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Polish in Britain - will I get decked if I speak Polish to these people?


juglettee 3 | 3    
14 Feb 2013  #1
Hi, everyone, this is my first post here. I recently visited London as a study abroad student. When I visited London, I was amazed to discover how many Polish foreign workers I met there. I knew they were Polish because, of course, they spoke Polish and did not have the typical Oxford English accent that often bombards me whenever I'm on the street.

I can speak Polish fairly well, but I didn't want to communicate to these workers in Polish because they might get offended and angered if they knew I wasn't from Poland. I am wondering if English people have the same problems when communicating to Polish people in their native tongue. Maybe I was too judgmental at first. I don't know, but since I am going to study in London again, I need to know I'm going to get decked if I speak Polish to these people.
Lenka 2 | 1,063    
14 Feb 2013  #2
I would like it.
crochetbitch88 2 | 83    
14 Feb 2013  #3
I can speak Polish fairly well, but I didn't want to communicate to these workers in Polish because they might get offended and angered if they knew I wasn't from Poland.

I think they would have been very pleasantly surprised. There are so very few foreign people who can speak Polish that even if someone can say something simple like Cześć or Jak się masz? it makes Poles amazed ;)
pedromiguelppin - | 17    
14 Feb 2013  #4
I don't know why you ask that!? But in my case (I'm not Polish) but if I will met someone abroad that will try to speak my mother language with me I will feel good with that, like many poles I know like when they are abroad and in a café or something someone say "Dzien Dobry" because they are polish...
skibum1964 - | 2    
14 Feb 2013  #5
My Polish isn't great, but it appears to be really appreciated whenever I try to speak in Polish.
Tim Bucknall 7 | 98    
15 Feb 2013  #6
I've only ever had a positive response when i've spoken Polish to Polish shop keepers, chemists, waiters etc over here in the UK

go for it!
i can't imagine why they'd be angry, i'm glad of the chance to use it, it stops me forgetting
DTok1972    
11 Jul 2016  #7
I find Poles love it that you can master any of their Language. They do understand their Language is difficult to learn. Next time speak up!
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
11 Jul 2016  #8
Ditto, DTok!

As with the Turks, among the many non-Anglophones I've met during my travels, just a few well-pronounced phrases, and the Poles will be eating out of your hand in no time:-)
Dreamergirl 4 | 276    
13 Jul 2016  #9
I have always found that polish people in shops for example love it if you can even say a couple of words in Polish
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #10
Exactly as I've been saying!
Dreamergirl 4 | 276    
13 Jul 2016  #11
I have just been to a polish supermarket today and they were suprised and shocked I can say stuff like hello and please and thank you in polish. I wish I knew more but I'm only learning
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #12
...and the nice kicker is that probably your Polish was kilometers better than their feeble attempts at English:-)

For the zillionth time, not EVERY Pole out there's gonna be another Joseph Conrad!
Dreamergirl 4 | 276    
13 Jul 2016  #13
Well it's important to learn a few words I think as in that shop no one can speak English
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #14
You took the words right out of my mouth:-) See the language advantage?? You could understand THEM, but if you spoke English, they couldn't understand YOU!!!

Who has the control, (always) has the power.
Dreamergirl 4 | 276    
13 Jul 2016  #15
But why should they have to speak English as they work in a polish shop
10iwonka10 - | 383    
13 Jul 2016  #16
To be honest I have been to a few polish shops in UK and in each of them sale assistants spoke at least basic English.

I would say they are quite flexible and quickly move between Polish and English depending on customer.
nothanks - | 666    
13 Jul 2016  #17
But why should they have to speak English as they work in a polish shop

English speaking nation. Not all but overwhelming majority of jobs need to require it, especially one involving customer service. The English is not necessarily to make Brits feel more comfortable but instead customers that are neither Polish of British; English is the middle ground
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #18
I once, can no longer recall when precisely, experienced a group of Polish tourists in Berlin. They barely spoke any German except a sort of "phrasebookese" and the Berlin native whom they stopped on the street to inquire spoke no Polish and so the German woman began in a kind of pidgin English, thus making the Polish visitors feel almost as if they were in their comfort zone!

When the two groups parted company however, the Poles were just as confused as before:-)

Moral of the story is that English is not necessarily the panacea for all communication difficulties.
Dreamergirl 4 | 276    
13 Jul 2016  #19
My boyfriend has lived here for 8 years and probably only knows 10 words of English the rest is polish
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #20
Well then, it's high time he learned now, isn't it?

This is the sort of situation which fueled Brexit voters and something which PM May is going to have to address, in short order too!

Britain aka England simply voted NOT to continue a "United States of England", where every and all from any corner of the globe a la the US melting pot can simply take up residence in the country without knowing the language:-)
Dreamergirl 4 | 276    
13 Jul 2016  #21
He hasn't needed to learn though. He lives in a polish area. Works for polish boss. Polish friends. Shops in polish shops. But now he has an English gf I think it's more difficult for him
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #22
Again, as in many immigrant communities of my country, the US, all too many can conceal themselves for years at a time, nestled in a golden cocoon of self-congratulation, later, self-flagulation and most of all, good ol' fashioned self pity, lulling themselves into the mistaken belief that they don't need to integrate into the host culture!! This is DEAD WRONG!!

Should your boyfriend choose not to learn English, then to be blunt about it, he deserves whatever low-wage, nowhere job he gets until he decides to learn the language of the country which has given him refuge, if for no other reason, out of sheer respect for being allowed to remain a virtual guest in the host culture:-)

Mobility, after all, isn't largesse from the state, some right for the annointed few, but a sacred privilege which must be earned, as with citizenship!

Perhaps too Ms. May, as with Maggie, will end the free gravy train for those who can simply "buy their way" to liberty.
10iwonka10 - | 383    
13 Jul 2016  #23
He hasn't needed to learn though. He lives in a polish area. Works for polish boss. Polish friends.

It is very bad. I met someone like this when I was in USA- it is very isolated, restricted life. And no interest even in local culture, tv, newspapers....
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #24
I too, Iwonka!

I find it most interesting how people some twenty years in Greenpoint, Bklyn, can live in the US all that time without really knowing English, yet they have US passports:-)

Something's wrong with this picture.
10iwonka10 - | 383    
13 Jul 2016  #25
I am surprised they have US passport. Different rules....

I think in most european countries you should pass some language tests to apply for citizenship.
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #26
Yo, hon! Tell it to the bleedin' Germans! They've been pushing for it for years and by golly, they finally got it ....AT LONG LAST:-)

Well, shows how far a nice black market "łapówka" can get yaLOL
10iwonka10 - | 383    
13 Jul 2016  #27
So German were pushing and now others take advantage?
I am surprised it is the same language group and German in general speak good English ( I thought....)
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #28
Think again:-)

While intercultural bullying per se is repugant to me as well, the Germans certainly do a decent job of PR for their country and their language.

The Poles might well draw a lesson!
10iwonka10 - | 383    
13 Jul 2016  #29
Ha, ha not sure it would work so well in UK.... too many war memories. I would say German speaks very good English here and blend in crowd very well.
Lyzko 20 | 6,163    
13 Jul 2016  #30
Depends on the crowd, Iwonko!

Remember the old saying: "Among the blind, the one-eyed man is king!"

An oldie, but a goodie, and still true nowadays:-)


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