Tag Archives: polish your Polish

Great! Cool! Awesome! – polish your Polish, part 18

Great! You want me to keep on blogging on here. I asked you a week or so ago whether this blog should continue and within 24 hours almost 20 people voted to say yes. Thanks, guys, that’s really awesome.

The vote is still open, at the time of writing 58% of you wanted me to blog whenever I can and 42% wanted regular posts. I won’t make any false promises – all I can say, I won’t abandon the blog. I’ll post whenever I can and when I do it will be something you probably didn’t know about Poland, its people or its language.  Once again, thanks for your support.

Right, so it’s all awesome, cool, great and perhaps even – if you’re so inclined – amazeballs. I’m not down with the (Polish) kids these days, so I can’t offer a direct translation of the last word.

But I can definitely teach you how to express your amazement or positive surprise in Polish.

Probably the most commonly used word to say something is great is

Świetnie

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which means ‘great’ or ‘that’s great’.  A great movie would be:

Świetny film

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Another commonly used word is:

Doskonały

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which translates as ‘excellent’. This is the masculine form of the adjective, the feminine is:

Doskonała

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The often used (and equally often hated) Americanism ‘awesome’ translates as:

Niesamowite

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This word also can mean ‘unbelievable’ and can therefore be used to express disappointment or surprise.

And the word for cool? Try ‘kool’….

Polish tongue twisters – polish your Polish, part 17

Twisted tongue image by Abu via Flickr (CC licence)
Twisted tongue image by Abu via Flickr (CC licence)

Go on, admit it. You’ve ALWAYS wanted to impress your friends with a Polish tongue twister. Right?

And if you think “She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore” is difficult, try these. Here is my top five.

Let’s start with one of the most difficult pieces of Polish literature, a short poem by Jan Brzechwa, called “Chrząszcz” (“Beetle”). Actually, it’s just the opening line of the poem – about a beetle buzzing in reed in the town of Szczebrzeszyn – that has become probably the most famous Polish tongue twister ever:

W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie.

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And how was that? I bet you’ve never seen so many consonants in one sentence in your life! The next one is also full of them, but this time it’s more about ‘s’ vs. ‘sz':

W czasie suszy szosa sucha.

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Which translates as “The road is dry during a drought”. Was that any easier?

How about this one, which uses rather long and complex words to covey a rather simple message – “We isolated ourselves from an enthusiastic crowd”:

Wyindywidualizowaliśmy się z rozentuzjazmowanego tłumu.

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The next one makes many people cheat. Sorry, simplify things. Why would you say:

Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami.

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which means “A table with its legs broken out”, when you can just say:

Stół bez nóg.

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“A table with no legs.” Cheeky. But not as cheeky as the last tongue twister in my collection, which plays tricks on your tongue, but also on your brain.

Alliteration occurs when all words in a phrase or a sentence start with the same letter. This nonsensical tongue twister means “Tooth, tooth soup. Oak, oak soup.” But try to fool your brain and make it forget about the alliteration in the first half of the tongue twister. Now say it really fast:

Ząb, zupa zębowa. Dąb, zupa dębowa.

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If you managed to fool your brain (and your tongue) – well done. If not, I’ll let you Google the word you’ve just created…

More in the “Polish your Polish” series

How to say “I’m cold” in Polish – polish your Polish, part 16

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The weather in London has been really mild over the past few weeks, but don’t let it fool you. It’ll get cold and miserable soon.  Already everyone on the tube is sneezing and it made me realise that I never really told you how to express your dissatisfaction with lower temperatures, did I ?

If you want to simply say “I’m cold”, the best phrase to use is

Zimno mi.

Or if you prefer to use the full sentence:

Jest mi zimno.

If you want to ask someone if they’re cold too, simply say:

Zimno ci?

Or if you feel brave enough to go for a full question (which also may sound a bit more formal):

Czy jest ci zimno?

Obviously, the word ‘cold’ in English has also another meaning. So when you want to say that your nose is blocked and you feel like staying under the duvet with some hot tea (in other words, you have a cold), you say:

Jestem przeziębiona (female)

Jestem przeziębiony (male)

Or:

Mam katar.

That’probably easier to remember, isn’t it?

And if someone sneezes, just say

Na zdrowie.

Coincidentally, this is what you say when you raise a glass or two. Cheers! And stay warm.

PS. Sorry the usual audio files are not there this time.

More ‘polish your Polish phrases

Blu Sky image by Voyageur Solitaire-mladenovic_N via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons licence

How to wish happy birthday in Polish – polish your Polish, part 15

happy birthday

March is always a busy month for me as many of my good friends celebrate their birthdays. And many of them are Polish.

I have recently realised that this basic phrase – happy birthday – has not featured in my Polish your Polish series yet. What an oversight!

So what do you say (or write, if you prefer sending a card or an email)? The easiest and commonest phrase is

Wszystkiego najlepszego

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Which literally means “All the best” and is pretty generic. But you can modify the phrase depending on the occasion. So for birthdays you can say:

Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin

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“All the best on your birthday”. If someone is getting married, you can say:

Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji ślubu

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“All the best on your marriage”. But let’s go back to celebrating birthdays.  Two words you might find useful are:

Życzenia

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“wishes” and

Życzyć

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Which means ‘to wish”, but you will usually use

Życzę (Ci)…

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Which means “I wish (you)…”.  So try saying “I wish you all the best on your birthday” now.

Managed that?

If no, there’s also an easy option.  There’s a song we sing to celebrate someone’s birthday in which we express our wish for them to live a hundred years. A hundred years is

Sto lat

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in Polish. If everything else fails, wish the birthday girl or boy “sto lat”. It’ll make them smile and you won’t have to struggle with all those consonants. Simples.


Polish your Polish – more language tips

Image via Flickr © ritchielee, used under Creative Commons licence

Polish travel phrases – polish your Polish, part 14

I’ve been asked by a few people to post something on basic questions regarding directions and asking for help in Polish. And as the summer holiday season is upon us, here are some basic phrases you may need while travelling in Poland.

Let’s start by buying a ticket. Any ticket.

Bilet

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Ticket. The plural is:

Bilety.

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If you want a normal one, you need

Bilet normalny.

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However if you need a discounted fare, you will ask for

Bilet ulgowy.

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Usually if you are at a station you’ll get your ticket from

Kasa (biletowa)

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A ticket desk. And if they speak English there, then you’re in luck. Otherwise, try asking for a ticket by saying:

Poproszę bilet do Krakowa

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“Can I have a ticket to Krakow, please?”

Poproszę bilet

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will do the trick if the ticket desk sells only one kind of tickets, for example tram or bus tickets. Now, you might already have your ticket, but you cannot find the station. Ask for directions:

Przepraszam, gdzie jest stacja (kolejowa)?

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which translates as “Excuse me, where is the (train) station?” As everywhere, it pays to be polite to the locals, hence the word ‘przepraszam’ at the beginning. You can also try a similar pharse:

Przepraszam, jak dojść do stacji?

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“Excuse me, how do I get to the station?” Which is probably more useful as it’s not train station specific and can be used for all sorts of stations. Obviously.

Right, that will do for now. I’m exhausted just writing this stuff, you must be exhausting trying to put all the consonants together. Most travel phrases next time!

More ‘polish your Polish’ language tips

Easter in Poland – polish your Polish, part 13

pisanki

I don’t know how it happened, but Easter is already here. It’s time then for another mix of Polish Easter phrases and traditions.

Easter in Polish is

Wielkanoc

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which is obviously the most important holiday in the Christian calendar, and in a deeply Catholic country like Poland, it comes with a whole set of traditions and customs. And phrases.

Although surprisingly, there’s no separate phrase for Happy Easter in Polish, which is the same as, er, Happy Christmas:

Wesołych świąt!

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which you may remember from my December post.

I’m writing this post on Good Friday

Wielki Piątek

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which, unlike in Britain, is not a bank holiday in Poland. The main two Easter days are:

Niedziela Wielkanocna

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Easter Sunday  and

Poniedziałek Wielkanocny

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Easter Monday, which in fact is more commonly known as either

Lany Poniedziałek

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or

śmigus dyngus

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Lany Poniedziałek literally means ‘watered (wet) Monday’. Strange phrase, I know, but let me explain. On this day women were traditionally, shall we say, sprinkled with water (the extend of that ‘sprinkling’ varies from really subtle to really heavy-handed). It’s an old pagan tradition, which is closely connected with spring and the promise of a new life. But there are numerous other interpretations of this custom, all based around the meaning of water for life.

Śmigus-dyngus (as it’s also known) is still practised all over the country, with some local variations, but unfortunately in some bigger towns it’s a perfect excuse for groups of unruly teenagers to throw buckets of cold water at anyone really.

Another very typical (although not exclusively Polish) tradition is

pisanki

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painted Easter eggs. Pisanka (singular) is a must-have on the Polish Easter table. They are made before Easter and eaten on Easter Sunday. Depending on the technique used to paint them (wax, dye, etc.) they may have different names, but pisanki/pisanka is the most commonly used term.

I wonder whether Lany Poniedziałek is nowadays practised in The UK too. Anyone?

Happy Easter!

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Image of pisanki © Jarosław Pocztarski via Flickr, used under CC licence