Why We Need Professor Miodek Posted by Anna on Sep 25, 2008 in Grammar
Lately I’ve been writing in Polish more and more, and while I’ve always thought that my Polish spelling skills were decent, now I’m not so sure. In fact, I am sure – they suck.
It’s of very little consolation that I am not alone. Any random read of internet forums populated by Poles will prove that a great number of us can’t spell. And that to me proves that Polish spelling is not as easy and uncomplicated as our school teachers once upon a time tried to tell us. Liars!
“iść“ is an easy word, you write “ść” at the end, just like you say it and just like it sounds.
Same with “pójść“.
But what about “znaleźć”? Or is it “znaleść”? Here Anna runs to look it up in a dictionary.
OK, I’m back. According to the on-line dictionary, it’s supposed to be “znaleźć”. Yet when you pronounce this word, you still hear “ść” at the end, not “źć”. Actually, to even say “źć” there would be hard, if not impossible. Then why do we write it like that, huh?
I seem to remember that if this “ść/źć” sound follows a consonant, then we write “ść”, and if it follows a vowel – then “źć”. But I’m not sure if this is something that my teacher just made up (which is highly possible, the woman made up many things, including our final grades), or if this is an actual rule.
And then there’s this “ó” and “u” confusion. I used to be so good as this stuff, and now I have to stop and think if it’s “skrócić” or “skrucić”. Then I remember that “krótki” is written with an “ó” so “skrócić” must be the same.
The “ż” and “rz” fiasco is something that I experience quite often, too. I know the general rules, oh yes, I do:
- “rz” after b, ch, d, g, j, k, p, t, w,
- and when it morphs into “r” in other forms of the same word or in related words,
- and in certain masculine nouns ending in –arz, –erz, –mistrz and –mierz,
- and in words not covered by any other rule,
- except during the second Thursday of every other month ending in a “y”, but not right after the full moon. Or something like that.
But knowing the rules, and following them are two different things.
Seriously, Polish spelling IS complicated and convoluted, and there’s no shame in admitting that it’s hard to write it correctly. We even have special experts, who write newspaper columns, or who have TV or radio programs devoted to the intricacies of the language. And those columns are widely read, and the programs widely watched.
One of those expert guys is professor Jan Miodek, who thanks to his TV program about Polish language became a popular media personality. Can you believe it? That we’d actually NEED a TV program to discuss the more convoluted points of our convoluted language? And even professor Miodek admitted to making mistakes. Spelling mistakes, no less. And he is THE authority on the Polish language, trained linguist, professor at Wrocław University and a member of the Polish Language Council (Rada Języka Polskiego).
Now I don’t feel so bad. And as I write more and more in Polish, I’m re-learning to spell properly. And all those goofy spelling rules are slowly coming back to me. Too slowly, if you ask me, though.
Words used today:
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