Running with my shoelaces tied together

That’s what it feels like sometimes when I speak Polish. Fortunately not all the time, but still often enough.
When people address me in Polish, I usually understand about everything they say. And when I think that I can contribute some interesting stuff, I feel an urge to jump into a conversation as fast as possible. I’ll be so hurried to talk about all that stuff I have on my mind that I won’t accept that I’ll have to talk in a foreign language – that I, in fact, can’t phrase my thoughts as fast and as precisely as I’m used to do.
And that’s just where the shoelaces come into my way: the końcówki (endings) and the pronunciation. I hereby admit that on some days, my Polish pronunciation is quite crappy. On those days, I don’t care about word stress or prosody, let alone any efforts of rolling my R.

Why is that?

Because in those moments, I care more about communicating than about speaking just for the sake of speaking.
On the one hand, this is a good sign: it means that I get along well with my interlocutor and that I don’t speak with him only because I want to practise my Polish.
On the other hand, it kind of ruins the idea of actually practising my spoken Polish. I know that natives don’t care much about grammatical errors as long as the pronunciation sounds good. And I know that people judge other people based on their accent. And so, paradoxically, because I hurry to say something intelligent, I risk that people think I’m stupid.

Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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