Last January I shared with you my will to learn a language with few speakers—in the sense of not being a language people study because of it being useful. Now I happen to speak Polish.You—like everyone before—might be wondering why Polish. As I said, I speak English and Spanish, hence I don’t need another useful language. This time I wanted a completely new one, from another family, just for fun and linguistic curiosity. I chose Polish because I have several Polish friends. I’m not looking for popular, but I do want to be able to use it.
Polish has about 40 million speakers. It’s a Slavic language, very close to Czech and Slovak and related to other languages from the east of Europe. That is, I’ve taken the path to understanding with the other end of the continent.
Regarding alphabet and pronunciation, it’s easy to grasp. It uses the Latin alphabet with variations. There are the nasal vowels ą and ę (which sound like ow and ew, respectively). There’s also ó and y (like u in sugar and i in milk) and the semivowels ł and j (w and y in you, respectively). Among consonants there’s ć (ch), ń (Spanish ñ, French and Italian gn, Portuguese nh, Catalan ny…), ś and ź (both sh) and ż (j). Letter c usually sounds ts, there’s some digraphs and the stress tends to be on the penultimate syllable. Correspondence between writing and pronunciation is not the problem, the consonants clusters are.
Concerning grammar, Polish uses seven cases, word order changes sometimes and there are few verb tenses, but complex enough.
Now you might be wondering about my progress in this language. More details are going to be published soon, but I can tell you I’ve studied it on my own since December and tomorrow I’ll be back to Catalonia after a couple of weeks practising in Poland.