The Polish language is delightful although at times I do wonder which particular hallucinogenic root was being chewed on when certain ‘rules’ were decided.
I’m recently intrigued by two matters;
- Why are there different endings for one, two/three or four and then five or more? I can relate to their being something different for singular versus plural, but what’s so special about two/three and four that they require an ending all of their own?
- Why is there, in some cases, a different ending when you don’t have something versus when you do have something? Why does the negativity have to be emphasized in these cases? Of course, we all know the Poles love being negative, phrases like “nic nie mam” (nothing, I don’t have) are common and I’ve got used to them by now but when it comes to the difference between I have a car or I don’t have a car, why have a different ending.
I should add that after the amount of time I’ve been here some of the strange things, like some of the double negatives, do not ‘jar’ with me any more. I’m just accepting that that’s the way it is. The examples above though, do still bug me. I wonder what it is that makes my brain dislike some rules but accept others, even when they are equally strange?
I should also add that most of my interest, certainly in the case of 2-4, is in the matter of what was it about 2-4 that made someone think they needed to be treated differently from 5 or more? Was there some historical reason like, I don’t know, if you killed between 2-4 people in battle you got more land from the King than if you killed one but less than if you killed five or more? What other possible reason could there be for it, aside from mind altering drugs?
One hundred beers
One hundred cars
You’ll notice that for good measure they also change the word for “one”!!!
I have a car
I don’t have a car
Nie mam samochodu
One last linguistic issue that is driving me nuts is the difference between “ciapka” (spot / dot) and “czapka” (cap / hat).This is all about the difference between pronunciation of “ci” and “cz”. Of course, I didn’t know I had a problem for a very long time, until my family decided to let me in on the secret that for years now I’ve been telling my daughter to “put on your spot/dot”, or ask her “where is your spot/dot”. Must have been very amusing – HA bloody HA. I genuinely cannot hear any difference between the two AT ALL unless the speaker emphasises the difference to a stupid extent. I am also completely unable to pronounce the two words any differently. Yet. Give me another 10 years and I’ll have it down!
I had similar trouble for a very long time, and still do if I’m not concentrating, with “miś” and “mysz”. They at least look very different but I can assure all you non-Poles that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them if you heard them. They both closely resemble “meesh” but the first one really is close to “meesh” while the second is more of a “mysh”. Impossible to explain because of the funky way they say the “y”.