Kombinowanie continued Posted by Anna on Nov 2, 2009 in Culture
So, let’s go back to the issue of kombinowanie for a few more minutes. Turns out that the person who claims that Poles are a cheating, scheming and otherwise dishonest bunch also reads this blog. Oh, hi! Small world, isn’t it? Thank you for providing us with such an interesting discussion topic!
And to another reader – thank you for pointing out the fact that I didn’t explain the really first thing first about this word. So, in order to rectify that oversight from the other day, here it is:
- kombinowanie (noun, neuter, plural: kombinowania, though I don’t think many people would use the plural form) – and that’s the noun version of kombinować.
- kombinować (verb, imperfective; the perfective form would be wykombinować) – wangle, maneuver, get things sorted out, cheat, scheme, arrange something, etc…
And here are some examples of kombinowanie that should be easy to grasp (even for my very honest American readers, wink wink).
Personally, I have seen tons and tons of kombinowanie in the US. Heck, you want to see kombinowanie as an artform the American way, then go to any jury selection process and see how people kombinują to get out of performing their civic duty.
Another example of kombinowanie is trying to get a reasonably priced sublet apartment in Manhattan. That’s when kombinowanie turns ruthless, even by Polish standards. Anything goes (short of murder, but then again, who knows?) – lying, cheating, scheming and bribe giving (and a few other things that I shouldn’t mention on a PG-13 blog).
But I think that basically kombinowanie starts in school, and that’s a proven fact the world over. Proven how? Show me a bunch of 13 or 14 or 15 year olds who are NOT trying to get out of some undesirable school activities by any means necessary and you’ll see a bunch of witless pushovers.
So, actually, I don’t think that the totalitarian regime of the communist days had much to do with the Polish kombinowanie way of life. If you read how those really ancient guys like Mieszko and Chrobry got to be princes and kings and otherwise mighty and powerful guys, then it’s obvious that kombinowanie (and this time definitely including murder) has been with us, Poles, for a lot longer than the last 50 or 60 years. In fact, you can even say it’s kept us alive through the centuries, it’s helped us survive wars and other calamities.
And what happened if we ended up stuck (no doubt of a result of kombinowanie of other powers) with a witless wonder of a ruler who couldn’t kombinować even if the very survival of his country depended on it and concentrated on building pretty palaces instead? Like Stanisław August Poniatowski, for example? Everybody knows.
So yes, kombinowanie may be our way of life, and I don’t think it’s more prevalent in Poland than in other countries (it seems to me that in Asia and South America it’s physically impossible to get anything done without some very skillful kombinowanie). We are just a lot more honest about admitting to actually doing it.
PS. Do you still see any goofy computer language in my posts on this blog? I am using a new computer and a new internet provider (microwave wireless something something) and I hope there will be no more glitches.
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