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PostNapisane: 2009-08-20, 22:47 
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Dołączył(a): 2007-08-06, 18:51
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Yeah, well. It's correct now not to stress it - as well as it's correct now to put accent on the second to last syllable EVERYWHERE in Polish - but you have to strike a balance between keeping the language evolving and keeping the language varied. And I, how to say it, I am on the latter scale. For me it's a lot more important not to let the language become impoverished, which includes various accentuating, than to follow what's convenient. Of course that's me. Since there's got to be balance, there's you. ;)

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vot r u talking 'bout? i chill over a good bottle of vino on a regular basis in order to make myself look less anally retentive and more palatable. jolly good is antiquated but used by some of my old buddies on the other side of the big pond to ridicule english with their pompous, superficial and sometimes bucolic way of talking or even stressing words. it sounds sooo unnatural when compared to north american english. i just happen to like their take on "englishness" as i never considered myself (on the base of historical data and patriotic feelings, "a question of honour" comes to mind immediately) very fond of england and her political agendas. :wink:

ps :
q : what does an english man say when he comes home after work and finds his wife in bed with three men?
a : hello, hello, hello!

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I'm sorry you don't like England and the English bbanjo69. You are, however in good company, we seem to be hated by most people around the world . :cry: This leads me nicely into this text which I have taken from a Polish blog which I use in my efforts to learn Polish.


Do Poles Like It when Foreigners Learn Polish?

Posted: 20 Aug 2009 07:21 AM PDT

I was totally misty-eyed reading your comments. Thank you so much for being so supportive! And thank you for your constructive criticism.
The blog and my grammar explanations will stay as they are. There was a single, lone email in favor of more sophisticated Swan-like approach, but unfortunately, my dear reader, you’ve been outvoted and outnumbered.

There was one comment, however, that surprised me. And when a similar sentiment was expressed in a direct email from another reader, I thought I’d better take a closer look at this issue.

The comment I’m referring to was that Poles don’t like when foreigners learn Polish, and that Poles don’t want foreigners to learn Polish. Whoa! Now, wait a second! I’m Polish and I applaud every foreign person who is willing and able to learn even if only five words of our wonderful language.

But then, I started to talk to a few random people and ask them all sorts of questions “o cudzoziemcach którzy uczą się języka polskiego” (about foreigners who learn Polish), and wouldn’t you know it! Not every Pole shares my opinion. That was a huge surprise, I must say.

But let’s start at the beginning.
Polacy są bardzo dumni ze swojego języka (Polish people are very proud of their language). It’s been like that since… oh well, long ago when a guy named Mikołaj Rej said something along these lines “Polacy nie gęsi i swój język mają” (Poles are not geese and have their own language). He said that to convince the learned and sophisticated types of his day to write in Polish, and not in French, or some other Latin, or whatever it was that they used back in those olden times to write love poems and make shopping lists.

So yeah, we’re proud of our language. We (and here I am generalizing, of course) think it’s a very difficult language. No, scratch that, not think. We KNOW it’s a very difficult language. Go to any Polish shopping mall on any given Saturday and listen to the young and old, and you’ll see just how difficult Polish is. So difficult, in fact, that the great majority of Poles tends to simplify it a great deal and use just several chosen words to express, well… just about everything. One of those words (and probably one of the very first words of Polish, if not the only word, that a native Pole will teach you) is so versatile it functions as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb, conjunction, exclamation, and probably a few other things too. So yes, now you know why. The “k” word is so immensely popular, because Polish is just too difficult and complicated, even for the average Pole.

And because our language is so difficult even for us, we simply consider it to be impossible to learn for anybody else.

Oh yes, foreigners can learn the basics, like ordering “pięć piw” (five beers) or explaining why they’re in Poland to their brand new girlfriends – “uczę angielskiego” (I teach English). Add to that a couple of popular tongue twisters (to amuse their Polish drinking buddies) and you have the level of Polish skills that most Poles expect from a random foreign person. The problems begin if said foreign person speaks Polish more or less fluently. The natives raise their eyebrows and look on with obvious suspicion. “Why are you learning Polish?” or “How the heck did you manage to learn our language so well?” (implying – ‘do you have a Polish grandfather or are you a Mormon missionary?’) are two of the most common reactions.

A foreigner speaking Polish is nothing but a direct attack on the very fierce Polish pride (remember? our language is supposedly one of the most difficult in the world and supposedly impossible to learn). And as odd as it may sound, that is the reason why some Poles (not all, but some, and the percentage is surprisingly high) will knowingly sabotage the foreigner’s efforts to learn more. It may be done through incomprehensible lectures and explanations, always ending with “eh, you won’t get it anyway, you’re not Polish.” It may be done through showing the foreigner that his/her knowledge and studies (even if said foreigner is an expert in a particular field) will never be a match for the knowledge of an average Pole. And when all else fails, they try to snow you with grammar. This bizarre one-upmanship when it comes to our beautiful (albeit very convoluted) language seems to be a national obsession.

The problem is that most foreigners get put off instead of taking it for what it really is – reverse psychology to motivate you to study harder, learn more and reach true native-like fluency.

(Oy, I don’t even want to think what kind of comments this post will bring.)

Post from: Polish Blog


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Kuj2 napisał(a):
you have to strike a balance between keeping the language evolving and keeping the language varied.


Good point, and the border between these two is very thin. Frankly, when I hear ppl stressing words the way you say I'm just happy they do it. If they don't do it, I just do not pay attention to it. But on the other hand, I simply can't listen to ppl saying 'cofnąć się do tyłu', 'w gazecie pisze' and this sort of stuff. But, mind you, here logic comes to play and in such cases ppl should really pay more attention. Anyway, I can't think of 'cofnąć się do przodu' :lol: and we really have to put 'w gazecie pisze' into passive voice cuz it really is passive. Hawk! :)


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If I could return to my original theme of the conditional tense and moving endings around, is it correct to say that the following two sentences are acceptable and mean the same?

1) Gdybyś tu był, to Łazarz by nie umarł
2) Gdybyś tu był. to Łazarz nie umarłby

As for their English translation, is it correct to say that they can have two meanings in English, one being the conditional perfect which Polish does not have ( I think)

1) If you were here then he wouldn't die
2) If you had been here then he wouldn't have died


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Actually, in Polish there's something called 'czas zaprzeszły', which functions like Past Perfect, but it's practically never used now; you have to guess the meaning from the context, exactly like you said here. If you, however, did use the zaprzeszły tense, you'd use 'być' in the past form before the actual verb which is also in the past form. So:

If you were here, Lazarz wouldn't die. --- Gdybyś tu był, Łazarz by nie umarł.
Had you been here, Lazarz wouldn't have died. --- Gdybyś był tu był, Łazarz by nie umarł. (the first 'był' is the tense-characteristical auxiliary 'być' - functioning like the 'had' in Past Perfect - the second one is the actual verb. It could have as well been: Gdybyś był tu przybył, Łazarz by nie umarł; again, 'był' is the auxiliary verb, like 'had', and 'przybył' is the main verb).

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That's interesting. I recently bought an old Polish grammar book which gives the form you mention . ( It's aimed at English readers so calls the tense the pluperfect not czas zaprzeszły) I showed this book to my friends in the local Polish shop and they'd never heard of it. My Polish teacher had ,but like you, said it is mainly redundant now. It gives a neuter form too:

byłom było
byłoś było
było było
which was completely new to me. Are you familiar with this form?

Dziękuję bardzo za pomoc


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I've heard about it once and it was a long ago. All of this is czas zaprzeszły, or this pluperfect thingy - this is implied by the presence of the auxiliary 'było' in each case (at the end of each phrase). The catch with 'byłom' and 'byłoś', the 1st an 2nd singular person, is the gender - like you said, neuter. In masculine it would be 'byłem, byłeś', in feminine - 'byłam, byłaś';

M: byłem, byłeś, był
F: byłam, byłaś, była
N: byłom, byłoś, było

Of course, there aren't many situations when a neuter object speaks or is spoken to, in contrary to the many situations when it's spoken about, so the first two persons are hardly ever used. And even if some neuter object does speak, or is spoken to, you usually animate them and assign them either the masculine or the feminine gender (e.g. the sun - słońce - neuter, but usually animated with masculine gender).

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There is an expression in English 'to know your onions'. You might be aware of it. Clearly regarding Polish grammar ; you know your onions.

Thanks for an interesting and informative answer


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Kuj2 napisał(a):
Had you been here, Lazarz wouldn't have died. --- Gdybyś był tu był, Łazarz by nie umarł.


I would slightly disagree with Kuj2. This Polish translation sounds weird to me and not because I'm not used to this sort of expression (my grandma and my mum do use it actually) but because I think you've put the tense into the wrong part of the sentence. I would actually say:

Had you been here, Lazarz wouldn't have died. --- Gdybyś tu był, Łazarz byłby nie umarł.

byłby nie umarł. being the zaprzeszły tense :) To be honest, this is really what you can hear. To wixer's interest, as I'm saying my mum and grandma use it, but they do it occasionally. My great grandmother used to speak like that all the time :)


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Thanks CF. Clearly you too know your onions. This form is obviously dated and I don't want to get too involved with it. I'm just interested really. Thanks again for all your very interesting comments :lol:


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although i am late with my reply 'cause you guys went back to polish grammar universe, i feel that vixer put a lot of effort into his reply and therefore deserves a feedback. to dislike is not the same as hate, at least to me. furthermore, my dislike is not directed at english people, even though i find their accent annoying and hopelessly superficial, but towards what england and her ruling class stand for in historical context. one might arrive at the conclusion that over the centuries of our existence in central europe english political thought of "maintaining" an equilibrium on the continent was poland's worst enemy for which, notwithstanding our own stupidity, we paid dearly. i don't hate but choose not to associate with the limeys whenever possible, always maintaining civility and keeping distance in my unavoidable encounters. i travel extensively meeting a lot of people from different parts of the world and find english to be the least agreable folk to my discerning taste, on mental and cultural level, of course. surely, i am generalizing here and there are exceptions but as long as they are such, they only confirm the general rule, in my opinion that is. an old polish saying sums it up neatly for me, wonder if you came across this yet, "jedna jaskolka wiosny jeszcze nie czyni"...as for so called inherent difficulty in learning polish language, i think it's highly subjective and to a high degree (very often a determining factor) depends on your mother tongue as a starting point of reference. polish as a western slavic language is relatively easy to czechs or slovaks same way as english, being a hybrid language of old french and high german, is usually easier learned by your immediate neighbours. based on my observations, it is much easier for an average pole, including myself, to learn a phoneticaly consistent lingo like italian or spanish (czech or slovak being a piece of cake) than it is to master highly irregular and immense in vocabulary english. master being the operative word here since the general consensus is that english can be a relatively easy language to learn at the initial conversational level. rewards await at the end of the learning curve when one starts noticing similarities, not differences between polish and english, which only proves that both are members of the same indo-european group and those similarities are innate here...when it comes to reverse psychology, lack of encouragement and all that yada yada, who gives a s***. the choices you make are yours, motivation should come from within, jealousy and stupidity define our kind and...everything is subjective after all. :wink:

ps : naprawde nie wiem dlaczego, od dwoch lat staram sie oduczyc angielskiego.

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Thanks indeed for such a comprehensive answer. The point I was actually trying to introduce was not about the difficulty of learning Polish , but that apparently some Poles don't like foreigners learning their language . It doesn't matter anyway.
I am aware that I am very much an outsider on this site and don't want my use of it to be in any way controversial and distract people from it's main purpose , which I understand ,is for Poles to learn English. I use the site to try and learn the Polish language and not really to hear the Polish view on English politics.
As such it's probably best if I don't 'appear' on here so often in the future. Thanks to all who have helped me so much in the past.

Pozdrawiam Wixer


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you should appear here as much as you want to and completely disregard my personal views. your presence here helps other people and also benefits your learning endeavours. what i think is irrelevant and my comments are completely out of place for this forum. i allowed myself to be dragged into politics after late dinner and one glass of red too many. that's so polish of me. my apologies. this is my closing take on it. i'm out for now.

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