Monthly Archives: September 2008

Polish signs

Hiya, I’m back. Spent two glorious weeks on the beach in Greece, swimming in the sea, eating and drinking too much. Nothing new then. Now I’m back home and I have to say I keep noticing more and more let’s call them ‘informal’ signs of the Polish ‘invasion’ on the streets of London (or should I say the recent and now subsiding invasion?).

I’ve seen a can or two of Polish beer in my street before, but that was an occasional sightng, rather than a regular occurence. After all, I don’t see that many Poles in my part of London. Nowadays, the sight of a squashed can of Lech or żywiec (sorry, lost the capital ‘ż’ on my keyboard) is as common as that of a discarded packet of Walkers or of a free newspaper on the floor of a tube train. Not sure whether there’s a particularly messy Pole living in my neighbourhood or whether someone else has fallen in love with Polish lager and regularly (and impatiently) empties a can or two on the way back from the corner shop.

But recently I’ve noticed something which really made me smile. Way back in the 70s and 80s it was common to see shops closed for months for REMONT (refurbishment). They wer closed for months not because the refurbishment was extensive or complicated, only because nobody really cared much. After all, everything was state-owned.

Every time a shop or another outlet with massive window was closed for remont, the builders would whitewash the windows inside the shop and then use their fingers to scribble on them the ominous word REMONT (often reversing either the letter ‘r’ or the letter ‘n’ in the process as they were not used to spelling words, let alone spelling them backwards).

Recently I noticed a shop in south London which is closed for refurbishment. And, yes, you’ve guessed it. The window is painted white and the word REMONT (spelt correctly) is scribbled across the top. Fabulous.

I haven’t seen such a thing in at least 20 years. Whoever did that must have a great sense of humour. Good to see old traditions don’t die. Oh, and just like in Poland back in the 80s, this particular REMONT has been going on for months now…

Goodbyes – polish your Polish, part 4

As promised in my previous polish your Polish post, time now to learn how to say ‘Goodbye’ in Polish.

The most popular phrase is probably

Do widzenia!

which is the equivalent of ‘Goodbye’. This is a bit formal, but also one of the most common phrases, apart from

Cześć

which is the same as the word for ‘Hi’ I introduced in the very first post on this blog. ‘Cześć’ used to say ‘Bye’ is obviously very informal, and is probably only used among friends and/or relatives, but probably not in, say, a Polish bank.

Another informal alternative is

Narazie

“See ya!’ Should you wish to use a closer equivalent of ‘See you later’ you can always say:

Do zobaczenia!

which probably closer to the initial phrase ‘Do widzenia’. Now, there’s also a whole plethora of informal and slang phrases for ‘Goodbye’. From

Naraźka

(a variation of ‘Narazie’)

Buźka

(a diminutive of ‘buzia’ – mouth or face; it’s a shorter form of and comes from the phrase ‘dać buzi’ – ‘to give a kiss’; probably not one for the red-bloodied males among you, I’d say)

to the shortest and sweetest of them all:

Pa!

(often doubled, as in ‘Pa, pa!’). Say it to your gradma, say it to your girlfriend, say it to your close friend. Whenever you do you indicate that you care for them. Awwww.

Pa, pa!

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Image: © Raka via Flickr, used under CC licence

Funny old world

Sometimes you read something and wonder why people (journalists) even bother. One of the free London papers has a regular column called Funny Old World with short quirkies from all over the world.

While sitting on the tube today I noticed a one-sentence funny ‘piece’ from Poland:

Zielona Gora, a medieval village, has been ordered by the government officials to drop a witch-burning drama from its birthday pageant because it’s deemed sexist.

That’s it. I’m not sure what the point is of such short pieces, you’d probably need the attention span of a fruit fly to find such facts fascinating, but apart from that, one thing struck me about this ‘piece’. Zielona Gora can be described in many ways, but not as a village. Checked it in Wikipedia – over 290,000 inhabitants (just under 200,000 for the city itself). You wouldn’t call York (same size as Zielona Gora) a village, would you?

OK, I’m not claiming my patriotic pride was hurt. I’m more annoyed with the poinlessness of such ‘journalism’, where basic facts go unchecked for the sake of a few (literally, probably) laughs. Ignorance or lame journalism? Or both?

Poland wins the Eurovision Dance Contest

Well, honestly, I didn’t even know such a thing existed. But I guess after Poland’s less than impressive performances at the ‘proper’ Eurovision Song Contest, this is probably good news.

Polish actor Marcin Mroczek and dancer Edyta Herbus performed a very energetic routine and by the looks of it, managed to impress almost everyone. Well done.

Not surprisingly perhaps, the Polish duo got quite a few points from Ireland and the UK, as the Polish community got dialling. Although, unlike the guy who provided the less-than-funny commentary on BBC1 (where’s Wogan when you need him?), I don’t think it was just the builders who voted…

So there you go. Warsaw is the capital of salsa. Who knew?

Greetings – polish your Polish, part 3

So, I got carried away with my previous polish your Polish post, but I had to tell you how to express love in Polish, ok? Sorry if my voice sounded very uninspiring, but somehow the idea of expressing my feelings to an inanimate object (i.e. my microphone) didn’t quite work for me.

Hence today I’m going back to basics and, having given you a sample of Polish greetings, it’s time to continue with this topic, by introducing a few more useful phrases for greeting people.

So let’s start with a morning encounter – after a cup of strong coffee, that is – your ‘Good morning’ becomes

Dzień dobry!

‘Dzień’ is ‘day’ and ‘dobry’ is an adjective meaning ‘good’. So ‘Good day’ in other words. You’d use this phrase probably up until late afternoon/early evening. We don’t differentiate between the morning and the afternoon, so there’s no direct equivalent of ‘Good afternoon’.

Once the sun has set, you greet people by saying

Dobry wieczór

‘Good evening’. Again, ‘dobry’ is ‘good’, while ‘wieczór’ means ‘evening’. Please note a different word order, compared to ‘dzień dobry’. This new order will be used for ‘Good night’:

Dobranoc

However things get slightly more complex here – firstly, the phrase becomes just one word, secondly, the now familiar word ‘dobry’ swaps its last letter for ‘a’. Why? The word for ‘night’ (‘noc’) is a feminine noun in Polish. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that most, but not all nouns in Polish ending in -a are feminine. Thus their modyfying adjectives will also end in -a. (Don’t bang your head. We’ll get there).

Obviously, for greeting your friends and in more informal situations, you can use a whole variety of phrases. Apart from ‘Cześć’ from my first post, you can say:

Jak leci?

‘How is it going?

Jak się masz?

“How are you doing?’

So, how is it going? Next time we’ll go through Polish goodbyes. Dobranoc!

MORE POLISH YOUR POLISH



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