The great Austrian philosopher once said: “The borders of my language are the borders of my world” and initially we can’t think that it’s different. The more languages we speak, the more countries we’re able to visit and the more people and their countries we can get to know. Not everyone speaks English so every foreign language is always in plus.
It’s a bit too philosophical opening, don’t you think? So unusual for me, I’d say hahaha 😛
Today I want to tell you something about how people are communicating with each other in a border area. Usually it’s very joyful to watch but I may be the only one who finds it funny.
The truth is that Polish and German are very easily distinguishable. They come from a different language family (Slavic and Germanic) so people don’t get on with each other like Austrians and Germans or Poles and Czechs. With that being said, they had to make concessions but in reality it’s more like a win-lose situation.
In most of the cases Germans don’t bother to learn Polish or even acknowledge some basic expressions like hello, thank you etc. Polish people seem to be understood with this, I think, because the great majority of people in this area speak German and some of them mastered it to this point that they could easily play Germans in a movie. Bilingual menus, shop windows and staff are extremely popular in Słubice but there is still a very small percentage of Polish people who don’t speak German. They mostly run small shops and have to speak with Germans using a sign language (that’s when it gets so funny! Where’s Wittgenstein now?). It’s normal that in Słubice you can pay both in Euro and in Polish Złoty so there’s no need to worry about the currency you have in your wallet but you have to think about it when you’re crossing the border.
In Frankfurt (Oder) I haven’t seen a shop which would accept Polish currency. People there tend to be very helpful when they see that you don’t speak their language and sometimes switch to English without causing any problem (it’s required as there are many exchange students for example from Spain or France) but basically they expect everyone to speak German. There are very few bilingual road signs or menus in the restaurants but in the shops you can meet many Polish people working there so in this situation your problem seems solved (if you’re a non-German speaking Pole). German banks in most cases offer special Polish consulting service but only available in certain hours.
You may wonder which language is more difficult and I have to say that there’s only one answer – Polish. It’s said to be one of the toughest languages to learn, next to Chinese or Japanese. The only thing that can be terrifying in German is a need to remember all the articles (der, die, das) and to decline them properly.
Talking about languages, I’d like to encourage you to join me on Twitter (@POLGERomance1) because I started there a small series called German or Polish word for today which will give you the opportunity to get to know some foreign words. I find it enjoyable to write but you’d better not expect these words to be extremely sophisticated as it’s not my point. I just want to share with you words I like and think about in a certain moment, some of them are easy to learn so when next time you’re in Poland and you need an umbrella, you’ll know that you have to ask about “parasol”.