Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mixing It Up In Polish (Big Time)

I had previously posted this in three parts, but recently decided to consolidate it into one post and add some more words to it, as well as alphabetize the list by the first entry.  I did that because I was having a hard time figuring out whether I had already included words, so alphabetizing them and having them in one list will make it easier to determine whether I have already considered any given words.  From now on I will just add words to this post when I have identified more easily confused words.

When you are learning Polish, there are a whole lot of words that can be easily confused with each other.  For an English speaker, this is compounded because all the words are tongue twisters anyway.  You have no idea how many times I repeated the words "coś zjeść" (something to eat) over and over again before I could finally say them somewhat reliably.

Plus, when you learn new words that are similar to other words you knew, it can suddenly create a minefield of confusion.

Here are some words that I have gotten mixed up about at one time or another:

bezbronny – defenseless, unprotected
nieuchronny – inevitable

chwała – glory
chwila – moment, while

czeluść – abyss, depths
czułość – sensitivity, tenderness, sentimentality

cześć – reverence, worship (also used as "hello" or "goodbye" informally)
część – portion, part, section, piece
sześć – six

dokonany – accomplished, executed
pokonany – defeated

dowód – evidence, proof
powód – reason, cause, ground, motive

flet – flute
flota – fleet

gałka -- knob, ball (like an eyeball), scoop (as in ice cream)
pałka -- club (cudgel)

grzywka – fringe (hair)
grzywna – fine
grzywa  mane

kaczka – duck
paczka – package
taczka – wheelbarrow
teczka  briefcase, folder

komar  mosquito, gnat
konar  bough, branch

koparka  excavator
kopiarka  photocopier

kosa – scythe
koza – goat

kotlina – basin, hollow
kotwica – anchor

lawina – avalanche
macica – womb

leżak – deckchair
lizak – lollipop

lina – rope, cable, line
linia – line, route

łaska – favor, grace, mercy, generosity
łuska – (fish) scale, husk, (ammunition) shell

mąka – flour (I picture myself going into a sklep spożywczy [grocery store] and asking for a kilo of wheat torture, please)
męka – torture, torment

nadludzki – superhuman
przeludnienie – overpopulation

nadmiernie  excessively
niezmiernie  extremely, immensely, very

nawias – bracket, parenthesis
zawias – hinge

niezniszczalny – indestructible
znieczulenie – anesthesia

oparty – based, grounded, founded
uparty – stubborn, obstinate

opór – opposition, resistance
upór – obstinacy, stubbornness, determination

odprawa  briefing, clearance, gratuity, rebuff
oprawa  frame, rim, cover, binding (book)

pochodzenie  origin, descent
pogodzenie  reconciliation, resignation

początkowy – initial, preliminary, elementary
porządkowy – serial, ordinal

podeszwa  sole
poszewka  pillowcase

pokrywka  lid, cover
pokrzywa  stinging nettle

poprawienie – improvement, correction, revision
uprawnienie – entitlement, right, authorization

poszewka – pillowcase
soczewka – lens

potwierdzenie  confirmation, corroboration
stwierdzenie – statement, assertion

poważanie – respect, esteem, deference
poważnie – seriously, gravely, with dignity

powtórnie – once again, one more time
powtórzenie – repetition

pozbawiony – deprived
rozbawiony – amused

pozór – pretense, appearance
pożar – blaze, conflagration

przyczyna – cause, reason
przyzwoity – decent, proper

przygoda – adventure
przyroda – nature

ręcznik – towel
rzecznik – spokesman
rzeźnik - butcher

szczepionka  vaccine
szczypiorek  chive

skazany – condemned, doomed
wskazany – advisable

spinacz – paper clip
szpinak – spinach
wspinacz – climber

sporny  controversial, debatable
spójny  coherent

stały – solid, constant, permanent, direct (current)
trwały – permanent, durable, enduring, lasting (probably both these words mean pretty much the same thing except for maybe the “direct current” [prąd stały] connotation; I've seen both “stały związek” and “trwały związek” for “steady relationship”)

ścierka – dishcloth
ścieżka – path

świt – dawn, daybreak
świta – suite, retinue, entourage

trujący – poisonous, toxic
trwający – lasting

uderzenie – blow, stroke, hit
zdarzenie – event, occurrence
zderzenie – collision, crash

uległy – submissive, docile, compliant
upadły – bankrupt, fallen

ułożony – arranged, well-mannered
złożony – complex, composite, compound

uwieńczony – crowned, adorned with wreaths
uwięziony – trapped, stuck, imprisoned

wadliwy – defective, faulty
wątpliwy – questionable, doubtful

wezwanie  call, summons
wyznanie  confession, admission, religion
wyzwanie  challenge
zerwanie  rupture
zeznanie  testimony

władanie – reign, possession
włamanie – burglary

właśnie – just, exactly
własny – (someone's) own

wpływ – influence, impact
wstyd – shame, disgrace

wygląd – appearance, looks
wzgląd – regard, consideration, respect

wykaz – list, statement
wyraz – expression, word

zabarwienie  tinge, tint
zbawienie  rescue, deliverance, salvation, redemption

zabieg – procedure, treatment, operation
zasięg – range, reach

zbocze  slope
zboże  corn, cereal, grain

Other potentially confusing items:

Phrases with "północ" can be confusing because the word can either mean "north" or "midnight":

na północy – in the north
na północ – to the north
z północy – from the north

o północy – at midnight

"Południe" can mean either "south" or "noon" as well:

na południe – to the south
na południu – in the south
z południa – from the south

po południu – in the afternoon
w południe – at midday

There are also a whole bunch of words that have to do with thinking and/or mental processes that either contain "-myśl" or "-mysł" (where the accented mark switches between the "s" and the "l".  There are just so many that it makes my head swim.

Also I have mixed up a lot of words that start with "przy"- and "prze-".

I'd be interested in hearing what words you have gotten mixed up with other words in any languages you were studying.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting blog post there, well written and thought out. Have you seen the following Kickstarter campaign? Looks very very interesting for anyone who's learning a language
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1823029873/papora-online-and-mobile-foreign-language-courses

    ReplyDelete