Do the expats speak Polish?2010/09/26 9:48:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
Why are the foreigners living in Poland often afraid of learning Polish? There are several myths about Polish.
The first one says that it is one of the most difficult languages. Polish is nearly on the top of the list; the higher position has only Chinese. I have never expected Polish will be placed next to the language used by the majority of the population. I must say – we are in a good company, especially that Chinese becomes more and more popular. The number of people learning Chinese increased dramatically during the last year. The reason is clear – it is the economy. The myth of the special difficulty of the language disappeared when the desire of speaking occurred.
The second myth says Polish is very difficult to pronounce. Is it really? Comparing to English, there is only one set of soft consonance (ś, ź, ć, dź) which has no equivalent in English. All the other are similar to the English ones (pol. sz like Eng. Shower, pol. cz like Eng. Chamber, pol. dż like Eng. Jazz, etc.). When spelling in Polish is regular, it is often unpredictable in English. Polish also has a stable accent, which makes the pronunciation much easier.
The third myth says that Polish grammar is very complicated. It is a trough that our language preserved the declination and conjugation system like the other Slavic language group when the German and Roman group of languages has reduced it. Although the cases and verb conjugation might be caused problems, we use only three tenses, when in English there are „only’ then! And what about the 57 rules of using the definite and indefinite articles in English, when in Polish the problem doesn’t exist?
It seems that the criteria for considering the language as difficult are not based on our knowledge about its system. Placing so different systems as Polish and Chinese one next to the other on the ranking list indicates that both are not popular yet, and as unknown got the etiquette „most difficult”.
Running the Polish language school for foreigners for over 13 years, I must say that the ability to learn Polish depends not on the nationality or special talent, but motivation. Despite the difficulties caused by the cases, most of our students can communicate without a problem. It proves that Polish is not as horrible as it is presented.