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Each country has its’ own sayings. Some of them may be similar or have similar meanings as in other countries. However Polish sayings, when translated exactly, word by word, most of the times don’t make to much sense.
Today I will try to explain the meaning of some of them to you.
Let’s start with this one:
“Słowo się rzekło, kobyłka u płotu”
Few have a chance to understand the meaning of this old Polish saying. Most Poles might point to the very sense of it and they know why they pronounce these few strange-arranged words to say what is intended, but few understand their real meaning.
It seems nonsense when translated literally: “A word was said – a mare is standing by the fence”. This old saying has a long historic background. In the 15th century, before there were newspapers and photographs, the kings could often venture out “incognito” among their subjects and “check up on them”.
The story goes that the famous Polish King Jan Sobieski III, the savior of Vienna (1683), notot far from his palace, made a bet with a petty noble (małostkowy szlachetny) who didn’t recognize him. Sobieski was kidding him that a man in his position would never get a chance to speak to the King. Jan bet his favourite mare. He was obviously going to “throw” the bet and let the poor man win, just for the amusement of his traveling companions. The hot-headed gentry-man demanded that his partner must present him immediately to the King. Sobieski then said to the confused gentryman: “słowo się rzekło, kobyłka u płotu”, pointing to the horse.
Hundreds of such wonderful sayings are functioning in the Polish language making it rich and nice to hear. The language is really a living monument.
Another great saying:
“Nie dla wszystkich skrzypce grają”
“The violin doesn’t play for everybody”
This is the reason why Itzhak Perlman can make pretty music with the cheapest fiddle, while even a Stradivarius is of no help to me…:)
“Co po trzeźwemu myśli, to po pijanemu powie”
“What one thinks when sober, one says when drunk”
This one is as old as the hills. “In vino veritas” is Latin for “In wine there is truth” – “W winie jest prawda”
“Potrzebny jak dziura w moście”
“As necessary as a hole in the bridge”
I need that like a hole in the head!
“Ręka rękę myje, noga nogę wspiera”
“Hand washes hand, leg supports leg”
You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours! Quid pro quo (Latin for “something for something”) Polish – “coś za coś”
Here are few more:
“Jak cię widzą, tak cię piszą”
How they see you, that’s how they perceive you
“Gdyby kózka nie skakała, to by nóżki nie złamała”
If the goat didn’t jump, she wouldn’t have broken her leg
“Gdyby kózka nie skakała, to by smutne życie miała”
If the goat didn’t jump, she’d have a miserable life
“Swój ciągnie do swojego”
Same kinds attract
“Każdy sądzi według siebie”
Everyone judges according to themselves
“Z kim się zadajesz, takim się stajesz”
You become whom you befriend
“Kto się czubi, ten się lubi”
Those who argue, like each other
“Baba z wozu koniom lżej”
When the woman gets off the wagon, horses have an easier time
“Lepszy wróbel w garści niż gołąb na dachu”
It’s better to have a sparrow in your hand, than a pigeon on the roof
“Co nagle, to po diable”
The devil dictates when you’re in a hurry
“W zdrowym ciele, zdrowy duch”
Healthy soul in a healthy body
“Mądry Polak po szkodzie”
Smart Pole after the damage is done
“Co kraj to obyczaj”
Each country has it’s own tradition
“Co ciało lubi, to duszę zgubi”
What likes the body will lose the soul
“Komu pora, temu czas”
When it’s your time, you have to go
“Kwiat bez zapachu, jak człowiek bez duszy”
A flower without a smell is like a man without a soul
“Komu w drogę, temu gwóźdź w nogę”
who wants/needs to leave, stick a nail in his foot
“Sukces ma wieju ojców, porażka jest sierotą”
A success has many fathers, a failure is an orphan
“Musi to na Rusi, a w Polsce jak kto chce”
A must is in Russia, in Poland you do however you want
“Kto pije i pali ten nie ma robali”
The one who both smokes and drinks doesn’t get roundworms
“Modli się pod figurą a diabła ma za skorą”
He(she) prays but has a devil under the skin.
“Panu Bogu świeczkę, a diabłu ogarek”
A candle for God, a stump for the devil (said about two faced people)
“Szczęście jest pomiędzy ustami i brzegiem kielicha”
Happiness is between the lips and the rim of a glass
“Ładnemu we wszystkim ładnie”
A pretty person looks pretty in everything
“Nie chwal dnia przed zachodem słońca”
Don’t praise the day before sunset
“Wszędzie dobrze, ale w domu najlepiej”
Everywhere’s fine, but best at home
“Potrzeba jest matką wynalazków”
Necessity is the mother of invention
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)
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