25 wrz 2010

Polish modesty

Modesty - sometimes lovely but normally a very irritating feature.

1) Poles don't brag


Probably you will never hear what is somebody's greatest accomplishment or a recent success. We just don't like to be considered as conceited so we prefer to be silent. Children are trained from early childhood - bad behaviour is punished but good is normal so you don't deserve an award. At school teachers don't like to praise pupils, nobody gained his/her self-confidence during school education (many lost).

It leads to absurd - you have to teach people how to speak about their strong points. During one of the workshops in which I took part the most stressful exercise was to speak 1 minute in the most positive way about yourself. Assertiveness is still an unknown word for many.

In Polish there wasn't a word meaning "success", so we borrowed it and now have sukces. But still there is no adjective like "successful". You can only say "człowiek sukcesu" - "a man of success". In this context I prefer American style – talking openly and positively about yourself. Of course I don’t recommend exaggeration.


2) Poles want to be seen as poor


In Poland you shouldn't show off about what you own or how much money you make. Salary is a taboo comparable to masturbation. Poles prefer to hear that everybody live a "normal" life with no extravagance. Of course it’s a kind of a social game, we prefer to hide the truth.


3) Poles don't know what to do with compliments


Compliment Poles and analyze their reaction:) Typical Polish answers are:

- You look perfect in this dress! Wyglądasz fantastycznie w tej sukience!
+ It was a real occasion, 50% discount. To była prawdziwa okazja, przecena 50%.

- You made a delicious dinner. Zrobiłaś pyszną kolację.
+ The meat wasn’t enough salty and I should have baked potatoes a bit longer. Mięso nie było wystarczająco słone, powinnam dłużej piec ziemniaki.

- Your work impressed our clients. Twoja praca zrobiła wrażenie na naszych klientach.
+ All the team worked hard. Cały zespół ciężko pracował.


And what should you hear? Thank you – dziękuję. I also like the idea of agreeing “I think in the same way about myself”, “Też tak o sobie myślę”.


These types of behaviour are strongest among women than men. Women are still taught to be nice, quiet, concentrated on others' needs and to stand in the shadows. Step by step it will change. More and more people invent in their personal development, read self-help books and learn how to think and speak positively about themselves. Trainers and psychologists have a lot to do.

20 wrz 2010

Quick trip to Lublin

Last week I spent only one day in Lublin and in fact most of it in the museum of the Nazi death camp Majdanek (during the WW II called KL Lublin). I understand that not everybody wants to visit these kind of places but I always recommend to go.

For sure the guide is needed, the one which we had was perfect - could answer all the questions and really liked his job. For 3 hours we couldn't talk about everything and also because the area is quite big you should reserve more time for a walk. All the information there you will find in English.

This is the impressive monument - a gate to the camp:



What is unique in Majdanek are original gas chambers. In the other camps they were destroyed and rebuilt. As you can see the camp is in the city, houses are nearby:



In the Lublin district about 1,5 milion Jews were murdered. I've read a lot about the Shoah but I don't want to write here more now. Inside this enormous monument you can see a knoll made from ground with crumbled bones:



After visiting Majdanek I went to the beautiful Lublin Old Town. The castle has a very interesting architecture. You will find there many buildings in the renaissance style.



Because the act of creating the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was signed in Lublin in 1569 (called the Union of Lublin - Unia Lubelska) you can find there many references to the old Rzeczpospolita. For sure Lublin is worth seeing for more than one day.

8 wrz 2010

Easiest vocabulary

When you start to learn polish you can feel discouraged by the long words which are difficult to pronounce. If this is your first Slavic language you have no associations at all. There’s no other way – to must learn them. But today I want to show you that in Polish we have many words what you will understand immediately. We need new words to name the new inventions and ideas and the easiest way is to borrow them from the other language. As many studies and scientific research come from the USA or Great Britain and English is the language of the global communication we can’t escape from having so many anglicisms. But for foreigners who learn Polish it’s for sure better;)

My list is of course incomplete, these are just examples. Many of them come from Latin but it doesn’t interest us at the moment.


1) English-Polish identical words with Polish pronunciation

alarm, argument, bank, bar, drink, fan, film, golf, hamburger, hobby, hotel, idea, internet, market, marketing, media, menu, minimum, moment, ocean, opera, park, partner, party, penis, problem, puzzle, radio, sauna, serial, sofa, sport, student, trend, zero, zoo


2) English-Polish identical words with English pronunciation

case, cool, dealer, design, drive, fitness, leasing, light, peeling, PR, pub, quad, weekend


In the beginning anglicisms have English spelling but after some time it’s getting Polish.

3) English words with Polish spelling

biznes, dżem, dżinsy, flesz, kondom, lider, mecz, menedżer, singiel, striptiz


4) Words from Latin ending in -cja, -sja

Hard to recognize at the first glance but if you remember that in English they all end in –on it will be much easier.

akcja, dyskusja, informacja, lekcja, promocja, relacja, wizja


5) Verbs

It’s often very easy to make a Polish verb. You must take a word from Latin or English and add the ending –ować:

analizować, dekorować, gratulować, interesować się, kopiować, produkować, studiować

The newest words are for example: mailować, mobbować, spamować

It’s also very easy to conjugate them because –ow- always changes into –uj-

1. ja gratuluję (we don’t pronounce this ę but it exists!)
2. ty gratulujesz
3. on/ona/ono/pan/pani gratuluje
1. my gratulujemy
2. wy gratulujecie
3. oni/one/panowie/panie/państwo gratulują


Of course many Polish verbs also end in –ować: pracować, kupować, podróżować.
Remember that when a verb ends in –awać it’s –aj- -> dawać – ja daję.

1 wrz 2010

Where to eat cheaply in Warsaw?



It's not so easy to find a cheap and tasty bar. Probably it's also not so easy to find an expensive and delicious restaurant (restauracja). But if you're hungry (głodny) you don't have to eat hamburgers, there are many other places.

My personal preferences:

Bar Vega, ul. Jana Pawła II 36c. Great food not only for vegetarians. Big portions, you can make your own combinations. Also a shop with healthy food.


Kebab Sahara, ul. Krucza 51. Now in the new nicer localization. The best musaka in the world. Many types of kebab but also different dishes everyday.


Co Tu, ul. Nowy Świat 26/28 (pawilon 21). Vietnameses for Poland. Always crowded.


I still haven't found the perfect naleśnikarnia. There are very tasty eco naleśniki (pancakes) in Kukuryku, ul. Kopernika 25 but the interior and service need to be improved. If you're looking for the Polish style naleśniki (not thin French crepes) or pierogi try there.


And what to do if you're in the shoppping mall (centrum handlowe)? If it's Ikea, eat there. Not delicious but for these prices recommendable. It's rather a canteen (stołówka), during the weekends whole families form big queues. If there is no Ikea around and I'm terribly hungry I choose Salad Story or as a last resort Wiking with too expensive Polish food.


There are also Polish-style bars called bar mleczny. They have nothing to do with milk, Polish dishes are served there. You will find good food for example in Bambino, ul. Krucza 21 or Sady, ul. Krasińskiego 36. I don't eat there probably because I had Polish cuisine for many years for lunch (obiad), my grandma cooked perfectly for me.


And what are your types?

Useful vocabulary:

dziękuję - thank you
proszę - please. Proszę 2 kebaby / 2 kebaby proszę.
smaczny - tasty
smacznego! - bon appetit!