“…You have been living in Poland for a couple of years, why you don’t speak Polish?…”. If you are a foreigner living in Poland I’m pretty sure someone has already told you this phrase. I mean, those people are not wrong, if we move to other country we definitely have to learn the local language. But, what most of the Poles don’t understand is that Polish language is extremely difficult for most of the foreigners (this doesn’t apply if you are from other Slavic countries).
I remember when I moved to Poland 5 years ago, we were having dinner with the family of my Polish girlfriend, my parents-in-law and her grandparents were there. I was just living in Poland for two weeks, and the babcia of y girlfriend ask me: “Why you haven’t learned Polish?, Mów po polsku!”. I love babcia, but she didn’t understand that it takes a long time to learn this language. Living in Poland, I’ve noticed that elderly people have the same approach regarding their language.
The Polish Alphabet
Two of the most common issues of learning language for Spanish native speakers are:
- The declinations – yes, Polish language has 7 different grammatical cases! Imagine that for each word in Polish, there are seven different ways to say that word depending on the context!
- The sounds of their words at first are something like: “shsrhhshrshrhsh shhshhshsh shhrshhsh”, and the speed is x10.
The first time my girlfriend went to Mexico, my parents picked us up from the airport, my girlfriend called her mom and they were just talking for a couple of minutes. At the end of the call, my mother asked her if everything was fine, if they were having an argument or something. My girlfriend was quite surprised and she just said: “Not at all, I was just telling her that we arrived without any problem to Mexico”.
When you hear Polish language for the first time, it sounds quite strong and rude for the people. Let’s be honest on this, if you will write a letter or a poem I’m pretty sure something the Polish language will not be your first choice.
Polish language has 9 vowels and 23 consonants, they have ‘different letters’ comparing to romance languages like: ń, ż, ź, ł, ą, ę. Also some of the common letters in romance languages do not belong in Polish language such as: v, x and q.
It Sounds the Same For Me
I’ve always had this problem when learning Polish, many of the words sounds the same for me! The problem is that Spanish native speakers can’t perceive any difference in sounds of the words that contain b or s. For example, if I meet with a guy from Spain, Argentina, Ecuador or Mexico and we say the word cerveza (beer), we will pronounce it slightly different, some of us will put more emphasis on the s sound but at the end we all know that we are referring to the word cerveza.
In Polish this is different, for example in the Polish words Bawić (to play) and Wabić (to name a pet) there are no differences in sound at all for me! Many of my Polish friends try to teach me but it’s super hard to make notice the difference in sound. I’m improving on this, but it is super hard!
The other day I was in my Polish class and I came up with the word: Księżniczka (princess). I tried to say this word correctly for a few times but it was a real challenge to pronounce it!
That’s why I decided to do a research of the most difficult words to read, say and pronounce in Polish language! Good luck…. you will need it!
The Most Difficult Words To Say in Polish
You might be thinking: “David, you forgot to add the vowels”. Well my friend, unfortunately I didn’t! Źdźbło is one of the most difficult words in Polish language, the meaning of this word is a grass-stalk. This word only has one vowel…
This, my friends, is the name of a Polish town located in the south of Poland! Pszczyna has a small population of over 200,000 inhabitants. It is one of the most unpronounceable cities of the country.
I’m pretty sure you had to hold your breath for a couple of seconds in order to pronounce it correctly! The meaning of pięćdziesięciogroszówka is a coin of 50 cents (groszy)! It is one of the longest words in Polish. In case I would need to ever said this word at the supermarket, I will just say to the cashier to keep the change!
This word looks as if my dog had just passed over my keyboard and this word came up, right? Well, not at all. This Polish word exists and its meaning is a beetle. This word has only one vowel! Just one! Why Poles, just why?
The following word on this crazy list is bezwzględny, and its meaning is ruthless. The creator of this word was definitely ruthless with foreigners…
As I mentioned before, the meaning of księżniczka is a princess. If you are a foreign dad living in Poland and you want to sing a lullaby to your daughter that involves princesses… well I’m pretty sure you will come up with a different story.
At first, it seems that the person that created this word stopped suddenly his work and left the word incomplete. The meaning of następstw (następstwa) is consequences. I had to say it 10 times before I got close to the correct pronunciation.
The shortest word on this list but certainly one of the most difficult words to pronounce! The meaning of żółć is bile. You don’t hear this word a lot in your life, but it’s good to know it!
Coming from Mexico, being one of the happiest countries in the world, I have to say that people in Poland not always seem happy. Probably because the word happiness is szczęście and most of Poles have problem to say it (It was a joke in case you didn’t get it :P )
Finally, one of the most difficult words in Polish language for me: Szczebrzeszyn. This is again the name of a Polish city located in the community of Lublin with a population of 5,000 inhabitants. Imagine living there and needing to give your full address by phone to the pizza delivery guy :P
I hope you enjoyed this list guys! If you know some other crazy Polish word please leave your comments! What is the most difficult Polish word you always have problem to pronounce?
Oh, come on – it can’t be so hard :D
Try it, Rico.
I love the sentence “cieszę się że ciebie widzę”, meaning I am happy to see you”
So just like number 9: Better never try to express your happiness in polish ;o)
My most beloved Polish words are:
źdźbło (already mentioned; Whitman’s “Leavs of grass” is translated into Polish as “Źdźbła trawy”)
(and the sound “ź” is unpronouncable for the foreigners as an un-existing sound)
pstrąg (trout, a fish)
wzdręga (another fish)
brzask & zmierzch (sunrise (also known as “wschód”) & dawn)
krwiściąg (a plant, Sanguisorba)
And so on :P
In fact, when the cultural Poles speak (or read poetry), this can be awsome for the foreigner… But the arguing drunkards will sound so rude and brutal!
Woow! 😮 Those are super hard as well! I will probably add a few of them to this post! 😅
what about “szeleścić”? what leaves do the on tree ??? One SZELESZCZĄ! :-)
Woow! That’s a hard one too! :D