What's with the lack of confidence in these comments? Shout it out with me: Ja mówię po polsku! :-)
Why is the po in here? does it translate literally to "in" like it suggests? Is "I speak in (insert language here)" the only way to communicate that you speak another language? Thanks
"Po" is a very versatile preposition in Slavic languages. Literally it means on, according to, via, by, at. In this case, its meaning is similar to "I speak in the Polish manner" or "I speak like Poles do".
In that way, it applies the adjective "polsku" to the sentence's verb in a way analogous to the English suffix "-ly."
So the whole sentence structure is very unlike the English, in which the language spoken is described with a noun which is the direct object of "speak."
Well... not really. "polsku" is the archaic Dative form of the adjective "polski", only existent in the "po polsku" construction (and perhaps some other fixed phrases). True, Wiktionary mentions something about 'noun declension', but I don't really know how it worked back then.
To me, I think of polski as a noun referring to the język, even though it's an adjective. For example, Znam polski. In Russian, when we have verb + po + noun, for example
"he's banging a drum"
on stucit po barabanu,
it takes the "-u" at the end of the noun, depending on the noun case and gender. I bet mówić po polsku has similar roots
If in Russian "he's doing something in the Polish way," then on eto dielajet po pol'skomu - also ends in a "-u". However, speaking Polish is po-pol'ski, also used as a single phrase adverb.
Depends on the grammatical situation. "polski język" = "Polish language" in Nominative. The "I speak X" construction requires "po polsku" (Polish style, Polish way)
"polski" is the adjective, sure, but I have no idea what "polsku" is. It's not any of the cases of "polski", I wouldn't also say that it's an adverb (they rather end with -o or -e)... I'd say that "polsko" is the adverb. "polsko brzmiący", "niemiecko brzmiący", "rosyjsko brzmiący" = 'Polish-sounding', 'German-sounding', 'Russian-sounding', could be interpreted in a way as "Polishly sounding".
"polsku" is a variant of "polskiemu" (which, in turn, is the dative case of "polski"). It's archaic these days except that it's still the form that goes specifically with the preposition "po."
As usual, I'm trying to understand Polish using Russian analogies. In Russian, "pol'skij" is the singular masculine adjective, like "pol'skij jazyk," but "po-pol'ski" is the adverb. Notice the j [й] at the end of the adjective and its lack thereof at the end of the adverb. Same goes for niemieckij/po-niemiecki, russkij/po-russki, etc..
There is another variant in Russian which might apply in Polish. The gender-neuter adjective pol'skoje changes to po pol'skomu when it's used as an adverb except in the cases of language "po-pol'ski". Maybe that's analogous to "polsku"?
Or maybe "polsko" changes to the locative/prepositional case "polsku" after "po."
I found that "po polsku" is an 'adverbial phrase', according to Polish Wiktionary, but the English one considers this simply an adverb.
по-русски is considered an adverb by Polish Wiktionary. It's probably the dash that makes the difference here.
Do you need the 'Ja' for this sentence. Can you just say "Mowie po Polsku"? (accents unavailable)
No, you don't, unless you're emphasizing that it is I who is speaking. Mówię already means "I speak"/"I'm speaking."
"po polsku" is an adverbial phrase.
Polski/polska is an adjective meaning "Polish."
Would you be able to say "I speak in Polish" here? Or is it specifically "I speak Polish"?
I can't type Polish letters with my keyboard at the moment. I'll try to copy and paste it from a document. I'm talking about 'Polish E': Ę.
I seem to hear the woman pronouncing it as 'ehn' - you know, the way it is in Polish - when it's in the MIDDLE of a word. But when she says it at the end of a word, it seems like it's more like 'eh' or 'short e' in English. So in 'Ja mówię po polsku' I'm hearing 'eh' at the end, rather than that nasalized 'ehn.'
Is this just me, or does the value of Ę get reduced at the end (similar to the way 'd' or 'b' are devoiced at the ends of words in Polish)?
At the end of a word, it's either pronounced simply as 'e', or nasalized just a bit.
Thanks again. I've been hearing that in 'real life,' though I never really thought about it until now. Sometimes I do hear people giving Ę the full value at the end of a word, though it's rare. That's been 'public speakers' or rather people used to giving lectures, professors, that ilk. Then there's the Polish colleague who I would swear says something closer to 'tek' than 'tak', though she doesn't hear it..
By the way the 'a' in 'tak' doesn't doesn't actually sound anything like the 'u' in 'cut' to an English-speaker, though I know that to Poles it does, hence the graffiti that says '-ack off' rather than '-uck off.' If I followed the hint on Duolingo, an English-speaker would hear me saying 'tuck' rather than 'tak' - two clearly different sounds.
I think that Duolingo would do better to tell English-speakers that the 'a' in 'tak' sounds more like the 'o' 'doc' or 'a' in 'walk' than 'cut.' It's somewhere between 'talk' and 'tack' to an English-speaker, but it's not near the 'u' in 'cut.' It's a problem, because we want to put a diphthong in there, I know. And of course, Poles are always mispelling cat/cut, bat/but and so on because they can't really hear the difference, but it's very clear when a native-English-speaker makes those two sounds. The vowels in 'tak' and the English 'doc' or 'walk' are different, but closer than tak/cut. I can observe how my jaw drops when making the two different vowel sounds, as well as how my tongue moves differently with the two sounds.
It's hard to teach Poles to hear a difference between 'a' in 'tak' and 'u' in cut - I know because I spent 23 years teaching English here to Poles training to be English-teachers. But that doesn't mean that it transfers to English, since English-speakers hear very distinct sounds between 'u' in 'cut' and 'a' in 'tak.' We'll be saying something wrong, in fact, if we follow the advice to use the 'u' in 'cut.'
But you should bear in mind that "cat" is pronounced differently in British vs American English. It differs even within British English: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cat#English. As you can see there are several different transcriptions and one of them is /kat/ in which /a/ sounds like Polish "a". "A" in "walk" sounds more like Polish "o" and to a Pole it would sound like "tok". If you pronounce it like in British "cat" or "cut", it will be good enough; although the difference may be audible.
simpler than that, the "a" in tak is pronounced like the English "a" in "father."