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Re: Language learning

Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:51 pm
by MmeBahorel
Ulkis, if you want, I can send you a PDF of a Polish Grammar Guide. It's about 100 pages, so just the basics, in a reference-type way rather than a teaching-type way. Verb conjugation, noun declensions, prepositions: the only vocabulary is whatever nouns or verbs or adjectives or whatever they're using to show the various modifications you'd need to make. It's supposed to be a quick reference, but Polish is too complicated for a quick reference to be any shorter *g*. (it's when we got into "and male nouns differentiate between animate vs. inanimate objects when declining them" that I wanted to beat my head against the desk. I still want to know why the hell past tense conjugates differently based on gender of the subject when present tense doesn't! *cries*)

Actually, if anyone wants it, let me know - it's over 1 MB, and I can stick it up as a download, since I lost the URL from which I got it in the first place.

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:24 pm
by MmeJavert
If "listening to a lot of music in that language" were enough for me to learn a language I'd be fluent in Italian by now. I--am not, however. Even with the podcasts and the "phrase a day" daily vocab calendar I can still only pick out words that I understand from Italian, not whole phrases. Yet. I keep trying. I'd do much better with an actual structured class though. I mean Latin was really easy for me because once instructed the grammar and vocabulary stuck with me as long as I was using it. Same for Greek.

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:33 am
by Ulkis
MmeBahorel, I'd like that, thank you!

(it's when we got into "and male nouns differentiate between animate vs. inanimate objects when declining them" that I wanted to beat my head against the desk. I still want to know why the hell past tense conjugates differently based on gender of the subject when present tense doesn't! *cries*)


Oh yeah, I know nothing of this. I've been in conversations where I've gotten the declination wrong, get corrected, and then mess up three more times and then I'm finally like, what the hell ever, you know what I mean!

And I found possibly the best history book in the universe while digging through my old stash of Russian kid's books. It's called My First History of Russia and it was written right around 1900.


That's a good idea, I know I have some old history schoolbooks around somewhere. (I did read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Polish a couple of years ago. I don't envy the job the poor translators have to do with all those Wizarding terms.)

enough for me to learn a language I'd be fluent in Italian by now


Oh yeah, I definitely can't speak anything just by listening to tons of music either, but it helps me remember a lot of the words.

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:38 am
by MmeBahorel
For those who are interested (since Marianne might have been, too, at one time): Polish Grammar in a Nutshell.

Right click-save to download - it's about 1.25 MB, 95 pages, PDF format.

If you've ever wanted to learn a language with an alphabet that seems perfectly normal yet has a grammatical structure that makes no sense, Polish is the language for you! (I kid - most of it makes sense, it's just far more complicated than French. Some parts are just insane, like that whole gendered past tense but not present tense thing. And that polite forms of address are to talk to everyone in the third person. "Would sir like something to drink?" "Madame has dropped her scarf.")

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:25 am
by Ulkis
Thank you!

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:38 am
by Francette
My native language is German, but I started learning English when I was 7. I've taken four years of French and two years of Spanish in school and utterly hated French. Then I became obsessed with Les Mis and the French Revolution and started reading in French. As a result, I can't talk about everyday stuff like the weather or food or have a normal conversation in French, but I can rant about french literature, the revolution, Rousseau or 18th century revolutionaries for hours. :D
At the moment I'm also learning Dutch (which is most awesome language ever! ♥)

Re: Language learning

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:10 am
by Ulkis
So I've started to read a book with the original text on one page and the English translation on the other. What's best to read first if I want to absorb some of the original, the original or the English? Thanks.

Re: Language learning

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:18 am
by Marianne
MmeBahorel wrote:For those who are interested (since Marianne might have been, too, at one time): Polish Grammar in a Nutshell.

Right click-save to download - it's about 1.25 MB, 95 pages, PDF format.

If you've ever wanted to learn a language with an alphabet that seems perfectly normal yet has a grammatical structure that makes no sense, Polish is the language for you! (I kid - most of it makes sense, it's just far more complicated than French. Some parts are just insane, like that whole gendered past tense but not present tense thing. And that polite forms of address are to talk to everyone in the third person. "Would sir like something to drink?" "Madame has dropped her scarf.")


Oooh, thank you! *downloads* How did I miss this before?

Don't know when on earth I'll have time to look at it, but still, I want!

Re: Language learning

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:15 am
by MmeBahorel
You're graduating in a few months, then you'll have all kinds of time to look at the craziness that is the Polish language :)

Re: Language learning

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:43 pm
by Lelia
Marianne wrote:
I was doing an immersion program in 2007 and didn't believe I could talk for more than a couple minutes at a stretch, then I had a tutor who hit upon the magic words: "Tell me what happens in Les Mis. Don't skip over the details." Forty-five minutes later...


Ah, I like this idea. Although I am stuck already as I seem to have forgotten what the word for 'to steal' is. Odd seeing as it stares me in the face every time I watch a movie in French with the piracy is a crime thing. I shall have to try it though, even if I'm only talking to myself. Or writing about it, seeing as my writing/grammar skills is the worst of it all.
I've changed everything (tv, gaming devices, phones e.t.c) to French, much to the annoyance of my Aunt. This is the first time since I left High School that I'm properly teaching myself and it's all coming back slowly.

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:23 pm
by Trompe-la-Mort
Marianne wrote:

I was doing an immersion program in 2007 and didn't believe I could talk for more than a couple minutes at a stretch, then I had a tutor who hit upon the magic words: "Tell me what happens in Les Mis. Don't skip over the details." Forty-five minutes later...


I so know that! a friend once asked me for the story, in detail. I didn't finish that evening. All in all it took me five hours.

As for the actual topic of this forum...
My native language is German, but since my father's native languages are Hungarian and Slovakian, I know a bit of each of them, too. Not much, unfortunately. I have no idea about grammar and know only very little vocabulary, but my pronunciation is good...
I've studied English, French, Spanish and Latin in school (everybody has to do two languages in Germany to finish High School and at the school where I was we also had to learn Latin); Swedish, Dutch and Russian in university. I think I can safely say that I'm fluent in English, French, Spanish and Swedish. My Dutch is ok; my Russian still pretty basic. I'm also learning Hebrew (since two years, finally able to read a children's book), Hungarian (I want to be really able to speak it) and Czech (only just started) at the side. The last one basically only to understand my favourite opera; Janacek's "From the house of the dead". I also have some basic knowledge in Hindi (thanks to a trip to an accelerator facility in Delhi and my two Indian co-workers) and Japanese (as I child I studied it for five years ad there's so little left...). Due to all that, I can understand (if not speak) Norwegian, Danish, Italian and Portuguese.
Yes, I'm crazy. But it's so much fun...

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:01 pm
by Elwen Rhiannon
MmeBahorel wrote:If you've ever wanted to learn a language with an alphabet that seems perfectly normal yet has a grammatical structure that makes no sense, Polish is the language for you! )


*SO TRUE* [tries to stop laughing] OK, I can say that, as I liked the exam on historical grammar (requiring, you know, being able to explain the reasons and *logic* - well, existing there *according to the professor* - in the madness) SO much that I attempted it twice :twisted:

Speaking more seriously, thanks for uploading the grammar in English - it may be of use for me as well. It looks solid; perhaps I'd discuss the part on spelling, but that'd require consultations with a native speaker of English.

And, to suit the topic - I'm a native speaker of Polish, grown in a monolingual society. Apart from that, I know English (started relatively late for nowadays standards, at the age of 8; as for the level, well, it could be better, surely missing many subtelties a native speaker would immediately notice), German and French (talking and reading in both quite fluently, but still afraid to write in them), some Latin and Old Church Slavonic with a bit of Kashubian.

I like English for a couple of things. The spelling is rather easy, the lack of grammatical gender and declination is a relief, as is the lack of difference between regular and "polite" form of the verbs. What I love about English is how logical and well-ordered the language is: the subject and the object are in most cases in the same places, as are the oder parts of the sentence (while in Polish they're running wiiild...), and when you have a structure of the sentence in your mind, it's easy to go (gets more troublesome with more complicated sentences).

Some things in the English language are giving nightmares the students here (no offence meant, just kidding! :) ) I can say from my personal experience that the Present Perfect Tense is something we never really get the idea of - there is nothing we can compare it to in the Polish language and I still hesitate when it should be used (we are taught on the lessons of Polish since primary school that there are three tenses only - past, present and future - which probably influences what we consider "logical" in later life). Similar thing is with Past Perfect Tense - we had something similar, but it disappeared around 15th-16th century, leaving only a couple of relics.

The different rules of use of capital letters, interpunction and including dialogues in longer texts are another matter :)

And -

@ Trompe-la-Mort - if you're a fan of SF literature, go learning Polish, you'll read Lem in original :D

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:15 pm
by Trompe-la-Mort
It's on my list...
You know Old Church Slavonic? May I ask where/why you learned it? So far the only person I know who's learned it, is my mother, who's a Russian teacher...

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:30 pm
by MmeBahorel
So, what *is* the logic behind verbs in the past tense taking gender differences and the present tense not? There has to have been logic once upon a time, right?

Re: Language learning

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:31 pm
by Elwen Rhiannon
@ Trompe-la-Mort - I studied Polish philology, we had obligatory Old Church Slavonic during the second year as an introduction into Old Polish linguistics (first literary Slavic language, and so on).


@ MmeBahorel -

Present tense in Polish consists of a non-gendered verb:

1) ja czytam [I read/am reading]
2) ty czytasz [you read/are reading]
3) on/ona/ono czyta [he/she/it reads/is reading]...


Till ca. 16th century, the past tense in Polish used to be composed of:

* a gendered participle (adjectival participle is still gendered in Polish)
* a PRESENT form of the verb "to be" (Pol. "być") , the tense where there is NO gender

In Old Polish the declination of "być" looked a bit different than nowadays. Thecombined past tense that I'm talking about looked more or less like this (in modern transliteration and a simplified reconstruction) -

1) ja czytał jeśm/czytała jeśm [I was reading, succesively masculine and feminine form; to compare: nowadays it's czytałem/czytałam]

Present tense in Polish did not change much. The past tense, though, did a lot (due to the economy of the language, simplified spelling, perhaps - no way to check it at the moment, sorry! - similar processes in neighbour languages, etc.). Two words merged into one:

1) czytał jeśm ---> czytałem
czytała jeśm ---> czytałam
3) czytał jest ---> czytał [he was reading]
czytała jest ---> czytała [she was reading]

The verb in present tense either reduces itself or disappears entirely, while the participle stays the way it was, still with the gender form it had in the past.