Polish Language Blog

Useful Expressions – Spoko, spoko Posted by on Nov 14, 2009 in Vocabulary

A friend asked me a very theoretical question, and it went more or less like this:
“OK, let’s say that, theoretically of course, I am going to be visiting Poland around Christmas, or at the very least – Greenpoint. What Polish words would I hear most frequently?”

“Oh, you mean like the k-word?” was my reply.
“No, not really, I mean like words that you can actually spell out on your blog without getting in trouble.”

Ahhhh… OK, let me think then…

Hmmm… so if you just happen to be listening to random people’s random conversations, what would you hear most often? (Apart from all the words that Poles are seemingly very fond of using and which I can’t include in here.)

There’s always “cześć” – the universal Polish greeting when “dzień dobry” seems too official.
There are always “Pan” and “Pani”, as in “Panie Waldku” and “Pani Aniu”, etc… that’s how we tend to address each other when using first names only seems either too rude or too familiar.

And then there’s “spoko, spoko”. I have to confess, I like “spoko, spoko” and use it a lot. Maybe even too much, according to some people.

So, what is “spoko, spoko”?
Spoko is shortened version of “spokojnie” when used to calm someone down, as in “it’s OK”, “it’s all right”, or even “take it easy.”
Spokojnie itself is an adverb and means “calmly”, “quietly” and so on, you get the idea. The adjective it came from is “spokojny” and here it is in all its glorious forms:

  • spokojny (adj., fem: spokojna, neuter: spokojne, plural personal masculine: spokojni, plural all others: spokojne) – calm, quiet, unhurried.

And sometime along the way “spokojnie” got shortened to “spoko” and then repeated twice for emphasis – “spoko, spoko”.

As in:

    Spóźnimy się! – We’ll be late!
    Spoko, spoko, zdążymy. – take it easy, we’ll make it (on time).

And that’s pretty much what “spoko, spoko” is all about.

So, what other most often heard words and phrases do you think should be included?

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  1. Mchl:

    I think I’ve first heard of this expression in ‘Kingsajz’ movie.

  2. Mary:

    words i hear all the time when my husband is on the phone.

    Wiem (i know)

    When in deep conversation he says “no” over and over again.
    I think this is like when you make a sound to signal that you are still listening, like yeah or something similar.

    there is another word. I am not sure i can spell it and and think it means – see you later or speak later. It generally ends a conversation i think it starts like “nara” but I’m not sure. I haven’t heard my husband on the phone for ages!


  3. Raniah:

    yeah agree with the previous comment.. they say “no” in conversation from time to time.
    I also often hear them saying “no to dobra” (yes it’s good) in repetitive manner.. followed by “tak”, which means yes, with raising voice intonation.
    My favorite is when they say “tak, sluham” which they often use to answer phone or when being called out. It means “yes, I’m listening”. It can also replace English’s “pardon” in conversation for example when you don’t really catch what the other person say.

    My Polish pet-peeves is when they say “nie” which mean “NO”. I don’t know but to my ears it’s just somewhat unpleasant. Just a thought tho.. hehe..

  4. Mchl:

    Mary: It’s “narazie” (or maybe “na razie” – not sure 😉 ). And young people often use it’s shortened form “nara” (just like you said) 😉

  5. Richard Sharpe:

    Here are a few I here most often at work, I will try to find the polish spelling and I will try to spell it phonetically to give you an idea of pronunciation =)

    Good morning – dzień dobry – *PH* shin dob ray
    How are you? – jak się masz – *PH* yak sha mast
    Very good – bardzo dobry – *PH* Bart o dub shay
    Thank you – dziękuję – *PH* shin quee ay
    Goodbye – do widzenia – *PH* Dar fee zen ya
    Break Time – przerwa – *PH* Psherva
    Sandwich? – kanapki – *PH* Can app key
    You are beautiful – jesteś piękna – *PH* Yes tesh pea enk na

    *PH* = my attempt at phonetic spelling. Not a bad effort if I say so myself 🙂

    That should get you through a polite day anyway 🙂

    Lots of time and respect for the Polish I have =)