Monday, September 26, 2011

The Polish language is one big tongue twister

They occur in every language, the so-called tongue twisters: phrases with words and sounds in it that are very much alike, which causes a conflict between your brain and your speech and use of the tongue. In Holland we have a tongue twister about a pretty hairdresser:

De knappe kapper kapt knap, maar de knecht van de knappe kapper kapt knapper dan de knappe kapper zelf kapt.

It doesn't even has to be a full phrase, even some words cannot be pronounced properly when said too many times in a row. For me the word 'Toy Boat' is a mini-tongue twister, if I try to say it three times in a row I just can't. It will sound like this: 'Toy Boat, Toa Boyt, Toy Boyt.' Most of the tongue twisters are just weird phrases, which do not have a specific meaning, but are just hard to pronounce, like this one:

If Stu chews shoes, should Stu choose the shoes he chews? 

Since I started learning the Polish language I found out that learning a new language causes the same problems between brains and speech. I see a Polish word or phrase on my computerscreen, I want to pronounce it properly, but then it appears that my brains have a mind of their own. It's sending the wrong commands to my tongue, so I only say 'pllllaaahhh'. The letter combinations of SZ, CZ en RZ are particularly difficult for me and the letter Ł is a cause of master confusion too, since it's not an L at all, but it needs to be prunounced the way we Dutchies use the W. 

Here you can read some examples of Polish tongue twisters. I am not sure if I'll ever reach the point of pronouncing those lines in the correct way:

W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.

Nie pieprz Pietrze wieprza pieprzem, bo przepieprzysz wieprza pieprzem.

For now I'm glad I can remember most of the words I have been learning. I am able to name 36 different animals in Polish. I can say the days of the week, most of the colors and some common phrases. At least, if I'm behind my laptop, alone in my room. I have no idea if I'll be able to have some sort of conversation when I'll be in Poland, which will be in two days.

The next few weeks I will update my blog regularly with the process of learning this weird and difficult language. I'm expecting it to be a really bumpy road, with lots of awkward and painful situations, with me insulting people instead of complimenting them etc. Luckily for me though, I have a high dose of self mockery and that's why I uploaded a video with me practising the Polish language. At the moment of typing I know those lines by heart, but it really took me a while. 

Check my Dutch blogs at

No comments:

Post a Comment