Author Topic: Strange reactions for foreigners speaking Polish  (Read 1444 times)

Albanaich

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Just out of interest I thought I might comment on learning and speaking Polish in the UK and Poland.

I've got to the stage where I can manage a fairly extensive conversation in Polish - and am always surprised by the reaction of Poles when they know you speak and understand Polish.

Firstly - they don't believe it. When I stayed over the summer last year in Poland I had to have T shirts up Uczye sie Jezyk Polsiego Prose mowie Po Polsku. You would open the conversation in Polish, get the answer in English, then have to repeat. Crazy. I was there to improve my Polish and you had to more or less force people to speak Polish to you.

Ok so generally their English was much better than my Polish, and it is of course much easier - but you don't want that if you are learning. It's quite the opposite to France where if you know the tiniest bit of French they force you to speak it.

Most Poles get it eventually, but there really is this 'why are you speaking Polish' reaction. And there is a cultural element to it. Some Poles think you are some kind of cultural spy or something, and that you should not be able to get inside their culture. I've been blanked and its not my Polish.  There is really are sort of, 'if he speaks Polish we have to treat him like a Polie instead of a tourist. It's quite amusing - you sort of fall through the cultural cracks.

Reactions in the UK are different, I'm constantly changing hotels and of course every second receptionist or member of the room staff is Polish. There is the same reaction of surprise - but usually they glow with pride when you address them in Polish. I'm comfortable doing the whole room booking thing in Polish and its like a 'show' when you go into the hotel.  They take pride in you :-)

Just interested to know what the Polish take on this -





bzibzioh

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #1 on: A year ago »
and am always surprised by the reaction of Poles when they know you speak and understand Polish.

Foreigners speaking Polish feels strange. No logic or elaborate sociological reason to it; it's just strange. I've met some foreigners speaking Polish, even one exotic as one guy from Libya, and each time there was that "what is wrong with this dude" question in the back of my mind.

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T shirts up Uczye sie Jezyk Polsiego Prose mowie Po Polsku.

I bet you got some smirks from that sign; it should be "uczę się języka polskiego, proszę mówić do mnie po polsku" (I'm learning Polish, please speak to me in Polish)

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I was there to improve my Polish and you had to more or less force people to speak Polish to you.

People are uncomfortable correcting someone's talk.

Cute story. Keep learning.

Albanaich

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #2 on: A year ago »
Hi

Well the Polish on my T shirt was correct. . . . . .I'm just terrible at spelling in Polish. And I had the language school I was at check it for me. Which is another point. I've sort of learnt Polish from a 'naturalistic' point of view. I'm rather more comfortable listening and reading it that I am writing it. My prounouciation is I am told surprisingly good.

I'm sort of dyslexic in English, so Polish writing is always struggle.

I like the 'what is wrong is with dude' reaction - its exactly what I've encountered - in Poland. In the UK its different.






bzibzioh

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #3 on: A year ago »
I've sort of learnt Polish from a 'naturalistic' point of view. I'm rather more comfortable listening and reading it that I am writing it.

That's the best way to learn in my opinion. I'm currently learning French this way but to be fully proficient you need to know how to write it; it's another ball game.

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My pronunciation is I am told surprisingly good.

Congratulations, Polish pronunciation it's a struggle for many learners. I've heard some foreigners speaking grammatically flawless  Polish but with atrocious accent and pronunciation.

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I like the 'what is wrong is with dude' reaction - its exactly what I've encountered - in Poland.

That's probably not going to change anytime soon so be prepare. Why are you learning Polish, if you don't mind me asking?

Torq

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #4 on: A year ago »
Fair play to you, Albanaich. Being able to achieve any reasonable level of conversational fluency in Polish requires a lot of work (even if you're Polish lol).

Keep up the good work! *thumbs up*

Albanaich

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #5 on: A year ago »
Well why I learnt Polish is a long, long story. It starts with a German - Polish lady from Mazury who I had as a babysitter when I was a child, a vaguely Jewish background and an interest in East Prussia and the great Scots migration. (I bet you don't know half of Northern Poland is of Scots descent)

The real reason I suppose is that I am a passionate dancer and had two Polish dance partners, it started with wanting to learn a word or two, then I started listening to tapes in the car and it gradually sort of took over. If I had known how difficult it was (and how addictive) I don't think I would of attempted it.

The dance partners have gone but the Polish is still with me.

When I went to Poland to improve it was a curious mix of people on the course. A lot of Ukrainians learning for practical work reasons, Germans on a 'guilt' trip, the native English speakers were about 80%, 2nd/3rd generation expat Poles, with myself and an Irish guy with a Polish wife.

In class I failed miserably with the grammar but ended up with the Ukrainian girls teaching them Polish vocabulary - which was a bit strange. I would of thought there was a lot of overlap in vocabulary between Ukrainian and Polish.

In Scotland I've been asked about 'the Polish workforce' informally in various business and the main problem is the difference between 'Perfective and Imperfective' which you don't really have in English and which confuses Polish speakers with limited English. English is such a vague language compared to Polish (but of course capable of great subtlety)

I can only say if you are Polish native speaker learning other languages must be really easy. . . . unless of course its Gaelic or Finnish. . .

I'd love to get more feedback on Poles V the English speaking world. I'm sort of beginning to get inside the Polish mind :-)

Torq

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #6 on: A year ago »
Well, it's not always that easy for us, Poles, to learn foreign languages, especially as different from our native tongue as English is. English is an absolute c*nt of a language to learn (if you forgive the expression). I mean, why on earth would anyone need 15 tenses? How come there is practically no corellation between the written and spoken forms of so many words? How can any vowel be pronounced as any other vowel, depending on the letters that precede or follow it? I learnt French, Italian, Russian, Latin, Greek and English, and found English to be by far the most difficult. As far as English phonetics is concerned it's a complete and utter nightmare (especially vowel sounds, we only have 6 of those in Polish against 12 in English), plus the variable accent (you can change the meaning of a word by shifting the accent, as in 'produce' or 'separate', and you can even have primary and secondary accents in some words).

And of course you have all those local varieties of English--I spent 3 years in Ireland (and it was after I got my CPE certificate) and couldn't understand anything for the first 2 weeks or so ('Orite, mate. How's she cuttin?' etc.). People who say that English is the most widely used language in the world because of its simplicity must have their heads checked. If we were to select an international language based on its simplicity in alphabet, pronunciation, ortography and grammar, it would have to be Italian--the most beautiful, logical an commonsensical language in the world, but I'm afraid we're stuck with English for the time being...

AntV

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #7 on: A year ago »
Well, it's not always that easy for us, Poles, to learn foreign languages, especially as different from our native tongue as English is. English is an absolute c*nt of a language to learn (if you forgive the expression). I mean, why on earth would anyone need 15 tenses? How come there is practically no corellation between the written and spoken forms of so many words? How can any vowel be pronounced as any other vowel, depending on the letters that precede or follow it? I learnt French, Italian, Russian, Latin, Greek and English, and found English to be by far the most difficult. As far as English phonetics is concerned it's a complete and utter nightmare (especially vowel sounds, we only have 6 of those in Polish against 12 in English), plus the variable accent (you can change the meaning of a word by shifting the accent, as in 'produce' or 'separate', and you can even have primary and secondary accents in some words).

Yet, you write it impeccably, I'd have no clue you're not a native English speaker...I think you're complaining about it's difficulty just to brag for conquering the mountain.  :D :D

When I hear you speak it, I'm expecting to hear the second-coming of Sir John Gielgud.  :)

People who say that English is the most widely used language in the world because of its simplicity must have their heads checked.

 :D  I'm with you!  The rules of English are just dreadful.  I had a college English professor who would use percentages when talking about the rules of grammar: "If you use rule X while using the passive voice you'd be correct about 78% of the time."  It's so freaking confusing, even highly educated English linguists go with the percentages.

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If we were to select an international language based on its simplicity in alphabet, pronunciation, ortography and grammar, it would have to be Italian--the most beautiful, logical an commonsensical language in the world

*nods  Italian sounds utterly delightful. 

Albanaich

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Strange reactions for foreigners speaking Polish
« Reply #8 on: A year ago »
I think foreign language teachers and students tend to forget that English is a pastiche of French - Dutch - German - Welsh and even Gaelic and developed as a way for people with different native languages to communicate.

It's complicated if you want to find rules. . . . but most people manage without them, and they all change depending on what part of the country you are. Go to North Wales or the Western Isles and you will hear English begining spoken with Welsh/Gaelic sentence structure and grammar.

Or wait till you've heard Lallans or Doric. . . . I can't resist it Doric, spoken in the rural east coast areas of Aberdeenshire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le3cBRlWSE8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0EwquC6wBU




AntV

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Strange reactions for foreigners speaking Polish
« Reply #9 on: A year ago »
I think foreign language teachers and students tend to forget that English is a pastiche of French - Dutch - German - Welsh and even Gaelic and developed as a way for people with different native languages to communicate.

Forget..heck, I never knew.  Interesting.


bzibzioh

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Strange reactions for foreigners speaking Polish
« Reply #10 on: A year ago »
Or wait till you've heard Lallans or Doric. . . .

Oh dear, I will get a headache ...  ???

I will stick to ole good American for now.

I like that you are a dancer. Poles are decent social dancers I'd say. At the parties (in Canada) I'm often asked if I'm professional dancer. While in Poland I'm nothing special.

Tyrion

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #11 on: A year ago »
I bet you don't know half of Northern Poland is of Scots descent

That might be a slight exaggeration but there is a rumor in my family about how we may have descended from Scottish Catholics fleeing persecution. I guess it would explain my liking for "Scotland The Brave."  :D

People who say that English is the most widely used language in the world because of its simplicity must have their heads checked. If we were to select an international language based on its simplicity in alphabet, pronunciation, ortography and grammar, it would have to be Italian--the most beautiful, logical an commonsensical language in the world, but I'm afraid we're stuck with English for the time being...

You might like Spanish more if it's simplicity you're after. That language also has a chance of becoming the next lingua franca of the world unlike Italian.

I agree about the beauty of Italian though. I'm not sure what's more pleasant to the ears. French or Italian?



« Last Edit: A year ago by Tyrion »
Pinche pendejo!

AntV

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #12 on: A year ago »
I'm not sure what's more pleasant to the ears. French or Italian?

Italian, more rhythmic.  French is nice, though.

bzibzioh

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #13 on: A year ago »
I'm not sure what's more pleasant to the ears. French or Italian?

French is less annoying. Italian gets on my nerves sooner; too much drama.

AntV

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Strange reactions for foriegners speaking Polish
« Reply #14 on: A year ago »
I'm not sure what's more pleasant to the ears. French or Italian?

French is less annoying. Italian gets on my nerves sooner; too much drama.

 :) Is it the language or the people?