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Abrupt Poles explained !


poland_
5 Nov 2012  #1
New research from the University of Portsmouth could help English and Polish speakers to avoid cultural misunderstandings. The study, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), explains why common ways of expressing oneself in Polish can seem rude when used to form the basis for sentences in English.

Dr Jörg Zinken, senior lecturer at the University's psychology department, looked at common domestic situations and analysed how people asked family members to perform tasks. He found that whilst English speakers were more likely to use questions such as, "Can you pass the milk?", Polish speakers tended to use imperatives such as, "Pass the milk."

The English tendency to pose questions allows the request's recipient to feel a sense of autonomy. "Even if it is obvious that they will comply, by asking someone to do something rather than telling them, the English form gives the other person a choice," Dr Zinken explained.

scienceomega.com/article/181/linguistic-variations-demonstrate-cultural-differences
mafketis 20 | 7,171
5 Nov 2012  #2
This is hardly new or cutting edge research, I've read about a half dozen articles that cover the same or very similar ground.

IME most Polish people I've asked agree with the interpretation of Anna Wierzbicka who wrote (in the 90s?) that the imperative in Polish is felt to be more polite than most of the alternatives in that it involves addressing the person directly and openly asking for what you want rather than unrelated speculation.

I guess this kind of basic info needs to be repeated frequently.

The old rule is still true: It's often impossible to be polite in two different cultures at the same time.
smurf 39 | 1,982
5 Nov 2012  #3
This is hardly new or cutting edge research, I've read about a half dozen articles that cover the same or very similar ground.

that's like something a hipster would say.

'''pfft, I knew about this (band) years ago (before they were cool)."
Good for you dude
*thumbs up

IME

IMO?

I've gotten used to how people ask for things here now, doesn't bother me, never really did, although at first I thought it was a bit mad. But ya know, ya get used to it quick. The thing I don't like is for example, when you get to work and your colleagues asks you straight away to do something or send something or whatever. And I'm standing there, haven't even taken off my coat or turned on my computer thinking "eff off man, I just got here" And all I say is "Ah Marek, how was your weekend? Did you go out or go to the cinema?'

And every week it throws him, coz I know he's a boring so-and-so and all he does is play world or warcraft every weekend. Shuts him up for a few minutes until I'm ready to deal with him.

No foreplay at all, I suppose it's the same with Polish men and that's why Polish girls wanna get with foreigners so much (^_^)
OP poland_
5 Nov 2012  #4
The old rule is still true: It's often impossible to be polite in two different cultures at the same time.

It is always better to tell it the way it is, less waffle more fact. Although it is not necessary to offend people on purpose, I would not want to be seen to be so PC as most Brits have become, nor would I want to considered as rude and aloof as I view most Poles in service industry. Balance always wins the day.

This is hardly new or cutting edge research, I've read about a half dozen articles that cover the same or very similar ground.

Good for you, maybe others on PF have not. I will remind you this is a public forum. Argo........
mafketis 20 | 7,171
5 Nov 2012  #5
Good for you, maybe others on PF have not. I will remind you this is a public forum.

I wasn't criticising your linking the article (which was a good idea the more people know about this kind of thing the better).

I was criticising the author of the article and/or Dr Zinken for suggesting that these findings are in any way new when others have written about the same phenomena before.
Richfilth 6 | 415
5 Nov 2012  #6
This is less about Polish directness and more about British waffling, which is famous around Europe. This guide is based on an observation originally made by the Dutch contingency within the corridors of the European Union in Brussels:

Poles hate being taught the skill of Indirect Questions, which has been a staple of EFL courses for as long as I've been teaching.
welshguyinpola 23 | 463
5 Nov 2012  #7
I would not want to be seen to be so PC as most Brits have become,

Watch the MTV series 'The Valleys' you'll see how politically incorrect brits really are
OP poland_
5 Nov 2012  #8
I would have to agree with the Welsh NOT British handle on that one.
pip 10 | 1,661
5 Nov 2012  #9
Poles hate being taught the skill of Indirect Questions, which has been a staple of EFL courses for as long as I've been teaching.

perhaps, but there is a certain abruptness even rudeness in the language.
Ant63 11 | 403
5 Nov 2012  #10
Watch the MTV series 'The Valleys' you'll see how politically incorrect brits really are

I wondered who actually watched that. :-)

It's not really like that now is it? It wasn't when I used to spend every weekend down there 8 - 10 years ago.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
5 Nov 2012  #11
there is a certain abruptness even rudeness in the language.

No, there is not. A language cannot be "rude" or "nice". It's how you use it. The Polish "abrupt" manner is made polite by other factors, such as appropriate intonation, vocabulary, or grammatical structures.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
5 Nov 2012  #12
The Polish "abrupt" manner is made polite by other factors, such as appropriate intonation, vocabulary, or grammatical structures.

Agreed!
Polish's insistence on proper decorum when addressing strangers used to drive me nuts :)
Pan magister, Pani Profesor, Pan Kierownik,......Proszę Pana, Niech Pan pozwoli,.........
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,445
5 Nov 2012  #13
This is less about Polish directness and more about British waffling, which is famous around Europe. This guide is based on an observation originally made by the Dutch contingency within the corridors of the European Union in Brussels:

Can you post a link to that, please?
Daisy 3 | 1,227
5 Nov 2012  #14
I would have to agree with the Welsh NOT British handle on that one.

That's your first fail, the Welsh are British, in fact they are the original Britons. The countries of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland make up the British Isles. Like a lot of foreigners, you get English mixed up with British. The English by the way are not Britons.
Richfilth 6 | 415
5 Nov 2012  #15
Can you post a link to that, please?

I can only point you to The Economist, which originally ran the guide in their print edition. Referenced here:

economist.com/node/3152907?story_id=3152907
OP poland_
5 Nov 2012  #16
That's your first fail, the Welsh are British, in fact they are the original Britons. The countries of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland make up the British Isles. Like a lot of foreigners, you get English mixed up with British. The English by the way are not Britons.

Daisy, I refer you to the Anglo - EU Translation guide. The Welsh NOT British handle is used by Welsh NOT English. I suggest you do a ' google ' search on Welsh NOT British.
pip 10 | 1,661
5 Nov 2012  #17
No, there is not. A language cannot be "rude" or "nice". It's how you use it. The Polish "abrupt" manner is made polite by other factors, such as appropriate intonation, vocabulary, or grammatical structures.

oh please. semantics. I will clarify. the spoken language is often rude.

and appropriate intonation is something taught - so those doing the teaching are clearly not doing the job if so many get it wrong.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
5 Nov 2012  #18
the spoken language is often rude.

I still don't get you. The people speaking can be rude, the language cannot. The line between rude and neutral may run differently than in English as well.

so many get it wrong.

Native speakers get it wrong?

Examples please.
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,445
5 Nov 2012  #19
I can only point you to The Economist, which originally ran the guide in their print edition. Referenced here:

thanks:D
pip 10 | 1,661
5 Nov 2012  #20
language is learned- not something you are born with, agreed? and language has many components to it besides the written word.

how do we learn language?
primarily, from birth, we learn a language from our parents or primary caregivers.

so those teaching the language are not teaching proper components to it.

I speak Polish. My intonation is different than a native speaker. Same with my kids, who are completely bilingual- they do not have the same abruptness in their language.
enkidu 7 | 623
5 Nov 2012  #21
The other way around:
I find it extremely rude and uncomfortable to address older people or ladies as "YOU" in English. In Polish we are learned from childhood to address people properly - by "Pan" or "Pani" or by the formal title. "You" is reserved for close friends or family. But only if the family members are of equal stance. For instance - you can not call your granddad "you".

This is cultural thing and I know that in English calling someone "you" is not rude at all. But deep in mu Polish soul I feel uncomfortable with that.

Lets try to be kind in both ways (Polish and English). Lets say that I address some lady behind the counter.

Would the Madam would be so kind to pass me the milk? (Ha this way I avoided embarrassing You)

In English this is somewhat strange.
In Polish is even worse, because I have just address the lady in the third person. And this is extremely rude!
Addressing someone in 3rd person imply that this person is a servant.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
5 Nov 2012  #22
so those teaching the language are not teaching proper components to it.

You mean native speakers of Polish are not teaching their children proper Polish?

My intonation is different than a native speaker. Same with my kids, who are completely bilingual- they do not have the same abruptness in their language.

Which means that you and your children do not speak Polish like true native speakers... You must have transferred your non-native intonation to your children...

Do you really understand the concept of foreign languages? You cannot make Polish sound any way you want it to (probably as much as possible like English, from what I have seen so far). To the contrary, you should get rid of any preconceptions about how language works and learn from the native speakers. They are ones who know a thing or two about their language.
pip 10 | 1,661
5 Nov 2012  #23
let's see. I will ask my native speaker husband if he thinks the language is rude and abrupt. And then I will ask my native speaker children.

Actually, I don't need to. I already know the answer.

no matter what I write you will disagree with me and that is fine. I am not going to change my mind based on your words. 11 years of living in Poland, speaking Polish, dealing with Polish people on a daily basis has formed my opinion.

Actually, I do understand quite a bit about foreign languages. Sadly, my French has fallen aside since learning Polish, however, I am not unilingual.

Spoken Polish often sounds rude, harsh and abrupt. This is a fact. It is not just my opinion. But don't worry, you are not alone. There are other harsh sounding languages.

Which means that you and your children do not speak Polish like true native speakers... You must have transferred your non-native intonation to your children...

yes, I often get compliments how well mannered and polite my kids are.
Richfilth 6 | 415
5 Nov 2012  #24
Spoken Polish often sounds rude, harsh and abrupt. This is a fact

It sounds rude and harsh from a Western perspective. It's not universally harsh, in the same way that French isn't universally romantic. There's nothing intrinsically rude about Polish, because there are no universal rules about manners or politeness, and certainly none that apply to how a language sounds.

We may say that German is an ugly language, but I'm fairly sure there's a Fritz out there who whispered sweet nothings to his Brunhilda, and she wasn't repulsed by glottal strangling of his speech. So I'm sorry, but your fact is nothing but.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
5 Nov 2012  #25
how well mannered and polite my kids are.

I though we were talking about intonation here? Or are you trying to imply that Polish speakers sound rude and therefore actually ARE rude?

there are no universal rules about manners or politeness, and certainly none that apply to how a language sounds.

Exactly.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
5 Nov 2012  #26
It sounds rude and harsh from a Western perspective

quite possibly true.
my wife, who is Asian, sits next to me while I'm watching Polish TV on occasion.
she is constantly telling me how soft the language is.
This softness I myself do not hear.
OP poland_
5 Nov 2012  #27
because there are no universal rules about manners or politeness

What about the rules of etiquette and self- culture?

certainly none that apply to how a language sounds.

Language is typically said to be governed by a group of unspoken rules: phonological, semantic, syntactic, pragmatic, prosodic, and idiosyncratic. These rules shape the way language is written, spoken, and interpreted.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
5 Nov 2012  #28
What about the rules of etiquette and self- culture?

Language is typically said to be governed by a group of unspoken rules

What part of "universal" do you not understand?
Wroclaw Boy
5 Nov 2012  #29
That's your first fail, the Welsh are British, in fact they are the original Britons. The countries of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland make up the British Isles. Like a lot of foreigners, you get English mixed up with British. The English by the way are not Britons.

Listen to the ATP moderator, thinking shes onto something. Daisy dumb dumb, could you not tell from Warszawkis written English and the fact that he doesn't speak Polish well - as listed on his profile that perhaps he isn't a foreigner in the sense that you implied?

I think hes also aware that Britons are not English you know.
Richfilth 6 | 415
5 Nov 2012  #30
Yes, shaped within a culture. You can't judge Polish by anything other than Polish cultural rules.

Etiquette and self-culture are faddish ideals, nothing more, just like the concept of beauty. Look at paintings of Eve over the last thousand years; she moves from a child with skinny limbs and a pot belly to a plumb woman with red-rimmed eyes; nothing like our 21st century version of beauty. Culture, politeness and etiquette similarly change. No painting of Eve has her with her head or face covered; that's intolerably crass from various Muslim perspectives, so should we claim all paintings of Eve to be vulgar? No, because there's no universal concept of politeness, or culture.

I myself can't stand French; the gag reflex is not a suitable replacement for the letter "r". But that doesn't stop a hundred and one million Westerners proclaiming French a "beautiful" language. It's all to your personal taste, and nothing more.


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