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German v.s. Russian, language usefulness in Poland?


cody689 1 | 2
21 Mar 2010 #1
Hello all, Im a native English speaker who cannot find any Polish classes in my area : /. but through my college i can take German classes or Russian, or study abroad in the Czech republic or Russia. I was wondering if German or Russian would be more useful (as far as being able to communicate in Poland) like if their are more German than Russian speakers in Poland.

*I do plan to take polish lessons eventually of course, once i find a place that can do so XD
AnndY - | 20
21 Mar 2010 #2
I was wondering if German or Russian would be more useful

?? where the hell r u land in poland?? Zapyziała Wólka?? in each city over 100k its easy to find lessons. go to first primary school and ask for english teacher. by the law they need to bring u Polski :)

I did that last year in the Netherlands - went to 1 primary school, talk to principal, teacher and in no time I was filled with books and support if needed. after a month I understood 2/3 of Duch, but my mother tongue is also german, therefore was easy 4 me.

Ja toze charaszo gawarim pa ruski, but it would not help you - except u do wont to do marketing with some Ruski.
anyway, good luck!!

to be precise - read this - you may translate its basic through google - opc.uj.edu.pl/broszury/Jadwiga_Maczynska_edukacja_cudzoziemcow.pdf
OP cody689 1 | 2
21 Mar 2010 #3
Haha sorry I probably should've clarified I'm not living in Poland currently, I was born there but we moved right after I was born so I don't really have a practical knowledge of polish can read it o.k. but can't speak it or understand it spoken to save my life : )...I live in the states currently and am having trouble finding some classes however there are an abundance of German and Russian programs so I was wondering if any of those would be useful. Basically in general, do more Polish people have some knowledge of German or Russian? Sorry for the confusion XD
Torq 26 | 2,371
21 Mar 2010 #4
I was wondering if German or Russian would be more useful (as far as being able to communicate in poland) like if their are more German than Russian speakers in Poland.

It's hard to say. Younger people are more likely to have basic command of German
as it is the second most popular foreign language taught in Polish schools (after English).
Older generation will probably be able to communicate in Russian because, for many
years, it was a compulsory subject.

Anyway - if you're a native English speaker then it is much more likely that you will
encounter people with at least basic command of English than either German or Russian.

do more Polish people have some knowledge of German or Russian?

At the moment - probably Russian, but give it 8-10 years and it will be German.
OP cody689 1 | 2
21 Mar 2010 #5
Thank Torq :) I was just curious because both conuntries seem to have had a big influence so I was just wondering if one was more common than the other as a second language but english would be fine with me although Im not too sure my spanish would be that useful haha
Torq 26 | 2,371
21 Mar 2010 #6
Im not too sure my spanish would be that useful haha

Actually, if we are to believe the statistics, Spanish is the fifth most popular language
among Polish university students (after English, German, Russian and French).

In recent years, to my dismay, more and more students and young intelligentsia members
(teachers, doctors, lawyers) choose to learn Spanish as their their third/fourth language
instead of French.
Lyzko
21 Mar 2010 #7
When I first visited Poland in the mid-'90's, most Poles spoke poor to zero English, yet many spoke surprisingly fluent German, almost as good as the German I encountered from the more educated in Hungary and The Czech Republic.

While I've been told that's changed nowadays, I'm not entirely convinced, based on the English I've heard, even from younger Poles visiting the States.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
21 Mar 2010 #8
A lot depends where you are. In mazury I found many people automatically spoke German to me when they realised I was a foreigner (even though I tried to speak Polish). In other areas I've found German used more often.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
21 Mar 2010 #9
German in the west and Russian in the east ;) ;)

Here in Silesia, German for sure.
Dysonz - | 5
21 Mar 2010 #10
I speak a little of both - if I had to choose between learning either, I would choose Russian. Russian is a very up-and-coming language across the world now. The former Soviet Union is a sixth of the worlds land mass. Germany isn't. Russian will open doors - German won't.

You can speak Russian even in the east of Germany (to older people), and Poland, and the Baltics. We even found Russian speakers in Malta! Russian is useful!
convex 20 | 3,978
22 Mar 2010 #11
if I had to choose between learning either, I would choose Russian. Russian is a very up-and-coming language across the world now. The former Soviet Union is a sixth of the worlds land mass. Germany isn't. Russian will open doors - German won't.

Well, yes and no. German has helped me out a lot more than Russian. In CEE, people generally don't want to speak Russian to you, at all, simply because it was forced on them and there still seems to be quite a bit of resentment there. Quite a few successful Poles that I know have business, or business ties to Germany, and speak it very well (in addition to English of course). I find German way more useful as people are actually going out and learning German by choice.

I noticed that quite a few people in the ex republics (the 'stans) are really trying to wipe out Russian. Younger people in Southern Kazakhstan for instance, they speak Kazakh and English, sometimes German. Same goes for Mongolia. There are so many people that have either worked in a German speaking country, or have family living there, that it seems to be really popular. On the otherhand, if you need something down in that part of the world...someone always speaks Russian...
scottie1113 7 | 898
22 Mar 2010 #12
If you're going to come to Poland, learn Polish. It's just that simple. Why would you expect to go to a country of 38,000,000 Polish speakers and hope to find someone who speaks German or Russian? That makes no sense to me.

No Polish classes in your neck of the woods? I'm not surprised, but unless you live far out in the boondocks (yep, I'm American) you must have access to a bookstore which either has or can order books to help you learn. Polish in 4 weeks is a start, although it's really weak in grammar, and unless you've studied Latin, the case system is going to be a real eye opener for you. And do a google search for online learning. BYKI, I think it's called, has some good basic pronunciation lessons.

All of these are better options than wasting your time learning German or Russian. In my area (Gdansk), German is more popular than Russian, , but my Polish friends don't like it because they say it sounds too harsh compared to either Polish or English. Russian, like Polish, is a Slavic language and there are more similarities, but there are fewer Russian speakers here than German.

And if you think you could speak either language in a shop, you're mistaken. Polish first, then English.

Learn Polish! It ain't easy but people here will love you for trying.
melsomelyb - | 10
23 Mar 2010 #13
First choice should be Polish. Second perhaps English because there are more people, especially the young who have learn some and like to get some practice. From your choice of two, I'd say Russian, but for no particularly good reason. There is a degree of mutual intelligibility, but that only helps if you are totally fluent in one of the two languages. German's just a bit of fun with it's harsh sounds and usefulness in jokes grounded in historical gubbins.
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
23 Mar 2010 #14
Haha sorry I probably should've clarified I'm not living in Poland currently, I was born there but we moved right after I was born

How pathetic, born in Poland of Polish parents. So what’s wrong with using English since you obviously can’t speak your own mother tongue. Don’t tell me that as soon as your family stepped off the plane on foreign soil they all of a sudden forgot Polish and that English was the only language used at home. You were either lazy or simply ashamed of who you are or perhaps not able to learn Polish (not smart enough.) If that’s the case taking the other two won’t do you any good. What’s the point in visiting your homeland when you’re still ashamed of it and won’t even try to speak Polish? You might as well stay away and visit the other two. Another phony.
Mr Grunwald 19 | 1,542
23 Mar 2010 #15
Another phony.

Don't be harsh on him, not all Polish families value patriotism the poor guy must have non-patriotic parents at that. I feel sorry for him really
convex 20 | 3,978
23 Mar 2010 #16
Sounds like the parents are very patriotic. They made sure that their child learned the language of the country which they chose to live in. If he can read Polish, it's a good start. With a bit of education, he'll speak it. What's the problem?
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
23 Mar 2010 #17
With a bit of education, he'll speak it. What's the problem?

He will never learn, by his own admission he stated he would rather learn Russian or German in order to communicate with the natives when he makes his trip, so what’s wrong with communicating in English which is his native language now? Neither one of the two he mentioned are native to the land he wants to visit nor is it his, this in itself is an insult given the history of the region especially coming from someone of Polish descend. It’s not like he lacks the opportunity to learn which he clearly states as the reason but he simply is not willing to do so, or at least try. Personally I don’t care if he speaks Swahili as long it’s his native tongue, it might take couple of hours for me to point him in right direction but at least I know I’m dealing with a genuine tourist not some phony. Besides, when I go abroad on a trip I make sure that I know the basics in the native language like; thank you, please etc. and I’m more than willing to use it no matter how badly it may sound to the native, a little effort on his part will get him a lot further with the natives. Whether you know the language or not is not relevant. What is however is how you present yourself to me, so far all he managed to do is to show he’s ashamed of who he is.
Lyzko
24 Mar 2010 #18
".....So what's wrong with using English.........?"

Plenty!!

First off, baring German, Russian or any second language in Poland, in this case, how can one be sure that one is being understood completely in a language other than the interlocutor's native tongue? The plain fact is, you can't, and I really question who's more of the "phony" here; the Pole who thinks they can understand, much less speak, good English, or, the foreigner (albeit with imperfect Polish - no pun intended!) who thinks he can adequately, even successfully, make himself understood in another language?

My guess is that the Pole's the bigger phony in this scenario, since his knowledge of US-culture and language is most likely so skewed, he or she thinks all English speakers are a bunch of guileless cabbage-patch dolls, stinking rich and oversexed to boot, who have sawdust between their ears where one's brain ought to be. This image, incidentally, is merely strengthened by idiotic shows like 'American Idol' ad nauseum, so I'm not blaming the Poles necessarily. LOL

Nothing could be further from the truth.
:-)))
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
25 Mar 2010 #19
I really question who's more of the "phony" here; the Pole who thinks they can understand, much less speak, good English, or, the foreigner

The “phony” is a moron who thinks that going to any country outside his own speaking anything else then a native language of that country or his own will get him anywhere. Obviously the morons native language skills are not that great either

like if their are more German than Russian speakers in Poland.

I’m no expert but…

My guess is that the Pole's the bigger phony in this scenario, since his knowledge of US-culture and language is most likely so skewed

Interesting opinion however misguided it may be. If you have actually traveled to US you would have found plenty of morons who can’t understand anyone with the slightest of accent, so what makes you think his pronunciation would be immaculate or even understood by anyone given the fact that the language he will use is definitely a second language for both. Kind of like deaf man telling a blind man to read his lips. :-)))
Lyzko
26 Mar 2010 #20
"If you have actually travelled to (THE) US..."

....where I was born and bred, I'll have you know:-))
My point was, Poles, like many other Europeans, often labor under the severe delusion that they can speak English better than a foreign visitor can speak their language, and this is many times just flat wrong!

True, most start learning much, much earlier than we do, and sure enough, the school systems in Europe for general education (among the subjects, foreign languages) traditionally are far more thorough than ours, Europeans frequently bring the very same baggage of outmoded ideas concerning the States as many of us do regarding stereotyped associations of Poles, Germans, Frenchmen, Russians etc...

The difference is, Europeans consider it foolish for a foreigner to struggle with a European tongue, while at the exact same time, merrily mucking up the English tongue, yet doing it with a completely straight face so that it appears nothing shows. Moral here? Both the European native speaker and the foreign interlocutor are "struggling" in their own unique way, only the European is more skillful at hiding his inadequacy in supposedly fluent English.

Europeans are better at public relations than we are, that's all. lol
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
26 Mar 2010 #21
Reading your post I have a feeling that you have been personally insulted by my comments. In the heat of the moment you have focused your attention on trivial meters, totally erevalent to the subject matter at hand. Although I do agree with your statements (for the most part) none of it really matters. What does is the OP opening statement when he started this thread. In one short paragraph he managed to give quite a few details about himself, the dilemma he’s facing and circumstances he’s in. Given your sensitivity and my previous comments it should have been obvious to you that just like you I consider his statements to be an insult, especially when you take his own ethnic background into consideration.

I deliberately chose to make my statements to be provocative, get some kind of reaction out of him, perhaps even an explanation. My intention was quiet simple, to see whether he’s serious or is it some kind of a trolls’ wind up. (Which btw, I suspect to be the case). Since he never bothered to explain it himself or even show his face again, I guess we’ll never know for sure. As to what the underlying cause for that might be, that's just pure speculation on my part. The explanation for this, I would like to hear straight from the horse’s mouth... so to speak.

Perhaps you don’t like my fishing technique but there’s no need for you to take it personally since my remarks were aimed at the OP. I’ve been here long enough to know you have a legit interest in the language study and consider you to be one of the good guys. On the other hand, I’m just a boorish Yank hater ;-).
Lyzko
26 Mar 2010 #22
On the contrary. I felt, resp. feel neither insulted nor put upon by your observations. I thought perhaps as you mentioned visiting the States that you believed me to be a European such as yourself.

Apologies for any misunderstanding on your end:-)....which perhaps begs the question as to your nationality as well as why in G-d's name do you label yourself "a boorish Yankee hater", instead of the garden variety bigot we all hear so much about in Cyberspace?
jonni 16 | 2,485
26 Mar 2010 #23
The difference is, Europeans consider it foolish for a foreigner to struggle with a European tongue, while at the exact same time, merrily mucking up the English tongue, yet doing it with a completely straight face so that it appears nothing shows.

I can understand when a busy waiter in Paris does it, but here it's infuriating. I've had people insisting on speaking elementary English to me despite the fact that I'm fluent in Polish and they know it. If it was just a matter of wanting to practise their English it wouldn't be a problem; but oft times it is not.

I'll always remember something that happened a couple of years ago. I spent most of the evening in a quiet bar in Warsaw with a close friend (who doesn't speak English). We were discussing some quite complicated things, specifically a betting system he uses and it's benefits and specifically drawbacks (many, in my opinion). We were talking about holiday plans and our previous joint holidays for a while and about a small business venture we had and plenty of gossip about longstanding acquaintances. Also a bit about lifeskills heuristics and 'normal life principles' for the intellectually disabled, a shared professional interest. All in Polish, all quite complicated stuff. A man who'd been about a metre away the whole time, and who had been listening, leaned over to me and said with a heavy accent "How your stay? What hotel you?" Unbelievable.
Lyzko
26 Mar 2010 #24
Three cheers HOORAH for you, Jonni old man!!!!

Your post sums up my frustrations to a T.
Nice going (.. to be continued, I'm sureLOL)

Just curious then, Jonni, how many other languages to you know fluently?
jonni 16 | 2,485
26 Mar 2010 #25
Rusty German and decent (though often 'Stratford-atte-bower') French. A couple of others, but not fluently. Polish is my second language now, and the language I speak most often.
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
26 Mar 2010 #26
No need to label ourselves as anything, people tend to do it for us, whether you’re European or an American but you see it’s all just an illusion on the part of the observer, but is it a factual? I’m proud of who I am and so should you, true worth and character can only be determined by oneself and the rest is just that, a label, someone's opinion. That’s what makes it fun to participate on international arena where the garden variety Yankee bigot is also present.
Lyzko
27 Mar 2010 #27
Czy jesteś Polakiem albo Rosjianem, ShortHair?

A także dumy mojego pochodzenia:-))

ShortHair, you have a Shavian sensibility; you enjoy defending unpopular sentiments for the sheer purposes of debate, even if you completely disagree.

Someone once remarked, a Frenchman I believe, "I disagree with everything you've said, but will defend until my death your right to say it."

Indeed, errant bigotry! That's what makes horseracing:-)

NEEEEEIGGHHH!!!
ender 5 | 398
28 Mar 2010 #28
Lyzko

Lyzko: Czy jesteś Polakiem albo Rosjianem, ShortHair?

A także dumy mojego pochodzenia:-))

Lyzko what does it mean? Polish question supposed to look this way: ShortHair, jesteś polakiem czy rosjaninem? And honestly I don't know what do you mean in A także dumy mojego pochodzenia. literally it means: But also proud my country origin. Sorry to say but your polish IS basic. Your friends might understand you because they know you.
king polkagamon
28 Mar 2010 #29
Russian is extremely useful in Poland.When you don't remember a polish word say it in Russian and they will understand.
I like how polish women say:Ja panimayou po Russky.They have such an accent and take the expression of russkaya devushka that you want to fall on the floor laughing.
Lyzko
28 Mar 2010 #30
Ender, dziękuję za poprawienia!

A teraz poprawiam kilka twoich małych błędów?-:))

"Polish question supposed to look this way." = This is how to frame a question in Polish.
"And honestly I don't know what do you mean.." = .....know what you mean.... BEZ 'do'

Polish question = kwestie geopolityczne o historii polskiej nowoczesnej
A question in Polish = pytanie gramatycznie poprawne po polsku

Nie zrozumiałes moje ostatne pytanie?? To żart, prawda??


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