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Undertsanding case structure (or 'you can't translate English directly into Polish')


chaza 50 | 253
7 Oct 2010 #1
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have given me their time and effort into helping me grasp this language, you all know who you are.

I have been told to study a polish grammar book many times, so this time (again), I went back to the grammar book. what I found requires some kind of understanding, a lot of people have told me ‘ you cant translate English directly into polish, because it will sound nonsense’, for example;

acc case
Znam tę ksiaźkę. I know that book. ok
Przeczytałem twoj artykuł. I read your article. ok
Muszę kupic butelkę wina. I have to buy a bottle of wine. ok
here you have done just that, a direct translation.

Jestem cały dzień zajęty. I’m busy the entire day.
here it has gone off a bit, what is wrong with saying’ jestem zajęty cały dzień

dat case ; why is it not …….?
Kupuję narzeczonemu prezent. I’m buying my fiancé a present. kupuję mój narzeczonemu prezent
Sprzedaję samochód swojej sasiadce. I’m selling my car to my neighbor. Sprzedaję samochód swojej mój sasiadce.
Poźycz mi tę ksiaźkę. Lend me that book. ok
Mowiłem ci juź, źe jestem zajęty. I already told you I’m busy .ja juź powiedz ci, źe jestem zajęty
Matka lubi, kiedy czytam jej gazetę. Mother likes it when I read her the paper. ok
Na imię mi Marek. My name is Marek; call me Marek mój imię jest marek. / nazywam marek
Zdechł mi pies. My dog died. mój pies zdechł
Zepsułem ci samochód. I’ve ruined your automobile. zepsułem twoj samochód
Amputuja mu nogę. They’re amputating his leg. jesteście amputując jego nogę
Zginał mi zegarek. My watch has disappeared. moim zegarek zginał( not sure about the last word)
Zabrali mi telewizor. They took away my television set. why say away when there is no word for away?
Odbił mi dziewczynę. He stole away my girl. again no word for away! odbił mój dziewczyne
Odbierasz nam nadzieje. You are taking away from us our hopes. it says; you are taking us hope. why , as it has done above cant it say odbierasz od nam swój nadzieje

Takie sprawy zatruwaja człowiekowi źycie. Things like that poison a person’s life such sprawy zatruwać osoba źycie
I have found many other issues like these, and you cant say my translation is nonsense, it is understandable. is the language such that when you begin to grasp it, it is designed to change and dumfound and confuse you, which it does. so when people say you cant direct translate, that is not true.

why is it that whatever the case you are using, why does it have to change the word order. I realize that there are words that need to be implied like , is; the; at;. but I hope you can see the dilemma beginners are in, it is not enough to say read a grammar book, the language is contradictory and back to front.

inst case
iść droga go along the road i can see this issue, omitting the word ‘along’ which would be implied
zawijać kierownica turn the steering wheel, zawracać kierownica
zawijać doesn’t mean ‘turn’
Rzuc czymś we mnie, moźe ci będzie lepiej. Throw something at me, maybe you’ll feel better. where is the word’ feel’ how do I know what it is supposed to know.

I think you can see what I mean, some of the phrases go out of their way to have as few words to say the most, and in doing, make the phrase nonsense.

chaza
alexw68
7 Oct 2010 #2
some of the phrases go out of their way to have as few words to say the most, and in doing, make the phrase nonsense.

NO. Not nonsense, unless you insist on a direct equivalence between English and Polish. There isn't one, so don't force the issue.

The approach to take is that Polish does things its own way. Let it be - you're observant and intelligent enough to see that these things are happening, but attempting to rationalise Polish through the medium of English is what is nonsensical, not Polish itself. Same applies for whatever other language you might be attempting to learn.

Jestem cały dzień zajęty. I’m busy the entire day.
here it has gone off a bit, what is wrong with saying’ jestem zajęty cały dzień

Nothing wrong, it's just a matter of emphasis.

1) I'm BUSY all day -> Jestem cały dzień zajęty
2) I'm busy ALL DAY -> Jestem zajęty cały dzień

1) is the less 'marked' (ie, more common) of the two.

The rest, I'll leave to others.
OP chaza 50 | 253
7 Oct 2010 #3
thanks alex
i dont exagerate when i say i have studied everyday and tried to garsp this language, i feel i wont get there. e.g my.... mój. moim. moiych, if you are talking about MY, then say MY, ME, mnie,mno,mi again you are talking about ME, iif there were sin/ pl me, as there is you, then ok i get it, why it feel necessary to have all these is beyond my grasp. i must be stupid or something but i dont get it. i have got to the point now where i cant study anymore, my way od speaking will have to do, i am understood and that is the issue. i wonr ever be a polish linquistic because of what i said.

i think its time to throw in the towel

chaza
Trevek 26 | 1,702
7 Oct 2010 #4
I think you can see what I mean, some of the phrases go out of their way to have as few words to say the most, and in doing, make the phrase nonsense.

The thing is you are considering it from an English viewpoint. If you look at things from a Polish viewpoint you find similar problems with English.

"I'm on the train" maybe if you are in India or Africa, but in Europe you are inside a train.

"The plane takes off" takes what? where? it doesn't "put on" Can't imagine a 747 dancing to 'The Stripper" It doesn't 'take' anything.

But you could say "The plane takes itself into to the air"

Trying to make sense of it from an English point doesn't always work (or you have to stretch it). Also, the simple matter of rules of word order come into effect.

A Chinese guy once asked me why English has past tenses: "Why you say, 'I went to shop yesterday'" (note he didn't use 'do', it's a pointless word) "We say, 'I go to shop... I go to shop today, I go to shop yesterday, I go to shop tomorrow.'"

So, faced with such logic, how can I explain why it is important to have a past tense in English when a few million Chinese manage life and the Olympic Games without one?

OK, some of your examples

Jestem cały dzień zajęty. I’m busy the entire day.
here it has gone off a bit, what is wrong with saying’ jestem zajęty cały dzień

Because time phrases fit into a different structure in Polish. I mean, could you say "I am the whole day busy" or "I the whole day am busy"? You could, but it sounds weird.

Kupuję narzeczonemu prezent. I’m buying my fiancé a present. kupuję mój narzeczonemu prezent

Try "I bought my car for 10 pounds" or "I bought for ten pounds my car" or "I bought for my car ten pounds".

Zabrali mi telewizor. They took away my television set. why say away when there is no word for away?

You don't have to say 'away' in English either. But you would to emphasize the television going some distance, maybe never to return, rather than to the next room. The 'away' just shows it is to another place, possible unknown.

Rzuc czymś we mnie, moźe ci będzie lepiej. Throw something at me, maybe you’ll feel better. where is the word’ feel’ how do I know what it is supposed to know.

Well is it that you will be better or only feel that way (it might not be real)?
alexw68
7 Oct 2010 #5
i think its time to throw in the towel

Definitely not! What you do need to do is resist the urge to ask 'why' at every opportunity. The reasons can be found, but whether they'll be of any use to you is another matter entirely.

Continue, however, to observe - and imitate. That dative construction you have brought up is absolutely central to natural, spoken Polish - and you've spotted it. Just have a go, try using it when you speak or write. Hell, get drunk and work up a hangover just so you can say

głowa mnie boli - my head hurts (literally: 'the head hurts me'). (Not dative, but it's the same fundamental issue)

The Chinese Taoist wise men had a saying 2,500 years ago about two men falling into a waterfall, one drunk, the other sober. Who gets out the other side without getting hurt? The drunk one, of course.

This isn't an attempt to turn you into a boozer :) - but just to suggest that you allow your learning of the language to take its course - you should exact less control over it, let it happen. Are you in Poland? If yes, no problem, just go out there and have a go. If not, find some Polish people in the neighbourhood. And then, try it out, one word at a time, then more - anyway, just talk. Either way, they'll be impressed that you're making the effort. And that is all the feedback you'll need.
sausage 19 | 777
7 Oct 2010 #6
Zabrali mi telewizor. They took away my television set. why say away when there is no word for away?

you don't really need "away" in English, except to clarify (maybe the translation isn't a good one??)
"they took my television" (implies maybe thieves took it)
"they took my television away" (maybe the repair men or bailiffs took it)
OP chaza 50 | 253
7 Oct 2010 #7
firstly trev,
your examples are samantics, i take your point about the plane and the car, i think you are just being aukward.

sausage i take your point about the T.V and agree 'away' is there to clarify.

thanks alex, the need to ask 'why' to me is fundamental to understanding, i dont live in poland, but i do speak to my cousin regulaly, even she says my polish is good. but that never stopped the frustration. i do take your point about just have a go, and that is where i am at right now. i dont intend to stop talking polish, but all this grammar as i have said is not helping. the only issue i do agree on are the tenses, łem. łeś. bym. łbym ect these i understand, so the towel has not been thrown in completely, i have just took myself out of the race.

chaza
sausage 19 | 777
7 Oct 2010 #8
so the towel has not been thrown in completely

good!
Polish is difficult and there are some concepts that seem totally alien to English speakers. Word order is difficult to get the hang of in any language.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
7 Oct 2010 #9
your examples are samantics, i take your point about the plane and the car, i think you are just being aukward.

But the whole question of langauge is semantics. I'm not trying to be awkward, I'm showing you what my students come up against all the time when they study English.

Example.
My English is good, I speak English very good, I speak English very well.
My health is good, my health is well, my health is very well.
I feel good, I feel well, I feel very well.
I am good, I am well, I am very well.

Now, why do some of these constructions work but others don't? These are the kind of mistakes/questions a Polish student of English comes across.

Asking 'why?' isn't a problem, it's asking 'why?' using one language as a (superior) model. It's a bit like taking a sponge cake and a cheesecake and asking why they have different ingredients and why they need to be cooked differently.

Another thing to remember is the systems and classifications imposed on a language are done so after the language has developed. They are largely artificial. Example, why is the Polish word for 'man' a feminine word? It isn't... it is just that the classification of words ending in 'a' was deemed 'feminine' by a philosopher.

Why does Standard English not allow double negatives ("I've never done nothing to you") when almost every other language in Europe does? English used to have it (it was removed by philosphers!) I could say 'because two negs make a pos' but then why does it work in other languages (and in non-standard English)?

sausage i take your point about the T.V and agree 'away' is there to clarify.

I made this point too! (slinks away to sulk)
cinek 2 | 345
7 Oct 2010 #10
i do speak to my cousin regulaly, even she says my polish is good.

Does you cousin correct you when you make a mistake? If not, then ask her to do so. If she just says 'ok, I undestood you' it may make you feel you said something well while it might be just 'understandable' but not gramatically correct.

Every time you make a mistake she should say the same correct way and you should repeat it after her. This is how children learn languages and it is the only way to get the language feeling.

And as the others said, avoid asking 'why'. It won't help you at all at your level and even makes the things more difficult.

Belive me, little children don't ask 'why', they just repeat after they parents and they are usually able to speak with correct grammar in age 3 or 4.

Cinek


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