Polish Grammar – what’s the best way to explain it? Posted by Anna on Aug 16, 2009 in Grammar
Every so often I am being accused that my grammar explanations are too simplistic, too crude and too “for dummies.” That I don’t use proper linguistic, or grammatical, (or whatever those long and useless terms in “serious” grammar books are called) terminology in my blog posts and that basically, it looks like I mock the subject whenever possible. Eeegadz. Really?
Oddly enough, whenever such complaints come (via email normally, not in the comments section on this blog) they come from native Polish speakers. And boy, are those speakers furious!
So, I thought it might be time to address this issue. And of course, as always, to ask your (meaning ALL my readers, not just the Polish natives who read this blog) opinion, because if there are problems with how I explain grammar, then I better rectify this issue, and I better do it fast.
So let’s begin.
- 1. Do I mock grammar? Far from it, actually. Actually, I’m terrified of the thing. Really. If you’re terrified of something, you generally try to avoid any contact with it whenever possible. Just like you’d do with your neighbor’s rottweiler. If you try mocking it, you may lose an arm. That’s how I feel about grammar. Except that instead of an arm, I may lose the chance to write this blog. And I wouldn’t want that to happen.
- 2. The lack of proper terminology. Hmmm… If that’s what you want, then read Prof. Swan’s “Polish Grammar” book. He has that terminology bit covered. Trust me! I do try to smuggle proper names for things whenever possible, but I try to do it in such a way that wouldn’t scare too much a casual learner of the language (and reader of this blog). You know, the person who just wants to study it for fun and pleasure and to communicate with the cute Polish girl next door. Also, and it’s been my experience when learning a couple of other foreign languages, many people simply don’t know any proper grammar-book terminology at all. Not even in their native lingo.
- 3. And that brings us to my “too simplistic” approach and “for dummies” explanations. Oh yeah? It’s easy for you to say, native Poles, but do you realize that there is a difference in how grammar is taught to native and non-native speakers of the language? Also, another thing to consider are the levels of my readers. Some are advanced learners, or already speak Polish perfectly, and some are just starting out on their Polish language adventure. And of course, I want to keep everybody happy. And let’s be realistic – it’s Polish grammar we’re talking about here. Might as well try explaining quantum physics. Though incidentally, there are nice popular science books dealing with quantum physics, explaining it in a fun and easy to understand way. The fact that there aren’t any for Polish grammar should tell you something…
And now, of course, I want to know what I should do. Should I make my grammar posts more serious and sophisticated, use fancy terminology and treat them with the respect they deserve? Or should I keep them as they are, even if Polish natives will no doubt complain that they are “for dummies”? It’s entirely up to YOU!
PS. And just so we are perfectly clear how I feel about my neighbor’s rottweiler – I hate that beast.
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