Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Phrases For Reinforcement

I did a previous post on phrasal reinforcement, or reinforcing the meanings of individual words by using them in conjunction with other words to create a unit of meaning that helps to illustrate their usage.  Here are some more noun phrases (usually adjective/noun or noun/noun) for thine edification.

słusznego wzrostu - of considerable height
zdrowy rozsądek - common sense
konferencja prasowa - press conference
działanie uboczne - side effect
wieża obserwacyjna - watchtower
rozstrzygający głos - decisive vote
odkryty teren - open space
handel zagraniczny - foreign commerce
pigułka antykoncepcyjna - contraceptive pill
przyciąganie ziemskie - gravity
kamień nerkowy - kidney stone
barszcz czerwony - red borscht
pracownik umysłowy - while-collar worker
zespół rockowy - rock group
psotne dziecko - mischievous child
ślepa uliczka - dead end
deficyt budżetowy - budget deficit

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The New Kosciuszko Foundation Dictionary CD Is Problematic

In my post on Polish language learning recommendations, I gave high marks to "The New Kosciuszko Foundation Dictionary," a two-volume set.  I do like the book even though it has some omissions of words (but few dictionaries will have all words, and if they do they will be really expensive).  I bought this dictionary at a bookstore in Warsaw and it was a little over 300 złoty (about $100 in US money).

But recently I installed the CD that comes with the book, which purports to be a searchable version of both volumes with some added features.  The problem with the CD is that it displays the wrong character set, as you can see from the following screenshot:
But not only does it display the wrong characters, the support emails in the help file for the program are not operative any more, so good luck getting any support for the problem or for the program in general.  The website has also changed as well.  The help file is fairly sparse and does not even address this problem.  On the Kosciuszko Foundation's site, it is hard to find any email addresses for anybody, and it is doubtful that anyone there is associated with the dictionary.  Still, I have emailed multiple people there about the problem and asked them to forward to the correct person and have not even gotten a response.  This is troubling because perhaps someone has an easy answer and it seems I am simply being ignored.

I ran a compatibility check in Windows (you can do this for any program by right-clicking on the program and choosing it from the menu) for the program, and it goes through a series of questions and tests, then ultimately states that the program is incompatible, with no further details.  And I've tried running it in emulation modes for previous versions of Windows, and have gotten no better results.  And there doesn't seem to be any information on this through any internet searches.

I guess my next step will be to see if there is some sort of emulation window (free, hopefully) I can run this program in to get the right characters.  I have also experimented with changing to different character sets in Windows and that doesn't help either.  Really, I don't want to globally change my character set because other programs and files are running fine, but I thought I would at least try.

So my recommendation at this point is that the books are good, but the CD leaves something to be desired.

UPDATE:  The president of the Kosciuszko Foundation emailed me today and indicated that the company who they partnered with to make the CD has gone out of business, and as soon as they can raise the money to fix the problems with the CD, they will make it right with all the customers who purchased the original ones.  So it is somewhat gratifying that (hopefully) they will at some point correct the problem.

UPDATE:  Five months later (November 2013), there appears to have been no further attempt to fix this problem or put out any information to offer either any solution, or any progress toward a solution.  The CD is a lemon, and customer service is nonexistent.  However, the dictionary itself is solid.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

High-Impact Aerobic Vocabulary Interval Training

Well, I didn't plan on this when I got to the gym today.  But when I stepped on the elliptical machine and started studying my Polish flash cards, I got an idea that I wanted to try out.

I worked out to a moderate pace, which for me is getting to a heart beat of about 130.  I kept that up for a few minutes, and then concentrated on one word on my flash cards.  After looking at the word for about thirty seconds, I started sprinting furiously on the machine until my heartbeat got up to 145, all the time concentrating on memorizing the word and its meaning.  When my heartbeat hit 145, I would then move back to lower-impact activity, slowing down on the machine.  Of course, my heartbeat would continue rising for a short time after I slowed down the activity, usually to about 160-165 (once it rose to 173), and I would keep up the slower activity, relaxing my body and ramping it down more and more, and watch my heart rate go lower from the peak.

When my heart rate would reach 115, I would pick out another word, and start the process again.  Thirty seconds at the "resting" rate of 115, then furiously sprint-pedaling up to 145, lowering the intensity and watching the heart rate go up and then down again, and then starting over with another word at 115.

Here are the cards I took with me to the gym today:

In case you're wondering, where there is a star, it signifies all-new material.  Not that you are wondering.

I got through the first card and about halfway through the second card, and worked out for about an hour.  My average heart rate for the workout was 128.  Then I did review in the sauna afterwards (not so great because the light was burned out, but there was some light coming in from the glass in the door).

I have no idea if this is a successful study strategy per se.  I would actually tend to guess that compared to a control group, it's not terribly great.  Usually studying while exercising is harder, because you're concentrating on doing many other things, and because your body's oxygen and processes are busy with other stuff.  I've found that the more I ramp up the intensity of my exercise, the harder it is to concentrate on the material I am trying to study while I am exercising.  The fact that I only got through one and a half cards in an hour is a little slow for my usual card study too.  Still, both exercise and study are made better by mixing up the routine, so there is surely some benefit to be gained from a new and fresh approach.

But being the freak that I am, I wish that I had more data about this experience.  Like how long it takes from 115 to 145, and then to peak, and then back down again.  Or whether there is variance in time in the intervals as more intervals are completed.  I'm sure there is more stuff I will think of that I wish I had captured data on.  Maybe later.  Now it's time to pay a visit to the chipotle sun-dried tomato hummus that I made a few days ago.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fair Warning

I'm often finding myself modifying past blog posts.  So if you saw a blog post a month ago, you might come back and find that there is a whole bunch of new stuff in the post.

Sometimes if I have a whole bunch of new info, I'll make a sequel post.  But if I have little dribbles and bits to add, I'll just sneak stuff into old posts.  Sometimes the dribbles accumulate to the point that maybe they should have been a whole new post, but since I added them a little at a time, they stay where they are.  Lately I've been consolidating some similar posts into one big post, too.  That's just the way the cookie bounces.

"L'arte non è mai finita, solo abbandonato"--Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Verbs Are Hard, Part 2

I wrote a post a few days ago on how Polish verbs are hard to learn.  I wanted to expand on what I wrote earlier, and include some examples.

First of all, when you are learning a Polish verb, you are usually not learning just one verb, but two verbs.  One is imperfective and the other is perfective.  You have to not only wrap your head around the difference in aspect, you have to learn two different words.  Sometimes they can be totally different, as in "widzieć, zobaczyć" (to see), or "brać, wziąć" (to take).  Sometimes they are just formed by adding a prefix to the other one in the pair, which can add a new level of complexity if other verbs with different meaning exist with similar prefixes.  Sometimes they have a different ending, as in "unikać, uniknąć" (to elude, escape).  Sometimes there are more than two verbs to learn, as in "zgadywać/odgadywać, zgadnąć/odgadnąć" (to guess), or "sprzątać, sprzątnąć/posprzątać/wysprzątać" (to tidy up).

And to top it off, there are different shades of meaning for different words which may not necessarily overlap across varied languages.  For example, in English, "make" can mean "to commit" (popełniać, popełnić), "to accomplish" (dokonywać, dokonać), "to produce" (wykonywać, wykonać) "to create" (tworzyć, utworzyć), "to act" (czynić, uczynić), "to do" (robić, zrobić), as well as being secondarily implicated in some unit of meaning such as "make sense," "make fun of," "make use," "make do," "make love," "make up," "make trouble," "make sure," etc.

Then you have to learn the various ways that they conjugate, which ones are irregular, which ones end in "c" instead of "ć," what case they take, etc.  It becomes apparent quickly that thinking in Polish is a lot different from thinking in English.

Seize The Moment: Chwytać

"-chwyt" has to do with "grasping" or "seizing."

chwytać, chwycić - to snatch, to seize, to grab


chwytać okazję - to seize the opportunity
chwytać powietrzę - catch (one's) breath
w mig chwytać o co chodzi - to be quick on the draw

Some derivative words:

chwyt - grip, grasp (noun)
chwytacz - safety catch, arrester (noun)
chwytliwy - catching; quick, agile (adejective)


chwyt wiertła - drill shank
chwyt pistoletu - pistol grip

podchwytywać, podchwycić - to pick up, to take up; to join


podchwytywać śpiew - to join in the singing
podchwytywać rozmowę - to join in the conversation

Some derivative words:

podchwyt - snatch, grab (noun)
podchwytliwy - trick (often used with "podchwytliwe pytanie" [trick question]) (adjective)

przechwytywać, przechwycić - to intercept, to grab, to seize

schwytać, schwycić - to apprehend, to capture

uchwycić - to grasp, to seize, to capture

Some derivative words:

uchwyt - handle, grip (noun)
uchwytny - noticeable, perceptible (adjective)


W razie niebezpieczeństwa, mocno pociągnąć za uchwyt - In case of emergency, pull the handle firmly
ledwie uchwytny - barely noticeable

zachwycać się, zachwycić się - to be delighted, to be enchanted

Some derivative words:

zachwyt - delight, fascination, enchantment (noun)
zachwycający - delightful (noun)
zachwycenie - rapture (noun)
zachwycony - enchanted, delighted (adjective)
zachwycająco - delightfully, admirably (adverb)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Verbs Are Hard, And Learning Words In General

I don't know about you, but I find learning verbs harder than learning just about every other part of speech.  I'd say that for me they are about ten times harder than learning every other type of word.  And Polish verbs just seem particularly difficult.  Polish is a fairly alien language for a native English speaker, and it's probably not much easier for anyone else who doesn't already speak a Slavic language.

I find myself reading the average sentence and doing pretty well with most words in the sentence except for the big gaping hole of meaning where the verb sits.  Actually, it's not as bad for me as it used to be because I've learned a decent number of verbs at this point.  But verbs are still the weakest part of my Polish vocabulary.   Maybe the first fifty verbs were relatively easy, but after that, learning verbs turns into a slog from hell.  There's a reason that you see books devoted solely to verbs in a given language.  And there's a reason you might not see, say, a book entitled "500 Italian Adjectives" (Now I'll probably get a comment from someone who has a book on 500 Italian Adjectives.  Still, if such a book exists, I don't think it disproves my point).

Often I study verbs by themselves, in isolation from other vocabulary, because I have to put in so much more study to get them down.  If I rotate them in with other words on the flash cards I am studying, I'll get a high percentage of all the other words, and then nothing when it comes to the new verbs I am looking at.  I can look at them over and over again, and still get no glimmer of recognition.  I read somewhere online that somebody suggested that you picture verbs as being on a sports field, like a football field, and picture somebody moving with the action the verb embodies.  Yeah, that didn't really help me at all; I tried that and then abandoned it when it wasn't giving me any better results.  What does seem to work for me is just to grind out the learning of the verb slowly and steadily, and not add too many new ones to my flash cards at the same time.  And I also try each time I see the word, to try to picture how to use it in different ways, to look at the conjugation of it and try to use different conjugations and tenses, and basically just work the word as much as I can.

The strange thing is, with verbs as well as with other words, I think they get stored in my brain fairly easily.  It's the retrieval that's a bitch. I can tell it's the retrieval end that is hard rather than the storage end because there's so many times when it just pops out of nowhere when it didn't seem like it was going to come forward at all.  And then there are what I call "savant days," when the retrieval is just simpler than usual for some reason.  But in general, it seems like it takes a while to build that neural pathway that allows for a consistent retrieval of the word.  It's like having a really cluttered closet and knowing the widget thingy you want is in there somewhere, but you have to do a ton of cleaning abd organizing to find it.

I do eventually get there with verbs as well as with other words.  It just takes a lot longer.  That's one reason I make so many blog posts that are centered around the different verbs (and other derivative words) one can make from a given root.  They are basically my study guides for when I find a verb or group of verbs I am finding to be difficult to learn, and I just look at the whole universe centered around the root for a unique look at the subject.

Join The Club: Łączyć

"-łącz" has to do with "joining" or "switching."  The main verb is "łączyć, połączyć" though the most common verbs used with this root probably have the "w-" and "wy-" prefixes and relate to turning things on or off.

łączyć, połączyć - to join, to merge, to unite


łączyć siły - to join forces
łączyć przyjemne z pożytecznym - to mix business with pleasure

The reflexive form is:

łączyć się, połączyć się - to be joined, to be united, to merge, to come together; to connect (e.g. - phone)

Some derivative words:

łącze - link, connection (noun)
łączenie - connection; junction; liaison (noun)
łącznik - liaison; hyphen; connector; tie (music) (noun)
łączliwość - connectivity (noun)
łącznica - switchboard (noun)
łączność - contact, unity (noun)

łączny - connective; total (adjective)
łączący - subjunctive (grammar); connecting, joining (adj)
łącznie - including, inclusively, cumulatively (adverb)


kwota łączna - total amount
tkanka łączna - connective tissue
tryb łączący - subjunctive mood (grammar)
łącznie ze mną - including me
doprowadzać łącze internetowe - to provide internet access

dołączać, dołączyć - to join, to link; to enclose, to append, to attach


dołączyć do grupy... - join the ranks of...
dołączać do szeregu - fall in (military)

The reflexive form is:

dołączać się, dołączyć się - to join (in)

odłączać, odłączyć - to disconnect, to detach, to disassociate

podłączać, podłączyć - to connect / -am -asz, -czę -czysz

połączyć - to connect, to link

połączenie - connection, link; combination (noun)


połączenie autobusowe - bus connection
połączenie kolejowe - train connection
połączenie lotnicze - airplane connection
połączenie telefoniczne - telephone connection

przełączać, przełączyć - to switch over

przełączać na inny kanał - to switch over to another channel

przełącznik - switch (noun)

przyłączać, przyłączyć - to attach; to connect

przyłączać do (+ genitive) - to attach to...

rozłączać, rozłączyć - to uncouple, to separate, to sever

włączać, włączyć - to include; to turn on


włączyć sprzęgło - to apply the clutch
włączyć radio - to turn on the radio
włączyć zasilanie - to turn the power on
włącz światło - turn on the light (imperative)

Some derivative words:

włączony - on, in operation (adjective)
włącznie / inclusive (of), including (adverb)


telewizor nie jest włączony - the TV is not on
zostawić włączone światło - leave the light on
włącznie z psem - including the dog
z podatkiem włącznie - including tax

wyłączać, wyłączyć / to exclude; to switch off, to turn off


wyłączyć sprzęgło - to disengage the clutch
komputer się wyłącza - the computer turns itself off
nie wyłączając nikogo - excluding nobody

Some derivative words:

wyłącznie - exclusively, solely (adverb)
wyłącznik - switch (electric) / Gsg: -a (noun)
wyłączony - excluded; off (adjective)
wyłączność - exclusive right (noun)

załączać, załączyć - to enclose, to connect, to attach

załącznik, załączenie - (email) attachment, enclosure (noun)

złączyć - to fuse, to link, to unite

Some derivative words:

złącze - joint, connection; bond (noun)
złączka - junction, connector (noun)


złącze kulkowe - ball joint
złączka rurowa - pipe junction

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Phrasal Reinforcement

I have found that once one experiences an initial exposure to a word, that word's meaning is often reinforced with its use in a two- or three-word (or sometimes longer) phrase containing the word. This is also one reason why I try to give examples with some of these reinforcing phrases in my blog posts.  These phrases are the bread and butter of language and assist in demonstrating how words fit together to provide meaning as well as show the various cases in Polish that are used in different situations (though some phrases will undoubtedly modify their case when used in a different sentence placement).

I'll provide some examples of reinforcing phrases so you can see how they reinforce word meanings and so you can improve your learning of Polish words.

Probably some of the most common reinforcing phrases are noun phrases (I call these "noun phrases" because they are clauses where the unit functions as a noun) consisting of an adjective and a noun, or a noun with a prepositional clause functioning as an adjective phrase.

For example: once you know that "koszt" means "cost" and "utrzymanie" means "maintenance" or "livelihood", then both of these words are reinforced by the noun phrase "koszty utrzymania" or
"cost of living."

bujna wyobraźnia - vivid imagination
szkoda słów - waste of breath
wzięty lekarz - popular (in demand) doctor
język nowożytny - modern language
płatek ucha - earlobe
odruch ssania - sucking reflex
szafka na buty - shoe cabinet
lęk wysokości - fear of heights
pracownik umysłowy - while-collar worker
członek załogi - crew member
produkcja prądu - energy production
przywódca opozycji - opposition leader
dostawy wojenne - war provisions
skrajna nędza - dire poverty

There are also many other useful reinforcing phrases.

Verb phrases (the unit functions as a verb) frequently consist of a verb and a direct or indirect object:

odebrać telefon - to pick up the phone
przegrać z kimś - to lose against somebody
podpisać kontrakt - to sign a contract
pójść na marne - to go to waste
zmarnować okazję - to miss an opportunity
robić pomiary - to take measurements, to survey
umierać na raka - to die of cancer
spoglądać po sobie - to glance at each other
wziąć zamach - to take a swing

Adjectival phrases (the unit functions as an adjective) usually consist of an adverb or adjective modifying an adjective:

śmiertelnie znudzony - bored to death
politycznie poprawny - politically correct

Adverbial phrases (the unit functions as an adverb) can have varied constructions, but often are adjective/adverb or adverb/adverb:

mimo że, mimo iż - even though, despite the fact that

Prepositional clauses (the unit often functions as an adjective or adverb, or as an interrogative or declarative phrase) consisting of preposition/noun or preposition/adjective/noun are fairly common, and are also useful for reinforcement:

od miesiąca - for a month
ze strachu - out of fear
na wypadek - in case of
ponad cztery godziny - more than four hours
po drodze, w drodze - on the way
w jakim sensie? - in what sense?
w poprzednich latach - in previous years
na bezludnej wyspie - on a deserted island
bez trudu - effortlessly
od tej pory - from that time
z niewiadomych przyczyn - for no obvious reason

Short, complete sentences are also illustrative of interplay between word meanings.  Often these consist of subject and verb (possibly also with an object), but can have a number of variations:

oszukał mnie - he deceived me
to wystarczy - that will do
w czym kłopot? - what's the problem?

Idiomatic clauses or sentences are usually best considered as a single, self-contained unit of meaning.  They are good for learning poetic or metaphoric constructs of the language, whereby the meaning of the words on their face can be spun into literary fabric to reach the enhanced meaning of the phrase as a whole:

kiedy bądź - any time
poza tym - besides, otherwise
co ty na to - what do you think/say
nie ma sprawy - no problem
nie waż się - don't you dare
w sumie - all in all, altogether
mijać się z prawdą - to be untruthful
nie kojarzę - I don't get it (I don't associate)
puszczać coś mimo uszu - to let something pass (literal translation: to let go of something without ears)
każdy orze, jak może - you do what you can (literal translation: each [person] plows as he/she may)
gdzie Rzym, a gdzie Krym? - what does that have to do with anything? (literal: where is Rome? and where is Crimea?)
z deszczu pod rynnę - out of the frying pan and into the fire (literal: from the rain under the gutter)
co ty na to, żeby wilk był syty i owca cała? - what would you say if you could have your cake and eat it too? (literal: what do you say if the wolf is full and the sheep whole?)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Holding Pattern: Trzymać

Today lets look at "trzymać" and all the fun ways to spin it out into other new and dynamic wordoids.

trzymać, potrzymać - to hold, to keep


trzymać psa na smyczy - to keep a dog on a leash
trzymać nerwy na wodzy - to stay cool
trzymać coś w ręku - to hold something in one's hand
trzymać coś w tajemnicy - to keep something secret
trzymać kurs - to stay on course
trzymać na ręku dziecko - to hold a baby in one's arm
trzymać pod strażą - to keep under guard
trzymać w rezerwie - to keep in reserve
trzymać za kogoś kciuki - keep one’s fingers crossed for somebody
trzymać kogoś za rękę - to hold somebody by the hand
trzymać kogoś na dystans - keep somebody at a distance
trzymaj ręce w górze - hold your hands up
trzymaj język za zębami! - hold your tongue!
to się nie trzyma kupy - it doesn’t add up

trzymać się faktów - stick to the facts
trzymać się z dala od czegoś - keep clear of something
trzymaj się/trzymajcie się - take care
trzymając się za ręce - hand in hand

dotrzymywać, dotrzymać - to keep


dotrzymywać komuś kroku - to keep up/pace with somebody
dotrzymywać komuś towarzystwa - to keep somebody company
dotrzymywać obietnicy - to keep one's promise
dotrzymywać słowa - to keep one's word
dotrzymywać terminu - to meet the deadline

otrzymywać, otrzymać - to receive, to obtain


otrzymać dyplom - to obtain a diploma, to graduate
otrzymać spadek - to receive an inheritance
otrzymać wiadomości od kogoś - to receive news from somebody

podtrzymywać, podtrzymać - to support, to maintain, to uphold


podtrzymywać ogień - to keep the fire burning
podtrzymywać tradycję - to keep a tradition going
podtrzymywać żądania - to stick to a story

powstrzymywać, powstrzymać - to restrain, to repress; to prevent


powstrzymywać śmiech - to suppress laughter
powstrzymywać płacz - to hold back tears
powstrzymywać gniew - to repress anger
nic mnie nie powstrzyma - there’s nothing to stop me

przetrzymywać, przetrzymać - to endure; to harbor, to give shelter; to keep; to outlast


przetrzymywać ból - to endure pain
przetrzymywać atak - to endure an attack
przetrzymywać zakładników - to keep prisoners
przetrzymywać książkę - to keep a book too long

przytrzymywać, przytrzymać - to hold down; to hold back

utrzymywać, utrzymać - to bear, to carry; to keep; to provide for
utrzymywać się, utrzymać się - to remain, to stay; to earn a living


czego się utrzymujesz? - What do you do for a living?
Nie mogłem utrzymać równowagi - I couldn't keep [my] balance
utrzymać posadę - hold down a job

utrzymanie - maintenance, livelihood (noun)


kosztu koszty utrzymania - the cost of living
zarabiać na utrzymanie - earn one’s living

wstrzymywać, wstrzymać - to restrain; to suspend; to delay


wstrzymać oddech - hold one’s breath
wstrzymywać ogień - to hold one's fire
wstrzymywać pomoc medyczną - to hold back medical assistance

wytrzymywać, wytrzymać - to bear, to endure, to hold out, to stand, to put up (with)


wytrzymać z kimś - to put up with somebody
wytrzymać do końca - to hold out till the end
Nie mogła tego wytrzymać - She couldn't stand it
Już nie mogę wytrzymać - I can't stand it anymore

wytrzymałość - stamina, endurance; resistance (noun)

zatrzymywać, zatrzymać - to stop, to bring to a halt; to keep, to preserve
zatrzymywać się, zatrzymać się - to stop

Zatrzymaj go! - Stop him!
Musimy się zatrzymać - We have to stop
proszę zatrzymać resztę - keep the change
zatrzymywać coś dla siebie - to keep something to oneself

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Polish Books Online

Want to read a book in Polish for free on your computer? You can go to this link to browse available Polish books on Project Gutenberg.  You can either read them as HTML books online, or download them to your computer or mobile device in various forms.

There are also a number of books in Polish, and a better selection, at  You can read them online or download them as well.  They also have a number of audiobooks. Some of the audiobooks you can follow along by opening another browser window or tab with the text (if the text is available).  You could even open the text in another browser window in Chrome and translate it into English (or any other language), if you wish.  However, since the text page is in a frame, Chrome won't prompt you to translate it.  I was able to translate text pages by right-clicking on the page and choosing "Translate into English."  Here is an example:  You could open up the audiobook "Brzydkie kaczątko" (The Ugly Duckling) in one window, open the text in another, and then open another window or tab in Google Chrome with the text and translate it.  Also, if there is an audiobook to accompany the text, you can just open the text link, and there will be a link at the top that says "Listen" that will open another window with the audiobook.

Random Polish Wikipedia Article

I recently added a window with a random Polish Wikipedia article to this blog. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the blog, you can see it, and you can even navigate to other Wikipedia pages (using the links provided or the search box) within the window.

Monday, June 3, 2013

More On Language Fluency: Słowotwórstwo

I did a post on language fluency a while back, but I wanted to talk about fluency a little more.  You might wonder what it takes to achieve fluency.  You might also wonder "how many words it takes before you can consider yourself fluent."

I used to think in those sorts of quantitative terms.  I thought that if I got to a certain number, and it had to be somehow measurable, I would be at the point where I was fluent.

That's not really the way to think about it.  You can have a vocabulary with very few words, but be at the point where you have practiced them very well and can fill gaps of words you don't know through intuition and contextual clues, and then respond without hesitation with the words that you know.

Or, at the other extreme, you could know a very large number of words, but still not have them embedded verbally to the point where you recognize them well and can easily create different forms of words out of them.  This is closer to where I am.  I probably have about 6000 Polish words that I have learned to the point where I can produce them fairly easily (that's a conservative estimate as I have about 10000 in rotation on Anki plus about another 4000 phrases and sentences), but have a difficult time recognizing them in conversation, and have some difficulty consistently producing them in the correct grammatical context.  I've probably gotten more fluent in some other languages with less words learned.

But that is OK for me.  I really enjoy learning new words, and so I have focused my learning on vocabulary more than most would.  You can tell that my posts mostly focus on vocabulary and the interrelationships between words and parts of words.  I'm more interested in "słowotwórstwo."  And I'm confident that at some point the fluency will arrive; maybe at a point that is later than it would be for a person who concentrates more on speaking and grammar.  But when it does arrive, I think I'll have a high breadth of expression.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Helping Suffix: -Wisko

The suffix "-wisko" seems to refer to some sort of locus; if it's not an actual place, it is an appurtenance or helper that adds function to some other word widget's function (usually the precursor/prefix is a stand-alone, truncated or word stub noun).

The word most often used with this suffix is "nazwisko", which means "surname."


nazwisko panieńskie - maiden name
pod własnym nazwiskiem - under one's own name
przybrane nazwisko - assumed name, stage name
pod przybranym nazwiskiem - under an assumed name
nazwisko rodowe -family name
pod cudzym nazwiskiem - under someone else's name
miała na nazwisko... - her surname was...

Here is an interesting Wikipedia article that talks about Polish surnames.  This will give you a little more background about Polish Surnames and also show you some types of surnames that provide further examples.  And here is a map of Polish surnames, whereby you can type a surname into the search box and find its frequency in different parts of Poland.

But I digress.  Here also are a couple of other "-wisko" words:

stanowisko - position, point of view


stanowisko pracy - place of work
stanowisko kierownicze - managerial position
wysokie stanowisko - high-ranking position
stać na stanowisku, że.. - to take the view that...

środowisko - environment, surroundings


środowisko naturalne - the natural environment
zanieczyszczenie środowiska - environmental pollution

Other derivative words:

gruzowisko - heap of rubble
legowisko - lair; dog bed
lodowisko - ice rink
mrowisko - anthill
przezwisko - [mean or humorous] nickname
urwisko - precipice, crag
uzdrowisko - spa, health resort
widowisko - spectacle, show
zjawisko - phenomenon
złomowisko - scrapyard, junkyard

Shaping: Kształt

"Kształt" means "shape" or "form."  This root manifests itself in derivative words in this fashion.

(singular then plural)

Nominative - kształt, kształty
Genitive - kształtu, kształtów
Dative - kształtowi, kształtom
Accusative - kształt, kształty
Instrumental - kształtem, kształtami
Locative - kształcie, kształtach
Vocative - kształcie, kształty


kształt ucha - shape of the ear
kształt ogólny - general shape
kształt fali - waveform
nabrać kształtu/przybrać kształt - to take shape
na kształt - in the shape of
w kształcie czegoś - in the shape of something

Some derivative words:

kształcić - to teach, to train
kształtować/ukształtować - to shape, to mold, to model; to take shapekształcenie - education, training

przekształcać - to transform, to evolve
wykształcać - to develop, to form
wykształcić - to educate
zniekształcać, zniekształcić - to distort, to deform

całokształt - totality, whole
kształtny - shapely, well-proportioned
przekształcenie - transformation, restructuring
samokształcenie - self-education, self-instruction (adjective is samokształceniowy)
ukształtowanie - shape, figure, formation; geography, relief
ukształtowany - shaped
wykształcenie - education
wykształcony - educated
zniekształcenie - distortion, deformity
zniekształcony - distorted, deformed