Episode 78: She Did See The Lady?

Widziała pani?

English Phonemes: “vee-JAH-wah PAH-nyee”

Literal Translation: She did see the lady?

Elegant Translation: Did you see that, Madam? 

English Equivalent: Did you see that? Get a load of that! Check that out!


First, a bit of follow-up to last week’s show: Listener Karen P. on Twitter pointed out that another English equivalent of “Śpiesz się powoli!” would be “Hurry Slowly”, which I didn’t know was a thing in English. Thanks, Karen!

Today’s phrase is a fabulous example of how weird languages can get. Like nicknames in a family. Sometimes there’s no way to to an outsider explain why you call your little brother “toaster”, for example. Here, this is a correct formal way to ask a woman you don’t know if she saw something. Somehow, it became an idiom to give oomph and remark on something cool that happened, or even a cool conclusion that was reached in conversation. It’s a very, very native, idiomatic, Polish phrase.

Widziała = she did see [3rd person, s., past tense verb]
Pani = woman, lady [s., subject form]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 77: You Hurry Self Slowly!

Śpiesz się powoli! 

English Phonemes: “shpyeh[sz] shyeh poh-VOH-lee”

Literal Translation: You hurry self slowly!

Elegant Translation: Hurry up slowly!

English Equivalent: Haste makes waste!


This phrase is a fun and glib way to tell someone to hurry responsibly! If you rush through a task too swiftly, you’re liable to miss something important. We have similar wisdom in the English saying “haste makes waste”, although in Polish, we subconsciously acknowledge that the need to hurry exists, it’s just that we want to do it responsibly. 

The voice of this phrase is informal, but because it’s such an idiom in Polish, you can absolutely use it in formal settings, too!


Śpiesz = you [s.] hurry [2nd person, informal]
Się = self [reflective helper word, bounces back at subject]
Powoli
= slowly [adv.] 

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 76: Here Our Flag!

Oto Nasza Flaga!

English Phonemes: “oh toh NAH-[sz]ah FLAH-gah”

Literal Translation: Here Our Flag!

Elegant Translation: Here is our flag!


It’s Flag Day in Poland today! Here’s a quick phrase and a brief history lesson to celebrate.

Also, shoutout to listeners Wendy and Andrew for the idea!

Oto = here
Nasza = our [adj. fem. s.]
Flaga = flag [noun fem. s. subject form]

Research Links:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish–Lithuanian_Commonwealth
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Poland


Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 75: I To You I Will Show!

Ja Ci Pokażę!

English Phonemes: “yah chee poh-KAH-[ż][ę]”

Literal Translation: I to you I will show.

Elegant Translation: I will show you.

English Equivalent: I’ll show you!

This is the same in English and in Polish. The phrase can be used in the normal sense, as in, you’re offering to show your friend something — or it can be delivered as a playful banter fist-shaking warning.

Be aware that it’s in the informal voice. Don’t use this with anyone you have a formal relationship with.

Ja = I [subject form]
Ci
= to you [object form, informal]
Pokażę = I will show [first person s.]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 74: If You Will Go Among Crows, You Must To Croak How And They!

Jeśli wejdziesz między wrony, musisz krakać jak i one!

English Phonemes: “KYEH-dih F[SZ]EH-dwehsh MY[Ę]-dzih VROH-nih MOOSH-ee[sz] KRAH-kahch jahk ee OH-neh”

Literal Translation: If you will go among crows, you must to croak how and they.

Elegant Translation: When among crows, you must caw like they do.

English Equivalent: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

This is a funny way to say that if you’ve troubled yourself to go somewhere, you have to adapt to your surroundings.

Quick Bonus Fact: The most popular alternative of this phrase uses “kiedy” [when] instead of “jeśli”.


Jeśli
= if
Wejdziesz = you [s.] will go into 
Między = among
Wrony = crows [pl. subject form]
Musisz = you [s.] must
Krakać = to croak, to caw [infinitive]
Jak = how
I = and
One = they [subject form]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 73: Here It Lies Dog Buried!

Tu leży pies pogrzebany!

English Phonemes: “tooh LEH-[ż]ih pyes poh-hoh-VAH-nih”

Literal Translation: Here it lies dog buried!

Elegant Translation: Here the dog lies buried!

English Equivalent: There’s the rub!

This phrase is a popular way to point out that the conversation has reached a point where a complication of some kind has been revealed. You’d use this the same exact way as we English speakers would say “Ah, there’s the rub!” Or “Aha! There it is!” Or even “And the plot thickens!”

Extra note: There is an acceptable alt to this phrase. You can also say “jest” instead of “leży”, “jest” being “it is”. That’s an acceptable alternative of the idiom, but it is less used.

Tu = here
Leży = it lies [3rd person s.]
Pies = dog [s. subject form]
Pogrzebany = buried [adj. s. male subject form]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 72: Gone Fat!

Przepadło sadło!

English Phonemes: “p[sz]eh-PAH-dwoh SAH-dwoh”

Literal Translation: Gone fat!

Elegant Translation: The fat has gone.

English Equivalent: Too bad, so sad.

This phrase is meant to be light and funny and doesn’t actually have anything to do with fat. The rhyme is just a silly way to say something has come and gone and we missed it. It’s broadly applicable. 

If your friend is talking about a job that they loved that they got laid off from, you can use this to lighten their mood in an “easy come, easy go” kind of way. If your kid lost a sock and they can’t find it in time to make the school bus, you can use this phrase in a “let it go” way to encourage them to find a different pair of socks. It’s probably not smart to use this phrase at a funeral, but besides that, you can work out many places where this phrase fits.

Przepadło = it has gone [3rd s. person, past tense of “przepaść” - to perish]
Sadło = fat (specifically, body fat) [subject form]


Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 71: Prima Aprilis!

April Fools!

Polish Phonemes: “EJ-pryl’ ful’z”

Literal Translation: Kwiecień Głupcy!

Elegant Translation: Głupce kwietnia!

Polish Equivalent: Prima Aprilis bo się omylisz!

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

_______

Here’s a full translation of what I said ;-) (Polish transcript is at the bottom!)

Hello everyone! Here’s the 71st episode of How You Say?, where I teach you how to say something fun or playful in English. I’m your host, my name is Julia Tutko-Balena.

Today I will tell you how to say “First April or you’ll mistake yourself!” in English. So let’s get started!

Today’s phrase is “April fools”, which literally translates to “April dummies” in Polish. We Poles would say “First April or you'‘ll mistake yourself!”. In English, it’s significantly shorter!

The first word is “April”. It means “April” in English. Let’s say it three times. Accent, that is, the emphasis, on the first syllable. Remember that in English, vowels have usually more than one syllable. Oh well, they don’t want to make it easy on us! But don’t be afraid, I’ll help you.

Here when you say the letter A, you have to start on the sound “E” and transition into the sound “I”. So together that sounds like “eejji”.

Next, in English speaking countries, people usually don’t pronounce the letter “r” like in Polish. They pronounce it very weakly, they don’t “roll”, they don’t know how to do “rrrrrrr”. Usually. Of course, if they know more than one language, they’ll learn this, but in the English language, that sound is simply not needed. So, in order to pronounce correctly the “r” in the word “April”, you have to allow the tongue to a bit flaccid. Or imagine that something is bothering you, as if you had in your mouth hot potatoes. “Rrrrr”. Try it. “Rrrr”.

Next, in English, usually those devilish vowels change sound depending on their position in the word. And here, the letter “i” simply remember that it has to be pronounced like our “y”. “April”.

And the last thing, the ‘l’ at the end is pronounced softly, similar to the Russian “l”.

Okay. We’re ready! Repeat slowly after me. “April” “April” “April”. Excellent.

The next word is “Fools”. It means “dummies”, that is, more than one dummy. This word is a bit easier. “F” is pronounced normally, “l” like we just saw in “April”, but those vowels are playing with us again.

Those who are learning English surely [already] know that usually when you see “o o” together, it’s pronounced like “u” in English. “Cool”, “Tools”, and others. There are of course exceptions, where “o o” doesn’t sound exactly like “a”, but close… “Blood”, “flood”… consequently, you have to be careful not to study and learn incorrect information. But now we have the internet and you can always check.

In the word “fools”, “o o” is pronounced “u”. “Fools”.

Let’s repeat 3 times. “Fools”. “Fools”. “Fools.” Good.

Now everything together, 3 times, slowly let’s repeat: “April fools!” “April fools!” “April fools!” Very good!

All set! That’s it for today! I how you liked it. If you want to contact the show, we have email, mailbag@howyousay.fm, our Twitter is @HowYouSayFM, and our main web page is www.howyousay.fm.

Until next time! I wish you well! Bye!

_______

Here’s the full Polish transcript, just in case you’re interested ;-)

Witam Państwa! Oto 71 epizod programu How You Say? gdzie uczę Was jak powiedzieć coś fajnego albo zabawnego po angielsku. Jestem Waszym gospodarzem, nazywam się Julia Tutko-Balena.

Dziś Wam powiem jak się mówi „Prima Aprilis bo się omylisz” po angielsku. No to zaczynajmy! 

Dzisiejszy wyraz jest „April Fools”. Znaczy to dosłownie „kwiecień głupcy”. My Polacy powiedzielibyśmy „Prima Aprilis bo się omylisz!” Po angielsku znacznie krócej!

Pierwsze słowo jest „April”. Znaczy „kwiecień” po angielsku. Powtórzmy to 3 razy. Akcent, czyli nacisk, na pierwszej sylabie. Pamiętajcie, że po angielsku, samogłoski mają przeważnie więcej niż jedną sylabę. No cóż, nie chcą nam ułatwić. Ale nie bójcie się, ja Wam pomogę. 

Tu kiedy się mówi literę A, trzeba zacząć na dźwięku „E” i przejść powoli na dźwięk „I”. Czyli razem brzmi to „eejji”. 

Następnie, w anglojęzycznych krajach, ludzie przeważnie nie wymawiają litery „r” tak jak Polacy. Wymawiają to bardzo słabo, nie „turlają”, nie umieją zrobić „rrrrrrr”. Przeważnie. Oczywiście, jeśli znają więcej niż jeden język, to się tego nauczą ale w angielskim języku ten dźwięk jest po prostu nie potrzebny. Zatem, aby wymówić prawidłowo „r” w słowie „April”, musicie pozwolić, żeby język trochę zdrętwiał. Albo wyobraźcie sobie, że coś Wam przeszkadza, jakbyście mieli w buzi gorące kartofle. „Rrrrr”. Spróbujcie. „Rrrr”. 

Następnie, po angielsku przeważnie te diabelskie samogłoski zmieniają dźwięk zależnie od pozycji w słowie. I tu litera „i” po prostu pamiętajcie, że trzeba wymówić jak nasze „y”. „April”.

No i ostatnia rzecz, to „l” na końcu to się wymawia miękko, podobno do rosyjskiego „l”. 

Okay. Jesteśmy gotowi! Powtórzcie powoli za mną. „April” „April” „April” Doskonale.

Następne słowo jest „Fools”. Znaczy to „głupcy” czyli, więcej niż jeden głupiec. To słowo jest troszkę łatwiejsze. „F” się wymawia normalnie, „l” jak dopiero nauczyliśmy się w „April”, ale samogłoski znowu się z nami zabawiają. 

Ci co się uczą angielskiego napewno to wiedzą, że przeważnie jak się widzi „o o” razem tak, to się wymawia „u” po angielsku. „Cool”, „tools” i inne. Są oczywiście wyjątki, gdzie „o o” nie brzmi dokładnie jak „a” ale bardzo podobnie ... „Blood” „flood”... zatem trzeba uważać, aby nie wkuwać złych informacji. Ale teraz mamy internet i zawsze można sprawdzić. 

W słowie „Fools”, „o o” wymawia się jako „u”. „Fools”. 

Powtórzmy to 3 razy. „Fools” „Fools” „Fools”. Dobrze. 

Teraz wszystko razem, 3 razy, wolno powtórzmy: „April Fools” Bardzo dobrze!

W porządku! To tyle na dzisiaj! Mam nadzieje, że się podobało. Jeśli chcecie skontaktować się z programem, mamy email: Mailbag@howyousay.fm, nasz Twitter jest @howYouSayFM i nasza strona główna jest www.howyousay.fm

Do następnego razu! Pozdrawiam! Cześć!

Julia Tutko
Episode 70: I Am Sick!

Jestem Chora/Chory

English Phonemes: “YEHS-tehm HOH-rah HOH-rih”

Literal Translation: I am sick.

Elegant Translation: I’m sick!

This is a useful phrase to have in your back pocket, just in case!

It’s also a good demonstration of gendered adjectives! If you are female, the correct adjective is “chorA”. If you are male, the correct adjective is “chorY”. 

Jestem = I am [1st person singular of ‘być’ (to be)]
Chora/Chory = sick [adj. changes depending on gender]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 69: It Is Permitted To You, Tommy, In Own Home!

Wolnoć, Tomku, w swoim domku.

English Phonemes: “VOHL-nohch TOHM-koo v SFOH-yeem DOHM-koo”

Literal Translation: It is permitted to you, Tommy, in own home.

Elegant Translation: You’re allowed, Tommy, in your own home.

English Equivalent: A man’s house is his castle.

Shoutout to Ed from England, who sent in a question about this phrase. Ed asks if Google translate got it right, where this phrase comes from, and who this Tomek person was. Let’s dive right in!

Does Google Translate have it right?

First, Google Translate said “Freedom, Tomek, in your home.” That’s only partly right. The word “wolnoć” is NOT (as some might try to explain) a misspelled or cute-ified version of “wolność” which means “freedom”. It is actually a relic of old Polish, and is a contracted version of “wolno ci” which means “it is permitted (wolno) to you (ci - object form of ty)”. In Old Time-y Polish, it used to be common to add ć to the end of a word where we now in Polish use the separate word “ci”. So, example, where now we’d say something like “czego ci brak?” (literally: What to you is missing? elegant: What are you missing?) we’d have to say in Old Polish “czegoć brak?”. 

Where is this phrase from?

This phrase is from a children’s poem called “Paweł i Gaweł” by Alexander Fedro. I remember my mother reading this to me when I was very little. I’d forgotten until I bumped into it again just now when researching the phrase to reply to Ed. Thanks, Ed!

The story is that Paweł and Gaweł are neighbors. Gaweł lives on the bottom floor and is constantly loud with his games of hunting and shooting and general noisemaking. Finally, Paweł can’t take it anymore, and he comes downstairs to ask “Kind sir, it’s so noisy upstairs. The windows are shaking in their frames! Can’t you please have mercy and hunt a little more quietly?” Gaweł replies with this phrase. Basically saying, one can do what they please in their own home. That night, Gaweł wakes up when water starts dripping on his face. He runs upstairs and knocks on the door, but Paweł doesn’t answer. When Gaweł peeks through the keyhole, he sees the living room completely filled with water! And there’s Paweł, sitting on his credenza with a fishing pole! Gaweł shouts, “What are you doing, man?! There’s water pouring out of my ceiling!” And Paweł replies, “Wolnoć, Tomku, w swoim domku!” The moral of the story basically being, what goes around comes around, and you should treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Lastly, who’s Tom?

Most likely, it’s no one in particular and the name was chosen for the rhyme.  

A rhyme like “Wolnoć Wiktorze w swojej norze” or “Wolnoć Arturze w swojej dziurze” have the same functional meaning.

Poles love to use placeholder names in jokes and parables. We have some examples in English, like “Average Joe” and “Johnny Doogooder”. Johnny and Joe aren’t real people either. So here, I don’t think Tommy is anyone specific. But I can’t say with 100% certainty. If he was real, the historians didn’t jot it down for us. But that’s highly unlikely, because linguists and historians love that type of related trivia about settings and influences, especially when associated with such a popular and impactful cultural treasures.

This Wikipedia article is in Polish, but I think if you run it through Google Translate, you’ll get an interesting summary of what’s going on. 

https://pl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paweł_i_Gaweł

Here’s a blog entry by a Polish linguist, (it’s also in Polish), which tells you the whole poem itself (it’s short) and the blogger afterwards describes what’s being said in more detail. A fun read!

https://obcyjezykpolski.pl/wolnoc-tomku-w-swoim-domku/

Wolnoć = wolno ci 

Wolno = it is permitted 
Ci = to you [object form of ‘ty’, you, singular]
Tomku = affectionate/diminutive form of Tomek = Little Tom or Tommy 
W = in, inside
Swoim = one’s own [object form]
Domku = [object form] of Domek = diminutive form of Dom = house, home


Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 67: No Jinx!

Nie kracz! 

English Phonemes: “nyeh krah[cz]”

Literal Translation: No jinx!

Elegant Translation: Don’t jinx!

English Equivalent: Don’t jinx it!

This is the perfect phrase to use near your Polish-speaking friends whenever one of them start to temp fate by jinxing something! No one likes bad luck vibes! Tell your friends to quit inviting it with this phrase!

Extra Credit: The saying can be expanded by putting “bo wykraczesz” on the end - which means “because you will make happen what you jinxed”. (Yes. That’s really what it means.) But it’s not necessary. 

Nie = no, not
Kracz = jinx [singular, imperative form]
Bo = because
Wykraczesz = you[sing.] will bring about what you jinxed  

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 66: Shoo!

English Phonemes: “vohn”

Elegant Translation: Get out! Go away!

English Equivalent: Shoo!

This simple word is a staple of any Polish person’s childhood. A much needed tool in any parent’s arsenal, this word, when sharply administered, tells the young’un that he/she is in a place they very hastily need to be out of.

It’s tough to find a direct literal translation. “Shoo” in English is the closest. The word “won” in Polish doesn’t actually mean “go” or “get” or “away” or “out”. But like “shoo” in English, “won” is accomplishing the same exact thing.

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 65: Extra Length Valentine's Day Special!

Kocha, lubi, szanuje, nie chce, nie dba, żartuje, w myśli, w mowie, w sercu, na ślubnym kobiercu 

English Phonemes: “KOH-hah LOO-bee [sz]ah-NOO-yeh nyeh htseh nyeh dbah [ż]ahr-TOO-yeh v MIHSH-lee v MOH-vyeh v SEHR-tsooh nah SHLOOB-nihm koh-BYEHR-tsooh”

Literal Translation: Loves, likes, respects, not want, not care for, is joking, in mind, in speech, in heart, on wedding rug

Elegant Translation: (S)He loves, (s)he likes, (s)he respects, (s)he doesn’t want, (s)he doesn’t take care of, (s)he is joking, in thoughts, in speech, in the heart, on the wedding runner.

English Equivalent: (s)he loves me, (s)he loves me not

In this extra length Valentine’s Day Special episode, we go over the incredibly long phrase that Poles have instead of the English “(s)he loves me, (s)he loves me not” flower petal picking ritual.

I personally love this one even more because it is gender agnostic. Sometimes in gendered languages, you have to change words based on the gender of the person speaking, or the gender of the person being spoken to, or the gender of the person being spoken about. Funnily enough, the English equivalent uses gendered pronouns. But here, the third person tense is used, but the gender is irrelevant. You can be any gender and talking about any gender and it all applies in this case. No extra variants to learn and specially apply. All inclusive phrase. Ain’t that great?

You can use flowers, like the English tradition, but we Poles use the leaves of an Acacia tree. I’m not sure why.   

Here’s a link to a wikipedia article in Polish that describes more about this tradition: https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kocha,_nie_kocha... You can run any part through a translator to get the gist, which I recommend because if you pick the English version of this page, it won’t describe all the Polish variants.

Kocha = he/she/it loves

Lubi = he/she/it likes 

Szanuje = he/she/it respects, takes care of

Nie Chce = he/she/it does not want

Nie Dba = he/she/it does not care for/take care of

Żartuje = he/she/it is joking, playing around

W Myśli = in mind, thoughts

W Mowie = in speech, talking

W Sercu = in heart

Na Ślubnym Kobiercu = on wedding runner [preposition, then object form adj and noun]


Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 64: Not Teach Father Children To Make!

Nie ucz ojca dzieci robić!

English Phonemes: “nyeh oo[cz] OY-tsah JYEH-chee ROH-beech”

Literal Translation: Not teach father children to make!

Elegant Translation: Don’t teach a father how to make children!

English Equivalent: You’re preaching to the choir.

The expression is pretty clear. It’s a saying for if someone is trying to teach/explain how to do something you obviously already know how to do.

You wouldn’t have the “birds and the bees” talk to a father of children, right?

Although the CLOSEST English phrase is “preaching to the choir”, the Polish phrase has a slightly different meaning in that there is a connotation of “mansplaining” (for lack of better term) that is conveyed. Someone is trying to teach you something they should KNOW you already know. They look like an idiot, and in your irritation, you can use this phrase as kind of a “check yourself before you wreck yourself” way. “Preaching to the choir” can also be used like this, yes, but it could also be used in cases where people don’t know how the other party feels about topic XYZ, which is a second meaning we don’t have in this Polish version.

Nie = no/not
Ucz = teach [imperative, vocative, instructive form of verb]
Ojca = father [singular, object form]
Dzieci = children [plural, object&subject form]
Robić = to make, to do [infinitive form of verb]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 63: It Hit Itself [To] Blind Hen Seed!

Trafiło się ślepej kurze ziarno!

English Phonemes: “trah-FEE-woh shyeh SHLEH-pehy KOO-[rz]eh [Ź]AHR-noh”

Literal Translation: It hit itself [to] blind hen seed!

Elegant Translation: A blind hen hit upon a seed!

English Equivalent: Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.

This saying is similar to the squirrel idiom in English, or like another popular saying, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

You can say this when you want to say someone got unexpectedly brilliant or lucky in some way. 

This phrase is also a great example of the power of the “object form”. In the translation, the direction of the seed going TO the hen is expressed only by the fact that the blind hen is in object form. There is no actual preposition here! That’s why I have “TO” in parenthesis in the title and literal translation: because it’s not a separate word as we’ve come to expect, but the meaning is still there. Feel the power!!

Trafiło = it hit, it landed [3rd person sing., past tense verb]
Się = itself, self [reflective helper word]
Ślepej = blind [adj. sing. object form]
Kurze = hen, chicken [sing. object form]
Ziarno = seed [subject form]


Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 62: It Is Needed To Look Truth In Eyes!

Trzeba spojrzeć prawdę w oczy!

English Phonemes: “T[SZ]EH-bah SPOY-[rz]ehch PRAHV-deh w OH-[cz]ih”

Literal Translation: It is needed to look truth in eyes.

Elegant Translation: You have to look the truth in the eye.

English Equivalent: Face facts.

This phrase is used the same way in Polish as “face facts” (and its various offshoots) are in English. For example, you can use this to encourage a friend to face reality and do something about some unfortunate situation they’ve been lying to themselves about. You might also hear or read this phrase in the Polish news, or on people’s blogs. It’s pretty popular, and can be used in formal and informal settings.

Please note the use of [sz] and [rz] phonemes in the pronunciations! This is a beautiful example, side by side, of how [rz] is pronounced normally as we’ve practiced, EXCEPT when following a letter ‘t’ in which case it is spoken aloud as the [sz] phoneme! (This is the only exception for [rz] you have to remember!)

Trzeba = there is need, it is needed, one must
Spojrzeć = to look, to glance
Prawdę = truth [singular, object form]
W = in, into [preposition]
Oczy = eyes [plural, subject AND object form]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 61: Shot In Ten!

Strzał w dziesiątkę!

English Phonemes: “st[rz]ahw v jyeh-SH[Ą]t-ke”

Literal Translation: Shot in ten!

Elegant Translation: Shot in the ten!

English Equivalent: Bull’s eye!

This is a fun phrase one to describe how someone or something 100%, hands-down nailed it!

Same as in English, this phrase is talking about a dart board or an archery/shooting target. But unlike English, the board center doesn’t have a nickname as popular as “bull’s eye” is. Poles refer to the center by the number of points you get when you hit it.

Google Translate actually nailed it on this phrase! Yay!

Strzał = shot [noun, subject form]
W = in, into [preposition]
Dziesiątkę = ten [noun, object form]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 60: With What This Oneself One Eats?

Czym to się je?

English Phonemes: “[cz]ihm toh shyeh yeh”

Literal Translation: With what this oneself one eats?

Elegant Translation: How does one eat this?

English Equivalent: What do I do? How does one handle this?

This phrase is a funny way to ask how to tackle a new and foreign task. It paints the mental picture of an elegant, elaborate table setting with countless spoons, forks, knives, and other cutlery for every different course or dish, and asks us to imagine a waiter bringing you a plate of food you’ve never seen before. What cutlery would you reach for?

This phrase uses that image as a metaphor for that initial confusion we all feel when faced with a new and unexpected challenge.

Google Translate fails so hard here. It thought that ‘je’ is ‘them’ from the Slovenian — which it is not. And czym was ‘and’, which it is not. I hardly ever bother, but it was so off the mark that I submitted edits to both these and I encourage other Polish speakers to do the same if a similar situation arises. It may feel like typing something into the void, but it might help the translation algorithm get it right next time if enough knowledgable polyglots submit enough edits. 

Bonus nerdy linguistic subtext:

It should be noted that “czym” by itself already means “with what”. However, as happens in language all the time, this phrase over time has sometimes been said incorrectly by adding the actual pronoun “z” in front, which means “with”. Don’t be that guy. You might hear this out in the wild, but know it’s incorrect. If you actually say “z czym to się je”, you’re actually saying “with with what does this get eaten”.

Czym = with what [object form of ‘co’, the ‘with’ is understood]
To = this
Się = itself, oneself, self [reflective helper word]
Je = he/she/it eats/is eating [3rd person singular, present tense]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko
Episode 59: From Christmas Tree Yourself Did You Break Off?

Z choinki się urwałeś/urwałaś?

English Phonemes: “z hoh-EEN-kee shyeh oor-VAH-wehsh oor-VAH-wahsh”

Literal Translation: From Christmas tree yourself did you break off?

Elegant Translation: Did you fall off a Christmas tree?

English Equivalent: Did you fall on your head?

The phrase is fine standalone, because the words “did” and “you” are understood. So you can say czy[did] ty[you] z choinki się urwałeś/urwałaś, but you don’t need to.

This is a great phrase to know if you want to playfully (or not) suggest to someone that they have no idea what they are talking about. That they are uninformed and it shows. Or that whatever they just said was incredibly random and truly unrelated to anything at all. It may even convey that the person you are talking to just said (or did) something stupid.

Z = from, off of [preposition]
Choinki = Christmas Tree [singular, object form]
Się = (your)self [reflective helper word]
Urwałeś = you broke off [past tense, 2nd person singular, informal, speaking to one male]
Urwałaś = you broke off [past tense, 2nd person singular, informal,speaking to one female]

Email us! mailbag@howyousay.fm
Visit the website! www.howyousay.fm
Tweet us! @HowYouSayFM
Rate the show!

Julia Tutko