czemu/dlaczego

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by radosna, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. radosna Senior Member

    Poland
    English- USA
    Hi everyone!

    I was just wondering if "czemu?" and "dlaczego?" can be used interchangeably or if there is some subtle difference between them.

    If there is a difference, does it have anything to do with how formal/informal the setting is? I seem to recall "czemu" being used often in conversations but rarely in front of a pulpit, for example.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  2. "Czemu" is simply a colloquial form of "dlaczego". Probably that's why you mostly heard it in conversations.
     
  3. radosna Senior Member

    Poland
    English- USA
    Ok. That's what I thought. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing some sort of subtle difference between the two in terms of its meaning. One can never be sure when it's not your native language! (Even in your native language, one can't always be sure!)

    Thanks, majlo!
     
  4. BezierCurve Senior Member

    Note: beside its idiomatic meaning, "czemu" might also be used in its original meaning (as dative of "co"):

    "Czemu się teraz przyglądasz?" - "What are you looking at now?"
    "Czemu służy ten przycisk?" - "What is this button for?"
     
  5. Exactly. Mind you the first sentence is ambiguous and "czemu" can be understood in two ways. 1) What are you looking at now? and 2) Why are you looking now?
     
  6. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Can you think of a context in which "Czemu się teraz przyglądasz" would take on the second meaning? I find it very unlikely that anyone could say it to mean this. It would sound extremely weird.
     
  7. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Yes, I agree.
     
  8. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Hi, Dreamlike. I also agree with you. "Czemu sie teraz przygladasz" will mean only "what are you looking at", to me at least. And the phrase "czemu sluzy ten przycisk" it is hardly ever heard like that, especially in more formal settings. "Do czego sluzy ten przycisk?" would be something that I would use. (I am verry sorry -- I cannot use any diacritics at this time -- the don't appear as an option) Although, after I thought about it some more, I think "Czemu sie teraz przygladasz?" can also mean "Why are you starring (at something or somebody) now?" It would have to be properly stressed though. It will have to be expressed through proper intonation, with the stress on "czemu". It might be confusing in a written form.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  9. Dreamlike, just because one meaning is much more probable doesn't make the other non-existent.
     
  10. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Majlo, I entirely agree. The thing is that I'd be more likely to say "Czemu się tak temu przyglądasz?" - "Why are you starring at this like that?"

    I'd also say "Do czego służy ten przycisk?" to mean "What is this button for?".
     
  11. BezierCurve Senior Member

    And I'd say so too. And most of Polish natives in most cases. But sometimes you can get confused when coming across the other meaning.

    That's why I wrote "might also be used".
     
  12. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Yes, it might, in fact. "Czemu sie przygladasz? What are you looking at? "Czemu sie przygladasz/" -- why are you starring (at me -- in most cases). It all depends on the intonation.
     
  13. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    To be honest, Liliana, I can't conceive of any intontation that would make possible for "Czemu się przyglądasz?" to mean "Why are you starring (at me)". One would have to include "temu/mi".

    "Czemu się temu (tak) przyglądasz?", "Czemu się mi (tak) przyglądasz".
     
  14. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Czemu się tak przygłądasz. Scene: A woman is cooking soup, adding, every five minutes, two tablespoons of salt to the pot. Her husband is starring at her in disbelief. "Czemu się przygłądasz?", would be a natural reaction, I think. Meaning why are you starring (at me, at me cooking).
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  15. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Yes, that would be a natural reaction, provided that the wife had included "tak". Having said that, I'd be far more likely to ask "Co się tak przyglądasz?" :) "Czemu się tak przyglądasz" would be fine too, though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  16. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    You could hear it without tak, as far as I remember. Tak is an intensifier.
     
  17. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    It wouldn't make much sense to me without "tak", but given the context of the situation I'd probably understand it. But still, it would feel odd. I wonder what others make of that :)
     
  18. radosna Senior Member

    Poland
    English- USA
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, everybody!
     
  19. Indunn New Member

    Australia
    Polish
    I agree with dreamlike. In that situation one would say:

    "Co sie tak przygladasz?" (very colloquial),
    alternatively one could say "Czemu sie tak przygladasz?".

    Another possibility would be: "Dlaczego sie mi tak przygladasz?".

    In each case I would add 'tak' to make the sentence complete.
     
  20. kknd Senior Member

    Polska / Poland
    polski / Polish
    to be precise i think word tak is not intensifier but adverb functioning as adverbial of manner/method.
     
  21. marco_2 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Ha, the most colloquial would probably be: Czego się gapisz? :)
     
  22. It's not an adverb. It's a pronoun. And yes, I would say it acts as an intensifier.
     
  23. kirahvi Senior Member

    Finnish
    I guess you meant a particle? I agree.
     
  24. No, I meant a pronoun.
    "Tak" is also a particle, but not in this context.
     
  25. kknd Senior Member

    Polska / Poland
    polski / Polish
    oh my! it is indeed a pronoun! where is my mind…! as for function: i'm puzzled but it seems that you both might be right (see tak II).
     
  26. kirahvi Senior Member

    Finnish
    Wow, tak a pronoun. I think my mind just exploded, I really need to have a look at Polish grammar one of these days! I've always thought of it as a particle and it has made sense in my anti-grammarian world.

    Getting back on topic of interrogatives:

    How would you rate po co? My friend has a son, and it seems every third thing he says is po co, but when I think of it, I hear it rarely from other sources. Adults in my life, myself included, tend to go for czemu and dlaczego. Is po co primarily a part of kids' language or do I just not pay attention to it when other people use it?
     
  27. radosna Senior Member

    Poland
    English- USA
    Good addition to the original question, kirahvi! You know, at first I was going to include po co in the OP as well but for some reason, I stopped myself. I feel a stronger delineation separating "po co?' from "dlaczego?" and "czemu?" but I don't know exactly why.

    On a subjective level, to me, "po co?" seems to carry a bit more of an attitude to it. I don't think that's necessarily so, but I do often hear it used in that way -- almost a challenge rather than pure inquisitiveness.

    I could be completely off here, so please, native speakers, do correct me if I'm off base.

    By the way, thanks everybody for all your input. You went much further than I expected... but I probably should have expected that! :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  28. kirahvi Senior Member

    Finnish
    I can definitely feel the attitude in po co as well, so I don't think you're completely off base. That might also be the case why it's rather rarely used in adult conversations. Then again the way my friend's son uses it isn't always to show attitude and challenge the answer, but rather just a way to add variation to his endless loops of "but why, but why".
     
  29. Indunn New Member

    Australia
    Polish
    Coming back to 'tak' and the question what part of speech it is... I had to double-check it, as it got really interesting.

    According to 'Pons' dictionary, 'tak' can be a particle or an adverb. It is not a pronoun.
    (a pronoun is substitutable for a noun, you can read the meaning 'pro noun' = for/in place of a noun).

    I think, in this particular case it is an adverb which describes the verb "przygladasz" ("Czemu sie tak przygladasz?").

    The dictionary quotes, among others, the following examples:
    - Jak mogłeś tak postąpić! --- adverb, describing the way/manner of having done something (tak postąpić = have acted/behaved that way)
    - Jabłka były tak smaczne, że zjadł aż trzy --- adverb, intensifying an adjective (tak smaczne = so tasty)
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  30. Indunn New Member

    Australia
    Polish

    I think 'po co' has a slightly different meaning. It means 'what for'. A little child might use some vocabulary incorrectly.
    My little sister used to say "czego" instead of "dlaczego". It sounded sweet, but it was incorrect. She has outgrown it though, being almost 30 now :D.

    I am not sure if there is an attitude in this expression, maybe it depends on the context.
    For example "Po co mam tam chodzic?" could imply some attitude.
    On the other hand, "Po co ci ten zeszyt?" means "What do you need this notebook for?". I personally, don't hear here any attitude.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  31. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    There's nothing intrinsically wrong with "po co?". If you adopt a proper intonation and tone, it's just a sloppy way of saying "W jakim celu?". It can be quite coarse and brusque, though, especially coming from a pampered child :)
     
  32. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Not only "a slightly different meaning". The meaning is clearly different. "Dlaczego" is a question about reason, "Po co" is a question about goal. Small children and unreflected adults may have problems with understanding the difference.
     
  33. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Yes, I agree. "Po co" used in the sense of "dlaczego" was always considered a wrong usage in standard, literary Polish. Some people use in the colloquial language -- I am not sure if it is right there, and also in my opinion it is somehow regional.
     
  34. BezierCurve Senior Member

    Sometimes we take shortcuts, which causes that difference to blur a bit. Say, a friend of ours has acted in an unusual way. We can ask for the reason: "Dlaczego to zrobiłeś?" or we can assume he had a good reason to act that way - to achieve a specific goal. That's when we can ask about the goal: "Po co to zrobiłeś?". Notice how close the two answers would be.
     
  35. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Although I agree that the difference is clear-cut, and a well-educated grown-up shouldn't use "Po co" instead of "Dlaczego", I'm afraid a lot of people tend to mix up the two in colloquial speech. The reality sometimes isn't reflective of rigid dictionary definitions...
     
  36. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    I would put another way: many people speak without thinking most of the time, almost everybody speaks at least sometimes without thinking, colloquial language is highly imprecise and emotional. Stanisl’aw Lem put it very aptly in his short story about bacteria learning to write: “… most people speak rubbish most of the time …”.
     
  37. PWN:

    tak II1. «zaimek, który wyraża wysoki stopień nasilenia cechy lub stanu rzeczy i komunikuje, że jest on większy, niż mówiący tego oczekiwał, np. Mieszkasz tak daleko od nas.»


     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  38. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I hate to break this to you but this definition doesn't hold true for "tak" as used in such sentences (and that's what we were discussing all along):

    Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
    Co się tak przyglądasz?

    Here, as Kknd has rightly pointed out in one of his posts, it's an adverb.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  39. Are we reading two completely different things? To me "tak" is a pronoun here, and I propped my opinion up with a reputable source. Could you do the same please?

    P.S. I don't know about other dictionaries, but PWN doesn't even list "tak" as an adverb. :D
     
  40. EDIT: I double-checked it and it seems that "tak" is a pronoun which serves as an adverb. The source is not considered reputable so I'm not going to reveal it. ;)
     
  41. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I'm using common sense and logics and I can't see how dictionaries might be of aid in this situation... Just because PWN lists "tak" as a pronoun doesn't mean that it acts as one in every single sentence.

    Czemu się tak przyglądasz? Czemu się w taki sposób przyglądasz? -- "tak" as an adverb of purpose
    Co się tak przyglądasz? Czemu się w taki sposób przyglądasz? -- "tak" as an edverb of purpose
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  42. kknd Senior Member

    Polska / Poland
    polski / Polish
    it seems that somebody came along my intuition; to be frank i'm not sure of it in the end but as you pointed: common sense and logics seem to back up those thoughts. as for those adverbs—i was thinking about them rather as adverbs of manner… ("how?")
     
  43. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    The problem is that you translate Polish “zaimek” as “pronoun”. “Tak” is defined as “zaimek” in Polish grammar (and it seems that Polish grammarians are pretty isolated in this respect), but it doesn’t make it a pronoun in English.
     
  44. I don't perceive it as a problem whatsoever.
     
  45. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Maybe you don't, but The use of words is confusing for the person you discuss with. You use a wrong word in English translating "zaimek [przysłowny]" as "pronoun". This part of speech is not called "pronoun" in English.
     
  46. kknd Senior Member

    Polska / Poland
    polski / Polish
    zaimek przysłowny! and my problem has been finally solved! thanks!
     

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