Do I understand it correctly that "Witaj" is the Imperative of "Witam" and that it doesn't matter much which to use? Is it also true that one would simply use "Witam/Witaj" when welcoming a person and "Witamy/Witajcie" when welcoming a group of people?
A little clarification. You would use:
- Witam or Witaj when welcoming a single person
- Witam or Witajcie when welcoming a group of people
- Witamy or Witaj when you and sb else (at least one more person) welcomed a single person
- Witamy or Witajcie when you and sb else (at least one more person) welcomed a group of people
Correct me if I'm wrong, but would the folling be acceptable translations.
Witam - I welcome you. Witamy - We welcome you.
Witaj - You (sg) are welcome. Witajcie - You (pl) are welcome.
The first two – yes, absolutely, that is the literal meaning.
The second ones – might be, but only when welcoming someone eg. to your house, not as a response after being thanked.
Because witaj and witajcie are in imperative mood (2nd singular and 2nd plural persons), both translate literally to English as just welcome!.
Yes, grammatically it is the imperative but it doesn't sound like an order or something. Well, I would say that "witam" is more polite, even though "witaj"/"witam" are not formal forms. If you use "witam", you can add "pana".
To be honest, "witam" implies that you are more important than the one you're talking to. It's usually quite subtle, but sounds really bad in e.g. formal letters ("witaj" also doesn't sound well). "Witam" is adequate when you invite somebody to your house - you can tell them "witam".
I read a lengthy article on a polish grammar board about that (need to find that one again) and asked my cousins after and all tend to disagree on the "more important" notion. The conclusion was that only a really small majority (sort of grammar nazis that try to preserve the old ways) still holds on to that notion but that it's pretty much outdated in Poland, even in a formal context. Just thought to add that here.
"Grammar nazis" in Poland are called "professors" and they all tend to agree that "witam" implies your importance. The fact that some users do not see the difference does not mean that the difference does not exist. Of course, it's a subtle way, and perfectly fine if you're talking to your classmate, but it is inappropriate while talking with your boss.
There is a difference between descriptive (how people speak) and prescriptive (how people "should" speak) grammar. This means that you are probably both correct. I think your discussion here has been very enlightening, and I hope the two of you also see that.
Your "All tend to agree" statement is hardly an argument. "Grammar nazis" are not called "professors", but some of course can be called that. Most of my family is born and still lives in Poland, with my uncle having production facilities for filling plant equipment there (the engineering department is located in Germany) and one of my cousins is in the process of finishing his doctoral program in Wrocław. None of them agrees with you nor does the majority of posts I read so far - I keep searching for more of course. At the end of the day, what do I know, right?! It's probably better to be save than sorry even though it seems inaccurate to state it as clear cut as you do apparently. With this in mind, witam! ;D
I never said that "rule" does not exist (though I'd be interested in an official link to it of your so called Language Council if you have the time) nor that you will have a hard time finding a professor that argues for it, all I'm saying is that many don't care about it anymore in everyday life apparently. Certainly enough to mention it and that's what I did. The conclusion here: One just has to be more important than everyone else. I am certainly working on it :D
Your cousins do not - no matter how inteligent and educated they are - do not create Polish grammar. Professors do. Polish Language Council does. And it's just one of the rules.
One more thing. Witaj and witam is not same. As you can use witam to welcome many pp but witaj use for one
Witam is more flexy. You can welkome group of pp or one . But witaj only one
The Polish Language Council is an outdated, outmoded group of old men who want everyone to speak like it's the middle ages. Language evolves - The English do not walk around talking like Shakespeare do they?
Yeah, we do. One of the last categories is Colloquialisms. It's a hard category because you have to "guess" which English SLANG Duolingo chose as a translation.
I'm doing that category in Russian right now. I keep getting marked wrong for being right!
Is this pronounced veetal or veetai, because the "j"in Pije is pronounced with as a "y" but the excercise pronounced this word with an "L" sound at the end.
I don't hear a problem. Out of these two options it's definitely the second one, Polish 'j' is always the sound that's usually written in English with a 'y', like a yeti, for example.
Yes, I guess so. It may sound strange sometimes, though. It's a strange word, hard to assess its formality and acceptability... to me, at least.
One small note. In English we normally "welcome" someone to our place, our home, city etc. In Poland, I hear "Witam" being used much more as a greeting, a more formal "Hello" perhaps, in places which don't necessarily "belong" to the speaker.
Or in e-mails to professors at university... this word is often misused, and you are right, it should be like in English. Plus the fact that you can say both 'witaj' and 'witam' makes it even more complicated.