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Cultural misunderstandings - Polish and English

  posts: 27

catsoldier Threads: 106
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Joined: Sep 27, 2009
  ♂ Aug 12, 2011, 01:47am  #

When the Aussie rules series is on often there are cultural misunderstandings(always), a hard tackle in Australian football is a part of the game while in Gaelic football it isn't really. When the Irish guys get tackled hard they take it very personally and fight back literally, the Aussies don't get why the Irish are thick with them and fight also. These matches have been battlegrounds at times, broken noses/bones etc. plenty of blood.


All of the following is my own personal opinion:
I think that the Poles(from Poland) and the Irish have cultural misunderstandings also(I did anyway).

In Poland it is normal to be pushy, go fast, complain constantly etc. while the Irish generally aren't like this. This can get up the noses of Irish people but I think that both sides should realise that we have a different culture. The Irish shouldn't take it so personally when Poles behave like this and Poles should try to be less like this because it would make their lives easier if they didn't.

I find that when Poles ask a question in English they raise the tone at the end in the same way as when they want to ask a question in Polish. Jest chleb, there is bread. Jest chleb? Is there bread. I picked up this raised tone at the end of the question as a kind of accusation the same way your mother/wife/partner would ask a question if they were trying to convey their unhappinness like Deirdre O'Kane. This combined with their tendancy to complain didn't help me like Polish men but I believe that I understand their ways better now and try not to take it seriously.





plgrl   Aug 12, 2011, 11:46am  #

I picked up this raised tone at the end of the question as a kind of accusation


Really? I didn't know that's the perception.

go fast


what does it mean?

As for subject I heard that it is a norm in Ireland to say hello to strangers on the street, is it true? If yes, then there is another cultural difference...


Vincent Threads: 16
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  ♂ Moderator Aug 12, 2011, 05:01pm  #

As for subject I heard that it is a norm in Ireland to say hello to strangers on the street, is it true?


Yes it's true. Ireland is probably the most friendly country in the UK, I of course mean the whole island of Ireland.


plgrl   Aug 12, 2011, 06:20pm  #

Yes it's true. Ireland is probably the most friendly country


What if the street is crowded?


Vincent Threads: 16
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  ♂ Moderator Aug 12, 2011, 07:20pm  #

What if the street is crowded?


That may be a slightly different, but certainly you'd get an smile if you made eye contact. In smaller towns and villages it would be unusual if two people didn't say "hello" when passing on the street, even if they were strangers.

Perhaps you could explain, why this would not be so common in Poland?


Seanus Threads: 21
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  ♂ Aug 12, 2011, 08:21pm  #

As always with this type of thread, we need to be careful to avoid black+white labelling where it is uncalled for. For example, many middle-aged folk in Poland are far from being pushy in supermarkets. They move really slowly and are respectful enough of those around them. It's when they get older, they begin to think that nobody should be in their way.

It is generally true, however, when taken as a whole to say that Poles are pushy but it's changing. It's not as bad as it was.

Remember, Poles are a far more mixed bunch than they'd like to believe. They are not as homogeneous as the Japanese as there are far too many lone wolves in their culture.


catsoldier Threads: 106
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  ♂ Edited by: catsoldier  Aug 13, 2011, 12:22am  #

@plgrl

I picked up this raised tone at the end of the question as a kind of accusationReally? I didn't know that's the perception.go fastwhat does it mean?As for subject I heard that it is a norm in Ireland to say hello to strangers on the street, is it true? If yes, then there is another cultural difference...

This is only my personal opinion and limited experience from my point of view of some Polish guys in Ireland. I don't take the raised tone at the end of a question as a kind of accusation anymore because I know that they are only asking a question. Being pushy is just a habit and I don't take it seriously.

"Go fast" is just doing everything as fast as possible, no patience for anything, don't stop for anything ever, just go, no need for safety gear, don't bother with glasses/goggles etc.



Another thing for some Polish people is personal space(i have read that others think this also), this only happened to me twice, once in Poland and once in Ireland. In Poland a young woman working in a restaurant wanted to ask me a question and she came right up very close to me, she was so close I could hardly focus on her face, she was nice and I was amused afterwards. The 2nd time was in Ireland and a Polish guy who was talking to me came right up close to me again, when he was talking some spit was flying! Not so nice. I have been talking to him since and he seems to have adjusted to the giving people more personal space.


aoife   Aug 13, 2011, 01:41am  #

Another thing for some Polish people is personal space(i have read that others think this also), this only happened to me twice, once in Poland and once in Ireland. In Poland a young woman working in a restaurant wanted to ask me a question and she came right up very close to me, she was so close I could hardly focus on her face, she was nice and I was amused afterwards. The 2nd time was in Ireland and a Polish guy who was talking to me came right up close to me again, when he was talking some spit was flying! Not so nice. I have been talking to him since and he seems to have adjusted to the giving people more personal space.


It happened to you twice? So hear me out, I have also experienced (twice) Irish people talking to me way to close. About saying hello; when back in Poland in a small town, also happened to me to say hello to a stranger (more than twice). Bth, there are a couple of other countries I know of, when you can hear hello from a stranger.
In my opinion Ireland should consider itself relatively lucky, I would say Polish in Ireland behave quite calmly (I know what they are capable of!). I think most meat-heads choose England instead of Ireland because there is more action, if you following me. I did choose Ireland for the opposite reasons and must say, although its a great country, its a bit boring to me.
Irish are quite passive (British legacy?). I know some (more, and more) Irish have 'issues' with immigrants and stuff, but they never tell you that in the face (they prefer the Internet for eg, or the radio to let the steam off). And you know what ... I lost my point so leave it as it is.bye


beckski Threads: 22
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 Photos: 4  ♀ Aug 13, 2011, 04:10am  #

Cultural misunderstandings

When the first McDonald's restaurant opened in Moscow, the employees were instructed to smile at their customers. Many of the customers had misunderstood the gesture. They felt as though their smiles, were symbolic of being ridiculed or laughed at.


Chicago Pollock Threads: 10
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  ♂ Aug 13, 2011, 05:36am  #


"Go fast" is just doing everything as fast as possible, no patience for anything, don't stop for anything ever, just go, no need for safety gear, don't bother with glasses/goggles etc.


Poles are impatient.


Seanus Threads: 21
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  ♂ Aug 13, 2011, 11:26am  #

Many are, yes. What gets me is how out of kilter their lives must be or is it just in their character? A misguided sense of importance?


plgrl   Aug 13, 2011, 03:26pm  #


Perhaps you could explain, why this would not be so common in Poland?


Because by saying "hello" you indicate that you know someone and if you say it to a stranger you will receive a confused look (as a person will be pondering where you had met and why he or she doesn't remember you) or be ignored (as a person will think that you just took him/her for another person). Of course there are some social situations when you say hello/goodmorning to strangers... but not when walking though on a street.

This is only my personal opinion and limited experience from my point of view of some Polish guys in Ireland.


I meant you're right, raised tone means a question. In my previous comment I meant it's good to know that it can be perceived in a different way by native English speakers.

no patience for anything,


It's quite true and I would also add that many people in my country are short-tempered (they get irritated easly).

Another thing for some Polish people is personal space(i have read that others think this also), this only happened to me twice, once in Poland and once in Ireland.


I've read a book about body language and narrow personal space is characteristic for people who live in crowded environments (cities) while wide personal space is characteristic for people who live in environments were is a lot of space (villages, towns). You will noticed that e.g. Chinese have even narrower personal space so they tend to approach closer when speaking to a person.


Seanus Threads: 21
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  ♂ Aug 13, 2011, 03:53pm  #

I think that Poles are fighting a similar battle to that which the Japanese fought. The Japanese were known for their brutality in WW2 but they worked really hard on creating cultural norms of restraint and non-intrusiveness. The Poles are trying hard to be 'spokojny' but changing your nature through excessive conditioning takes a lot of doing.


isthatu2 Threads: 13
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  ♂ Aug 13, 2011, 04:10pm  #

Are you saying the yanks should nuke Katowice and Gdansk then '?
Mind,would anyone notice the katowice one????


Seanus Threads: 21
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  ♂ Aug 13, 2011, 04:22pm  #

You misread me completely, ist2 ;)

I was talking about go-enryo, restraint. Many Poles show it but some get irritated easily. Just like most nations.


catsoldier Threads: 106
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  ♂ Aug 13, 2011, 07:11pm  #

No patience for anything.

It's quite true and I would also add that many people in my country are short-tempered (they get irritated easly).


I am only guessing but could this have anything to do with having two jobs because of low wages? With two jobs, not a lot of money and a family, time pressure/stress has to be extreme?


Peter Cracow   Jan 27, 2012, 10:27pm  #

Expressing either anger or impoliteness or impatience just like politeness or patience is frequently a part of play. Especially in business and official relations or on the red carpet, but not only. It transfers to the private relationships on some conditions. To understand this play one has to learn not only Polish but Poles too.
There are habits after all. For instance: Germans or Canadians love to smile at the every occasion, especially to their interlocutor. I myself am tired after 5 minutes of such conversation.
- - -
Polish tourists use to say "good morning" on the trail, unlike than Czechs, Slovaks or other neighbouring nations. It's just a habit, but good documented and having 100-150 year tradition. I don't know whether I like it or no, but I respect it.


RoughFlavors Threads: 1
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  ♀ Jan 28, 2012, 02:55am  #

Peter Cracow:
Expressing either anger or impoliteness or impatience just like politeness or patience is frequently a part of play.

Polish retail store and post office reps must be really good at that "play," surpassed only by township clerks and revenue service workers... What is generally considered normal or neutral behavior in Poland, would seem downright rude in many other countries. That includes giving a weird look to someone who greets you with a friendly Hello, even if you don't happen to know them.


delphiandomine Threads: 60
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  ♂ :-( Edited by: delphiandomine  Jan 28, 2012, 02:56am  #

RoughFlavors:
Polish retail store and post office reps must be really good at that "play," surpassed only by township clerks and revenue service workers... What is generally considered normal or neutral behavior in Poland, would seem downright rude in many other countries. That includes giving a weird look to someone who greets you with a friendly Hello, even if you don't happen to know them.


You can't be particularly well travelled if you think that Poles are rude. As for clerks - treat them the way you want to be treated, and it's normally fine. I've had very little problems with them in Poland, simply because smiling and cooperating with them gets you further than pulling faces and acting like you know best.

As for saying "Hello" to some strangers - I'd give a strange look to anyone that did that as well outside of the mountains. It's not normal behaviour.


RoughFlavors Threads: 1
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  ♀ Jan 28, 2012, 03:17am  #

Ok, D, how far "outside" the mountains did you actually travel?
People tend to return a smile and a hello "outside" the mountains, unless they're particularly uptight and pissy.
I grew up in Poland and I can guarantee that what is "normal behavior" there would be extremely abnormal anywhere else, when it comes to the standards of politeness and friendliness.


Meathead Threads: 6
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  ♂ Jan 28, 2012, 06:58am  #

RoughFlavors:
Ok, D, how far "outside" the mountains did you actually travel?
People tend to return a smile and a hello "outside" the mountains, unless they're particularly uptight and pissy.
I grew up in Poland and I can guarantee that what is "normal behavior" there would be extremely abnormal anywhere else, when it comes to the standards of politeness and friendliness.


Poles are habitually impatient and surly. I think it's just habit, probably from their history of being invaded too many times.


Lyzko   Jan 28, 2012, 02:47pm  #

I've found Polish people can sometimes act like professional contrarians, ready to disagree at the drop of a hat, even if the point being made by the Anglo is as plain as day. Example, I was recently speaking to an exchange student from Lublin (in Polish, at first!) and I asked if there were different dialects in her country as there are, say, in Germany, Italy etc.. She then proceeded to quizzically raise one eyebrow and retort that she didn't know what the 'f*****k' I was asking and that such a thing doesn't and never existed. I used the Polish word 'gwar' and then asked if she could understand, for instance, a góral from Zakopane. She replied in the affirmative as though this were the stupidest question/thing she'd ever heard and then decided to try English. I agreed, only to be polite. "So,", I went on, "you'd like to practice your English. I'd be glad to help you!"

Prefer not repeat here in open forum what ensuedLOL


ShortHairThug Threads: -
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  ♂ Jan 28, 2012, 04:04pm  #

Lyzko:
I used the Polish word 'gwar'

Perhaps you should have used 'gwara' instead.
Lyzko:
She replied in the affirmative as though this were the stupidest question/thing she'd ever heard

Really? That surprises you? Of course it’s a stupid question, I don’t know anyone who's Polish that would have trouble understanding Górale.

PS. Is that professional contrarian in me or does it happen to be true? You decide.


Lyzko   Jan 28, 2012, 04:15pm  #

Seriously, ShortHair. There was obviously nothing stupid about the question.


Lyzko   Jan 28, 2012, 04:25pm  #

In brief, there's clearly a difference between either being obtuse (which this student definitely wasn't!!) or being obstinate. She was being the latter, no question. I'm just running her cross-culturally comotose behavior past the Forum:-)


RoughFlavors Threads: 1
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  ♀ Jan 28, 2012, 05:30pm  #

Lyzko:
Polish people can sometimes act like professional contrarians

I think there's a two-fold explanation for that. For one, Poles are a relatively homogeneous society and therefore tend to be dismissive of anyone who is different, particularly foreigners, but also anyone who stands out from the crowd. The other reason is that Poles are often argumentative (two Poles - four points of view, or whatever), and can argue about anything and nothing. We also complain notoriously and, at the same time, cherish our supposed exceptionalism. In other words, you can't win an argument with a Pole, at least in his or her mind.


Lyzko   Jan 28, 2012, 05:40pm  #

Great stuff, RoughFlavors! BINGO! I agree with everything you and I've experienced independent from each other:-)

Even when we're right, we're "wrong" LOL

)))))))



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