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What is the reaction of Poles to Russian?


AmerTchr 4 | 201
16 Jan 2013 #1
So, I find myself continually saying "Excuse me", "Check Please", "Please", "Sir" as well as often saying the Russian names for various foods.

No one sneers, but I have had a couple of blank looks and blank stares from those who apparently can;t make out my Russian.

A few years ago in Warsaw I noticed that some Russians didn't appear to be...mmm..."appreciated" very much. Then with the plane crash incident and the radar politics and gas negotiations I wasn't expecting much change.

What is the mood among the Polish people towards the Russian Federation and language these days?
gumishu 11 | 5,681
16 Jan 2013 #2
Russian Federation is a state run by secret services, the FSB is a direct descendant of the KGB and GRU - in Poland there can be quite a lot of agents of Russian secret services even among the high ranks (Polish WSI was service made of people trained by GRU - the only way out of service for GRU is the way of Litwinienko

having said all that I really love Russian language - I haven't dealt with Russian people too much in my life (only on couple of occasions) - I also have never been to Russia.
pawian 178 | 15,563
16 Jan 2013 #3
Russian Federation is a state run by secret services

Some of them are even in the PForums! I am serious now.
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
16 Jan 2013 #4
So, I find myself continually saying "Excuse me", "Check Please", "Please", "Sir" IN RUSSIAN as well as often saying the Russian names for various foods.

Sorry about that. I forgot to make clear that I say those first few phrases in Russian and should have added "Thank You", "Good", "Very Good" and the like. Also, I do my numbers in Russian which seems about 50/50 with taxi drivers so far.

How many people still use Russian and do you think it bothers them when tourists use it? Since Gdansk is up here next to Kaliningrad would that make any difference?
gumishu 11 | 5,681
16 Jan 2013 #5
using Russian versions of 'Thank you' and 'Good' in Poland is verging on pointless or counterproductive; numbers are a bit different thing though but you notice that they don't work always

some touristy places like Zakopane have woken up to the fact that Russian tourists bring in the money
pawian 178 | 15,563
16 Jan 2013 #6
How many people still use Russian

I read Russian fables on old slide films to my kids. Shyt, some are really scary!
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
16 Jan 2013 #7
What is the mood among the Polish people

We can only see a quite rich people (in majority) here in northern Poland
so prejudice is they must be criminals or military men on vacation ;)

But we don't think much about them.
Paulina 10 | 1,787
17 Jan 2013 #8
"Sir"

I hope you mean "господин" and not "товарищ" ;D

How many people still use Russian

Use or know?
Probably few know Russian. Usually people in their 40's, 50's, etc, I suspect.
Those who use it are probably businessmen who have contacts in the East. And Poles of Russian origin.
And some younger people who are interested in Russian culture.

and do you think it bothers them when tourists use it?

I don't know, I think most aren't bothered.
When one Russian from Moscow I know came to Poland she was using English for most of the time. But I guess she used also some Russian and she had no problems, as far as I can remember.

Since Gdansk is up here next to Kaliningrad would that make any difference?

No idea ;) But I think there are probably more Russians in Warsaw.

using Russian versions of 'Thank you' and 'Good' in Poland is verging on pointless or counterproductive

That's true. Unless you're going to Zakopane ;)
zetigrek
17 Jan 2013 #9
language these days?

It's a foreign language. I hope you are not another person who thinks that during cold war Poles were speaking Russian instead of Polish? ;)

A few years ago in Warsaw I noticed that some Russians didn't appear to be...mmm..."appreciated" very much. Then with the plane crash incident and the radar politics and gas negotiations I wasn't expecting much change.

Anything to do with that.

No one sneers, but I have had a couple of blank looks and blank stares from those who apparently can;t make out my Russian.

I guess if you were trying to speak Spanish in Portugal, Norwegian in Sweden or Korean in Japan you would receive the same blank stares.
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
17 Jan 2013 #10
It's a foreign language. I hope you are not another person who thinks that during cold war Poles were speaking Russian instead of Polish? ;)

Hmmm, apparently a lot of them were speaking Russian based on my experience so far here and in the Czech Republic. Only a couple of people stare blankly since most appear to know Russian. I am sure they also know Polish, but that has nothing at all to do with the question I asked.

I hope you're not one of those people who looks for a fight with newcomers about every single question, that's so tiresome.

I guess if you were trying to speak Spanish in Portugal, Norwegian in Sweden or Korean in Japan you would receive the same blank stares.

Well, probably that's exactly what most of us do with those who don't speak English. I know if I was in Portugal and my taxi driver couldn't speak English I would try my HS Spanish on him.

Oh, the Norwegians and Swedes I know appear to understand each other too. Go figure!

Cheer up though, if I stay here a couple of years I'm sure I'll go to someplace like Sweden and be saying those things in Polish to them!
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
17 Jan 2013 #11
I wonder how many blank looks and blank stares a Polish tourist would get in let's say San Diego area trying to communicate in Spanish given that the area is so close to Mexico? To make it even more interesting, what would the reaction be if an average yank learned I can speak English but refuse to do so using the wrong language on American side of the border? Is it just me or do all the yanks have a peculiar way of looking at things? Do tell, how many people who consider themselves red blooded Americans still use Spanish in the border states, given the fact it was once a part of Mexico? Do you think it would bother them? Would they be insulted if the tourists use Spanish?

You sure use a strange logic to rationalize the reaction you get. I assume "Tchr" stands for teacher which makes it that much more confusing.
Wulkan - | 3,243
17 Jan 2013 #12
Since Gdansk is up here next to Kaliningrad would that make any difference?

I've never seen a turist from Kaliningrad in Gdansk but I've seen plenty from Sweden, so maybe it would be better to try Swedish?

And another good question is that why didn't you go to Russia instead of Poland if you took an effort to learn Russian?
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
17 Jan 2013 #13
Hmmm, I know people who speak Spanish in Southern California, Colorado and Texas. If a Pole couldn't speak English, but knew Spanish, you think they would be better off with grunting and pointing a lot? Do tell how many Brits would be that stupid not to try it if they knew it but wanted to play some game about not speaking a English? You think it's logical to just stand there mute? Interesting.

Nothing to do with my question though and it is increasingly clear that several folks would rather play a game and take off somewhere else. I was simply curious if anyone was likely to have an off reaction to it. The majority don't seem to be so no need to try to swim upstream with the topic.

Thanks to the one or two folks who had something useful to contribute to the topic.
Ironside 50 | 11,145
17 Jan 2013 #14
If you are asking if somebody would be rattled by the Russian lingo spoken at them the answer is no! If you are asking about negative reaction to the sound of the Russian langude on the Polish street, the answers is still no!

There is no some widespread resentment against Russian people.
The point is that majority of young people wouldn't have a clue what are you talking at them. You would have better luck with English or German.

Some broken Russian would be known to majority of people who attended a school in 70', 80' and early 90' because then Russian was taught in every school on all levels.

I wouldn't expect fluency though.
Could answer why would you learn Russian? Unless it is top secret that is.
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
17 Jan 2013 #15
Could answer why would you learn Russian? Unless it is top secret that is.

Uh, because I lived three years in Ukraine, 9 months in Azerbaijan and three weeks in Poland.

Incidentally, a lot of Ukrainians prefer Russian and Russian works pretty well in Azerbaijan. I can imagine you're shocked and appalled.

At no point did I ask if they would be "rattled" but feel free to play your games.

My lawyer and translator during a legal process both spoke Russian and most people understand it but obviously you weren't paying attention to where I said a "a few" appear not to understand.
Ironside 50 | 11,145
17 Jan 2013 #16
Incidentally, a lot of Ukrainians prefer Russian and Russian works pretty well in Azerbaijan. I can imagine you're shocked and appalled.

Imagine I couldn't care less!

My lawyer and translator during a legal process both spoke Russian and most people understand it but obviously you weren't paying attention to where I said a "a few" appear not to understand.

Well I suppose I'm guilty of not paying attention. Could you repeat the qestion?

At no point did I ask if they would be "rattled" but feel free to play your games.

No you didn't but you asked about resentments.
Sorry I have been trying to be helpful. It is really hard to pay attention to such topic as it has been debated on the PF to death.

Conclusion - you can speak to people in any langude there is. However only Polish in Poland gives you a fair chance of being understood.
zetigrek
17 Jan 2013 #17
but that has nothing at all to do with the question I asked.

You should rephrase your question to more straight forward version then. What for beat around the bush?
Personally I like Russians and have nothing against one using Russian if cannot communicate in English or other language. However expecting a wide knowledge of this language in Poland or that there is enough similarity between it and Polish to communicate easly is just incorrect.

Incidentally, a lot of Ukrainians prefer Russian and Russian works pretty well in Azerbaijan. I can imagine you're shocked and appalled.

I doubt that anyone would be "shocked" and "appalled" about this not very sensational news ;)
All in all, both were USSR republics. Btw are you aware of the issues about Russian language in Ukraine? They had even a fist fight in Ukrainian parliment about that.
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
17 Jan 2013 #18
Hmmm, I know people who speak Spanish in Southern California, Colorado and Texas. If a Pole couldn't speak English, but knew Spanish, you think they would be better off with grunting and pointing a lot?

You still don’t get it, do you gringo? From my experience the usual reply State side is “this is America, speak English!” Emphasis on English.

Nothing to do with my question though and it is increasingly clear that several folks would rather play a game and take off somewhere else. I was simply curious if anyone was likely to have an off reaction to it.

Seems to me like you’re the one playing games.

A few years ago in Warsaw I noticed that some Russians didn't appear to be...mmm..."appreciated" very much

Suggesting there’s some kind of aversion to a language when in fact your own experience suggests otherwise.

No one sneers, but I have had a couple of blank looks and blank stares from those who apparently can;t make out my Russian.

Couldn’t help yourself there sticking that but in, now could you? Perhaps their Russian is not good enough, than again perhaps yours.

My lawyer and translator during a legal process both spoke Russian and most people understand it but obviously you weren't paying attention to where I said a "a few" appear not to understand.

Besides when taking care of some legal matter when the official language is not Russian you wouldn’t have a need to hire a translator, now would you?, but to suggest your comment was somehow ignored by some official brushing it aside as if not being able to understand you because he has to know Russian, for variety of reasons, (one being as absurd as proximity to Russia) in a legal matter no less is absurd. As if everyone in Poland has to know Russian, get real
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
17 Jan 2013 #19
I've lived in Southern Cal, shopped in bodegas, eaten carnitas with eggs for breakfast in our cafeterias and taught school in a 55% Hispanic HS, you obviously haven't a clue what you're talking about,

Suggesting there's some kind of aversion to a language when in fact your own experience suggests otherwise.

You don't read very well do you? Try again and notice it says Russians, not Russian.

Besides when taking care of some legal matter when the official language is not Russian you wouldn't have a need to hire a translator

You really struggle don't you? The translator was for me to translate Polish into English. They both spoke Russian and commented that they didn't get much practice. Tax office, city office for registration, no problems there so no "official" has brushed anything aside but hey, when you want just feel free to make up something to illustrate whatever you wish.
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
18 Jan 2013 #20
I've lived in Southern Cal

I've also been state side and know what I've heard on more than one occasion and how Americans treated Mexicans or anyone else for that matter as soon as an accent was detected when a yank apperently had enough and said what he said.

You don't read very well do you? Try again and notice it says Russians, not Russian.

Really

Apparently you not only have a problem with your Russian but English as well. You need a translator as that's the official language and no matter how many languages you speak you still need to speak Polish to take care of business. LOL Your knowledge of Russian is worthless when taking care of official business.
Paulina 10 | 1,787
18 Jan 2013 #21
My lawyer and translator during a legal process both spoke Russian and most people understand it but obviously you weren't paying attention to where I said a "a few" appear not to understand.

What do you mean by "most people understand it"? You mean Russian language in general or those few words like "Thank You", "Good", "Very Good" and numbers in case of taxi drivers?
Ziutek 9 | 160
18 Jan 2013 #22
Isn't the pragmatic solution simply to ask the other person if they would prefer to speak Russian or English?
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
18 Jan 2013 #23
Most appear to understand the Russian I am using. As someone up-thread mentions, younger persons do seem less likely to understand. As the population ages, it seems logical that fewer will speak Russian than the generation that grew up with it as a bigger factor in their lives. In longer interactions, it seems that a few are still able to converse in Russian.

While Hollywood has taught much of the world things like "Ciao!" and "Dos Vadanyah!" I am not sure if asking for the the check in Russian would be in the same category. Last night, for instance I was typing on the computer when the young waitress came over to my table and clearly didn't understand when I asked for the check in Russian.

Isn't the pragmatic solution simply to ask the other person if they would prefer to speak Russian or English?

If it involved full conversations, then yes. Here, we are talking about short, interactions with someone walking by, shop clerks handing back change or dealing with a waitress. These involve words such as "Thanks", "That's good.", "Excuse me.", etc.

Taxis are slightly different. As I climb in the first question is "English?" Then the problem becomes pronunciation of the address or description of the place.

Having a Polish contract read out in English was quite a bit different. The translator was generally good in their English with only a few terms and a couple of words that required discussion to determine the right translation to use. She was not a licensed Russian translator though. Both her and the lawyer/notary afterwards were saying in English that they wished they got more practice in Russian.
hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
18 Jan 2013 #24
What is the mood among the Polish people towards the Russian Federation and language these days?

Poles don't mind ordinary Russians, but they despise the Russian leadership (for obvious reasons).
OP AmerTchr 4 | 201
18 Jan 2013 #25
That would make some sense. A Russian told me last week that it took them by surprise when a clerk at a Rossman's in Warsaw had a visible reaction (negative in their opinion) to hearing the language and seemed to change to a less helpful attitude. Another ethnic Pole who was a Russian native-speaker related that in Warsaw this happens from time to time. That's why I was curious how widespread it was among the population.
gumishu 11 | 5,681
18 Jan 2013 #26
it seems logical that fewer will speak Russian than the generation that grew up with it as a bigger factor in their lives.

Russian was never a big factor in Polish lives (except the lives of Russian teachers) young generation do not have any exposure to Russian as teaching Russian has been mostly discontinued years ago - and I say this as a person who has a bigger than average knowledge of Russian

Russian was never a lingua franca for an average person in Poland
Suwka - | 21
18 Jan 2013 #27
hmmm... in sixties and seventies - it was
berni23 7 | 379
18 Jan 2013 #28
And still is, behind Inglisz, Spanish and Mandarin.
Zibi - | 336
18 Jan 2013 #29
hmmm... in sixties and seventies - it was

No it wasn't. In Bulgaria perhaps you could use it. But not in any other country of Warsaw Pact except with citizens of Soviet Union, but contacts with those was very rare. So yes, people had some knowledge of russian in those times but mostly it remained passive.
berni23 7 | 379
18 Jan 2013 #30
In many countries of the Eastern Block you still get further with Russian than any other language.
And im not talking about all inclusive holidays there.
Its changing though, depending of the education rate in said countries.


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