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How well do Polish people understand Slovak?


yokohikasa
17 Feb 2016 #1
I read in some forums that Polish and Slovak have a lot of similarities and Poles can understand Slovak pretty well. Some Slovak people also say the same thing about Polish language. But say if I wanted to visit both countries (poland and slovakia) and get by with only one language, which language would be a better choice - Polish or Slovak? (Because they're both pretty hard languages so I wouldn't wanna bother learning both). Do Polish people have an easier time understanding Slovak or do Slovaks have an easier time understanding Polish?
Kezcaisim 1 | 37
17 Feb 2016 #2
Slovak is easier to pronounce and to learn than Polish, so I'd go for it. It also sounds very cute.
OP yokohikasa
17 Feb 2016 #3
Do you understand Slovak?
nope 2 | 44
17 Feb 2016 #4
Polish and Slovak

Just don't "search" anything in Slovakia, or at least don't say you're searching/looking for smth in polish while being in Slovakia :D.
Wulkan - | 3,251
17 Feb 2016 #5
Do Polish people have an easier time understanding Slovak or do Slovaks have an easier time understanding Polish?

It's probably the same for both sides.

Do you understand Slovak?

Yes, quite well.

which language would be a better choice - Polish or Slovak?

Understanding Slovak as a native Polish speaker and understanding Slovak when just learning Polish is a completely different story. I'm afraid you'll use English most of the time in both countries.
mafketis 23 | 7,815
17 Feb 2016 #6
Do Polish people have an easier time understanding Slovak or do Slovaks have an easier time understanding Polish?

probably the latter, partly because Slovaks are used to hearing different dialects of their own language on a daily basis (most Poles aren't) and they're used to Czech as well. They have broader reception skills.

IME Polish speakers can passively understand Slovak pretty well (though some of it sounds ridiculous because of the different meanings common roots have taken on).

As a non-native speaker of Polish I can understand some Slovak (was once on a project with a bunch of them - when they spoke together I understood most of the roots but couldn't put it together fast enough to really understand the content).

As for which to learn, Polish has a lot more speakers (about 6 times more) and so there will be more materials but Polish is less useful for learning other Slavic languages. Slovak will be harder to find materials for but it will be more helpful if you need to learn another slavic language (esp Czech, Polish or Ukrainian).

My advice is to start both and see which one takes your fancy more and/or look up some youtube videos (movies, audio books) and see which you like listening to more.
G (undercover)
17 Feb 2016 #7
Poles can understand Slovak pretty well.

It depends on your definition of "understanding very well". Polish speakers can do shopping and such things over there without problems and catch the general idea of what people are saying but obviously not to the point of using it at work etc. Otherwise these wouldn't be 2 different language but dialect of one language.
mafketis 23 | 7,815
17 Feb 2016 #8
It depends on your definition of "understanding very well".

I mean "passively understand the general meaning" of even fairly official announcements without being able to do much actively besides speak Polish a little more slowly clearly than ussual and hope for the best.

Polish speakers can do shopping and such things over there without problems and catch the general idea of what people are saying but obviously not to the point of using it at work etc.

Exactly.
kpc21 1 | 763
17 Feb 2016 #9
As a Polish person coming from the central Poland, seeing a text in Slovakian I can understand the general meaning of the text, partially from the words that are similar to the Polish ones, partially from the context. For the people living near the Slovakian border it must be easier, as they have simply more contact with the people from Slovakia, some of them watch not only Polish but also Slovakian TV etc.

Trying to translate a text in Slovakian (from Slovakian Wikipedia) to Polish:
========
Benzínový motor je spaľovací motor na ľahko odpariteľné kvapalné palivá, ako sú napríklad: prírodné a syntetické benzíny, petrolej, liehovo-benzínové a benzénové zmesi. Benzínové motory pracujú ako zážihové, t.j. zapálenie zmesi je iniciované cudzím zdrojom.

Podľa spôsobu prípravy zmesi STN rozoznáva:

- karburačný benzínový motor, v ktorom sa zmes vytvára sacím účinkom vzduchu
- vstrekový benzínový motor, v ktorom sa zmes vytvára vstrekovaním pod vysokým tlakom, či už priamym, alebo nepriamym
========
Silnik spalinowy (motor is also an alternative word for a silnik - engine in Polish) to silnik spalinowy (na ľahko odpariteľné kvapalné - ?) paliwa, jak na przykład: naturalne (prírodné - non-existing in Polish adjective which could be created from the word przyroda - nature, in Polish we say naturalny instead, in the meaning "coming from the nature"; we have a word "przyrodniczy", but it means "concerning the science about the nature") i syntetyczne benzyny, (olej napędowy - ? - it doesn't really make sense here), (liehovo-benzínové a benzénové zmesi - ?). Silniki benzynowe działają jako (zážihové - ?), tj. zapłon musi być zainicjowany obcym źródłem (in Polish zdrój means a water source, beginning of a river, the general word for source is źródło; it seems that in Slovakian zdroj is the general word for a source).[/quote]

========

I am not going to continue that translation, but it shows that it's still quite difficult to understand many Slovakian texts for a Pole and a dictionary might be necessary. And still I have no idea if I translated it correctly. I translated it as "silnik benzynowy" - "gasoline engine", but from the text it seems to turn out that in Slovakian this name refers also to engines powered with other fuels.
AdrianK9 6 | 369
17 Feb 2016 #10
I agree with KPC21...

In my opinion, Polish is far different from the other Slav languages of the regions i.e. Ukranian, Russia, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, etc. When I hear one of those languages, I can understand Serbian actually the most of out all of them since a lot of words are identical but of course the alphabet is Cyrillic. Ukranian and Russian are pretty similar to each other but a Polish person will have trouble understanding those. Czech and Slovak are a bit more similar to Polish than Ukranian and Russian though.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
17 Feb 2016 #11
Slavic, like Scandinavian, languages are NOT mutually or seamlessly "intelligible"! A Slovak native speaker trying to communicate with a Pole in the former's native tongue will have numerous difficulties, apart perhaps from sound-alike greetings, maybe counting numerals etc.

Yes, as in Scandinavia, Slovaks, Czechs, Slovenes and Poles will doubtless attempt communication in English nowadays. Of course, this is usually the choice of least resistance and becomes all too often a comic exercise in makeshift futility, that is, so long as a native English speaker's around if only to listen in on the inherent humor of this familiar routineLOL

I'm a speaker of Polish, and while by no means a native (nor even completely fluent), I can glance at another Slavic language such as Czech or Croatian, one also written in non-Cyrillic alphabet, and more or less grasp the gist of similarly lexemic phrases. Other than that, I'm lost, what with the umpteen false friend booby-traps awaiting me at every bend and turn!!

And SPEAKING or understanding them in a spoken context?? Forget it most of the time:-)
Ziemowit 13 | 3,783
17 Feb 2016 #12
ľahko odpariteľné kvapalné - ?)

lekko odparowywalne => lotne; kvapalné => ciekłe (por. "kapać" meaning something similar to "cieknąć")

zmesi - ?

zmieszania => mieszanki

zážihové - ?

zapalane => zapłonowe ; žih -> żig -? żg; this core is present in the Polish noun "pożoga"
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
17 Feb 2016 #13
I once observed, for instance, that in Czech "Pozar!" means "Attention!" (in Polish "Uważa!") while in Polish "pożar" means "fire", though not as in calling out "Fire!" (in Polish "Pali się!")

Most intriguing this thread.
mafketis 23 | 7,815
17 Feb 2016 #14
"Pozar!" means "Attention!" (in Polish "Uważa!")

You mean pozor! and uwaga! (the Polish cognate of pozor is not pożar, but rather pozór - appearance (among other things) especially used in the expression 'pozory mylą' (appearances are deceptive).
Tunny
17 Feb 2016 #15
Thanks, Maf!
Chemikiem 6 | 2,073
17 Feb 2016 #16
Slovaks have an easier time understanding Polish?

I met a Slovakian guy about 6 years ago who had come to work in the UK. He shared a house with a bunch of Polish guys, and was pretty much fluent within 6 months. I actually thought he was Polish.

How much Polish language he had heard before I don't know, but he did live quite close to the Polish border in Slovakia.
Ziemowit 13 | 3,783
22 Feb 2016 #17
How much Polish language he had heard before I don't know, but he did live quite close to the Polish border in Slovakia

There is an ethnic group of Slovak people living close to the Polish border who lost their Polish identity in the course of time (in the Middle Ages this territory belonged to Poland) and now identify themselves as Slovak people. Yet, they have retained their original language which is some dialect of Little Poland dialects until today. I've forgotten the name of the group, but maybe he originated from that group.
cinek 2 | 343
22 Feb 2016 #18
say if I wanted to visit both countries (poland and slovakia) and get by with only one language, which language would be a better choice - Polish or Slovak?

If you want to learn a bit of one and be able to understand both then forget it. I think you will even not be able to notice the similarities (unless some word stems when written).
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
22 Feb 2016 #19
You're probably right, cinku! I tried even reading a Czech newspaper a while ago and was nearly lost:-) Polish is similar, yet as we know, false friends lurk practically around every sentence turn, e.g. "pozor"/"pożar" etc....
Chemikiem 6 | 2,073
25 Feb 2016 #20
maybe he originated from that group.

I have no idea, but he lives in a village called Kamenica, Presov Region, in North Eastern Slovakia, it's only about 15-20 kms from the Polish border. I don't know if this region is part of what used to be Poland in the middle ages as you explained or not.
LeesaJohnson
20 Feb 2017 #21
I don't understand Slovak but I am interested in learning so I have started lessons from a Slovak tutor.
selectmytutor.co.uk/subject-slovak.html
Marsupial - | 888
20 Feb 2017 #22
I can't actually remember ever hearing it. Maybe i did and thought it was Polish?
RubasznyRumcajs 5 | 480
20 Feb 2017 #23
in the place I work, there are some Slovaks and Poles... there is no problem in communication- as long as both parties do not speak too fast (in their native tongues)!
Slovenka
2 Mar 2017 #24
Well, I am Slovak and I do speak the language and I agree that the languages are similar although there are differences, I'd say that both languages are very difficult but Slovaks understand Czech so well that it seems to be the same language only because every word is pretty much the same, Czech people do struggle to understand Polish a bit more. Polish is also useful but it's only used in Poland. So I do recommend Slovak but that obviously depends on what you're trying to achieve by learning the language.
Slav friend
25 Mar 2017 #25
I can tell you guys that Serbian and Croatian is closer to Czech and Slovak than Polish or Russian.
Crow 138 | 8,044
26 Mar 2017 #26
Just for the record. Speaking language in Croatia is Serbian.
mafketis 23 | 7,815
26 Mar 2017 #27
Speaking language in Croatia is Serbian.

No it isn't. Croatian and Serbian are micro-standards of a larger language but the two are distinct.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,881
26 Mar 2017 #28
Just for the record. Speaking language in Croatia is Serbian.

Behave yourself Crowie, or I'll send you the picture I took in Republka Srpska of a sign written in Cyrillic but which used Croatian spelling rather than Serbian spelling.
Crow 138 | 8,044
27 Mar 2017 #29
Cyrillic or Latin in the region, no matter dialogue, is Serbian language, by most prominent linguistic experts and by knowledge of people there. Poles should be careful with this (if you are even Polish). Poles for sure wouldn`t like that one day Orthodox or Protestant Poles, declare themselves (under foreign influence/pressure, no matter which) that they aren`t Poles but some other people and plus, in the process steal Polish language. I think that Poles wouldn`t like that.

Its one thing for Poland to accept or not accept current (!) political reality and borders in the region and develop as better as possible relations with Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina but, Poland always have to have in mind that happened forcible dissolution of Serbian ethnic space. So, what once was split, cold be once again united (just, this time with real Croatia excluded- three regions: Zagreb, Krizevci and Varazdin).

There are already turmoils among Catholics in Croatia. Many Catholics there are Catholic Serbs, no matter all pressure that they suffered from Croatian elite and no matter betrayal of rest of worldwide Catholic community (Vatican included) in the world that ignore them, thanks to meddling of Germanic factor that even in this way tries to reduce Serbians.
Crow 138 | 8,044
27 Mar 2017 #30
no matter dialogue,

I wanted to say, no matter dialect or spelling


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