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  5. "His secretary is a student."

"His secretary is a student."

Translation:Jego sekretarz jest studentem.

January 8, 2016



Hi Marek. To translate 'His secretary is a student' I first tried 'Jego sekretarka jest studentem'. This answer was graded as incorrect, saying that it should be the word for pupil in the correction. Then I tried 'Jego sekretarz jest...' (with the word for pupil spelled incorrectly) and in the correction, it said that studentem is the correct word in this case. Please can you explain this? The course is great, by the way.


Hi. Thanks for your kind words :) That's what I discussed above in Polish actually: the gendered words. "sekretarka" is feminine, so is "studentka", so "Jego sekretarka jest studentką". For male version, "Jego sekretarz jest studentem".


why does "jego sekretarka jest uczniem" not work?


Well… Child labour is illegal in Poland, so there are many legal limitations and restrictions on work of people below the age of 16 – that makes any non-seasonal work position for people below 16 really improbable in Poland and since „uczeń” only encompasses schoolchildren up to high school („liceum”), which people end at the age of 18/19, that leaves us with a very narrow window of only about two years in which your interpretation is possible.

Now, I don't know if that means it should not be accepted(Jellei will have to decide that :P), but generally it's rather rare for people in Poland to work while being teenagers, so „student”(someone attending tertiary education, like college, university and so on), is way way more obvious interpretation. ;)


I was not trying to be clever. I didn't know that uczen only applied to schoolchildren and not students generally. Thank you for the explanation, i will not make this mistake again I am sure haha.


I wasn't assuming that you were, in fact I expected that you didn't know the difference between „uczeń” and „student”, as this come up relatively frequently on the forums. ;)

Still, I assumed that a bit longer explanation why such interpretation is unlikely might be more useful, than merely stating the difference. ;)


Actually it is accepted right now (although you need "sekretarka - uczennicą" or "sekretarz - uczniem", of course), but I do think that you're right. That it's too much to accept it. But I'll ask the others, as this is not such a clear situation.


Napisałam: Jego sekretarka jest studentem i powinno być zaliczone!


Zastanawialiśmy się ostatnio, w jakich zawodach (ok, student nie jest zawodem, ale działa podobnie) możemy akceptować męską formę dla kobiety. Zdecydowaliśmy się robić to z dużą liczbą zawodów, tam gdzie brzmiało to w miarę naturalnie (Ona jest lekarzem), ale nie ze studentką. Wydaje mi się, że naprawdę w niewielu kontekstach można by o kobiecie powiedzieć, że jest studentem, a nie studentką. Może jeśli pani w dziekanacie zapyta "Czy pani aby na pewno jest naszym studentem?", ale to rzadka sytuacja. "Jego sekretarka jest studentem" brzmi dla mnie bardzo dziwnie.


Czy nie jest studentem?


Isn't "student" not only masculine word, but also a word describing the profession as a whole though?


Words like Dentysta and studenta actually refer to males even though they end in feminine form. Female dentist would be Dentyska- making it diminutive.

As for student being a profession...? I have heard of those....


Sorry, but I have to correct something: "dentysta" is male, true, but the other word you meant is "student", so it doesn't end with -a. 'studenta' exists, but it's just one of the forms (Acc/Gen), not the basic word.

Female dentist would be "dentystka" (you missed one letter), and about it being diminutive... well, I wouldn't call it so, although I guess there's no harm in treating it this way, it looks like a diminutive. But generally the masculine 'professions' that end with -ta, end in -tka instead for feminine forms.


In Polish, if you do not know the gender of someone like a secretary (or student, or policeman/woman), do you generally use the masculine form, or how is this handled?


I would need a more specific example to think this through.


This is not an uncommon situation in English. For example, without ever knowing the gender of the student, I might say, "I heard that a student at the school stole money from a blind man." In English, just saying "student" (or teacher, principal, secretary etc.)" does not give any indication of the gender. This is useful when the gender is not that important to know, or if you don't know the gender of the person in the first place. If someone wants to know they might ask "Do you know if that student was a man or a woman?" But in Polish, it seems you have to know the gender (student or studentka; sekretarz or sekretarka). How does Polish handle it when the gender of a person being discussed, like a student, principal/director or secretary, is not known?


Generally it is very problematic in Polish if you don't know someone's gender. If that's the case, you either see if you can rethink the sentence to avoid using any gendered word (perhaps it would be enough to say "someone" and not "student"?), and if not... then I guess that masculine is the default. Sometimes it may be okay to use a masculine word for some profession to refer to a woman. That may both depend on the specific profession (sometimes it seems more acceptable, sometimes less) as well as the opinion of the given woman. For example, it sounds quite okay to my ear to say "Ta kobieta jest nauczycielem", although "Ta kobieta jest nauczycielką" is rather the default version.

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