Learning Polish can be a challenge for non-Slavic language speakers due to the significant differences between these languages. You need to familiarise yourself with new sounds and grammar that can sometimes be confusing even for Polish native speakers.
Polish is a West Slavic language, which is spoken by approximately 50 million people worldwide. Besides Poland, there are large Polish speaking communities in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Lithuania, Great Britain, the Ukraine, the USA and Russia. After Russian, Polish is the second most spoken slavic language in the world.
For people from the central european linguistic area, Polish is not quite easy to learn because of its slavic origin, its pronunciation and the complex Polish grammar.
What Looks Like the Most Difficult Thing about Learning Polish?
Most people will reply with that grammar. It is true that Polish grammar is quite specific. What sets it apart from other languages of the world?
- Nouns can have five genders,
- in Polish there are seven cases of a noun and an adjective,
- Verbs conjugate for gender, person and time (there are four main groups of verb conjugations),
- Verbs come in two aspects,
Free Word Order
English may not accept chaos when it comes to grammatical word order, but the Polish people embrace it. Generally speaking, they stick to the standard of subject-verb-object; however, it’s very common to jumble the order to emphasize one part of the sentence over another.
Take this sentence for example: I will go to the cinema tomorrow.
Pójdę do kina jutro. This sentence is simple enough and translates pretty easily. However, you can also say: Pójdę jutro do kina. This translates to “I will go tomorrow to the cinema.” They mean the same thing, but with an emphasis on when I’m going to the cinema, which is tomorrow.
If you have studied Germanic languages all your life, you will find it difficult to pronounce some words that are packed tightly with vowels. Words that seem phonetically simple in English, such as “blade”, take on a whole new level of difficulty when you say them in Polish.
Difficult to say, isn’t it? And this is one word among many that brings difficulties in pronunciation.
Numbers and Quantity
Stating a quantity in English is literally as easy as 1,2,3…but in Polish it’s a different story. There are 22 ways to say two, twice, or second, and they are noun, adjective, and pronoun dependent.
For example, two is dwa. However, it changes even more than the abovementioned declensions.
- dwa psy(English translation: two dogs)
- dwie kobiety(English translation: two women)
- dwóch mężczyzn (English translation: two men)
- dwiema rękami (English translation: with two hands)
- dwóm panom (English translation: to two men (like gentlemen/sirs))
- dwaj koledzy (English translation: two colleagues)
Is There Anything Easy and Fun about the Polish language?
Of course it is! There are a few things that make your Polish language easier and more fun.
- No Articles – there are no articles in Polish, so you don’t need to learn them!
- 3 Tenses – yes, there are only three tenses in Polish (past, present and future),
- Spelling and Pronunciation – compared to English, we write Polish the way we pronounce it
- The Bad Word – most foreigners start their game with Polish because they find swear words in Polish funny and easy to learn.
Polish is a difficult language to learn if you don’t know another Slavic language. But never fear! Start learning Polish with a native speaker and start discovering Polish culture, which will certainly interest you. When you go to Poland, the Poles will appreciate the fact that, as a foreigner, you will know a few words of Polish. If you are nice to them, they may even invite you for a home-cooked dinner or a drink at the bar. You will have satisfaction with yourself when you see that you have learned one of the most difficult languages. If you want to learn it, take Polish language course at the Polka Dot school.