Polish Language Blog

From Readers’ Comments – How to tell someone off Posted by on Mar 15, 2010 in Grammar

One of our American readers was bragging in the comments section not so long ago that “i can honestly say polish is one of the easiest languages ive learned so far. its not harder than any other language” (punctuation and spelling his, not mine).

And then he went on to say that:
“people that tell you its hard is just jelous and are pissed that a foreigner can learn their language.” (again, punctuation and spelling his, not mine).

And finally, he suggested that “if those pollacks give you trouble than just tell them “palic w piekle k***a” to them haha”. (I removed the expletive from the quote, but again, punctuation and spelling is his, not mine).

Well, haha indeed.

I don’t know what other languages Mike (he gave his name as Mike) has been learning so far, but it must have been either Hungarian or Finnish. Or perhaps Chinese. In comparison to those, Polish is indeed a piece of cake.

And how convenient for us that Mike decided to demonstrate just how easy Polish is by attempting to curse.
I will leave out the final k-expletive from the quote, but let’s take a look at the first three words he suggests as a suitable way to tell people off.
“Palic w piekle”… Hmmm.

It’s “palić” not “palic”, but that’s besides the point.
I think what he meant was to tell someone “burn in hell”, but since he has learned at least a couple of languages, I am sure he knows that direct translations of such phrases very often (if not always) make the speaker look like a total idiot.

Also, if he was directing this particular phrase at one person, I am sure he is aware that he should have said “Pal w piekle” (imperative, instead of infinitive), or if to more than one person – then “Palcie w piekle”.

But what exactly are we supposed to palić in hell? Cigarettes? Weed? Old newspapers? Not sure.
If Mike wanted us to physically burn in hell, I’m sure he knows (since Polish is so easy, as he says) that he should have used the reflexive form – palić się – to burn oneself.

And then, of course, it would be:
Pal się w piekle” to one person, or “palcie się w piekle” to more than one.
Of course anyone who’s spent more than just a couple of hours studying Polish knows how silly this sounds. Nobody in their right mind would use this phrase to tell someone off.
So, how would we do it?
There’s a variety of emotionally charged expressions to use in this situation. The mildest of the bunch would be “Odwal się”. Stick the k-expletive at the end, and there you go. Your message will definitely get through.

And Mike, it’s back to Professor Swan’s grammar book for you. Show off in the comments section again in a few months after you master a couple of chapters, OK?
Good luck!

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  1. Gabriel:

    Mike = OWN3D 😀

  2. Kaz Augustin:

    What Gabriel said! 🙂

    And, actually, in comparison to Polish, Chinese (Mandarin) is easier. I’m trying to self-learn right now. Yeah sure, you have the different character set but the grammar is a piece of piss compared to Polish, which drives me utterly batty!

    Look at name days – the female names end with an ‘i’ or ‘y’ (e.g. Heleny) but the male names end with an ‘a’ (Jacka). That’s despite the fact that the female name itself may end with an ‘a’ (Helena) and a male name *not* end with an ‘a’ (Jacek). Ah, just looking at a Polish calendar makes my head spin. Give me Mandarin any day! LOL

  3. Samantha:

    I’d say that Chinese is actually an easy language. Its efficient and has no tense or cases. Can you imagine!? The thing that is usually challenging is the tonal system and mastering the characters.

    But yes, Hungarian – oooof, thats a tough one.

  4. Al Wierzba:

    I’ve recently started a Polish I Class in February and I wholeheartedly agree that the Polish language is much more complex and difficult to learn than either English or Spanish.

    Great Blog, Anna! I definitely learn a lot, thanks!

  5. Poland is amazing :):

    I think, that to say to someone off You could also say:
    “spadaj” or less offensive “nie denerwuj mnie”.

    Grat blog and good job in Poland promotion. Keep writing. Cheers.

  6. lestatjunior:

    Hey!I’ve just found this site,but I like it very much!:)
    I’m Hungarian – which I have to admit as a hard language to learn,but I’m learning Polish and Russian too,and…I have to say that Polish is harder,even though it is used Latin alphabet. But the exceptions…pfff…way too much…:) But still,I love this language!:) And this site too!
    Good luck!!!

  7. kuba:

    I am an American raised by Polish speaking parents. Trust me the language is pretty complex. I’m not sure anything I say in Polish is 100% correct. I lived there for years and still make mistgakes.

  8. Bart:

    So, how would we do it?


    I think that this is how it is done.

  9. edward pindral:

    From Readers’ Comments – How to tell someone off
    I don’t understand why you get involved in answering this type commet, just get on and keep teaching us sensible polish.

  10. Svastik:

    Hey Anna 🙂 I’m sorry for writing a very off-topic comment here, but I could not, for the life of me, find a way to send you a private message 🙂 So I was just wondering if you know of the existence of a Polish grammar book, explained in English.. I am in Warsaw now for a few months and since I learn better on my own (and my teacher insists on having conventional conversations) I was thinking maybe I could tackle a bit of it.. so.. a bit of help would be greatly appreciated 🙂 Thanks 😉

  11. serena:

    Ciao Anna, I’m Serena and I write the Italian blog here at transparent.com. Now I know where to come if I have any trouble with readers’ comments! Ci pensi tu, va bene? (you’ll sort them out for me, o.k.?)
    Well done.

    A presto, Serena

  12. Paulina:

    Svastik – there’s a good one “Discovering Polish. A Learner’s Grammar” by Liliana Madelska.

  13. MiMaS:

    “Odwal się” may be offensive for many. It’s just rude. I don’t advise to use it.

    “Odczep się” is softer and more acceptable.
    Also “spadaj” which is similar to “get lost”.

    “Spierdalaj” – means something like “fuck off” – use only if you’re a brainless animal or you want to get hit really really hard.

  14. kuba:

    Lets say I want to give something to a couple and put it in writing.
    They are Natalia and Karol so would it be:

    dla Natalia i Karolu Tomalscy 2010?


  15. Wojtek:

    No, it wouldn’t Kuba.
    It should go like this:
    Dla Natalii i Karola Tomalskich.