Polish comes from the Slavic family, and is not exactly the easiest language to learn (and I’m saying this being a Pole!).
There are a lot of consonants all in a row, which makes for hard (and funny) pronounciation attempts (my boyfriend being the guinea pig here – he has real problems with the ‘prz’ sound…. not easy but sadly it’s in so many Polish words!). I make a lot of mistakes myself, especially with the endings of nouns and verbs which are baffling…
I still remember failing a spelling test in primary school with just one word …. ‘tchórz’ (meaning coward, but also polecat) – I spelt it ‘thuż’ and basically made 3 significant mistakes in that one word …. i still remember it 20+ years later!!!
So, for some ‘simple’ Polish words:
– Hello – ‘Cześć’ (pronounce ‘chesch’, use around friends/colleagues as informal)
– Thank You – ‘Dziekuje’ (pronounce ‘jenckuye’)
– Please – ‘Prosze’ (pronouce ‘proshe’ … beware… say the ‘sh’ too softly and you’re saying ‘piglet’!)
– Good Morning/Day – ‘Dzien Dobry’ (pronounce ‘jyen dobri’, literally means ‘good day’, use this one in shops as more formal)
– Goodbye – ‘Do Widzenia’ (pronounce ‘door vytzenya’, literally equivalent of ‘au revoir’ – ’til I see you again’)
– How are you? – informal : ‘Jak Sie Masz?’ (pronounce ‘yak sye mash’, friendly term…) – formal : ‘Jak Sie Pan/ Pani (Mr / Mrs) Ma?’ (pronounce ‘yak sye pan/panyi maa’, use this one when in shops and with people you don’t know, especially if older than you)
– How Much does this cost? – ‘Ile to kosztuje?’ (pronouce ‘eeleh toor coshtuye’)
Polish is quite a formal language (when talking to people you don’t know, or elders), so people are more likely to say ‘Dzien Dobry’ rather than ‘Cześć’ when entering a shop. You also would rather use formal language when addressing someone rather than calling people ‘you’. So going into a shop, you would call the shopkeeper ‘pan’ (mr) or ‘pani’ (mrs) when asking them question. It’s something that takes a little bit of getting used to…. I still get surprised by being called ‘pani’ when I’m having my tickets checked on the train or being addressed the shops ( I admit, it makes me feel a bit special with the implied respect) …. but it’s a different culture and it’s good to have these little differences. 🙂
Read more about Poland, its language and its traditions on inlovewithpoland.com.