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!
https://www.meetup.com/West-Midlands-Polish-English-Language-exchange/
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
Co
= what
Chodzi
= he/she/it walks
Tu
= here
Wam
= you [plural object form]
Ci
= you [singular object form, informal]
Mi
= 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
Episode 56: You Are Wonderful! You Are Awesome!

Jesteś wspaniały/a! Jesteś niesamowity/a!

English Phonemes: “YEHS-tesh fspah-NYAH-wih(wah) YEHS-tesh nyeh-sah-moh-VEE-tih(tah)”
Literal Translation: You are wonderful. You are amazing.

Shoutout to my friend JL for inspiring this episode! (Check out her film work at www.19image.com)

These two phrases are sure to be winners. Here are two different ways to say “You are awesome!”

Jesteś = you are [2nd person, singular, informal]
Wspaniały(a) = wonderful [adjective. y = male form, a = female form]
Niesamowity(a) = awesome, amazing [adjective. y = male form, a = female form]

Also, Followup: In the last two episodes, we were talking about phrases that have to think about thinking. I wanted to remind you about Episode 51 where we touched upon “Gdzie masz głowę?” as part of the lesson, because this phrase asks “Where is your head?” or “Where are you right now?” in a similar way as the other phrases we talked about.

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Episode 55: Not Important What You Have On Head, Important What you Have In Head!

Nie ważne co masz na głowie, ważne co masz w głowie.

English Phonemes: “nyeh VAH[Ż]-neh tsoh mah[sz] nah GWOH-vyeh VAH[Ż]-neh tsoh mah[sz] v GWOH-vyeh”
Literal Translation: Not important what you have on head, important what you have in head.
Elegant Translation: It’s not important what you have on your head, what’s important is what’s in your head.
English Equivalent: Beauty is only skin deep. 

This episode is related to last episode, where we talked about how we ask what a person was thinking. In this related phrase, we further the discussion about thoughts. 

This fun, glib phrase will make you sound super wise and clever to your Polish-speaking friends!

Nie = not, no
Ważne = important [adj]
Co = what
Masz = you have [singular 2nd person, informal]
Na = on
Głowie = head [singular, object form]
W = in

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Episode 54: What You Have On Thought?

Co masz na myśli?

English Phonemes: “tsoh mah[sz] nah MIHSH-lee”

Literal Translation: What you have on thought?

Elegant Translation: What do you have on your mind?

English Equivalents: What do you mean? What are you saying? What are you thinking?

This phrase is used the same way we use “What do you mean?” or “What are you trying to say?” or even “Where are you going with this?”

Next week, we’ll look at a related phrase having to do with minds and heads, and break down another thought-provoking idiom!

Co = what
Masz = you have [2nd person, singular, informal]
Na = on
Myśli = thought, mind [singular, object form]

Julia Tutko
Episode 53: What Can Be Heard?

Co słychać?

English Phonemes: “tsoh SWIH-hahch”

Literal Translation: What can be heard?

Elegant Translation: What’s up? 

English Equivalent: What’s up? How’s it going?


This is a slang phrase you can use in place of ‘Hey.’, ‘How are you?’, ‘How are things?’ or other greetings used with people you know. It is super Polish and very common.

Co = what
Słychać = is heard, can be heard [from the infinitive of ’słyszeć’, to hear]

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Episode 52: I Not Know How To Speak In Polish

Ja Nie Umiem Mówić Po Polsku

In honor of Polish Bilingual Day being celebrated this weekend, (http://www.polishbilingualday.com/language/en/ and http://www.dobrapolskaszkola.com/category/w-naszym-domu-mowimy-po-polsku/),
I picked a phrase to tell your Polish-speaking friends that you’re not so great with speaking Polish.

Ja = I
Nie = not/no
Umiem = I know [how to do a skill] [1st person singular]
Mówić = To speak/to talk [infinitive]
Po = in/after/following [preposition]
Polsku = Polish language [object form]

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Episode 51: Do You Have A Head?

Masz Głowę? 

English Phonemes: “mah[sz] GWOH-veh”

Literal Translation: You have head?

Elegant Translation: Do you have a head?

English Equivalent: Can you imagine?


This two word combo actually has multiple uses and meanings in different contexts!

For example, as part of a sentence, it could be used like so: 
Masz głowę po matce.” = “You have your mother’s brains.
Or
Nie wiem gdzie masz głowę.” = “I don’t know where your head’s at.” or “I don’t know what’s going through your head.”
Or
Ty masz głowę do rachunków.” = “You have a head for numbers.
(And so on.)
But standing alone as a question, by itself, it simply is asking “Can you imagine?” or “Can you believe it?”

Masz = you have [singular, 2nd person, informal]
Głowę = head [singular, object form]

* Special note: Usually for show titles, I like to use the literal translation. Unfortunately, this week’s literal translation can potentially have quite a naughty meaning in English. So this week, I’ll use the elegant translation instead. 

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Julia Tutko
Episode 50: But Number! What For Number!

Ale Numer! & Co Za Numer!

English Phonemes: “AH-leh NOO-mehr / tsoh zah NOO-mehr”

Literal Translation: But Number/What For Number

Elegant Translation: What a number!

English Equivalents: Good one! (for a prank) What a rotten number! (for something terrible)

Special Double-Lesson Episode to celebrate 50 shows!

In today’s show we learn to say the same sentiment two different ways. These phrases convey the same exact sentiment: surprise at something someone did. It could be good surprise (at some clever prank) or bad surprise (at something truly shifty and terrible that happened). It could also, on rare occasion, be used to call someone a bottom-feeding scumbag con-artist slime ball. It is a big insult.

Ale = but [at beginning of sentence, means ‘what a’ in a helper word way]
Co = what
Za
= for, behind, instead of, etc [multi-definition preposition. At beginning of sentence, “Co za” means “what a”]
Numer
= number [singular, subject form]

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Episode 49: By What Miracle?

Jakim cudem?

English Phonemes: “YAH-keem TSOO-dehm”

Literal Translation: By what miracle?

English Equivalent: How in the world? What sorcery is this?

This phrase isn’t stand-alone. It is something you say in reaction to seeing something amazing or being told something amazing. You follow it up with “by what miracle” more to ask how something so wonderful or unbelievable happened. It is not a fully standalone exclamation of wonder. It’s not a rhetorical question either. Unlike other sayings or exclamations, you kind of expect an answer to this one. 

Jakim = by what [object form, implies the preposition ‘by’ or ‘with’]
Cudem = miracle, wonder, magic, sorcery [object form, because of the implied preposition]

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Episode 48: Detach Self!

Odczep Się!

English Phonemes: “OHD-[cz]ehp shyeh”

Literal Translation: Detach self!

Elegant Translation: Detach yourself!

English Equivalent: Back off!

Sometimes a cuddly phrase won’t do! Today’s phrase is a bit rough around the edges. 

This phrase is used in the same way as ‘back off’ or ‘buzz off’ or ‘get out of my face’ is used in English. Note also that this is in the informal singular form. There IS a more polite way to say this, just so you know. (However, it rarely comes up.)

Handle with care!

Odczep = detach, unhook [verb, instructive form, informal, used when instructing a singular person]
Się
= self [reflective helper word]

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Episode 47: Good Job!

Dobra Robota!

English Phonemes: “DOH-brah roh-BOH-tah”

Literal Translation: Good Job!

This is one of those times the English and Polish directly line up with each other! And I wanted to say to you, good job! Learning any language isn’t easy. I hope this show has helped you on your journey :-)

Dobra = good [adjective, feminine singular form]
Robota = a job, work [noun, singular subject form]

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Episode 46: All Best!

Wszystkiego Najlepszego!

English Phonemes: “f[sz]ihs-TKYEH-goh nah*ee-lehp-[SZ]EH-goh”

Literal Translation: All Best!

Elegant Translation: All the best! The best of everything!

English Equivalent: Best Wishes!

This is a common way to wish someone fond wishes for a special event. Most commonly, around the holidays, or someone’s birthday. It can also be used at a life event, like a wedding, a birth, a job change, a move, and so on - but that’s less common. 

Wszystkiego = all, everything [noun, object form]
Najlepszego = best [compound adjective, object form]

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Episode 45: You Are Waiting Then Nothing Not You Are Having!

Czekacie to nic nie macie!

English Phonemes: “[cz]eh-KAH-chyeh toh neets nyeh MAH-chyeh”

Literal Translation: You are waiting then nothing not you are having.

Elegant Translation: You wait, you don’t have anything.

English Equivalent: Waiting gets you nowhere.

We Poles love our glib rhyming pearls of wisdom. This is another one. It’s a funny way of saying waiting won’t get you very far. 

Czekacie = You are waiting [2nd person plural, present tense]
To = Then, This [depending on context]
Nic = Nothing
Nie = No, Not
Macie = You are having, You have [2nd person plural, present tense]

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Episode 44: I Am Bare And Merry!

Jestem goły(a) i wesoły(a)!

English Phonemes: “YEHS-tehm GOH-wih(wah) ee veh-SOH-wih(wah)”

Literal Translation: I am bare and merry!

Elegant Translation: I’m broke and I don’t care!

This phrase is a fun way to say you’re broke and you don’t have a care in the world. We don’t have a similar phrase in English. We like to be cheerfully glib in Polish. What better way than by finding words that rhyme? :-)

Jestem = I am [1st person singular of verb ‘to be’] 
Goły(goła) = bare, naked, nude [adjective, singular male (female) form]
I = and
Wesoły(wesoła) = merry, happy [adjective, singular male (female) form]

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Episode 43: Saw Wooden

Piła Drewniana

English Phonemes: “PEE-wah drehv-NYAH-nah”

Literal Translation: Saw Wooden

Elegant Translation: A wood saw.

English Equivalent: A nag.

This is a term for someone who is repeatedly saying or doing something to the point of being annoying. It uses the idea of a device slowly grinding away at a piece of wood because that annoying persistent unyielding buzzing is a perfect description for what a nag does!

Piła = a saw [subject form]
Drewniana = wooden, or for wood [adjective, feminine subject form to pair with 'piła']

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Episode 42: I Am Holding Thumbs!

Trzymam Kciuki!

English Phonemes: “T[SZ]IH-mahm KCHYOO-kee”

Literal Translation: I am holding thumbs!

Elegant Translation: I’m holding my thumbs!

English Equivalent: Fingers crossed!

This is used the same way that “I’ve got my fingers crossed” is used in English. It’s just that in Poland, the actual physical motion is different. We literally hold our thumbs tucked into our fists as a sign of inviting and holding onto good luck.

So if your friend is writing a new play, or starting a new business, or going into ninja training, or whatever the case may be, tell them “trzymam kciuki” and they’ll be very impressed!

Trzymam = I am holding
Kciuki = thumbs [plural, object form (which in this case looks like the subject form - Fun Fact)]

Watch the "duck face" video!

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Episode 41: In Order That You Would Have Known!

Żebyś wiedział(a)!

English Phonemes: “[Ż]EH-bihsh VYEH-jahw/vyeh-JAH-wah”

Literal Translation: In order that you would have known!

Elegant Translation: So you know!

English Equivalent: Definitely! And how! If you only knew!

This is a higher concept idiom. This phrase is used to confirm with emphatic fervor something that was said. Example: Someone tells you that your kid has a lot of energy. You say “żebyś wiedział!” as a way to say “and how!” or “if you only knew!”

This is an informal phrase. Don’t use this in a formal setting! 

If the person you are speaking to is male, you say “wiedział”. 
If the person you are speaking to is female, you say “wiedziała”.

The word “żebyś” is also a more complex idea because it doesn’t have a one-to-one translation in the dictionary. We have words like it in English. For example, pretend you are explaining “would” to a non-native speaker. Also, “żebyś” combines “że” (so that, in order to) with “byś” (you[singular informal] would) to make the word that is most closely translated as “so that you would”. 

Żebyś = in order that you would [informal, singular]
Wiedział(a) = he(she) knew [past verb, 3rd person singular]

Watch the "duck face" video!

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Episode 40: Bread With Butter!

Bułka Z Masłem

English Phonemes: “BOOW-kah z MAHS-wehm”

Literal Translation: Bread with butter

English Equivalent: piece of cake 🍰

This is a phrase to denote that something is easy peasy. Smooth sailing. A snap. A lark. A walk in the park. A cake walk. A breeze. (You get the idea ;-) )

Bułka = bread [subject form]
Z = with
Masłem = butter [object form]

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Episode 39: How To Me Itself It Bounced!

Ale Mi Się Odbiło

English Phonemes: “AH-leh mee shyeh od-BEE-woh”

Literal Translation: How To Me Itself It Bounced!

Elegant Translation: Oh how that came back to me!

Google Fail: “But it bounced me!”

This is a companion episode to episode 8 - “Ale mnie ktoś wspomina!” We love talking about burps. Hey, it’s universal. Like Buddy the Elf in the movie “Elf” with Will Ferrell! “Did you hear that?”

Do not, repeat, do NOT say this with your potential in-laws at their dinner table. It’s a rather crude way to express oneself. We have more polite ways of referring to burps, say, for medical reasons. This phrase is strictly for use with friends you’re comfortable being a bit gross with. 

Ale = how, what, but
Mi = to me
Się = oneself [reflective word, as discussed]
Odbiło = he/she/it reflected, bounced back, broke off

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Episode 38: Elephant Stepped On To You On Ear?

Słoń nastąpił ci na ucho?

English Phonemes: “swoh[ń] nah-ST[Ą]-peew chee nah OO-hoh”

Literal Translation: Elephant stepped on to you on ear?

Elegant Translation: Did an elephant step on your ear?

English Equivalent: “You have no ear for music.” Or “Are you tone deaf?”

This is a playful way to tease someone when they've missed a note while singing, or can't keep time to a rhythm, or sounds tone deaf. Don't use this with people you don't know! Not only is the case informal (using "ty" you-form instead of 3rd person addressee form), it's also obviously rude to come at strangers with criticisms about their musical prowess when you don't even know them.

Notice the structure of the sentence. The word "ci" doesn't mean "your", it means "you", the idea being you got stepped on on the ear, which is different than "twoje ucho" which DOES mean "your ear". In Polish, it's worth noting, you will frequently see things constructed this way. Saying "you got stepped on on the ear" and "your ear got stepped on" is synonymous in English, too.

słoń = elephant [singular subject form]
nastąpił = he/she/it stood on or stepped on [3rd person singular of nastąpić (to take place/occur/come/tread/supervene - depending on context)]
ci = to you, on you [object form of ‘you’]
na = on
ucho = ear [singular, object form]

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