Paszport prosze

by Suw on February 8, 2004

Well, since last week’s declaration that I would start seriously learning Polish, I have actually made some headway. I’ve started looking for Polish language websites to help me and have found a couple which are fairly useful. There’s a lot more out there – I just need to find the time to look through them.

Despite my promise to myself that I would not spend money I don’t have on Polish course books, yesterday I found myself in Waterstones and there was this really pretty book and it looked so lonely on the bookshelf and I just couldn’t help myself. So now I am the proud owner of Teach Yourself Polish.

I’ve already done half the first chapter, on the train home from London, and read three chapters ahead. It’s surprising how much sense it makes to me. I’ve been flicking through Polish for Travellers on and off for over a decade and I was happily surprised to realise that I’d learnt enough from it to understand much of the first chapter of Teach Yourself Polish. I’m also finding the grammar to be not too scary.

Maybe it’s true. Maybe languages really do get easier the more you learn. If that’s the case, then I should be able to go back to Dutch and Russian with an advantage once I’ve got Polish under control.

I love the way that Polish sounds, though. It’s such a sexy language, all whispering susurration, even when they’re saying things like ‘Can I have your passport please?’. Honest, I’m like Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda. Foreign languages are just beautiful – there’s something amazing about taking yourself out of your own sphere of experience and plonking yourself right in the middle of someone else’s world.

I just hope that I really can do something useful with Polish. I’ve loved it for years, yet never really learnt it properly. It’s one of those languages that I’ve flirted with, like Swahili (had a friend who spoke it), Norwegian (A-ha. Need I say more?) or Russian (other multilingual friends).

Other languages like Cornish (Celtic obsession) and Dutch (friends again) I’ve basically snogged, but never really formed a lasting relationship with. I really rather fancied them, but circumstances intervened. We remained friends, though, and I hope maybe one day we can get it together again.

French I have a love/hate relationship with. We were forced to learn it at school, and growing up on the south coast meant a lot of trips to various French ports like Cherbourg or Boulogne where most of the shopkeepers spoke English perfectly well and were understandably not too keen on irritating English schoolchildren running riot in their shops. That experience did, I have to admit, put me off a bit.

Latin I loved like a sister, but a sister who steals all my make-up and ruins my favourite clothes yet still expects me to conjugate verbs as if my life depends upon it. Still managed to get a B at O-Level though.

Welsh, well, now that was a strange one. I never really meant to learn Welsh. It was supposed to be a one night stand, just a fling that wouldn’t go anywhere. I started learning it because of the Super Furry Animals – I was scheduled to be going on tour with them as a journalist and, if I’m brutally honest, I wanted to learn a little Welsh in order to try to prove that I wasn’t about to pigeonhole them as ‘quirky Welsh nutters’ the way the rest of the music media at the time had, that I respected their background and heritage.

Trouble is, my Welsh speaking friends found out I was learning, I started getting emails in Welsh and before I knew it I was in the position of having to learn. Without that small core of Welsh friends, I don’t think I would have persisted with the language. But here I am, six years later, pretty much fluent.

I never did get to go on tour with SFA, after all that. Ironic, huh?

So yes, anyway. Here's my passport. Just don't laugh at the photo.

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