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Learning Polish can also be of great benefit when trying to acquire other languages. Mutual intelligibility is the name given to the relationship between languages whose speakers can understand each other without any additional study or effort.
As Polish comes from the same language family as many others in Eastern Europe, you might find that you can work out what other people are saying in another Slavic language. Knowing Polish can make it a lot easier to pick up another Slavic language like Russian in the future.
Learning Polish will help you understand other Slavic languages
Due to them being part of the same Slavic language family, don’t be surprised if your Polish knowledge gives you mutual intelligibility of spoken Ukrainian, Slovak, Czech and even Russian. When written down, you might even be able to understand some Belarusian, Bulgarian and even some Serbo-Croatian too.
You may find that you can understand mutually intelligible languages when you read them easier than you can when you hear them. As different Slavic languages have different pronunciations, letters, and even alphabets, you might understand some of the languages better when they’re written down and others when they’re spoken.
Despite their many similarities, beware of false friends between languages – an infamous example being the Polish “Szukam was za zachodę.” (I’m looking for you in the West) sounding similar to the Czech “Šukám vás na záchodě.”(I will f**k you in the toilet.)
If you’d like to learn another Slavic language using the HowToSpeakPolish.com method, for example, Russian or Czech, I recommend starting with a Russian or Czech phrasebook before progressing to adding sentences from a Russian or Czech grammar book. Of course, you’d have to learn how to type their alphabets too. Following that, I would dive straight into native content that interested me.
Based on bestseller lists and customer reviews, here are the Russian and Czech resources that I would get:
- Lonely Planet Russian Phrasebook & Dictionary (Lonely Planet Phrasebook and Dictionary)
- Oxford Russian Grammar and Verbs (Dictionary)
- Lonely Planet Czech Phrasebook & Dictionary (Lonely Planet Phrasebook and Dictionary)
- Czech: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars)
Which other languages do you have mutual intelligibility with?
I once had a chat with a friend when he spoke Russian and I spoke Polish. Despite neither of us knowing each others’ language, we somehow managed to understand each other. Since then, I’ve watched the occasional YouTube video in Russian to see how much I can catch. In the future, I hope to dedicate some time to learn Russian properly. Which other languages can you understand? Let me know in the comments below.
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