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Lesson Transcript


Michael: What are some common mistakes made by native Polish speakers?
Igor: And why do they make them?
Michael: At PolishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, Marianna Michalska and Mieczysław Michalski are going to the theater. Marianna asks,
"Can you "take" the tickets with you?"
Marianna Michalska: Możesz wziąść bilety?
Marianna Michalska: Możesz wziąść bilety?
Mieczysław Michalski: Wziąć.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Marianna Michalska: Możesz wziąść bilety?
Michael: "Can you "take" the tickets with you?"
Mieczysław Michalski: Wziąć.
Michael: "[It's] to take."

Lesson focus

Michael: As a language learner you might have been in situations when you made a mistake using Polish.
Igor: We know that such situations might be a bit demotivating, and might make you feel slightly embarrassed.
Michael: But, do you ever make mistakes in your native language? Of course, we all do! In this lesson, we’ll show you that making mistakes is a part of using a language, and even native speakers make and often repeat certain mistakes.
Some of these mistakes are so common that native speakers don’t even realize that they’re not using the proper grammar, and some mistakes even end up becoming accepted as standard!
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let’s take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Marianna says "Can you "take" the tickets with you?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Igor: Możesz wziąść bilety?
Michael: Here, by adding an extra letter, Marianna uses a verb that technically doesn’t exist
Igor: wziąść,
Michael: instead of using the correct verb meaning “to take”—
Igor: wziąć
Michael: This mistake is very common among Polish native speakers. It can even be found in many books. For example, a famous writer who used this form is
Igor: Adam Mickiewicz,
Michael: known as one of Poland’s “Three Bards”. Why do Polish speakers make this mistake so often? The most likely reason is that the speakers create an artificial analogy with numerous Polish verbs ending with
Igor: -ść
Michael: such as “to go” or “to sit,”
Igor: iść, siąść.
Michael: Why then does this rule not apply to the verb to take? Well,
Igor: wziąć
Michael: is actually the perfective verb “to take.” A perfective verb describes an action that was completed or will be completed, as opposed to an imperfective verb, which describes an ongoing action. The imperfective verb “to take” is
Igor: brać,
Michael: and it is exactly the analogical endings of the imperfective and perfective verb “to take”
Igor: brać, wiąć,
Michael: which need to agree, that determine that the only correct form of the perfective verb “to take” is
Igor: wziąć.
Michael: The above reason is common for most Polish native speaker mistakes.
Mike: They apply false analogies largely at random because of their perceived similarity of certain words and grammatical forms.
But, in this lesson, you learned that it shouldn’t be shameful or embarrassing to make mistakes while learning a language because even native speakers make a lot of mistakes as well.
Expansion/Contrast (Optional)
Michael: There are plenty of common mistakes that Polish people make.
Igor: In fact, we often correct each other. So don’t be offended when somebody corrects you. We do it to each other too, but the fact that we correct each other further proves that native Polish mistakes are not a rare thing in Polish.
Michael: So, what are some other things that Polish native speakers are likely to get wrong?
A similar example is the much beloved non-existent verb,
Igor: włanczać,
Michael: the correct version of which would be
Igor: włączać,
Michael: meaning “to switch on”. Why do so many people make mistakes with such a basic verb? Well, a false analogy they seem to apply, is the similarity with the verb “to end”; which, In the perfective and the imperfective forms are:
Igor: zakończyć, zakańczać.
Michael: Native speakers try to apply the above analogy to the verb “to switch on,” but, remember, the only correct form of this verb is
Igor: włączać
Michael: Keep that in mind, and you might have a chance to correct a Polish native speaker yourself. The next example is
Igor: ubrać bluzkę,
Michael: literally meaning “to dress a blouse.” Do you see what the problem is here? It sounds like you dressed up a blouse. The verb we need here is not “to dress,” but “to put on,” or
Igor: założyć.
Michael: The correct collocation here is
Igor: założyć bluzkę.
Michael: There are also many spelling mistakes that Polish native speakers make when writing. Many get confused with how to write “for sure”
Igor: na pewno,
Michael: and many try to not put a space between
Igor: na
Michael: and
Igor: pewno
Michael: but, just as in the English “for sure,” it requires spacing between the two parts. However, when you write “for sure”
Igor: naprawdę
Michael: you write it with no spaces, as one word. Tricky, isn’t it? There are quite a few phrases containing “na,” and some are written separately, but others are not. This explains why even native speakers of Polish find it confusing, doesn’t it?
Cultural Insight/Expansion (Optional)
Michael: There are many reasons why Polish natives make mistakes. The application of incorrect grammar patterns that we mentioned before is one of them, but there are also some historical reasons for this phenomenon, namely the Russian and German occupation of Poland. There are many mistakes that are language calques, or loan translations from the Russian language. For example, “in a row” is often used with the wrong preposition, and, while the correct version is
Igor: z rzędu,
Michael: it is often replaced with the Russian language calque
Igor: pod rząd.
Michael: German has also affected the Polish language. For example, the phrase
Igor: wydaje się być dobry,
Michael: meaning literally “it seems to be good” is a calque from German and is technically incorrect. The correct version doesn’t need the verb “to be,” and should literally mean “it seems good”
Igor: wydaje się dobry.
Michael: Other mistakes that natives make may stem from the local dialects they use. Can you think of similar mistakes in your language?


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Igor: Do zobaczenia!
Michael: See you soon!

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