Question of the day.

What are some annoying things that people do to sound/seem intelligent?

My answer:

I haven’t noticed it so much in English, but in Polish it’s specific filler words, and, once you pick up on it, it’s annoying as hell. 😀 Using fillers is generally perceived to be something that not very intelligent people do, and, like I said, I don’t really have a very detailed idea of how exactly it works in English, that is, if some fillers are perceived differently than others and if some people use some fillers more than others, but in Polish we do have some filler words, or maybe not even necessarily fillers as such but words that are very much overused by people who want to be perceived as intelligent –
and often are indeed intelligent but, well, it’s annoying. – I don’t suppose they do it out of some desire to brag or cockiness or something, I guess it’s just something that became a thing with some types of intelligent, or should I say academically successful, people.

Another thing which is less annoying for me personally (because I am guilty of doing it too so that’s probably why I’m more forgiving 😀 ), but is widely perceived as trying to sound more intelligent and intimidates some people is using way more foreign-sounding words/loanwords than necessary – mostly what I’m talking about is a lot of words with Latin or perhaps Greek origins when we have words to use that express the same thing but sound more familiar because they come from the same language group that our language does, so Germanic in English and Slavic in Polish. Why say existence if you can say life, of course in situations when it won’t impact somehow the meaning of what you want to say. Or, in Polish, especially in a workplace setting, why say deadline in English if you can say termin in Polish (oh well, termin is Latin, 😀 but we don’t have anything better and termin is a lot more familiar and home(l)y). As I said, I do that a lot myself, however usually when I do it, it’s consciously and because I want to convey something by using lots of latinisms, like sarcasm for example, or sometimes I just prefer the sound or my synaesthetic associations of a specific Latin word over a more familiar, less sophisticated word. Other times though, I just want to brag with my vocabulary and language skills. 😀 Sometimes I also do something opposite in Polish and use a Slavic equivalent even though a Latin one is more popular, I’ve even made up some neologisms of my own because they sound better to me and I like making up neologisms, and ones which are rooted firmly in the language can be easily understood by others even if they’ve never heard such a word before.

One situation where this gets problematic is I think when you start using latinisms and hellenisms more than necessary all the time without realising and sound VERY clunky and serious and big-headed, and sometimes people don’t even understand exactly what you’re saying. Another is when you use them without really understanding what they mean, especially as an adult and in your native language. And then there is yet another situation where it perhaps isn’t problematic, but, like I said before, can be potentially intimidating for others. 😀

A perfect example is a Polish Catholic YouTuber whom my Mum, Sofi and me (but especially Sofi!) like to watch. We like him because he is a traditional Catholic like us, and he’s also very intelligent and clearly knows a lot about a lot of things and has his brain in the right place, while being humble and able to admit if he was wrong about something and just talking about things from the perspective of a lay person – perhaps well-educated and aware of a lot of things in the world, but without a degree in theology and often not understanding a lot of things. – Plus I like that he has a bit of a different way of presenting things than most Catholic people or media online that I have come across – not a different way of looking at them, but a different way of talking about them that speaks to me more. – Anyway, one thing I don’t like about his channel is how he uses those big words all the time. Yes they do sound better, and he knows what they mean, but his audience is very diverse, and not everyone knows that just because they’re Catholic. Sofi, who is very interested in all that stuff like religion and also politics, and likes to know everything, asks a lot of questions and likes to watch things like that, always says she has to watch his videos with me or Mum so that someone will explain everything to her, because it’s interesting but she doesn’t understand a lot of words. Admittedly, Sofi has a bit limited vocabulary, likely because of being a preemie and generally struggling at school a little, but the things he talks about aren’t usually so difficult that Sofi shouldn’t be able to understand them if they were said in a slightly more approachable way. I remember watching one of his videos last year and was quite confused as to what parousia was, as he was using that word in almost every sentence. Like really, I’d think I have quite a rich vocabulary but I had no clue what that parousia thing was. Finally I figured it out from the context and then looked it up just to make sure, and I was right – it means the second coming of Jesus, at the end of the world – and then when my Mum was watching that video, she had the same problem. And you could just say second coming/Final Judgment. Before we moved to where we live now, we lived in the countryside and our church parish consisted of a few small villages, where most people were farmers or something like that and had enough stuff to deal with in their own daily lives to be concerned with such a thing as language, even though a lot of them – being Kashubs –
were bilingual, and a lot were elderly people. And we had a priest who was a very intelligent, studious man, very eloquent and I guess he must have felt quite out of place in there and would have probably been able to use his talents better with theology students or something. He had a weird way of saying everything in such a way that it seemed extremely complicated. Even my Mum’s family – who are relatively intellectual people, my maternal grandparents were both born to intelligentsia families (I only recently learned that the word intelligentsia works in English 😀 ) – were often complaining of not understanding his sermons. I was a child and teenager then and the one thing I remember about him most clearly is that he used the word exegesis extremely often in his sermons, and no one could tell me what it was. I still don’t think I’d be able to use it naturally in any sentence other than something like the one I just wrote, even though I have a basic idea of what it is. 😀

Oh yeah, and, in Polish, the nasal vowels can make you sound more intelligent or less intelligent. Polish nasal vowels are ą and ę, which are pronounced like the French nasal sounds, ą is like the on in “bon”, and ę is like… well, I don’t have a very wide French vocabulary at all, but I can vaguely remember the word “chermins” so it’s pronounced like the in in it. But, the thing is, sometimes they are pronounced differently, depending where in the word they are, and, to a lesser extend, where in Poland you are. Ą can sound like the English on, or like om, while ę can sound like en, em or e, so then naturally they’re no longer nasal. Now, when people still pronounce them in a nasal way where it shouldn’t be so, it’s considered hypercorrection, and it makes a kind of overintelectualised impression it makes. Hence a rather hilarious way of saying in Polish that someone who is desperately trying to be more sophisticated, more intelligent than they actually are or generally aspiring to something they are not is so “ą ę”, it’s used like an adjective.

What are such things in your opinion/experience? 🙂

Reasons why I love Polish.

If any of you have been reading my blogfrom it’s early months, you might recall a post I wrote about all the

reasons why I’m learning Welsh

that I could come up with. It was a translated post from my previous, Polish blog, and I wrote it because pretty much every single person whom I mentioned it to would ask me this question as either the first, or the second one, right after “Isn’t it an English dialect?” 😀 and because, well, as you can see in that post, there are very many reasons.

I enjoyed writing that post and it got a lot more attention than I thought it would, so the next year I also wrote about

reasons why I’m learning Swedish

and last year

reasons why I’m learning English.

I haven’t started learning any new language since then (even though some people seem to believe that I start learning a new one every month, haha), and I think it’ll be a while yet until I do, but although my language bucket list is long, I’m not rushing anywhere. And, there’s still one language that I know that I think also deserves its own post, even though I’m not learning it. Well, I am technically, but since I’m a native, it’s a different kind of learning, of course. And obviously as you can figure out of the title, or even if you know about me, this language is Polish. I was a little hesitant about writing this post however, even though I was thinking from the beginning of this yearly language series that I should do it. Of course I love Polish, and in a way it’s a more special relationship than with any other of my languages, but, because it’s always been a part of my life and not really as a result of my own, conscious choice as is the case with the others, I thought it would be harder to come up with as many reasons. As someone who hates anything to do with math, I always tend to appreciate quality over quantity, but I wouldn’t like this post to stand out as the shortest of the whole series, that would be sad and unfair, even if just in my opinion.

I shared the dilemma with my Mum, who rightly noticed that it would be much more sad and unfair if I didn’t write it at all. And that perhaps the reasons as such will speak louder here than their amount would. That was a very fair point to me, so that’s why I am writing this post today, after all.

Here are all the reasons why I love Polish:

   1.

It is, like I said earlier, my mother tongue, so, in a way, I have even more of a connection with it than any other of my languages. It was the first language that sparked the love for language in my brain, I mean language in general, as a phenomenon, linguistics. It made me fall in love with words, my synaesthetic associations with them, it showed me how fun it is to play with words and expand your vocabulary. I love it because it’s the language in which I communicate with people I love – my family. – And because learning it made me more able and open to learn other languages later on.

   2.

Like all my languages. It is plain beautiful. While other Slavic languages aren’t among my most most most favourites (I do like them a lot, they are super cool and very charming but they aren’t in that MOST group), I strongly believe that even if it wasn’t my mother tongue, I’d still end up loving Polish, I don’t know how I could not.

   3.

While I’m not inclined to brag like some of us like to do that our language is the most difficult in the world (it depends on what you’re starting with, and there are much, much more complex languages out there), Polish does have a rather complex grammatical structure when compared to English, and – if you can ever be objective about such things – I’d say it’s also more complex phonetically than all the languages I’ve learnt so far. That makes me lucky, because the more difficult language you’re starting with, the easier you’ll likely find learning other languages, because you may be familiar with their trickier bits already from your mother tongue. I don’t have to be scared of languages with genuses or cases, for example, and arduously try to conceptualise them, because I already know what they are all about, now I just have to figure out how they apply to the language I’m learning and what differences there are compared to what I’m used to. And while picking up phonetics of foreign languages seems to be more of an individual trait, I think it does help me with it that, in my mother tongue, there are sounds which can hardly be differentiated from each other by a non-native even though they are different (see ś and sz, ć and cz etc.).

   4.

There is a lot of great Polish literature. I don’t know much about how much of it gets translated to other languages and which ones most often, but given that most countries are largely focused either on writing their own literature, or translating things from English, and the Anglophone world doesn’t seem to translate a lot, if I lived anywhere else and didn’t speak Polish, I probably wouldn’t get to know books by people who are now my favourite Polish authors.

   5.

Some of the swearwords and expletives are priceless. See my post

about gingerbread,

for example, if you want to learn more.

   6.

It has loads of amusing idioms. And lots of such that are very straightforward and to the point, and lots of such that I just love the sound of.

7.

The archaic Polish language. While I think it’s very true that a language is alive as long as it’s changing, because we are always changing and the times are always changing so it would be weird if the language wouldn’t, hence I don’t understand people who are all against slang, loanwords and other such things, I think it would be fun if we talked more like we used to, used more of that vocabulary we no longer do. Or, why the heck did we stop using initial stress in words to replace it with a paroxytone stress? I guess only highlanders speak with an initial syllable stress now, and I like that because it makes them sound like Finns. 😀 Or I hate that we stopped using long and short vowels because that makes the prosody of a language feel more interesting. I love love love reading older Polish books where there are words that we no longer use, some that I don’t even really get and I love learning what they mean and feeling them. People used to have such a delicious way of writing, even at the beginning of the 20th century, not to mention earlier. I feel like it often gets lost now. I say delicious because one of the synaesthesias I have is lexical-gustatory and while words almost always have some sort of a taste and it’s not like the modern Polish language doesn’t and like there aren’t any delicious words in it (far from it), it’s just that more archaic Polish language tends to have something very specific about its taste as a whole, that I really like. My Mum has also always loved reading books written in an archaic or obsolete language, so I guess it must be genetic. She especially has a lot of prayer books from like even before WWI I guess, when even the spelling was different and we used y instead of j, or my grandma has a cook book from the end of 19th century. I just love things like these!

8.

Dialects. You may perhaps remember from my post about English, that I wrote about Polish being a fairly unified language in terms of accent, especially when compared to English. However, there still are some slight variations to how people speak in different regions and it’s interesting to observe. There are also some dialects. I don’t necessarily have to love all of them as such in terms of whether they appeal to me aesthetically, but I love that the ones that exist still do, that we have some linguistic diversity (although I wish there was more or at least that it would be more pronounced), and although I myself don’t speak any dialect or don’t have a particularly distinguishable accent (despite being half-Kashub, and Kashubian is classified as a minority language but I can hardly understand it let alone speak it), I am very easily driven up the wall by people saying things like that it is not “elegant” to speak in a dialect, for example. I do think it’s a good skill to have to be able to speak your language in some universal, standard way that is often considered more formal, but being disapproving of someone speaking in a different way is not only discriminatory but also kind of smothering a person’s identity, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why it bothers me so much whenever I come across such an attitude.

   9.

Words that are untranslatable to other languages that I know. I am always interested in the concept of untranslatable words, in any language, and the ideas behind them, how you can express sometimes some incredibly complex ideas using one word in one language, but in another, one sentence may sometimes be too little. A very good example of a Polish word that is untranslatable to English is kombinować, which also happens to be a word that I really like and which, as many Poles think, reflects our resourcefulness as a nation. 😀 Yes, there is combine, and kombinować absolutely can mean combine, but it also has another definition. It is something you do when you have a problem that you need to resolve, but there’s no straight way out of it and it needs first a lot of thinking and then coming up with some unconventional work-around strategy, which sometimes may not be the most honest one. Both the thinking process and then carrying your idea out is what kombinować means. When it is dishonest, you could of course say it’s plain cheating but cheating feels a LOT more weighty and negative, and also kombinować is more colloquial, plus kombinować may, but doesn’t have to include, any cheating. It could be coming up with any creative, out-of-the-box solution or idea and then doing what you came up with. It is often translated as being up to something but it’s not the same.

   10.

Poglish, Ponglish, Pinglish or whatchamacallit. I’ve always said Ponglish, but a lot of people say Poglish and recently I came across Pinglish and I think Pinglish is best. Anyway, obviously you know what I’m talking about, the blend of Polish and English. It is often used by Polish diaspore in the US and the UK (like in Chicago I guess it’s quite a big thing) or by Polish young people in a slangy sort of way, or (voluntarily or not) by Polish speakers learning English/English speakers learning Polish when they’re dealing with language interference and/or nearly discharged/fried brains. It can be so freakishly amusing sometimes.

   11.

I often gravitate towards languages that are less popular and less heard off, if not obscure. Polish may not be as much as obscure, but, apart from Poland or places in other countries where there are a lot of Polish immigrants, you won’t hear it a lot, and there aren’t super many non-natives who would speak it. This small language factor is very appealing to me.

   12.

Because, whether it is the most difficult language in the world or not, it is viewed by many learners and natives as difficult, and I was lucky enough to not have to make a conscious effort of learning it. 😀 And the difficult factor is also appealing in itself. I like difficult languages, they are fascinating, kind of similarly to how complex human beings are.

What do you love your native language for, if you do, and if you don’t, why? 🙂

 

Question of the day.

Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s the first item on it?

My answer:

I don’t have a bucket list as such, but if I was to make one, among other things I’d surely put all my languages I have yet to learn on there, and they would be on the first places. But now which one would be the very first? That’s my ongoing dilemma. As those of you who are my regular readers might know, I’m reaching the end of my Welsh course –
oh, actually I’m further than that, I’ve finished the last level of the course I was doing and now I’m finishing the last level of an additional course I’m doing, and after that I’m going to do some advanced stuff. –
But what then? 😀 The problem is not that I don’t have any options, but that I have way too many options and just don’t know what to pick first. A strong candidate for my next language is Scots, because I think it would be much easier than Welsh, I can’t say that Welsh is like terribly difficult but a lot of things are certainly different than in Germanic or Slavic languages which are the only ones that I’d known before starting Welsh, so it was a bit challenging, and I feel like I would like to try something easier now for a balance, as Scots is a Germanic language and so similar to English. Then there is Cornish, which is fairly similar to Welsh, also a Celtic language and from a Brittonic branch, so learning it straight after Welsh could be a good idea I feel, the more that the Cornish course is available in the same place where I’m doing my Welsh course so I wouldn’t have to worry about the resources, accessibility, finding a method, bla bla all those things I really don’t like about learning a language. Another language I’m considering is Dutch. I’ve heard a few Dutch people saying that their language is so very difficult, but somehow I don’t believe it. One of my crushes Cornelis Vreeswijk is Dutch although most of his music and poems is in Swedish, but when I listen to his music in Dutch I can figure out quite a lot of words basing on my English, Swedish and little bits and pieces of German that I still remember. Usually it’s not enough to figure out the context, but it really doesn’t seem that very hard, especially that they don’t seem to have such crazy grammar as there is in German. Also another plus of taking on Dutch is that there is also a course available in the same place where I’m doing my Welsh, and then after I’d have some idea about Dutch, I could move on to Frisian. Also it would be helpful IF I’d decide on trying to translate Vreeswijk’s Dutch poems and lyrics to Polish. And last but not least, from the options I’m considering at the moment, there is Finnish. I’m a little bit afraid of Finnish because I’ve tried it before, and the start was a bit rough, I didn’t know how I should approach it, I didn’t have any organised way of learning Finnish, and was just scared of all those cases and other weird phenomena. But it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be doable, and as much as I am afraid, I also feel tempted to try Finnish, just aren’t sure if it’s the right time. All the other languages that I love (Faroese, Sami, Frisian, Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Manx) will have to wait, I’m definitely not ready for them just yet, although since a few months I think more and more and more about Sami, and would really like to be able to learn it very soon. But I think it would be wise to try other, more common language from the same family – Finnish – before such an ultra-rare and complicated thing as Sami, with little resources to learn from, lots of weird characters and phonetics that are still a bit of a mystery to me and I need to get used to them more. I don’t even know which Sami language I would learn because there are actually more than one Sami language. I had a once in a lifetime chance a few years ago thanks to my friend Jacek, that I could hear and learn a tiny little bit of Luleå Sami and I loved it, however this seems to be an extremely rare language and unlikely for me to learn on my own with just the resources I could find online, while the most common Sami language is North Sami, which Iäll probably have to limit to. Whichever Sami language Iäll be able to choose though, it would be a good idea to improve my Swedish before that and have some decent Finnish skills.

So, I really donät know as for now which one will be next. Iäll probably either have to draw lots or ask someone to make the decision for me, as Zofijka does, hahahaha. Unless I’ll come to some concrete conclusion very soon. 😀

OK, so how about your bucket list? 🙂