Episode 57: About What It Walks?

Listener Arron from the U.K. asks if I could explain the phrase “O co chodzi?” So that’s what we’re talking about today!

Shoutout to the Birmingham Polish English meetup group!
If you’re in the area, pop by!

O co chodzi?

English Phonemes: “oh tsoh HOH-jee”

Literal Translation: About what it walks?

Elegant Translation: What is it walking about?

English Equivalent: What’s going on here? What are you on about? What do you mean?

I can understand why non-natives learning the language will find this phrase a bit tough to grasp. It is a bit idiomatic in its usage. We have similar phrases. If you think about the simple English phrase “what’s going on”, think about how a non-native speaker might scratch their head at this. It’s supposed to mean, “what is happening”. Sometimes, it’s used as a slang way of saying “hello”. So you’ve already got two related but different usages for this phrase. At the same time, the literal meaning of “what’s going on” seems like only a partial thought. Like, going on? Where is what going, and onto what other thing is it going? Now try to imagine the poor English learner trying to unpack all those layers to a phrase we fluent English speakers use daily.

Similarly, o co chodzi is fluid in meaning depending on the context.

The top two situations you’d use (or hear) this phrase are...

A) You walk into a situation where something heated (like an argument) or exciting (like a celebration) is happening, something high-energy, and you say “O co chodzi?” to ask to be filled in.

B) You are talking to a friend, they say something you didn’t catch the meaning of, and you ask them, “O co chodzi?” meaning, What is the train of that thought? What do you mean?

O = about
= what
= he/she/it walks
= here
= you [plural object form]
= you [singular object form, informal]
= me [singular object form]

Varying uses: 

O co tu chodzi? What’s going on here?
O co Wam chodzi? What are you guys on about?
O co Ci chodzi? What do you mean? (Similar in sense to “co masz na myśli” from Episode 54 a few lessons ago.)

mam nadzieje = I hope
że zrozumieliście = that you understood
o co mi chodzi = what I meant

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Julia Tutko