I have heard, couple of times actually, that the Czech language is one of the most difficult in the world. I even tried to teach it to some foreigners, and realized how much true that judgement is. A lot of inexplicable exceptions, irregularities, random changes and, last but not the least, the pronunciation…
Having a Polish boyfriend, we decided to teach ourselves our languages. The thought: „Czech is difficult, Polish can´'t be much worse,“ was my first big mistake.
In the Czech language we have such awesome stuff as words without vowels, scary enough for most of the foreigners [just try this one legitimate sentence: Strč prst skrz krk.]. What is more, we are proud to use, as the only nation in the world, our favorite letter ř which nobody else can pronounce [f.e.: Tři sta třicet tři stříbrných křepelek přeletělo přes tři sta třicet tři stříbrných střech.], BUT Poles came up with much more awkward shit.
For the Czech ear Polish language is kinda' cute as Poles use a lot of sounds like: ś, sz, cz, and ź. I need to say that this stereotype is not fully true. The language is not only cute but can also sound a bit like Chinese, especially for the newcomers. It is using some letters you haven´t even dreamt about as ą, ę or ł [the latter, for some strange reason, is pronounced as English w in wood].
„Funniest“ [or saddest – depends how much you care about learning the language or how fast you need to learn it] is the combination of letters/sounds in words, from soft to very hard, that is making out of Polish a very, VERY difficult shit. There's also an accent, on the second syllable from the end of a word, which is worth to remember about. Other tricky part is that beginners (including me) have basically no idea how to pronounce the words in general, as the written version is far from one would think after hearing them.
For me the real hopelessness came after a long time of trying to pronounce a „simple“ Polish hi which is – wait for it! - cześć. I need to admit that I gave up, and I rather continue to keep saying it's English counterpart. By the way, Czechs use a simple and quite universal ahoj instead of the terrifying cześć.
But that is not all. For you to be able to imagine even better my struggles, and to know how crazy the Polish language is, here comes yet another example. Wieś, wiesz, wierz, wież, wieź; seems like the same shit? Yeah…you anticipated well – those are five totally different words with different meanings. And even after guessing what those words mean, I am slowly losing hope that I will be able to say them out loud with the proper pronunciation.
When you finally get to know how to read all those crazy letters and their combinations, and you think you start to understand – because as some of my Czech friends say „Polish, it is not that different from Czech, right?“ – you actually find out that you are far from it. Yeah, Polish and Czech are in the same language group and it is true that there are some similarities. Here comes also the biggest joke, when you notice the false friends, words which sound the same in both of the languages but they mean something totally different. Let me start with the light misunderstanding when it comes to smells. The word zapach means scent in Polish but in Czech... stench. Just imagine the situation: your boyfriend is trying to say to you that you smell nicely but you understand that you stink. Ooops! The second example which I want to share with you is the word czerstwy which means in Polish dry [referring to pastry] but in Czech fresh. Time to time, I am meeting Poles in front of bakeries in my homeland wondering whether Czechs like old bread. The last example is for grown-ups only... Czech people are shocked when Poles, who are innocently searching for something in the shop, use the verb szukać [Polish to search] which means in Czech to fuck.
So, in the end, shortly – if you try to speak Polish at some point of your life good luck with that!