate of all things Russian, would still only achieve a PSh of 0.95-0.99 but not 1.

pawian 178 | 16,073
16 Jul 2019 #7

Primarily, about москалям. Do Russians use it as a synonym to a Russian person? In positive or negative context?
OP Bobko 9 | 163
16 Jul 2019 #8
Russians themselves very rarely use it. When it is used, it's used by residents of other regions of Russia to refer specifically to people living in Moscow (but even then, the much more common and less pejorative term is Москвичи). That being said, the most common way for a Russian to hear Москаль is from a Ukrainian and it has a 100% negative context. The intent is to deny Russians their Rus-ness, since Ukrainians believe the legacy of Rus and its language rightfully belongs to them, but was usurped by Muscovy in the 1300s thanks to Mongol aid.

Finally, the much more popular term is Кацап (Katsap), rather than Москаль.
pawian 178 | 16,073
16 Jul 2019 #9
since Ukrainians believe the legacy of Rus and its language rightfully belongs to them,

You touched a very interesting topic which I already know so no need to elaborate. But tell me, what you think about it?
OP Bobko 9 | 163
16 Jul 2019 #10
This question is a minefield, with no correct answers. Nonetheless, I will attempt to answer it :).

In my humble opinion, Russia has the stronger claim of the two, because of dynastic and religious legitimacy. On the dynastic side - because the Rurikids continued to reign in Russia right up until 1700 or so - long after the Rurikids had gone extinct in Ukrainian lands. On the religious side, because the Metropolitans of Kiev consciously and voluntarily moved the main seat of the church first to Vladimir, and then to Moscow, as Kiev became deserted and depopulated following the invasions from the East.
pawian 178 | 16,073
16 Jul 2019 #11
I see. Thanks and let`s finish that topic or the thread will suffer.

- pshhhhhh pshzzshhh

Yes,. this is not only Russian impression but also other nationalities` about the sounds of the spoken Polish. Whistling of a boiling kettle is one of the descriptions.
OP Bobko 9 | 163
16 Jul 2019 #12
Hahahaha! Good one.

Agree with you, that we need to bring the thread back on track. So how about this? What do you think about Russian chauvinistic argument that Ukrainian is nothing but a primitive rural Russian dialect infected with countless Polonisms that the Ukrainians absorbed while living under the Szchlachta?

Another Russian joke about Polish and Russian:

Russian: Is it true that you speak a different language than we do in Russia?
Pole: Why yes, we speak Polish in Poland!
Russian: How do you say "Dom" (house)?
Pole: Dom.
Russian: How do you say "selo" (village)?
Pole: Siolo.
Russian: I see, and how do you say "zhopa" (ass)?
Pole: Dupa.
Russian: Indeed, the differences are great!
pawian 178 | 16,073
16 Jul 2019 #13
What do you think about Russian chauvinistic argument that Ukrainian

To be honest, I know there is such a dispute between Russians and Ukrainians but I am not an expert on Eastern Slavic languages so I`d prefer to abstain from voicing my opinion.

Russian: How do you say "selo" (village)?
Pole: Sielo.

It should be sioło. But I haven`t heard it for years in live language, only encountered it in old school books dealing with literature from early 20 century. :):) This joke must be very old.

As for simliarities, I remember a speech of friendship that Jarosław Kaczyński delivered to Russians in 2010 to prove Poles aren`t Russophobes. I read Russian comments under that youtube film and most Russians were surprised they understood almost everything without reading subtitles.
OP Bobko 9 | 163
16 Jul 2019 #14
should be sioło

You caught me between edits. Fixed this. Yes, pretty archaic term - and it makes sense, because this was from an anthology of Polish jokes from the 19th and early 20th century.

Speaking of the speech delivered by Lech Kaczynski... it was a great speech. Just watched it again, and read those comments you referred to.

To Russians he will always be the better of the two twins.
mafketis 29 | 9,857
16 Jul 2019 #15
What do you think about Russian chauvinistic argument that Ukrainian is nothing but a primitive rural Russian dialect

Russians seem to hate the Ukrainian language with an intensity that is both appalling and a little frightening.

What about the argument by Timothy Snyder who supports Ukrainization but says that Ukrainians should codify and standardize Russian as spoken in Ukraine as a standard on its own (hastening the process of Russian becoming a polycentric rather than monocentric language)?

He also says modern Ukraine is the largest Russian speaking area in history where citizens have something like freedom of speech...
pawian 178 | 16,073
16 Jul 2019 #16
delivered by Lech Kaczynski...

No, I didn`t make a mistake, it was Jarosław who spoke to Russians one month after the tragic death of his twin brother.
OP Bobko 9 | 163
16 Jul 2019 #17

Oh ****, I actually found a different speech then. (

Will look for Jaroslaw's speech now.

Ukrainians should codify and standardize Russian as spoken in Ukraine as a standard on its own

I think this is a non-starter, if Snyder is referring to Суржик (pidgin Russian spoken in kiev, the south and the east). Though as an idea it is interesting, I'm afraid it would be completely unpalatable to nationalistically-minded Ukrainians who are fighting for Ukrainian.

modern Ukraine is the largest Russian speaking area in history where citizens have something like freedom of speech

This is absolutely true. At the same time, as someone who reads a lot of both, I have to say that the quality of journalism in Ukraine, compared to their Russian colleagues, is still of a lower, more provincial, quality. That is, you don't often see them use their journalistic freedom in a truly bold fashion that challenges the status quo, as of yet. Instead, this freedom has so far been more often demonstrated through the non-stop injection of "kompromat" against rival factions. This is probably a result of the fact that all print publications, radio stations and tv channels in the Ukraine are owned by oligarchs, who each have their own puppet political parties. In Russia, of course, all mass media at this point are owned by the state or state affiliated entities (i.e. Gazprom Media), so all these fights happen under the carpet, with the public left to just guess at what is really happening. However, Russian journalists do write amazing pieces sometimes (latest example is the scandalous story of Golunov's arrest), that proudly carry on the Russian dissident tradition. It'll be some time before Ukraine can truly be a beacon of freedom for Russia. Now, it is more a Scarecrow reminding people of the dangers of excessive democracy.
Crow 150 | 9,538
17 Jul 2019 #18
some people are way off n think it's French

Because in melodical sense, French sound as deformed Polish. Its logical. When Sarmats (ie old Slavs) consolidated in what is now Poland and area was overpopulated, population migrated to what is now France. French or to say their ancestors before romanized, in great deal those Celts that were exterminated by Roman Caesar, were Polish offspring. Sure, it was in time when all Slavs were still just Sarmats with local tribal names. But more or less aware that they are Sarmats and parallel with it aware Thracians.

If not for Caesar today`s France would be Slavic (ie Sarmatic) and by that Britain and Germany, too. Many Europeans would be Slavs if not for Romans.
mafketis 29 | 9,857
17 Jul 2019 #19
if Snyder is referring to Суржик (pidgin Russian spoken in kiev, the south and the east).

I think it's more about how educated Ukrainians speak Russian which is sufficiently different from standard Russian in Russia (in terms of pronunciation and lexicon if nothing else) to warrant codification.

Part of Snyder's point is that a side effect of slavishly following Russian usage is that it can be hard to tell the provenance of written materials while a distinct Ukrainian standard would make it clearer. As he puts it.. no country in Latin America would accept Spaniards telling them how to write Spanish just as Americans and Brits won't want to be told how to write by the other. Even the put upon Quebecois no longer accept standard Metropolitan French as a model to always emulate.
Lyzko 30 | 7,740
17 Jul 2019 #20
For whatever it's worth, a number of Poles have told me that to their ears, certain other Slavic languages, especially Croatian, sound practically
like "baby talk"LOL

Maybe the lack of nasals along with those typically Polish sibilants, sounds somehow less developed or the like, I'm not sure.
However, those same people maintain that Czech is their closest-sounding language:-)
mafketis 29 | 9,857
18 Jul 2019 #21
Because of the way different slavic languages acquired their 'educated vocabulary (for science, law, the arts and education etc) separately rather than together (like the Romance languages did) every Slavic language sounds kind of ridiculous to speakers of other slavic languages (to different degrees). The Slavic language that most amuses Poles is Czech because of the way czech roots are used (divadlo for theater?) and Czech intonation sounds kind of childish to Poles.

When I was in Croatia for a couple of days it seems a little odd but not crazy - Slovenian though was full of hilarious signs, one of my favorites was odvetnik for attorney (adwokat in Polish). Odvetnik sounds something like 'revenger'.... which is oddly appropriate.
Lyzko 30 | 7,740
18 Jul 2019 #22
I find it kinda neat too the way in certain of those languages, what is normal everyday usage in one, could sound laughably bookish or just plain old-fashioned in another (....not to even get back to my favorite topic of "false friends"). For example, I once can remember hearing, that the normal, everyday Polish "mowic" for "to speak" also has a distant Ukrainian calque, but the same word in Polish, if used in Ukrainian, might sound as though the Ukrainian speaker were talking through a time warpLOL

Any link you know of which highlights this topic a little?
I'd appreciate it!
OP Bobko 9 | 163
18 Jul 2019 #23

Here's some funny Polish/Russian "false friends" for you Lyzko:

1) miłość/милость - love/mercy
2) nagły/наглый - sudden/rude
3) uroda/урод - beauty/freak, ugly
4) woń/вонь - aroma/stench
5) dynia/дыня - pumpkin/melon
6) kwas/квас - acid/refreshing carbonated drink
7) ssać/ссать - to suck/to pee
Ziemowit 13 | 4,448
18 Jul 2019 #24
8) dywan/диван - carpet/sofa
pawian 178 | 16,073
18 Jul 2019 #25
7) ssać/ссать - to suck/to pee

Very interesting.
Lyzko 30 | 7,740
18 Jul 2019 #26
Thanks so much, Bobo!
Nice of you.
OP Bobko 9 | 163
18 Jul 2019 #27
Very interesting

Yes, this could lead to some pretty unfortunate misunderstandings.
Lyzko 30 | 7,740
18 Jul 2019 #28
Again, try some time to "pukat" on a Russian's door and watch them hold their nosesLOL
kaprys 3 | 2,501
18 Jul 2019 #29
Actually Poles also know kwas as a drink.

Czech is the language whose most Poles find childlike.
Once I was told that Czechs think that Polish sounds childlike to them but we'd need a Czech here to verify it.
Plus there are some funny false friends.
Lyzko 30 | 7,740
18 Jul 2019 #30
Yes, I now think I realize why Poles find Czech childlike. As children typically can't pronounce the "sz"-sound, for example, and since in Polish such sounds are quite numerous, somebody who doesn't seem to say those sounds, might appear to sound "childlike", because there's the impression that somehow their mouths are able to produce them, almost as if their speech is underdeveloped.

Well, a possible reason at any rate:-)

Whoops, typo! I meant ".....that somehow their mouths AREN'T able to produce them....."

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