Getting started in Russian while improving in Polish: advisable?

after getting to know a lovely Russian couple via CouchSurfing, I started feeling a big desire to learn Russian (the guy couldn’t speak either English or Italian, and I couldn’t speak Russian, so his wife had to translate everything in both directions - which she did very well!).
I wonder if I could/should start it now, while I am still trying to improve my Polish. I think I am familiar enough with Polish grammar to avoid mixing it with Russian, but I wonder if the risk of Polish ingerence in my Russian is too big.
I want to reach an intermediate-advanced level in Polish but I wouldn’t like to wait too long before starting Russian. On the other hand, I don’t want to end up with a too mediocre knowledge in both of them.
Any thoughts that may help me solve my dilemma?

In my opinion it would be similar to trying to learn Italian and Spanish at the same time, although to a lesser degree. Although having learnt some Polish, you’d have a fairly good advantage to start you off, and you wouldn’t be learning Polish from scratch, so at least at the initial stages there wouldn’t be a mixup of vocab in your head.

I don’t know how it works with Polish to Russian, but I’ve heard that the other way round you would have a huge advantage. Look at how quickly Steve has progressed with Czech, which he says Russian has helped him immensly.

Perhaps there wouldn’t be any harm in learning the alphabet and correct pronounciation now, before moving on.

The only downside to taking up Russian now, in my opinion, is that you’d have less time to concentrate on Polish. It may even get to the point where you find Russian more interesting or useful, and push Polish to one-side :slight_smile:

“you’d have less time to concentrate on Polish. It may even get to the point where you find Russian more interesting or useful, and push Polish to one-side :-)”

You Poles always think that your country is not that beautiful and your language not that useful… Stop being so self-critical and pessimistic! :slight_smile:

Sorry, that was my shared account. Anyway, I already know the Cyrillic alphabet and the Russian pronunciation, so I wouldn’t begin from zero.

Looking at things from a purely utilitarian point of view, Russian would indeed seem very much more useful than any other Slavic tongue. Russian has, I believe, tens of millions more native speakers than all of the other Slavic languages put together! And many people in Russia (unlike in Poland, The Czech Republic, etc) can’t speak English very well - so there may be situations where there is a real NEED to speak Russian.

But do we language keeners ever learn languages for purely practical and utilitarian reasons, I wonder?

Is it not the case that we are moved by linguistic lust rather than linguistic reason? Do we not, if we are honest, actually tend towards the unusual and exotic rather than the practical and logical choice?

I myself harbour insane urges to learn Czech - but I fiercly resist them because I know I could never master the grammar!

Czech makes even Russian seem pretty straightforward! It would be mad even to try to master that, right?

And yet…

Yes, I agree. I have never wanted to learn languages for merely utilitarian reason. The fact is that, while I am committedly in love with Poland and its language, I find Russian very charming and noble. I regret not having studied it at university instead of German (I do like German too, but I feel I didn’t improve it at university, so it would have been better to take Russian)…
So, Jay, what’s your advice?

@Rank I’m curious, what makes Czech grammar much more difficult than Russian. From what I know, the rules are pretty much the same.


My advice: if you want Russian, then go right ahead and learn it. :wink:

I don’t think there is any intrinsic reason why you would end up with “mediocre level” in both Russian and Polish. It’s true you may mix them up to some extent, but all things considered they would be mutually strengthening rather than mutually weakening, I think.

(I guess it’s a bit like an English guy who is learning both Italian and Portuguese together.)


It seems to me that there are many more possible patterns in Czech (i.e. a lot of nouns which don’t follow the ‘main’ case patterns.)

Michele, It seems to me that this would depend on how strong your command of Polish is now. If it is relatively weak, you might want to wait awhile; if it is strong, then you would (I imagine) have less chance of confusing the two. You can always back off from the Russian if you find yourself mixing up the two languages. (I myself don’t like to change direction until the current language is solid, for what that is worth.)

Who knows? With Polish and Russian you might end up speaking like this: A fascinating site.

Bleah… that international Slavic looks awful!

I still cannot speak Polish fluently because I don’t know so many words, but I have most grammar points pretty clear in my mind.

For me, I’m really only interested in Polish out of those two languages. Russian - sure I’ll learn it one day because it’s a widely spoken language and I do tend to get interested in languages more as I spend time with them. (Which is why I have to try and avoid those I’m not studying…it’s difficult haha)

I’d say: do what you want to do. Know how much time you have at your disposal to see if it fits in. If you try it out and they are so close that it confuses you, stop.

I can’t wait to learn Polish… cries

The decisive reason for me would at least be : Which language am I going to use more?

I have many reasons for learning Polish, mainly because I now live in Poland and because my girlfriend is Polish. This keeps my interesting going and straying into another language like Russian or Czech would, I believe, take valuable time away from learning a language that I only have a passive interest in (and would probably rarely ever use).

@mikebond I remember reading somewhere (I think one of your Polish posts, but I could be wrong) that your fiancée is Polish. That’s a good enough incentive for me to put most of my effort into learning Polish and it is working well :wink:

I absolutely would learn Russian/Czech one day, but only when I’m confident in my ability with Polish. I can already READ a lot of Czech just from my Polish, and I’m sure it is a similar situation with Russian (Hiding behind the alphabet).

I haven’t seen any harm however in studying (passively) a non-related language, i.e. At present I’m also slowly going through Spanish, and the two languages sound so different that it’s hard to get them confused.

Wieworka, indeed, “usefulness” is the most prevalent reason for learning another language. Sometimes, it’s even valid (much language learning is done because of assumed benefits which don’t really work out in real life). Living in the country - I’d even relent to that and learn the language. However, I’ve never learned a language because of how useful it is.

I think that Mikebond would be glad to learn Polish regardless of any practical factors. :smiley:

I really want to learn Polish now…hehehe

@Imyirtseshem - Why don’t you learn Polish? It’s absolutely a challenge and well worth it :slight_smile:

Learning 3 other languages full time and a couple others part time. Yeah, I don’t know. :slight_smile:

Listening to my grandfather speak it (alongside Yiddish and Lithuanian) when I was younger was a joy for me and I’ve always wanted to learn the language. Who knows…maybe I’m looking at my resources already…sigh

@wiewiorka: you didn’t read that post with the due attention, I fear. I’ve never had any girlfriend, whether Polish, Italian or Vietnamese… :frowning: What I may have written is that I hope I will marry a Polish woman, but I still haven’t found her. If I already had a Polish girlfriend, I would be studying Polish much more intensely, I guess.
Anyway, I want to learn Polish as a homage to the Polish people. I want to go back to Poland soon and maybe find a job there. So, I don’t want to leave it for Russian.
Sure, I also feel attracted by Russia and its culture, but it’s a different kind of attraction.
So, I still haven’t managed to make up my mind.

@mikebond. Yes, I misintepreted your post where you wrote “chciałbym ożenić się z Polką”, sorry about that. I presumed you already had a fiancee, and would like to marry her in the future. For me, that statement on it’s own without some context can mean you either know the woman you are going to marry, or that you simply want to marry A polish woman :slight_smile:

Interesting you want to learn Polish as a homage to Polish people. I find Poles are often very surprised that we want to learn their language, calling it useless. Indeed, I’ve known Poles who go abroad and speak amongst each other in English because they are embarassed of their own heritage. That being said, I’ve also seen many Polish folk who are passionate about their own language and culture and are really happy to help others.

Because of my Polish ancestory, I received Polish citizenship, and it shocks many people when they see a former-foreigner who isn’t a native speaker, especially the staff on passport control :-). I also have Italian ancestory and would like to learn Italian as well, but so far I’ve found the country far too expensive to stay in :(.

I remember I wrote that sentence in a text I submitted for correction and I doubt it was without any context.
Anyway, I do agree with your analysis about Poles. They always feel inferior and inadequate, but that’s the heritage of the Communist times… The same is true for most of the other Slavic peoples, as far as I have experienced.
Yes, Italy is definitely more expensive than Poland…

If I were you, I’d focus just on Polish for now. I study Russian, and try to focus just on Russian. (я пытаюсь сосредоточивать свое внимание только на русском языке.) Once I will have reached a decent level, I will only start learning other slavic languages.