Monday, 21 April 2008

No ice-cream in the mountains

Browsing the BBC languages site, I was relieved to find that I am not the only person who makes hilarious mistakes in Polish:

"Shiraz - i wino..."

My current favourite is to mix up 'upstairs' (na gorze) and 'in the mountains' (na gory). [I think...]

And let's not forget Tatanka bez lodów. It's much nicer that way (ice-cream doesn't mix so well with the apple juice).

And when we had Polish classes in Lea I would regularly arrive and say what I thought was Good Evening to the secretary - who would promptly collapse in giggles since 'Dobry wieczór' and 'Do widzenia' are awfully easy to confuse.

I think that's all but maybe anonymous Polish contributors can pick me up on a few things...


Kinuk said...

W gorach or w gory, not so much na gory. But N gets that confused, too. I have a friend back home in Canada, who's not Polish but has spent the best part of her life hanging out with Polish-Canadians and she can't tell the difference between these three when we say them to her:
kaczka (duck)
Kaśka (not so nice diminutive of Katarzyna)
kaszka (diminutive of kasza, like kasza manna or kasza gryczana or kasza jeczmienna)

This language is not for those weak-at-heart (or in the tongue).

Flowers said...

For ages after I arrived in Poland I would often say Dzien dobry instead of Dziękuję and vice versa.

For some reason Polish won't stay in my head. Give me a German word and it's Jerry all the way but Polish....

Any advice?

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaunj said...

It's even more confusing with "na gory" as this means both upstairs or in the mountains...Gdzie Idziesz? Ide na Gory.(Upstairs) Ide W Gory (mountains) I hate this language sometimes. Annoying B*ast%ds!

Anonymous said...

upstairs = "na gorE"
mountains = "w gorY"

gora = singular
gore = singular accusativus

gory = plural

na = on
w = into

..but I am not 100% sure. ;)

pinolona said...

OOoh I love it when people get grammatical on here!

Kinuk: thanks! Brilliant. the Kasia/kasza thing was one of the first things I learnt because our school organized a pronunciation workshop which involved trying to say 'wszysko w porządku' with a large peanut-flavoured cheesy wotsit in your mouth. Is 'na gorze' ok for upstairs?
I get confused with the na/w gory/gorach thing: we were told it depended on whether it was a 'gdzie' or a 'dokąd' question. (stay with me ...)

Flowers: I know, there's something comforting and familiar about German. It feels like you already know what it means even if you don't have a clue. Have you seen the famous BMW memo (written in pidgin Deutsche of course)?
I know what you mean: some words are just too weird and they don't stick. Or you get the beginning or a combination of sounds but not the whole thing. It does start to come together though... kind of...

Shaun - yeah, meanies the lot of them. I think sometimes they make a communal decision to stop speaking normal Polish for a day and change all the rules just to confuse us. They usually do it when I have to do something important at the Urząd Miasta.

Anonymous: are you Pole or foreign?
What about the locative?! Ah ha...

And can you go 'do gory'? Is it the genitive then? What happens if you are walking in the mountains? 'Spacerować po gorach'? 'Chodzę do kina z gorymi'? 'Nie lubie gorach?' or 'gorów'? 'Dać prezent gorzom'??? Heeellllp...

Anonymous said...

'do gory' = upstairs
'do gory' = into a mountain
'od gory' = from above
'od gory' = form the mountain

What happens if you are walking in the mountains? 'Spacerować po gorach'?

YES 100 points.

'Chodzę do kina z gorami' = I walk to cinema with the mountains

'Chodzę do kina na gorze' = I walk to cinema on the mountain

'Chodzę do kina na gorze' = I walk to cinema, which is upstairs.

'Chodzę do kina na gore' = I walk upstairs to cinema.

'Z gory przepraszam' = I apologize from the mountain

'Z gory przepraszam' = first of all i am sorry

pinolona said...

Yay! Polish lessons for free! You guys are awesome.

(Anybody know anything about the conditional?)

Kinuk said...

Don't ask me particular cases! I don't understand those at all. But "na gorze" is upstairs and "w gorach" or "jade w gory" is in the mountains. "Ide na gore" is ok, too (I'm going upstairs). The four kinds of "to" really messed me up, too.

do - used with three dimensional spaces (buildings and parks), towns, cities and countries

na - used when speaking about "flat" open spaces (squares, streets, airports(??)), islands, peninsulas and "events" (concerts, meals, films, etc.)

w - used with, of all things, mountain ranges

nad - used with nouns signifying areas of water, like seas and rivers and lakes

I think the last 3 are used with "accusative", whatever that may mean.

Once upon a time, I wrote a post about this complete riddiculousness of the Polish language:

Hey, I'm just glad I grew up speaking this language and don't have to learn it as an adult. It's a crazy language, folks.

Anonymous said...

maybe you find it interesting...

wiedźma said...

Hi Pinolona and everyone ;P This problem makes me crazy as well but at English ;) How I have to know when someone tells me "can`t" he don`t mean "count"? And why you read these 2 words exactly the same? They looks different, I don`t understand why ;(
[A z tymi mountains w polskim jezyku to jest jeszcze liczba mnoga w dopełniaczu (kogo? czego?)- tych GÓR ]

pinolona said...

Oh wow this is super-cool! We should start a forum.

Kinuk: Would you definitely translate it as 'to' in all those circumstances though? e.g. I go to a cafe but for a coffee; to the cinema for a film, etc.
(The accusative (apparently) is when a noun is the object of the sentence. I have a brother. I like my dog. I ask for a coffee.)

Our Polish teacher said you can be 'na piwie' which means 'having a beer' as opposed to 'floating in beer'. Unfortunately neither of those states occur during lessons. It'd be a pretty cool language school if they did.

Anonymous: ahead of the game on you here, I already know it (long periods of boredom at work in the afternoon).

Wiedzma: I don't pronounce 'can't' and 'count' the same way.
Because I'm posh (!) I use a long 'a' in 'can't' (like 'car' without the 'r') and then count is prounced sort of like 'kaunt'. If that makes any sense. English grammar is easy enough, it's the regional variations in pronounciation that are the fun part.
(czy mogę powiedzić: 'nie lubię gór'? albo n.p. 'nie ma gór w Anglii'?)

wiedźma said...

(czy mogę powiedzić: 'nie lubię gór'? albo n.p. 'nie ma gór w Anglii'?)- to jest poprawna forma gramatyczna :))) Napisałaś to bardzo dobrze :) I hope my writing English is half like yours polish ;P
And I definitely agree with you about how difficulty polish grammar is. Horribly !

Kinuk said...

No, not all. That's the beauty (?) of it! But I would say "na koncert", "na wystawe", "na premiere". Of course "na piwo" and "na kawe" or "na kolacje" don't translate to "to", as you pointed out.

Regardless of how you look at it, it's still ridiculous to have 4 words designating movement towards something or a destination as well as 7 cases and nouns that change their endings depending on their role and the case they're in.

pinolona said...

true... there's a sort of beauty in the complexity of it all though...