Today’s topic is actually a little off topic but Thomas made a very interesting comment under the last post, and I thought it would be worth taking a closer look.
I’ve always assumed that the “house” and “home” confusion was exclusive to foreigners who learn English. And for some very strange reason it’s never even occurred to me that English speakers learning a foreign language might have exactly the same problem. Duh!
Actually, Thomas’ comment ruffled my fierce Polish national pride a bit. That a teacher, a Polish teacher at that, was either unwilling or unable to provide appropriate explanations was simply inexcusable. And for a teacher stating that SHE understood the difference was definitely a not good enough answer. I’m sorry Thomas that you had this experience.
Now, I’m not a certified teacher, and I don’t even play one on TV, but let me take a stab at this home/house translation issue into Polish.
When you look in a dictionary, you see that both those words are translated into Polish as “dom”.
- dom (noun, masculine, non-person, plural: domy) = house, home
But it can’t be THAT simple, now can it? Of course not!
The trouble begins when you decide to look at the context in which the words “home” or “house” are used. For example – “my home town”. It has:
my = mój
home = dom
town = miasto
Yet if you put it all together you end up with a big ball of nonsense, because “my home town” when correctly translated is:
“moje” is a neuter form of “mój” and “miasto” is the same as above, but what happened to “home”? It ended up translated as “rodzinne“, which is an adjective derived from the word “rodzina” – family.
- rodzinny (adj., fem: rodzinna, neuter: rodzinne, plural: rodzinne) = family (as an adjective), familial
- rodzina (noun, feminine, plural: rodziny) = family (noun)
And now I finally see that this “home” business can be complicated when learning Polish, too.
At its most inclusive “home” can be translated into Polish in many different ways, you’ve already seen “rodzina” (family) above. But even in Polish, you can notice the distinction between “house” and “home”. Because just like in English, when “house” is translated into Polish it implies a physical place where people live. For that reason, sometimes “house” can be translated as “budynek” (building).
- budynek (noun, masculine, non-pers., plural: budynki) = building
And sometimes, when talking about what you did at home when you were little, the translated version may use the word “rodzina” instead of “dom” (“family” instead of “home”).
So yes, both “house” and “home” mean “dom” in Polish, but you must look very carefully at the meaning of your English text to be able to choose the correct Polish equivalent.
And that doesn’t even cover the many different political and legal terms that include “house” and “home” in their phrases!
photo by Jan Panek from Bobrowniki Wielkie