I have been learning Russian for about a year, do you think it would be a bad idea for me to start learning Polish already? I only speak English so I’m new to learning languages and I don’t really want to halt my progress with Russian. Polish is a Slavic language that has some similarities with Russian though so maybe it wont be that bad to start learning already?
I’ve found that for whatever language I’m learning I must get it to a certain level where it is easy to retain while I focus on others, if for a period I’m not actively studying it. If you are not quite to such a level yet, it may be wise to continue working on your Russian. But I would see no harm in picking up a little Polish and perhaps accelerating with it as you are comfortable. So it really depends on your current level in Russian and your comfort level as you begin Polish. You may experiment and see what you can do.
Good answer LFJ. I just tried reading and listening to some Polish and I was surprised that it seemed to have more similarities with Russian than I initially thought. (E.G czytać/słuchać/bylo/pomoglo/ktora/mysle- a bunch of words I could recognize) Reading it was not too hard because the words sort of look like Russian words do when they’re written with Eng letters. Having said that the pronunciation of Polish words was tricky for me as they can sound quite different to the way they are spelt. I reckon I can learn a some of it without setting myself back in Russian and like you said LFJ, I can accelerate my learning with it if I’m comfortable
I agree with LFJ, I wouldn’t personally start another language in the same language group until I was at least upper intermediate. If that’s your case, go for it. If not, maybe try a Romance language? Or another Germanic?
Elric, I think the opposite, that it should be easier to learn a lang in the same group due to similarities, why do you think it might be a hindrance? I wouldn’t attempt to learn a lang from a totally different family at the same time though because I would have two completely different vocabs to tackle at once. Aside from that I’m not interested in langs that aren’t Slavic.
Imy, I never really thought about mixing them up, it’s hard to imagine doing that…if the words are the same you can’t mix them and if they sound totally different why would you mix them :S I’m mainly worried about halting my progress with Russian if I take on Polish, especially because Russian is only my second language, I’m not sure how much I can absorb.
I find it’s the grammar more than the vocab that gets mixed up…
Mandarin is my strongest language, and I learned some Cantonese (before my Mandarin was really good) which has mostly the same grammar and while the pronunciation is quite different, it’s still close enough to tell they are the same word. But I never mixed them up, even though they are in many ways the same language, just with different pronunciation of the largely the same vocabulary.
One thing I have done recently though, is try to apply Chinese grammar to the German I just started learning! lol I wish it were that easy, but that’s just the only “foreign” grammar my brain knows well now. So when I try to create sentences in another language my brain switches to that “foreign” grammar mode, even though it’s a whole new language. Still getting used to German grammar…
b, I didn’t mean it would be harder, I meant there would be a chance of mixing them up if you started a new one in the same language group before the first was kind of ‘solidified’. As you said, any Slavic language will be easier for you from now on, as will the Germanic ones. If your heart is with Slavic languages, maybe you should go for Slovak, which has reportedly the easiest grammar in the group, and would get you a foot on the door for Czech.
In my own personal case, I never mixed any languages up, and I have no problem studying 3 or 4 languages at a time, except for time management, but from most of the reports I hear online, I reckon I’m not in the majority.
Come to think of it, I know if I learnt Russian and Polish at the same time as a complete beginner in both I would have mixed up words. I probably wouldn’t even have been able to tell the two apart if I heard them. If I learnt 3-4 langs at once as a beginner in all and they were similar langs I would definitely mix them up. But surely with some familiarity of one or more of them there’s not much chance of that happening. I can see some minor issue with learning Polish which is for the words that sound similar to Russian, I know I will be lazy and pronounce or write them exactly how I’m used to in Russian because I know the Polish will understand me anyways hehe.
Elric, is Slovak close to Serbian? Serbian is my fav one of them all just because to me it sounds the nicest. I wanted to learn that but thought resources would be an issue. I don’t have a preference for Polish in itself really, I just thought it would be a good choice because there are a lot of Polish people living in my city so it should be easy to make some Polish friends and practice their lang with them. There are loads of Polish chat rooms around too.
Slovak is closest to Czech. Remember Czechoslovakia? They were one single country until 1993, when they split up. Hence the similarity between the languages.
Serbian has a somewhat high level of language transparency with Slovak, but it’s a lot closer to Croatian. And the Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet, unlike the Slovaks.
Like LFJ, I think that mixing up the grammar would be a problem. From the point of view of reading or listening, probably not so much. But trying to say or write something, it would be SO easy to mix up similar semi-familiar things.
Take my own case: I can read French well, Russian fairly well, Latin fairly well, and Spanish with a dictionary, Reading I very seldom have any problem w/ confusing words or constructions among these languages. But trying to write or speak in them (whicH I do much less well or often for any of them), I frequently have to sit back and think about a finer point of grammar, and I often can’t remember how to frame what I want to express w/o consulting some reference. Often this is because I half remember something but am not sure which language I remember it from. I’ll think, for instance, something like–is that true in Spanish, or am I just remembering how it works in French?
Where I have the most trouble in this regard is:
a) confusing the finer points between languages–for example, use of subjunctive / conditional, &c., &c. If something is well practiced, it’s usually no problem. But if I’m not sure about something, then this confusion between languages can occur.
b) confusing usage of grammatical cases in inflected languages–for example, whether a preposition is used with a certain case in a certain situation, or not. I have LOTS of trouble w/ this, and rather than in a closely related language “family” I have trouble w/ this between Russian and Latin, where the elaborate case systems are v. distantly related, but still similar enough to have plenty of points in common. Such confusion is even more likely between Russian and Polish, I would think, which are much more similar than Russian and Latin.
So I’m w/ those who say that starting Polish now would probably be confusing for you. But maybe your Russian is already rock solid. I wouldn’t (and haven’t), but if you REALLY want to try learning Polish too, why not? Just allow yourself from the beginning the “no penalty” option of dropping the attempt if it proves to be too confusing.
I am quite sure, that even I [as a native Russian speaker] would mix two other Slavic languages, if I were trying to learn them simultaneously. It’s better to wait, until you are quite confident with using the first one. It’s unlikely that’s the case after just one year, unless you are a full time learner.
Thanks for your insights guys. Ernie, I’m not that good at Russian grammar yet so there is some room to mix them up there. I think I will learn some ABC sentences and maybe in some months if I’ve retained what I’ve learnt I’ll learn a bit more and so on.
Every one has their own way of learning. I have tended to focus on one language at a time. Now I am trying to learn Korean, while at the same time trying to improve in Russian, Czech and German. We’ll see. Usually one language sort of takes over in terms of my interest.