Why is 'heavy' not accepted? In South African English we normally say 'this topic is heavy' as opposed to 'tough'.
Any idea whether it's said like that anywhere else? Although we probably shouldn't conform only to AmE and BrE, I guess...
Definitely acceptable in Canadian english, though either ways would not confuse someone!
I have always thought of "heavy" in this context as an Americanism. A British English speaker might say "a weighty issue", but that means important rather than difficult.
I'm not sure. Perhaps Australian English? Although, South Africa technically follows British English, so I don't mind. Maybe it is just vernacular preference here in my province, I suppose, since Afrikaans and English influence each other interchangeably.
I favour tough, a good translation which didn't occur to me until Duo suggested it.
Heavy (to mean difficult) was widely used colloquially in 1970's UK by students and hippies. E.g.:
I study medicine. – Heavy!
I'm learning Polish. – Heavy, man!
My bird wants me to meet her Mum, can't get my head round it. – Really heavy, man!
Somewhat like German, where "schwer" can mean both "heavy" and "difficult". Does the same apply in Dutch and/or Afrikaans?
Yes. 'Swaar' can mean both physically heavy as well as figuratively 'having a hard time' in Afrikaans.
Although in translating this specific sentence, one would say 'hierdie onderwerp/tema is moeilik', never 'hierdie onderwerp/tema is swaar'.
'Hulle kry swaar' (literally: 'they are getting heavy') translates semantically to 'they're having a hard time' (referring to financial or other difficulties).
As for Dutch, I haven't encountered an instance of this sentence directly, but I would presume it would be more or less the same situation.
Incidentally, I don't know if it's a coincidence, but the word "Ciężki" seems to be used as a family name:
"Mr. Heavy"/"Mr. Tough"?
Well, something being "difficult" and something being "tough" mean pretty much the same thing with something abstract like a "topic".
Can you explain any real difference between "ciężki" and "trudny"?
Hmmm... I guess you're right, I may have been too quick to dismiss that answer.
Especially that I checked now and actually "difficult" was accepted already...
Well, "trudny" can just mean complicated, difficult to learn, but you're right, also something that is not easy to talk about, because it's very sad, serious, etc.
Thanks for straightening that out!
FWIW, WSJP gives "ciężki" as a "synonim" for "trudny".
I suppose that would be translated back into Polish as "to jest ciężki temat" to keep the same structure.
'Heavy' was accepted for me. In English one tends to say 'heavy' or 'weighty', rather than tough.