Posted: Jun 09, 2016 11:46 pm
by don't get me started
Saim wrote:I know Polish and have been living in Poland since September. I'm here on exchange, leaving in late June.

Arjan Dirkse wrote:Czechs have something similar, many have this kind of inferiority (or superiority?) complex about their own language which makes them think nobody who is not Czech can speak any Czech, simply because it's too difficult for foreigners and it's too obscure a language for anyone to bother with. :grin:

I'm relatively dark-skinned (Punjabi father, Serbian mother) and here in Poland people speak to me in English a lot even though I'm in a C1 course at the moment. When I tell them (in Polish obviously) that Polish is actually an easy language for me (because I speak Serbian with my mother), most of them just say I'm a genius or a weird exception.

I used to get into long explanations about why Polish isn't impossible even for non-Slavs but I get this Polish is really complicated rap so often that my responses have degraded to this:

Pole: Polish is a really hard language, isn't it?
Me: No, it's easy.
Pole: Oh... wow...

My flatmate is a much lighter-than-average Catalan (his look is more typical of Northern/Central Europe) and also knows Polish, and despite the fact that his intonation isn't Polish at all (although he pronounces all the consonants quite well, which is relatively difficult even for many Slavs) he often comes accross Polish people who don't believe he isn't Polish. When he says he's not Polish they say, "oh but you must have Polish family, right? Right?". :scratch:
Animavore wrote:The only Polish I know, but don't know how to spell, is a tongue twister which means something like, "the table is wobbly".

Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami. Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami. Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami.
Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami. Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami. Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami.

God, Polish people are obsessed with tonguetwisters. :lol:

Yep, one's ethnicity can have an effect on how people view your language ability. I have a parallel anecdote to yours. I was sharing a taxi home with a Korean colleague and we were chatting a bit with the taxi driver. My stop was first so I gave my friend some money and exited. Once they proceeded the taxi driver mentioned to my friend how good my Japanese was, saying he was surprised when Gaijins can speak Japanese. My friend informed the taxi driver that she is a 'Gaijin' and Japanese was a foreign language to her. The taxi driver tried to do some 'digging' to find out if she was maybe half Japanese or something that would account for her superior Japanese language ability. (She also worked as a simultaneous translator, completely fluent balanced bilingual). We laughed about it when she told me afterwards.

I was in Okinawa recently and perhaps because of the US military presence there, shop staff have a lot of experience with foreigners, most of whom do not speak any Japanese. Every shop, bar hotel etc that I went into mentioned my Japanese ability. It was a real talking point. I get the sense that in some cultures the view prevails that white people are not supposed to speak any non-European language and especially native English speakers are not supposed to speak any foreign language at all.

Anyways...sorry for the derail, back to Polish.