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Just yesterday someone asked me for examples of words (Polish words, of course) that sound the same, are spelled the same, but mean something totally different. You know, like in English light, and right, and stuff like that. Can’t think of more examples right off the bat. Oh yeah, and a bat.
But suddenly, when I had to give some examples in Polish, I was stumped. The fact that I’m very easily stumped you all know already very well. So, I decided to take the easy way out and say that in Polish we have different words for different things. Yeah, that was lame, I know. And totally not true.
But apart from prawo and lewo, I couldn’t come up with any other examples.
Prawo could be either a noun or an adverb.
As a noun, it’s neuter in gender and it means “law”, as in “I’m studying law” – Studiuję prawo.
As an adverb, it means “right” as in “to turn right” – skręcić w prawo.
Lewo is an adverb too, and it’s the opposite of prawo, as in “to turn left” – skręcić w lewo.
But if you use it in a phrase like “załatwię to na lewo”, it means something like “I’ll get it done, but not quite legally, under the table, etc…” Which smells of kombinowanie, in a rather negative way, so there you have it.
OK, what else? Niebo (noun, neuter) can mean either “sky” or “Heaven”.
Tępy (adjective, feminine singular: tępa, neuter singular: tępe, pl masc personal: tępi, all others plural: tępe) can mean either blunt, dull (as in not sharp) or stupid. There is even a noun derived from tępy to describe a particularly dumb and uncouth person: tępak.
And here I draw a blank…
So, please, by all means, feel free to add to the list. Or else we’ll have to stick with the version that in Polish we have all sorts of different words for all sorts of different things.