At some point in the future, likely over a year from now, Becky and I will be making a few trips to Poland. A Polish adoption requires two trips usually – one which will last about a week and another which lasts around a month and a half. While more and more people in Poland speak English, I know we won’t be able to rely on random English speakers the entire time. Becky has a bit of a leg up on me. She speaks German (which is helpful in some areas of Poland) and her grandmother was Polish and so she grew up speaking a little bit of po polksu (Polish) – though how to say butt, dirt and the heel of bread won’t get us too far. So guess who’s learning Polish?
I love learning languages, always have. In elementary and middle school, I studied Spanish. An amazing teacher in high school had me switch to Latin. My religion major in college switched me over to Koine Greek for biblical studies. Unfortunately, none of it is any help in studying Polish.
In languages, Polish is a difficult challenge. It has many different tenses; even verbs can change forms depending on the gender of the speaker. My language background has never come close, though, to Slavic languages. Forget tenses, verbs, even a few new letters – my mouth does not naturally wrap around the Polish sound. Some say that German sounds angry. Polish can sound like Eeyore talking backwards – at least to a newcomer’s ears. Still, the more I work at it, my brain can tap into the very small amount of Slavic heritage that I have (apparently I’m descended from a Ukrainian saint) and I am retaining and learning albeit very slowly.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m of no delusion that I will ever be fluent. I just want to be able to feed myself, find a bathroom and understand why PK is having a meltdown. You know, the basics. How am I coming in that journey? I can say that I’d like something to drink (Chciałbym czegoś napić) and know how to say water, coffee, and beer. I think I’m on the right track.