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  5. "Pies jest lekki, człowiek je…

"Pies jest lekki, człowiek jest ciężki."

Translation:The dog is light, the human is heavy.

February 17, 2017



Still do not like the idea that czlowiek can't be a PERSON! Why isn't person correct instead of HUMAN? Really.


Jellei and I discussed this extensively 6 months ago, as I was confused by such distinctions, too.

He's a Pole and I'm from the UK, so it made for an interesting conversation.


Duo is again trying to teach English to a native-speaking Englishman who's actually here to learn Polish, rejecting

"The dog is light, a human being is heavy" in favour of
"The dog is light, the human is heavy."

I'm unsure what exactly Duo disliked, so here's my reasoning:

  • Dogs come in a wide range of sizes, and some are at least as heavy as an average person - hence "THE [specific] dog";
  • "Human" is strictly an adjective. At school I'd have been admonished for using "human" as a noun (acceptable in colloquial/spoken English only), which would have been corrected to "human being" (adj. + noun).

EDIT: Duo also rejects "The dog is light, the human being is heavy", insisting on "human" as a noun. So Duo, a mere virtual being, negates the possibility of a "human being"…
                                [6 Jan 2018]


Not accepting "human being" was an oversight, it's been added now.

You said '"Human" is strictly an adjective. At school I'd have been admonished for using "human" as a noun (acceptable in colloquial/spoken English only), which would have been corrected to "human being" (adj. + noun).' As a native speaker as well, I have to say that I find this surprising. Using "human" as a noun has been a common part of English for me as long as I can remember. I checked a few dictionaries too and I see it in all of them (for example, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary)... Possibly its acceptability is a relatively recent development?


"Possibly its acceptability is a relatively recent development?"

You're probably right. I first learned the rule in the UK ~1965 from a rather conservative English teacher. We pupils were comfortable with "human" as a noun in (mostly US) science fiction (e.g. by Asimov, ~1930's onwards), a usage which our teacher intensely disliked. However, even he was willing to bow to 'usage' in practice once it became overwhelming.

The German-English half of my Cassell's German Dictionary (UK, 1978 edition) still lists "human" as an adjective, allowing the noun for colloquial use only.

The current Cambridge dictionary's acceptance of "human" as a noun implies that, at some time over the past 40 years, the UK finally caught up with US usage ;-)
                       [10 Jan 2018]


I've read the linked discussion, and I still don't understand why "person" is an inadmissible translation of "człowiek" here, as IN ENGLISH "human" and "person" are interchangeable when comparing a member of homo sapiens with a dog, regardless of how Polish distinguishes between the words. Or at least, that's how things seem from my native Anglophone perspective.


I cannot really understand why the lekki and ciezki words there are not at the instrumental case. Is there a grammatical subtility there?


If it's just an adjective, it stays in Nominative. If it was a noun phrase (for example "a light animal"), then indeed it would take Instrumental: Pies jest lekkim zwierzęciem...


Rozumiem! Dzięki!


Person was not accepted and man was, however the phrase did not say Mezczyzna.


Well, "man" often works for "human" in English. Just like "mankind" = "humanity".

"person" would work in a sentence like "He is a good man", but not in a sentence where "człowiek" is rather a species.


What's the difference human or person? Person was accepted before.


See this topic: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/19428542

I guess that it was accepted in sentences like: "He is a nice man/person", when it really means the same.


English speking and 85 and human has a much better sound to it. I know where you're coming from, but you would not use he is a good human when describing someone. Every word has its use in the proper context.


Hmm, personally, it seems to me that your example illustrates that "person" is the more generally applicable English term, but who am I to attempt to question the vagaries of Duolingo's idea of acceptable translations? Jestem tylko człowiekiem...


https://en.bab.la/dictionary/polish-english/czlowiek < 'person' should be accepted.

Also, 'a' and 'the' should be interchangeably correct because Polish doesn't have articles like 'a' and 'the'. It's up to the interpretation of the receiver translating back to English.


Dictionaries don't take context into accout. In this sentence we are comparing two species, so the term 'person' is misapplied here. Also, I don't see a reason to mix articles arbitrarily. Like: A dog is light in general, but this human in particular is heavy? It's quite a weird thing to say.


Dictionaries literally inform you of the grammatical context for different interpretations of a word. That is fundamental to their function and not arguable. Man, human, and person, are all valid noun interpretations of człowiek.

Polish doesn't have definite and indefinite articles. In a native speaker's mind, the function of these words is fulfilled by context instead of words. For this reason articles are a major pain point for Poles and most Slavs learning English. Without adjusting for English grammar, the translation of the words is "Dog is light, man is heavy." Specificity must be inferred from context. We are not given any context, it's a random sentence in a language course.

"The dog is light, the human is heavy" -does not- compare species, it compares specific individuals of those species. The definite article is specific.

"A dog is light, a human is heavy" -is- a comparison of species because it uses the indefinite article. It is referring to any dog and any human.

"A dog is light, the man is heavy" or "The dog is light, a person is heavy," are still valid, whether or not they're awkward. Consider them as responses to questions like, "Why did you save your dog from the building fire and not your neighbour?" or "Why did you save your dog and not one of your neighbours?"

Your example adds in extraneous words not in the original statement and not necessary for translation.


I agree that in theory the two articles shouldn't need to be the same but the example you give doesn't work for me.

Why did you save your dog from the building fire and not your neighbour? Both of those are definite - the dog vs the neighbour. If you want a context where the dog/a person really works I think you need something much more extreme, e.g.

A man and a dog go missing. You know the dog. You don't know the man or anything about him. You search a well for them. You drop a hook (or something) and catch something and pull it up and find it's the man. Someone asks you 'Was that a surprise? Did you think it was the dog?' and you say 'No, I knew it wasn't the dog because the dog is light and a man is heavy.'

I think the articles in the answers accepted for this sentence should match, because I really had to work to find that context and would have to do similar for the other way round (a dog/the man) and that that is so unusual wouldn't be at all obvious to a Polish speaker if we accept mismatched articles. Granted, this course is mainly for English speakers learning Polish but it is also used by many Polish speakers, after the English for Polish speakers course.


"Both of those are definite - the dog vs the neighbour." Yes, when the question is framed around 'your neighbour'. Not when it is framed around 'one of your neighbours'. Then you would either use 'a neighbour' or go plural (which in this case isn't an option).

The main gripe on articles is not even mixing. "A dog is light, a man is heavy" is not an accepted answer either. There is no context off of which to decide if the statement is a generalization or contextual, so I don't think only the/the should be valid. a/a should be valid even if mixed articles aren't accepted.

There are course examples of single noun phrases where indefinite and definite articles as well as the bare noun without an article get accepted. I think this one just needs some tweaking to feel more consistent with the rest.


Is it possible you made a typo when you tried it with indefinite articles? 'A dog is light, a man is heavy' is among the accepted answers. If not, could you get a screenshot if it is rejected again in future? - That would be a bug.


Yeah, sorry about that. I noticed that after I posted, and thought I deleted the post...apparently it did not delete. Anyway I just spent a couple hours on a new account getting back to that example, and it definitely accepted 'A dog... a man...' My bad on that one.


No problem. Thanks for working your way back to that question and checking it out so thoroughly!


Becky57701 I took a screenshot, can you advise me on where and how to provide it?

I haven't come across it again in the form of written in Polish, type it in English. Though I think I reported my answer should be accepted.

I did however just come across it again in the form of, spoken in Polish, type it in English. And I reported it again.


Thanks JerzyDudek4Ever. If you could put the photo online somewhere (any file sharing service, e.g. GooglePhotos, Dropbox, Flickr, imgbb.com , imgur.com, Google Drive) and put the link here, that would be great.


Here you go Becky. I believe I came across this particular instance in Adjectives 2. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uUBpYuyAVpibR8_wv-5qchFXA8Uja02W/view?usp=sharing


Ah! Okay, this particular problem can be explained easily: you were cleverer than you needed to be! This is a 'type what you hear' exercise and you've heard Polish, translated it to English and typed that. Duo just wants you to type in Polish.

That's why it's giving you both the Polish answer it wanted and the English translation at the bottom.


You might want to check some more reliable dictionaries yourself before writing your comments.

dictionary.cambridge.org lists the following translations of człowiek:

  1. human (as istota ludzka)

  2. man (as osoba jako przedstawiciel cech ludzkich)

  3. you, one (as ja lub ktoś)

  4. fellow (informal, old-fashioned), a man

  5. human (as a person)

source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/polish-english/czlowiek?q=cz%C5%82owiek

Note that there is no person listed as a translation of człowiek in dictionary.cambridge.com and also not in diki.pl, and pl.pons.com, and even bab.la gives the individual human as the proper connotation of person, so there is no reason to accept it here.

If you read this sentence discussion prior to writing your comment, you would have noticed that many users earlier suggested person as a valid translation of człowiek in this sentence and yet, for three years, the team of volunteers (both Polish natives and English natives), clearly after some research, refused to add this to the alternative translations.

Edit: I am not claiming that a person is never an acceptable translation for człowiek.


"5. human (as a person) " That as you wrote it appears nowhere on the linked Cambridge page. And lower on that page it has a section of translations originating from other dictionaries, including "human [noun] a person" from PASSWORD Polish-English Dictionary 2014. Why would Cambridge keep that on their page, hmmm?

Google Translate, also lists "person" in the additional results for człowiek.

Let's look at pl.pons.com - https://pl.pons.com/tłumaczenie/polski-angielski/człowiek All these phrases they list where człowiek takes the translation of person.... "człowiek o dużych wymaganiach" "person with high expectations" "to taki sympatyczny człowiek! he's such a likeable person!" "człowiek z klasą classy person"

The only source mentioned so far that in no way confirms person as a possible translation of człowiek, is diki.pl.

bab.la, Cambridge/Password, pl.pons.com, google translate, all give a full or partial indication that it can mean person. And two of those sources, YOU mentioned.


"ten człowiek" = "this person", sure, that's fine. Or "On jest dobrym człowiekiem" = "He is a good person", that's definitely correct.

"człowiek" on its own, in the meaning of "representative of the homo sapiens species", does not translate to "person".

This is all that I have to say on this matter: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/19428542


Is the second "jest" required in Polish?


Well... I can imagine omitting it, but I'm not sure if we should accept it. It would be easier if it was "Pies jest lekki, a człowiek (jest) ciężki", using "a" as the contrastive "and".


Thanks, It is quite obvious that the answer requires two "jest" It is just a question as I would probably not say the second "jest" in my language.

I am still struggling with the pronunciation. Is it possible to add pronunciation tests in duolingo Polish? Or is Google speak detection not that good for Polish?


Such a thing lies entirely on the side of the company, and frankly, I don't think it will be implemented fast. I have no idea how Google speak detection works.


Can you use these two words to describe who's slim and fat?


That would be rather weird. "ciężki", maybe, but still strange for me.


How would you say slim and fat in Polish?


szczupły / gruby


Not easy to digest at this end at times.


I can't see what i am typing! This happens quite a lot.


Huh? What platform is that, what kind of exercise?


"A dog is light, the human is heavy" should've been accepted. I understand switching up the articles is kinda weird, but well, I do it from time to time.


We decided not to accept 'The dog/a human' because you have to work so hard to find a context in which that's natural (see my very silly story about a lost dog, a lost man and a deep well, above), and I think the same applies here.

Plus St Bernards exist and are very, very heavy, so 'a dog' as a reference to the species wouldn't help us justify the choice of articles.

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