Reasons why I love Polish.

If any of you have been reading my blogfrom it’s early months, you might recall a post I wrote about all the

reasons why I’m learning Welsh

that I could come up with. It was a translated post from my previous, Polish blog, and I wrote it because pretty much every single person whom I mentioned it to would ask me this question as either the first, or the second one, right after “Isn’t it an English dialect?” 😀 and because, well, as you can see in that post, there are very many reasons.

I enjoyed writing that post and it got a lot more attention than I thought it would, so the next year I also wrote about

reasons why I’m learning Swedish

and last year

reasons why I’m learning English.

I haven’t started learning any new language since then (even though some people seem to believe that I start learning a new one every month, haha), and I think it’ll be a while yet until I do, but although my language bucket list is long, I’m not rushing anywhere. And, there’s still one language that I know that I think also deserves its own post, even though I’m not learning it. Well, I am technically, but since I’m a native, it’s a different kind of learning, of course. And obviously as you can figure out of the title, or even if you know about me, this language is Polish. I was a little hesitant about writing this post however, even though I was thinking from the beginning of this yearly language series that I should do it. Of course I love Polish, and in a way it’s a more special relationship than with any other of my languages, but, because it’s always been a part of my life and not really as a result of my own, conscious choice as is the case with the others, I thought it would be harder to come up with as many reasons. As someone who hates anything to do with math, I always tend to appreciate quality over quantity, but I wouldn’t like this post to stand out as the shortest of the whole series, that would be sad and unfair, even if just in my opinion.

I shared the dilemma with my Mum, who rightly noticed that it would be much more sad and unfair if I didn’t write it at all. And that perhaps the reasons as such will speak louder here than their amount would. That was a very fair point to me, so that’s why I am writing this post today, after all.

Here are all the reasons why I love Polish:

   1.

It is, like I said earlier, my mother tongue, so, in a way, I have even more of a connection with it than any other of my languages. It was the first language that sparked the love for language in my brain, I mean language in general, as a phenomenon, linguistics. It made me fall in love with words, my synaesthetic associations with them, it showed me how fun it is to play with words and expand your vocabulary. I love it because it’s the language in which I communicate with people I love – my family. – And because learning it made me more able and open to learn other languages later on.

   2.

Like all my languages. It is plain beautiful. While other Slavic languages aren’t among my most most most favourites (I do like them a lot, they are super cool and very charming but they aren’t in that MOST group), I strongly believe that even if it wasn’t my mother tongue, I’d still end up loving Polish, I don’t know how I could not.

   3.

While I’m not inclined to brag like some of us like to do that our language is the most difficult in the world (it depends on what you’re starting with, and there are much, much more complex languages out there), Polish does have a rather complex grammatical structure when compared to English, and – if you can ever be objective about such things – I’d say it’s also more complex phonetically than all the languages I’ve learnt so far. That makes me lucky, because the more difficult language you’re starting with, the easier you’ll likely find learning other languages, because you may be familiar with their trickier bits already from your mother tongue. I don’t have to be scared of languages with genuses or cases, for example, and arduously try to conceptualise them, because I already know what they are all about, now I just have to figure out how they apply to the language I’m learning and what differences there are compared to what I’m used to. And while picking up phonetics of foreign languages seems to be more of an individual trait, I think it does help me with it that, in my mother tongue, there are sounds which can hardly be differentiated from each other by a non-native even though they are different (see ś and sz, ć and cz etc.).

   4.

There is a lot of great Polish literature. I don’t know much about how much of it gets translated to other languages and which ones most often, but given that most countries are largely focused either on writing their own literature, or translating things from English, and the Anglophone world doesn’t seem to translate a lot, if I lived anywhere else and didn’t speak Polish, I probably wouldn’t get to know books by people who are now my favourite Polish authors.

   5.

Some of the swearwords and expletives are priceless. See my post

about gingerbread,

for example, if you want to learn more.

   6.

It has loads of amusing idioms. And lots of such that are very straightforward and to the point, and lots of such that I just love the sound of.

7.

The archaic Polish language. While I think it’s very true that a language is alive as long as it’s changing, because we are always changing and the times are always changing so it would be weird if the language wouldn’t, hence I don’t understand people who are all against slang, loanwords and other such things, I think it would be fun if we talked more like we used to, used more of that vocabulary we no longer do. Or, why the heck did we stop using initial stress in words to replace it with a paroxytone stress? I guess only highlanders speak with an initial syllable stress now, and I like that because it makes them sound like Finns. 😀 Or I hate that we stopped using long and short vowels because that makes the prosody of a language feel more interesting. I love love love reading older Polish books where there are words that we no longer use, some that I don’t even really get and I love learning what they mean and feeling them. People used to have such a delicious way of writing, even at the beginning of the 20th century, not to mention earlier. I feel like it often gets lost now. I say delicious because one of the synaesthesias I have is lexical-gustatory and while words almost always have some sort of a taste and it’s not like the modern Polish language doesn’t and like there aren’t any delicious words in it (far from it), it’s just that more archaic Polish language tends to have something very specific about its taste as a whole, that I really like. My Mum has also always loved reading books written in an archaic or obsolete language, so I guess it must be genetic. She especially has a lot of prayer books from like even before WWI I guess, when even the spelling was different and we used y instead of j, or my grandma has a cook book from the end of 19th century. I just love things like these!

8.

Dialects. You may perhaps remember from my post about English, that I wrote about Polish being a fairly unified language in terms of accent, especially when compared to English. However, there still are some slight variations to how people speak in different regions and it’s interesting to observe. There are also some dialects. I don’t necessarily have to love all of them as such in terms of whether they appeal to me aesthetically, but I love that the ones that exist still do, that we have some linguistic diversity (although I wish there was more or at least that it would be more pronounced), and although I myself don’t speak any dialect or don’t have a particularly distinguishable accent (despite being half-Kashub, and Kashubian is classified as a minority language but I can hardly understand it let alone speak it), I am very easily driven up the wall by people saying things like that it is not “elegant” to speak in a dialect, for example. I do think it’s a good skill to have to be able to speak your language in some universal, standard way that is often considered more formal, but being disapproving of someone speaking in a different way is not only discriminatory but also kind of smothering a person’s identity, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why it bothers me so much whenever I come across such an attitude.

   9.

Words that are untranslatable to other languages that I know. I am always interested in the concept of untranslatable words, in any language, and the ideas behind them, how you can express sometimes some incredibly complex ideas using one word in one language, but in another, one sentence may sometimes be too little. A very good example of a Polish word that is untranslatable to English is kombinować, which also happens to be a word that I really like and which, as many Poles think, reflects our resourcefulness as a nation. 😀 Yes, there is combine, and kombinować absolutely can mean combine, but it also has another definition. It is something you do when you have a problem that you need to resolve, but there’s no straight way out of it and it needs first a lot of thinking and then coming up with some unconventional work-around strategy, which sometimes may not be the most honest one. Both the thinking process and then carrying your idea out is what kombinować means. When it is dishonest, you could of course say it’s plain cheating but cheating feels a LOT more weighty and negative, and also kombinować is more colloquial, plus kombinować may, but doesn’t have to include, any cheating. It could be coming up with any creative, out-of-the-box solution or idea and then doing what you came up with. It is often translated as being up to something but it’s not the same.

   10.

Poglish, Ponglish, Pinglish or whatchamacallit. I’ve always said Ponglish, but a lot of people say Poglish and recently I came across Pinglish and I think Pinglish is best. Anyway, obviously you know what I’m talking about, the blend of Polish and English. It is often used by Polish diaspore in the US and the UK (like in Chicago I guess it’s quite a big thing) or by Polish young people in a slangy sort of way, or (voluntarily or not) by Polish speakers learning English/English speakers learning Polish when they’re dealing with language interference and/or nearly discharged/fried brains. It can be so freakishly amusing sometimes.

   11.

I often gravitate towards languages that are less popular and less heard off, if not obscure. Polish may not be as much as obscure, but, apart from Poland or places in other countries where there are a lot of Polish immigrants, you won’t hear it a lot, and there aren’t super many non-natives who would speak it. This small language factor is very appealing to me.

   12.

Because, whether it is the most difficult language in the world or not, it is viewed by many learners and natives as difficult, and I was lucky enough to not have to make a conscious effort of learning it. 😀 And the difficult factor is also appealing in itself. I like difficult languages, they are fascinating, kind of similarly to how complex human beings are.

What do you love your native language for, if you do, and if you don’t, why? 🙂

 

Chłopcy Kontra Basia – “Oj Tak” (Oh Yeah).

So today we – Polish people – are celebrating the 102nd anniversary of regaining our country’s independence, yay!🇵🇱🇵🇱🇵🇱🎉 And we need to celebrate it on My Inner Mishmash as well, with some Polish music. Especially that there is generally very little Polish music on here. Not because I don’t like Polish music, but just because I know rather little of it that I would truly love. I’m sure though that there is still a lot that I haven’t discovered and many musicians that just aren’t promoted enough so people don’t get to learn about them.

Previously as some of you may remember, on our major national holidays I had a habit of sharing some music by non-native Polish speakers singing in Polish, often something about Poland. I don’t think I have any more of such quirky findings for today but I’ll definitely keep looking as it’s always interesting both from a Pole’s and linguophile’s perspective. 😀

Today, it’s a native Polish band. Funnily enough, while I’m not a huge fan of jazz, as it happens, both the group performing the song for yesterday and for today make some sort of folk and jazz fusion. 😀 But it wasn’t planned. I mean yes, I did plan ahead to share them as I always do and in this particular order but I didn’t really realise when doing so that they have this in common, haha!

I discovered this band years ago, when sitting in the car and waiting for my Mum, and Polish Radio Programme 2 was on – they usually play classical music or jazz but you can also hear a fair bit of folk or even some kind of experimental music, I’m not really sure what genre exactly it should classify as, it’s generally considered a very sophisticated radio station by many. 😀 I was just at such a time where I was looking for some new Polish music, especially folk music, that I could like and listen to, and I heard this song I’m about to introduce to you. And I decided I liked it a lot. It was so very strongly folksy while at the same time with just as strong neo- feel because of the jazzy instrumentation, and I loved the lyrics.

This band’s name can be translated to The Boys vs Basia in English. The Basia in the band’s name is the leader, vocalist and frequently the lyricist Basia Derlak, while the boys are the other members.

I don’t think I’d be able to write a quality literal translation of this song, so I’ll try to simply explain to you what it’s all about.

It tells the story of a girl who is pasturing her mare by the water, and just at the same time God is sailing there in His boat, rowing with his leg. The girl tries to discourage Him from sailing closer to her, saying that she is young and likes to sin, and tells him to sail to the nearest village where there are good, married girls and not to look at her because He might yet see the devil, and she is not worth His Eyes. God tells her that he sailed from heaven and just wanted to look at her for a moment. But she insists for Him not to do so, because she is young and sin doesn’t hurt, and tells him to come back in ten years, and then he’ll be able to look at her to His Heart’s content. So ten years passed, the girl turned into a woman, but God isn’t coming. “Perhaps  something happened to the Divine boat?” Finally, even two hundred years passed by, and the girl turned into a crone. She is waiting and waiting for God, and pasturing her mare again. But God forgot about the crone, who was standing by the water, called His Name and stomped her foot at eternity.

I like how subtly pawky it is and how you can interpret it in a few different ways. I am Christian as you may know but once talked about it with someone who was atheist and we both understood it totally differently, it blew my mind. 😀

Song of the day (19th November) – Mikromusic – “Takiego Chłopaka” (A Boyfriend Like This).

Here’s another Polish song I have for you.

I used to have very mixed feelings about it, and I’ve seen quite a few different interpretations of what it really is about, including that it shows all men as being awful or that women are super picky. I liked the sound of it immediately when I heard it. It’s trip-hop but the song has a bit of a folksy feel and I liked that it was sort of ironic and humourous. The song is about a woman who wants a boyfriend, and she has a whole list of what he should not be, looks like she’s such an idealist and wants just someone very exceptional who only has good traits. Yet something in this song really stung me, ’cause on her list of things he cannot be is “not a Pole”. I mean, it’s completely okay not to want to have a Polish boyfriend, even if you’re Polish, but the whole list was made up of various negative things and “not a Pole” thrown in-between, it made it look very bad and very offensive to me, and I’m sure could feel even more so to Polish guys. And I’ve seen many other people finding it controversial too.

But these days I think this song does not contain any anti-Polish messages. I think you can see this song in two ways, depending if you are an optimist or a pessimist, although I have no idea what Natalia Grosiak – the vocalist and author of the lyrics – had in mind writing this song. If you are an optimist, you can think that the girl speaking in the song is very young, romantic, idealistic and picky to begin with. She wants someone who won’t change her life overly and will just be perfectly the way she imagined him. Then, as the song progresses, she changes her mind. She decides that “yes, give me a boy who is ugly, who is a bit crazy, who has his weaknesses”. She finds someone that she loves despite the traits in him that are difficult and she happily accepts the fact that there are no perfect people and that there is no way to fall in love with someone who is perfect. If you are a pessimist, you can see this song as showing how bad life can be and often is. You begin with having dreams and hopes and wanting someone special and perfect. Only that, as you gain more experience in life and in relationships, instead of happily accepting that we all have weaknesses and it’s okay and finding someone whose weaknesses are complementary with yours and you are able to live with him the way he is, as it should be in a proper romantic movie with a happy end, you give up. Because whoever you’ll choose, it will be difficult and nothing will work out the way you want. You don’t care what he’s like anymore, maybe not even whether you love him, you just want someone and you know you have very limited choice.

Despite I am a pessimist, in this particular song I have a feeling the optimistic theory looks better not only because it’s more pleasant. It’s just easier for me to imagine such a scenario. Personally I’d rather be lonely than look for all means for whoever to be my boyfriend, even if he is a drunkard to whom I don’t feel anything.

So, here are the lyrics that I’ve translated and the song.

 

Mr Fate, please give me someone who won’t stir the water in my pond
Someone who won’t fade away like a bad dream
When there are no more fish in my pond

Where will I find someone so
beautifully kind?
Where will I find someone so
beautifully kind?

Give me a boyfriend
Not a crazy one, give
Not a smoker
Not a poor one, give
Not a drunkard
Not a Pole, give
Not an ugly one

Send me a boyfriend
not a crazy one, give
Not a dodge
not a clown, give
Not a drunkard
not a Pole, give
Not a poor one
Send me

Mr Fate, please give me someone who won’t pick all the roses from my garden
Someone who won’t eat all the apples
and run away overseas

Where will I find someone so
beautifully kind?
Where will I find someone so
beautifully kind?

Give me a boyfriend
Not a crazy one, give
Not a smoker
not a poor one, give
Not a drunkard
not a Pole, give
Not an ugly one

Send me a boyfriend
not a crazy one, give
Not a dodge
not a clown, give
Not a drunkard
not a Pole, give
Not a poor one

Send me a boyfriend
Give me a Pole
yes, I want a crazy one!
I want a drunkard
Yes, give me a strongman
An ugly one
Yes, give me a Pole

Send me a boyfriend
a boyfriend like this
a boyfriend like this
a boyfriend like this
like this

Song of the day (16th November) – Coma – “Los Cebula I Krokodyle Łzy” (Fate Onion And Crocodile Tears).

I didn’t plan to share this song at all but I kind of had no idea for a song for this day, and I heard this one playing in the bathroom, so decided to share it because I have a bit of a personal story with her. It’s a song dedicated to people who struggle with depression but also generally just any kind of life difficulties. I heard it for the first time in the kitchen, one late Sunday evening, night actually. I went downstairs because I had self harm urges and wanted to cut or something. I came into the kitchen and took out the knife from the drawer when I heard this song playing: “Leave that damn mug alone, you’ll cut your fingers…”. 😀 I had a knife in my hand, not a mug, and intended to cut not necessarily my fingers with it, but the irony of the situation made me laugh out loud despite I was crying some five minutes earlier. 😀 I started to listen to the song and it sort of made me feel better, at least I could relate to it. I’d like to tell you that Coma prevented me from cutting that time but they didn’t, but the song helped me a little bit to make me feel less alone with my shit. And now I am going to share it with you and my translation of the lyrics as well.

   Leave that damn mug alone – you’ll cut your fingers.
Drink the milk, wash your face. I’ll come before you fall asleep.
Even though the galactic blast will destroy the civilisation
It’s not enough to burst out into tears.
For me, the day wasn’t too gracious either.
For me too, too long and bad is the winter
For me too, but you must admit, that all in all, life is wonderful
And stop wailing! Stop wailing! Stop crying!
And why do you read the comments from frustrated pipsqueaks?
Let the blockheads poison themselves with venom, save yourself the evil.
For me, the day wasn’t too gracious either.
For me too, too long and bad is the winter
For me too fate, onion and crocodile tears.
Stop wailing! Stop wailing! Stop crying!
For me, the day wasn’t too gracious either.
For me too, too long and bad is the winter
For me too fate, onion and crocodile tears.
Stop wailing! Stop wailing! Stop crying!i

Hungarica – “Burzliwe Stulecia / Viharos Szazadok” (Stormy Centuries).

Hi guys! 🙂

You know it’s Independence Day today in Poland? Yaaay! It’s 101 years since Poland regained its Independence, and, while you can hear so much about it in the media, especially on a special occasion like this, I have a feeling like we still so often take it for granted a bit, and that so many people had to die and suffer their personal losses for it to happen. Sofi is having a concert tomorrow at her school because of that, and she is going to sing solo one verse of a song, as she is in a choir. I’ve always thought that, while she loves to sing, her ability to sing in tune is very questionable, but it seems like her music teacher’s opinion is different, so hopefully it goes well for her, she’s very stressed now so any and all crossed fingers will be appreciated! 🙂

Last year on this day I shared with you a song “40:1” by a Swedish band called Sabaton, sung in Polish, about the Battle of Wizna. You know I’m into language so I like to kinda incorporate this holiday into the overal feel of my blog. So, there is such a radio programme on Polish Radio Programme 3, called “Strefa Rokendrola Wolna Od Angola” (Rock&roll Zone Free of English), where you can hear a lot of good rock music and some related more or less closely genres, and it’s in all possible languages but not English. Not because anyone has any problem with English, but because English in music is definitely overrated and it’s unfair for all the other languages. Polish is also rarely heard, because you can hear Polish music in Polish media on a daily basis. The only times you can hear Polish in this programme is when it’s on air on Independence Day, or on May 3, when we celebrate the anniversary of proclaiming the Constitution of May 3, which was the first modern constitution in Europe. I really like to listen to it then, because you can hear foreign bands and musicians singing in Polish, or making any kind of Poland-themed music, it’s very interesting. And the song I have for you today is from there as well.

Hungarica is a (surprise!) Hungarian national rock band, whose songs usually are on the topic of Hungarian history, and from what I’ve read they are one of the most popular Hungarian rock groups. They had a concert in Katowice in Poland some years ago and from the band’s history it seems like they feel a strong bond with Poland, which is not much of a surprise, as Poland and Hungary have a history of quite close relationship, and have a lot of similarities in our histories. And one of this manifestos of their bond with Poland is the song “Burzliwe Stulecia”, “Viharos Szazadok” in Hungarian, which means Stormy Centuries. The group’s vocalist sings it entirely in Polish and does it really wel. Better even than Joakim Broden from Sabaton, who said he struggled with Polish very much and needed frequent breaks throughout the recording, but suppose Hugarian (as weird and enigmatic as it sounds to Poles, and not belonging to the same language family) has paradoxically more in common with Polish phonetically than Swedish. Though you can see that the word accents work much differently in Hungarian, as he does them rather funnily in Polish sometimes.

The song is great. It is a short retelling of Polish history, accentuating what a brave and strong nation Polish people are, despite, or maybe thanks to, all we have been through over the ages.

I managed to write a very rough translation, I don’t think it’s very good this time round, but it’s just so you know what it is about.

   Since a thousand of stormy years
Courageous people are lasting by the Vistula river
Misery and glory
Partitions and occupation
Fake transformation
Despite the storms, Poland has survived
Hey, hey, forward!
So brave for centuries
Hey, hey, forward, Poles!
Hey, hey, forward!
So brave for centuries
Hey, hey, forward, Poles!
We didn’t disown our motherland
We raised the banner of Poland
Though our freedom was taken away from us
We were sold out at Yalta
But we have survived that too
We ended communism
Hey, hey, forward!
So brave for centuries
Hey, hey, forward, Poles!
Hey, hey, forward!
So brave for centuries
Hey, hey, forward, Poles!

Marta Bijan – “Lot Na Marsa” (A Flight To Mars).

Hey people! 🙂

A slightly peculiar song I have for you today. Well Okay, maybe not as much peculiar as simply not very typical kinda thing on here. But it’s in Polish. Marta Bijan is a singer songwriter that I’ve become vaguely familiar with thanks to my Polish friend who liked her. I liked her music but it felt, and still feels, quite emo to me. I mean, I like, often love, sad music, sad lyrics, I like gloomy stuff (within reason, I stop liking it when it gets either too dark or so pathetic that you can see that the author sort of lacked that tiny little bit of distance to themselves and their gloom and it feels almost immature) and I listen to sad music a lot, but it usually has to have something more to it than just be sad/gloomy. And Marta’s music did seem pathetic to me. It still does, despite I can’t say I don’t like her. Perhaps it’s that, despite feeling a bit overdone and virtually always sad, her lyrics are often also somewhat relatable for me, and I’d think for many people, while at the same time it’s clear they’re very personal. I just don’t listen to her that much, if at all, because, well, when I’m feeling well, there’s no point in listening to emo stuff like that. When I’m more depressed than what I’m used to and can handle, or just having a normal blues, my strategy is to listen first to something very sad, and then when I feel ready and like it I go on to something more cheerful. But when I am just super low Marta’s music doesn’t speak to me, so it has to be something in the middle, where I’m just in the mood for the slightly emo sort of music. Probably when I’m feeling emo myself, or having a pity party or something haha. Also another reason why I don’t listen to her too much is that I just don’t listen to Polish music very much. Which is a bit of a shame and I’d like to change it, but I haven’t come across many Polish artists that would really speak to me very strongly in months, my Polish favourites don’t change a lot and it’s mostly some alternative bands, some folk, and occasionally reggae. If I listen to reggae these days it’s only Polish reggae, but I listen to it hardly ever anyway.

But, why I’m sharing this song with you? I’ve just heard Marta’s name in some radiostation lately and thought I’d have a look if she has released something new and listen to some of her music to see if my perception of it is still the same. As I said, it is. But, when listening to this particular song, I decided that, because it’s a bit relatable for me, on some level, and because there has been scandalously little of Polish music on my blog, I will share her song with you.

The lyrics are quite simple so I even went as far as translating this song to English (very roughly, nothing artistic, just so you know what it’s about).

Marta comes from Upper Silesia, and she was the finalist of Polish edition of X Factor in 2014. She also plays piano.

So, here are the English lyrics and the song. Sorry if the translation sounds a bit too raw haha.

 

Yes, I know, I should take my clothes off
Get to the flesh
Is it better to hear me when I’m wearing less
I apologise
To everyone here who is disappointed
They will not find ohs and ahs in my voice
I just wanted to say goodbye,
because it seems like there is no place for everyone here

I book a flight to Mars
With one-way ticket
What a farce
This thought has been growing in me
For a long time
If someone would ask
I’m already packed
I am packed

In the past, it was the lark who used to sing,
nightingale and siren
Today, the owl shows off its deep voice
So I’m saying goodbye
to all the insatiable
Ready for the parting,
I will burn the bridge
I just wanted it to be my way,
but there doesn’t seem to be enough oxygen for everyone

I book a flight to Mars
With one-way ticket
What a farce
This thought has been in me
For a long time
If someone would ask
I’m already packed
I am packed

I booked a flight to Mars
With one-way ticket
What a farce
This thought has been growing in me
For a long time
If someone would ask
I’m already packed
I am packed.

Song of the day (21st September) – Maja Koman – “Invisible”.

I once shared with you an earlier song by Maja Koman, called “Babcia Mówi”, and I’ve become much more familiar with her music since then. She is a Polish artist, who often writes sarcastic, or humourous lyrics, which are often thought-provoking as well. I don’t always agree with them but I like her creative spirit and the way she arranges her music and her lyrics’ style in general, and she has loads of great lyrics indeed. Apart from writing songs in Polish, she also writes them in French and English.

While “Babcia Mówi” was a funny but thought-provoking piece about the lack of true men in the world, this one is vastly different. Not only because it is in English. The feel of it, as this time you can see fully on your own, is very gentle, and the lyrics vulnerable and honest, but very inconspicuous. I really like this little piece, and I think the harp in it makes it the more appealing and intimate. 🙂 Also I can relate to the lyrics a lot.