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“Sami Swoi” Posted by on Jul 7, 2009 in Culture

I was thinking about our last post about “swój” and realized that no discussion about this particular possessive pronoun would be complete without the mention of “Sami Swoi.”

Yeah! If you’re Polish, regardless of your age, gender or education, I am SURE you’ve heard about this film. And chances are, you’ve seen this film too. More than once. If you are of Polish origin, maybe you haven’t seen the film, but you should have heard about it something. Anything. Why? It’s a classic.

The title “Sami Swoi” has been translated into English in several different ways, actually, but it seems that “Our Folks” is the most popular version. Still, it doesn’t fully reflect the Polish meaning, at least in my opinion.

The internet says that one alternate title is “All Friends Here”, but I’ve seen it also referred to as “Only Friends” and “Between Friends” and “The People You Know” and “Our Kind of People”. And if you put all these versions together, you can get a pretty good idea of what “Sami Swoi” means in Polish.

I know that there are some people out there who are not so fond of “Sami Swoi”. They say the film shows only the worst Polish character traits, and that it tries to turn into comedy issues that are no laughing matters. Well, that’s Polish comedy for you.

And what do you think? Have you seen the movie? In Polish? Or with English subtitles?

Here’s a selection of the best scenes from “Sami Swoi” but unfortunately, without English subtitles.


However, if you are interested, subtitled versions are also available.

The film was made in 1967 and originally, it was a black and white picture. It was digitally colorized only in 2000, if I remember correctly. It’s also the first part in a trilogy of movies about these two crazy families: Kargule and Pawlaki, and in my opinion – the best.

The film is such a cult classic that it even spawned a Polish idiom of sorts. If you hear someone say that two neighbors behave like “Kargul i Pawlak” you know exactly what it means – that they’ve been feuding since the beginning of time over a very petty issue.

And now, if you excuse me, I need to demonstrate my worst national traits to my very own evil neighbor. I still can’t decide whether she’s more of a Kargul or Pawlak. LOL!

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  1. Island1:

    I once translated it as “Just Like Us” to some approbation.

    Exploding cows are funny 🙂

  2. Michael L. (dziadek):

    Witaj Anna,
    Sami Swoi, what is there to say unless one has seen the entire series. Each time I watch them, I learn something new. They are a comedy unto themselves and I think they should be taken that way even though there is a take off on some traditional ways.
    Dziadek Majko

  3. Justin B.:

    Sami Swoi is a very interesting phrase, the concept isn’t unheard of in English, but of course, the exact way to express this is a bit difficult. I find that the translation “Our Folks” is probably the best in this context, that of the movie. However, in vernacular a group of people being referred to as ‘sami swoi’ could simply mean ‘ours’ in that people who are ‘sami swoi’ are people who we take care of and stand behind. That is the root of this meaning, I think, at least in most cases.

    I also like the ‘Kargul i Pawlak!’ In the US there is the story of a couple of fueding families “The Hatfields and the McCoys” that has the same meaning and is used in the same context!

    I love this blog!

  4. Kamil:

    I recommend “Dzień Świra” 😀

  5. zeb:

    Im Polish and today I started to wonder where is the phrase ‘Sami swoi’ actualy came from… I did not find the answer (maybe the title of the movie created or originated the idiom itself) but I found your blog… and found it interesting what you wrote…
    Here is what I would like to add to your study:
    “Sami Swoi” is a phrase that actually says this: “there are only our kind of people here” or “All of the people here are ‘our’ people”, “there is no strangers here”… and you use this phrase when you wanna emphasize to somebody that there is no reason to be affraid to speak or behave openly because there are no strangers among us… It is usefull to compare it to another expression: “swój człowiek” meaning “our man”, “somebody who can be trusted”… in fact “sami swoi” is about trust.. therefore I would propose another English translation of the title Sami Swoi: “Only trusted people”, “Only trusted fellows”. Sorry for mistakes and any kind of distortions 😉 Hope it was useful

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