Polish language serves as the native language of the people in Poland and the ethnic Slavic group of Poles.
It is a West Slavic language, and languages from west Slavic are divided into three sub-groups – Sorbian, Lechitic, and Czech-Slovak. The polish language is a part of the Lechitic group. About 45 million people populate the country of Poland and speak Polish.
So, if you are going to visit Poland, you may want to learn Polish. But how hard is polish to learn? Well, quite hard, to be honest. Several factors contribute to the difficulty of learning this language. In this article, you’ll get to know about them.
How Difficult Is It Really To Learn Polish?
Polish being a Slavic language, could get super difficult for people to grasp. Having its reputation of being one of the most captivating languages in the world, it sure does require intense knowledge to get a grip of it. For non-native speakers, polish seems difficult for all the directives it comes with.
Below I will be listing a few aspects that make learning Polish such a hard language to learn:
To acquire the skills of learning Polish, you must know how to produce the correct sounds. While other languages require the same effort, the Polish language produces sounds based on what the term is.
It is considered to be the language of snakes due to the fact that it has such a diversity of sounds. The Polish language is heavily dependent on consonants.
It has affricate and fricative consonants which makes it sound repetitive and unique. It also has retroflex consonants, which makes the tongue roll backward when pronouncing words.
They also use vocalic and nasal noises to express tones. Many of their words may sound alike but focusing on the tone of the words; you will understand what the speaker is trying to say.
For example, they pronounce ‘SZ’ the same way they would pronounce ‘S’, but they will use different tones and sounds to express themselves correctly when talking.
Another example would be – the word “Prosze” in the Polish language would mean a lot of different things like – please, you are welcome, not at all, etc. To differentiate, the speaker speaks in a different tone to get their point across.
The Case System
The polish language uses a case system for nouns, pronouns and adjectives and has about 7 cases in total – genitive, dative, nominative, instrumental, accusative, vocative and locative.
The case system in the Polish language helps to establish what role a word plays in a sentence, which could also mean that the words change their structure and ending depending on what value they shed in a sentence. The nouns and adjectives change completely differently as opposed to how constant it is in the English language.
There are about 14 different inflections for the majority of the nouns. The nouns and adjectives would change depending on how it’s used and what you are trying to portray.
The sequence for words is also completely opposite to that of the English language. Normally, what we say at the beginning of the sentence in English just ends up going backward in the polish language. Once you are fluent in English, getting a grip of such wording would certainly be a challenge!
Pronunciation and Alphabets
The polish language uses traditional Latin script but has extra 9 letters in their own script. There are seven digraphs in the script which also have similar variants. There is only one particular trigraph – the letters ‘dzi’, a variant of ‘dz’. There are eight specific sounds for the vowel system, and two of them are expressed in a nasal tone.
The polish script has 9 graphemes where two of those nine, o and u, make a similar sound. Polish people spell with phonetic rhythm, and the language enforces subtle rules regarding how words should be spelled and pronounced.
Since the language relies on consonants a lot, having to match different spelling rules to various consonants poses a huge difficulty.
Also their vocabulary could be extensively (and unnecessarily) long – 10 words for something we spell in three words – mężczyzna (man).
There are about three genders in this language. It may come as a shocker to many, but this Slavic language has three traditional genders – męski (masculine), żeński (feminine), and nijaki (neuter).
Polish language also has sub-genders (masculine animate and masculine unanimate) and quasi-genders which comprise in coherent formed system.
Learning about grammar could also come as a challenge. Apart from all the irregularity of the grammar, the strange ways their words are spelled and the heavy usage of cases, the polish language happens to have a free word order. This means it is completely synthetic and it is possible to shift words around in a sentence.
The 7 grammatical cases have different endings, which means their verb conjugation and noun declension are mostly never similar. This particular factor of this language is quite mind-boggling for non-native speakers and is why many are not able to master it.
Even for numbers, the polish language is a tongue twister. There are various ways to denote one single word. The number 2 has about 22 different variations. That is absolutely crazy! Those 22 variations are all dependent on nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.
Majority of the numbers in Polish would have to have a link to the grammatical gender in question and the retrospective of noun. Different usage of terms would lead to a different outcome of words.
Some Merits Of Learning Polish
Although I have just listed all the drawbacks of learning Polish, I will now be going through some of the merits of learning Polish. That is right – this is for all the daring souls who wish to learn Polish.
As mentioned below, Polish is a Slavic language, and it is basically the sibling language of Czech, Ukrain, Russia and has deep root connections with languages such as Croatia or Bulgaria.
With that being said, many people believe Polish could actually be easier to learn than the other Slavic languages because of its synthetic nature and the Latin transcript as opposed to in Russia or Czech where they use the Cryillic script. The Cryllic script consists of about 33 letters and 20 consonants. Crazy!
The language standardization is pretty solid for this language. Almost all poles speak the same way, and there are no different accents to this. You will not face difficulties communicating with people while traveling across the country. Of course, some words may sound different, but it’s nothing crazy to the point you cannot understand.
How hard is polish to learn? You now know the answer.
Honestly, what is life without a little bit of a challenge? Take that Polish course, by all means. Could it really be that bad?
Warning – it may drive you insane, or it may not. Try it yourself!
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