June 24, 2011 | Polish
Nothing Like a Good Old-Fashioned Grammar Book
I am doing hard-core grammar again, and I feel better.
It is such a relief to have, once again, a good old-fashioned grammar book, complete with exercises. I am referring to the one I bought a few days ago, Basic Polish by Dana Bielec.
I need all the help I can get with noun forms. Three genders, and seven cases, and lots of different endings…I am spending a shocking amount of time on nouns, not to mention their accompanying adjectives, and I haven’t even made it past the accusative case yet.
Here’s one noun-related thing I found rather amazing. The nouns listed below, which are singular in English—and generally other languages as far as I have noticed—exist in Polish only in the plural.
Basic Polish by Dana Bielec! I Like It!
Nouns That in Polish Are, Weirdly, Always Plural
There are more where those came from. For their strange status, I was offered this explanation: “These are items usually consisting of two or more parts.” That caused me to start considering doorknobs, doorknob screws, those plate thingies that attach doors to a wall (I am not handy and have no handy vocabulary in any language), etc.
Okay, I can buy that there are multiple pieces to a door, but a birthday? Cake, candles, presents, concerns about aging, etc.? Are those what make it plural?
Polish doesn’t remind me a whole lot of other languages I have crossed paths with. Of course I find some things that remind me of Russian, what I remember of it anyway, but then sometimes random Polish words look and/or sound surprisingly familiar from other languages.
For example, the word “are” in Polish is są. It is pronounced a lot like “are” in French: sont. I don’t know whether the similarity is accidental or not.
Other words seem pretty unmistakably connected to their equivalents in other languages. The Polish word fryzjer, which means “hairdresser,” looks and sounds like Friseur in German. The pronunciation is roughly FRIZZ-yair in Polish, and fri-ZOOR in German.
The Polish word malarz, or “painter,” looks and sounds somewhat like the German word Maler. MAH-lazh in Polish, MAH-lur in German.
It would be very interesting to be able to go back in time hundreds of years and trail after people interacting, and hunting, and maybe sitting around fires, and not taking a lot of showers by modern standards, and watch language change as they take it with them from one part of Europe to another.