Polish words and phrases – #1

As a part of the attempt to improve my Polish, my new teacher and I are reading through articles taken from the media, stuff like Gazeta Wyborcza, and seeing what parts of the article I don’t understand. It is then my job to try and get these things into my thick skull. We have read through three articles so far, each of between 150-200 words and the good news is that I generally understood what was going on. The number of things I had trouble with was surprisingly small but then it only takes one unknown word or phrase for me to lose all meaning and there are some surprisingly important words that I don’t know!

These are the things that caused problems:

rządowy (as in rządowy plan) – government
władze (as in przez władze regulujące) – government, governmental?
powodem (as in tego powodem są) – reason
straty – loss
udziały – shares (stocks)
ponieść – (as in ponieść straty) – carry, or perhaps bear?
na tym może się nie skończyć– HELP! I didn’t make a note of what this means. My guess is something like “and this might not be the end..” or “it might not finish there…”……….?
jednak – however, still, nevertheless
wśród – amongst
ponieważ – therefore
ogłosić – declare
okazał się – turned out to be, proved to be?
co do (as in co do wielkości) – of this (of this size)

odcinają się – cut themselves off, possibly distanced themselves?
dalej pójdzie (as in Jak tak dalej pójdzie) – if everything keeps going in the same direction?
tłumaczyć (as in zaczną się tłumaczyć) – tricky one this – start to explain, start to understand, begin to realise……..?
ustały oklaski (as in kiedy ustały oklaski) – when the applause stops or stopped
okazało się – they saw, or realised?
wyciskacz łez – brings tears, makes you cry….?
znanym szlakiem – known route, well worn path
zawodowych – professional
lecz (as in lecz film opiera się na…) – but
otoczeni – under attack

przjmie, zostanie przyjęty, zostanie przyjęta – things to do with being received or accepted
by (or aby) – in order to, to, so that
uważam – in my opinion
ktore – which
obecnie – currently, now
zaczna się zastanawiać – will start considering
wówczas – then
wpływ – influence

I also have to work out the differences between these: głos, ogłosić, ogłoszenia, głosowanie, głosować, przegłosować

It is strange the way different words react with my brain cells. For example I hear what sounds like lecz all the time but not in the meaning of ‘but’. What I hear very often are a lot of words coming from lecieć meaning run, go or flow – leć, leci. So, I read lecz, it sounds the same and I jump to the wrong conclusion! Similarly with uważam, I’m thinking it has something to do with a warning, or ‘be careful’ or whatever (from uważać) when it actually means ‘in my opinion’!

Some words just feel like what they mean. For example wśród feels exactly like amongst. On the other hand, jednak, is far away from feeling like it means ‘however’. To me it should mean something more closely related to jeden like “one example of” or “one of them”……..?!

Then there are words like ktore, which I hear all the time and are really pretty simple but for some reason just won’t lodge themselves in the grey matter. Others like tłumaczenie where the only meaning I have in my head is to do with translation but can also mean explanation, excuse or justification.

One of two things is going to happen; either I’ll work all this out, or my head will explode. Not sure which is going to happen first!

16 thoughts on “Polish words and phrases – #1

  1. wyciskacz łez – tearjerker
    Let me guess. The article was about the Gdynia festival verdict :)

    otoczeni – surrounded

    The rest is pretty much spot on.

  2. Negrin, thanks for those. I did wonder about tearjerker, it seemed appropriate for the context. yes, it was about the Gdynia verdict – something about Moscow or Russia that nobody thought deserved a golden lion.

  3. powodem – also means ’cause’ – as in ‘powódem wypadku’ – cause of the accident. Spowodował wypadek – caused an accident.
    ponieść – suffer as well as carry/ bear – poniósł straty – suffered losses.
    na tym może się nie skończyć – it may not end on/at this – i.e. as you say “it might not finish there…” in other words ‘this could just be the start. Usually heard when being told bad news re some misdemeanor i.e. you could be in more trouble than you think.
    jednak – however, still, nevertheless – correct but remember jednakowe means identical.
    wśród – amongst – from środek meaning middle
    ponieważ – since
    ogłosić – declare or announce – from głos – voice
    co do (as in co do wielkości..) – as to – (as to the size..)
    odcinają się – cut themselves off, possibly distanced themselves – yes correct
    dalej pójdzie (as in Jak tak dalej pójdzie) – if it carries on like this
    tłumaczyć (as in zaczną się tłumaczyć) – start to explain themselves/ start to make excuses
    ustały oklaski (as in kiedy ustały oklaski) – when the applause abated/died down
    okazało się – it turned out
    wyciskacz łez – tear jerker
    lecz (as in lecz film opiera się na…) – can also mean although or however (although the film is based)
    otoczeni – surrounded
    przyjmie, zostanie przyjęty, zostanie przyjęta – will receive, will be received, fem. of ‘will be received’
    głos – voice or a vote/ ballot paper,
    ogłosić – announce
    ogłoszenia – annoncement
    głosowanie – voting
    głosować – to vote
    przegłosować – outvote

    Hope that helps (and that i got it right)

  4. okazał się – turned out to be, proved to be?
    okazało się – it turned out

    It’s the same verb, okazać się, to turn out, but declined for gender.

    okazał się = he turned out
    okazała się = she turned out
    okazało się = it turned out

    But remember that it’s declined according to grammatical gender of the noun, so “okazał się” (he turned out) doesn’t have to be a man but can be any noun that is masculine in Polish.

  5. Also remember that Polish a Germanloanwordvollelanguage is. (Und duy spreakst Deutsch, if ja erinnere me korrektlig, ja?)

  6. ‘Rządowy’ is ‘governmental’. ‘Rząd’ – ‘government’ or a ‘row, line’. ‘Rządzić’ – ‘to rule’. One rules when one makes everybody fall in line with their mandate.

    ‘Władze’ is ‘government, authorities’ from ‘władza’ – ‘power’. Also ‘pan władza’ – ‘a policeman’.

    ‘Ponieważ’ may also mean ‘because’.

    ‘Okazało się’ – the most literal is ‘it appeared’.

    ‘Lecz’ doesn’t sound like ‘leć’, but the difference may be inaudible to you, just like we don’t hear ‘th’. It has the same meaning as ‘ale’. We need both because of the rule of not repeating a word throughout three subsequent sentences.

    ‘Uważam’ – the word comes from ‘waga’. One gives more weight to one option. A topic may be ‘ważny’ – ‘important’. Hence ‘uwaga’ – ‘attention’ or ‘warning’, or ‘uważam’ – ‘in my opinion’. The infinitive is ‘uważać’, while ‘uważyć’ meant the same as ‘zważyć’ – to weigh something. ‘Poważam’ – I give my respect to somebody or something. ‘Zważam’ – I take under consideration. ‘Nie zważać na przeszkody’ – to ignore obstacles. ‘Zauważam’ – I notice. ‘Podważam’ – I question one’s argument, reasoning.

    ‘Jednak’ – in the past also ‘jednakowoż’ – does come from ‘jeden’. It’s giving an equal, identical, one, the same weight to both options. Neither ‘although’ or ‘however’ is a negation of one option, rather an attempt at making one see both as of an equal importance.

    ‘Które’ is ‘which, that, who, whom’ etc.

    ‘Tłumaczenie’ – perhaps you might start with ‘interpretation’. One can interpret a text by making a translation, or interpret one’s motives by explaining them or making excuses. ‘Tłumok’ is someone who doesn’t understand anything.

    It always helps me in learning to see where words come from.

  7. “…the rule of not repeating a word throughout three subsequent sentences.”

    That’s a new one on me, Sylwia. Is it generally adhered to? In English writing I try not to use the same word twice within a short distance of each other as it just sounds nasty so I suppose this is the same kind of thing. However, I think the word ‘but’ would not be one I was particularly concerned about as it tends not to stand out too much.

    Your comments are very helpful, thank you.

  8. Yes, it’s adhered to. At school teachers are going to grade your work lower if you don’t vary your vocabulary enough. I think that in general repetitions in English don’t sound as jarring as in Polish. You can’t avoid repeating pronouns all the time anyway, we can. You also use a lot of ‘a’ and ‘the’ everywhere! And you can hardly go without all of the ‘to’, ‘of’ etc. So small words go unnoticed. While speaking, we usually drop words. There’s no need to use subject, object, and verb in one sentence, because at least one of them (and very often two) are clear from context, so any repetition in Polish sounds like an emphasis. If you have two buts the second will sound stronger than the first one. And if there are more than two the effect becomes comical, which is sometimes applied in cabaret. Actually, at school I was using even ‘jednakowoż’, or ‘li’ instead of ‘czy’. Anything that would make my teachers happy. Archaisms sound better than repetitions. :D

    But I don’t think you have to worry about it. It takes us many years to get to that point, and requires a good knowledge of grammar. In English one says things via vocabulary and idioms, in Polish via grammar and the way words sound. Since I’ve been learning English for years and still haven’t mastered too many idioms, I hope you’re not going to best me any soon. ;)

  9. Hello:

    Does anyone know where I can find the Polish version of Czeslaw Milosz’ poem titled “A poem for the end of the century” ? I want to translate the poem into English.


  10. ‘Powodem’ – you should check in dictonary other meaning of this word, commonly used in law jargon (“doszło do ugody pomiędzy powódką, a powodem“).
    My English is too weak to translate it. Hope somebody will help (Sylwia?).


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