Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Igor: Is Polish similar to Czech? What other languages is it close to?
Michael: At PolishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, a language learner finds himself confused between Polish and Czech. Ben Lee (@hero-son), a college student, picks up the Polish Classic "Fables for Robots" by Stanisław Lem, but finds it surprisingly hard to read. He turns to his friend (@college-friendm), who is shopping with him, and asks,
"Is this in Polish?"
BEN LEE: Czy to jest po polsku?
Dialogue
BEN LEE: Czy to jest po polsku?
Wojciech Wieczorek (@COLLEGE-FRIENDM): Nie, to jest po czesku.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben LEE: Czy to jest po polsku?
Michael: "Is this in Polish?"
Wojciech Wieczorek (@COLLEGE-FRIENDM): Nie, to jest po czesku.
Michael: "No, it’s in Czech."

Lesson focus

Michael: "Fables for Robots," or
Igor: Bajki robotów
Michael: is a famous collection of humorous science-fiction short stories by
Igor: Stanisław Lem.
Michael: In Czech, the title is very similar to the title in Polish, as it differs by only three letters. The title,
Igor: Bajki robotów,
Michael: is similar in these languages because Polish and Czech are, in fact, closely related. Other related languages include Slovak or
Igor: słowacki
Michael: and, to a lesser degree, Ukrainian or
Igor: ukraiński.
Michael: As you might expect, the title of this book would also appear similar in Slovak, which, along with Czech and Polish, is also a member of the Western Slavic languages. However, since Polish belongs to a different subgroup, known as the Lechitic subgroup, Slovak and Czech are more mutually intelligible—and much closer to each other than they are to Polish or any other languages in this group. As for Ukrainian, while there are many similarities between Polish and Ukrainian grammar and even vocabulary, a language learner would not mistake one written language for the other, as their alphabets are completely different.
Although Polish originally comes from "Old Polish" or
Igor: staropolski,
Michael: the Polish language started to evolve after the "Baptism of Poland" in A.D. 966. Until that time, Polish had essentially only existed as a spoken language. The written form of the language developed only after Poland adopted the "Latin alphabet,"
Igor: alfabet łaciński,
Michael: together with Christianity. In turn, Christianity then allowed for many Latin and Czech words to enter the Polish lexicon.
Later on, many "loanwords,"
Igor: zapożyczenia,
Michael: entered the language from German due to the development of trade and urbanization. As time went on, many Italian, French, Russian, and, in recent years, English loanwords were incorporated into the Polish language as well.
Michael: There’s another question we sometimes hear at PolishPod101.com.
Igor: Can speakers of various Slavic languages understand each other?
Michael: To some extent, yes. However, it’s not to the extent that a Polish speaker would be able to freely converse with a speaker of Czech, for example.
Moreover, there are many "false friends" which you will need to be careful about. For example, although
Igor: kwiecień
Michael: means "April" in Polish, there is a similar sounding word that means "May" in Czech". Confusing, isn’t it?

Outro

Michael: Now you know quite a lot about the Polish language. If you’d like to learn more, please continue to check PolishPod101.com for our regular updates!

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